03/07/2012 03:57 pm ET Updated Aug 31, 2012

Healthy Trend: How To Cook With Sprouted Grains

Health advisors have long been telling us that we need to switch from processed carbohydrates to whole grains. Saying goodbye to white bread and white rice was pretty hard; nonetheless, most of us have made the transition -- at least for part of the time. But now, eating healthy has gone one step further, past the whole grains and onto sprouted whole grains.

That's right; you read correctly. We're talking about taking a whole grain, nut or bean (such as wheat berries, chickpeas or almonds), bringing them to sprout as though you were planning on planting them, and then eating that sprouted seed.

Skeptical as we may have been, we're always willing to try new things at Kitchen Daily, especially in the name of good health. And what we found is that sprouted grains sound a lot scarier than they actually are. Why bother with them? Well, they're thought to be highly nutritious and rich in enzymes which can promote good health. Some say that sprouted grains can provide more protein, vitamins and minerals that regular grains. Chef Adina Niemerow, an expert in holistic cooking, told Food & Wine that “Sprouting also changes the chemistry of seeds, so they become nutritional powerhouses.”

Sprouted grains can be incorporated into nearly every meal or dish. Wherever you would use a grain, nut or bean, you can replace it with a sprouted one. If you're going to top your salad with almonds or chickpeas, use sprouted ones instead. Planning on serving rice along with your dinner? Opt for sprouted brown rice, barley or wheat berries. You can even bake with sprouted grains, either incorporating them whole or using sprouted grain flour.

Many health food stores and larger supermarkets are already fully stocked in sprouted-grain products. Sprouted-grain breads are easy to find in the freezer sections and sprouted-grain tortilla chips can make your chips and dip combo that much healthier.

Seeds That Are Good For Sprouting:
Mung bean, lentil, pea, chickpea, soybean, rice, barley, quinoa, amaranth, wheat berries, sesame, sunflower and almond (though be sure to use them raw).

How To Sprout:
These instructions are for sprouting wheat berries, so the time may vary if using other seeds.
In order to start sprouting, you'll need 1/4 cup wheat berries, a large mason jar, a cheesecloth and a rubber band.
  • Place the seeds in the jar, fill with warm water, double the cheesecloth over the mouth of the jar and seal with the rubberband.
  • Drain the water, fill it again and allow to sit in for 2 hours.
  • Drain, rinse and then drain again.
  • Store in a cool dark place. Set the jar on its side, and place a paper towel at the mouth to collect any excess water. Prop the bottom of the jar up so that any excess water will drain out. If this step is skipped, there will be too much moisture in the jar which could cause the seeds to mold.
  • Rinse and drain the seeds once a day for 2-4 days, depending on how quickly the seeds sprout. The seeds will taste great once they grow tails, but are best when the tail is about 1-1/2 times as long as the seed.
  • Once the seed is well sprouted, rinse well and store in a plastic bag in the fridge until ready to eat.

WATCH: How To Make Whole Grain Pancakes