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Sprouted Grains for Baking

Add sprouted grains to baked goods for extra protein, vitamins, and minerals without excess calories.

| November/December 2018

  • Denser and sweeter than bread made with unsprouted grain, sprouted-grain bread is also loaded with phytonutrients.
    Photo by Adobe/Arkadiusz Fajer
  • Sprouting grains is a simple way to increase the amount of nutients available in your baked goods.
    Photo by Adobe/charlottelake
  • Sprouted grains are delicious in salads and other foods, too!
    Photo by Adobe/Daniel Vincek

You probably already know that alfalfa and mung bean sprouts add nutrition and color to sandwiches, salads, stir-fries, and soups. Sprouted wheat and other grains provide similar health benefits, as well as adding flavor and interesting texture to breads and other foods. As you think about your favorite holiday recipes, consider adding sprouted grains to your repertoire.

In his book On Food and Cooking, Harold McGee says, “Sprouts have nutritional value midway between that of the dry seed, which they just were, and a leafy green vegetable, which they’re on their way to becoming.” Sprouted grains and other seeds are lower in calories than most vegetables, and higher in protein; vitamin C; B-complex vitamins; and minerals such as iron, calcium, and potassium. The carbohydrates in sprouted grains are also more easily digested because of the enzymes activated during sprouting.

What to Sprout

Technically, you can sprout any grain that’s whole, uncracked, and untreated. Wheat is the obvious choice for baking, but amaranth, hull-less barley, buckwheat, corn, einkorn, farro, kamut, millet, quinoa, rice, rye, sorghum, and spelt can all be easily sprouted. Oats sprout well, but you’ll need to look for untreated oats specifically intended for sprouting; because oats are relatively high in fat, they’re often steam- or heat-treated before drying, which will prevent the grain from sprouting.

Milling and cracking crush the germ inside grain, destroying the embryo plant, so they can’t sprout. Likewise, grains that have been hulled, husked, pearled, rolled, or flaked won’t sprout. I recommend starting with wheat; it’s often easier to find as a whole grain than other choices, and it also sprouts reliably.

You can usually find common grains such as wheat, spelt, and rye in the bulk foods section of health or natural food stores. Untreated sprouting oats, einkorn, and other less-familiar grains may be harder to find locally, but can be purchased online (see “Where to Buy Whole Grains,” below).

Get Sprouting

Sprouting isn’t fermentation — you’re simply germinating grain, much like any other kind of seed, except you’re not going to grow mature plants. You want the grain to just barely sprout.

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