Friday, March 23, 2012

Sprouted Brown Rice

I am on a perpetual mission to learn everything I can about nutrition.  Lately, I have delved into the cooking ways of our ancestors.  Nurturing time honored traditions, cooking food the way it was meant to be prepared, not mass produced on some assembly line with huge machines and people in latex gloves.  The fewer stops my food makes from being pulled from the ground to the time it meets my mouth- the better. 

As I buried myself in age old cooking techniques, I stumbled upon sprouted grains.  I have been eating sprouted bread for quite a few years now.  I love Ezekiel bread, and I was aware of the benefits of sprouted grains which is why I started eating it in the first place.  So why on Earth did it take me so long to realize that I could sprout my own grains at home and reap all the benefits?  Seriously, I don't know how I failed to make that connection.  I spent the next few weeks learning about the benefits and methods of sprouting.  The more I read, the more intrigued I became.  After digesting all this information, there was no doubt in my mind that I would be sprouting my grains from now on.  I'd like to go as far as to say I won't eat another grain unless it's been sprouted, but I realize that's not practical unless I vow never to go out for sushi again (hey there's my next project- homemade sushi with sprouted rice!) or enjoy dinner at a friend's. One thing was certain, any grains made in my kitchen would only be of the sprouted nature.

I know what you're thinking.  My life is entirely too busy and time too precious a commodity to even entertain the idea of adding yet another step to the already harried event that is dinner.  Just hear me out. Once you learn of the benefits of sprouting grains along with the detriments of consuming unsprouted grains, you too will be convinced that this is a task well worth undertaking.  And did I mention, that aside from a little forethought, sprouting your own grains will only take about 15 minutes out of your day?  

 Let's discuss the various benefits of sprouted rice.  Rice is a grain and all grains are seeds that contain a toxic substance called phytic acid.  This enzyme inhibitor protects the seed until the conditions are ideal for germination.  Consuming unsprouted grains leads to malabsorption of the vital nutrients within the grain and can wreak havoc on our digestive systems, irritating the G.I. tract leading to a myriad of problems, including inflammation, gas, and allergic reactions.  The mere act of sprouting not only neutralizes the phytic acid but it actually increases the nutritional value of the grain.  Once the enzymes are activated, they release all the nutrients necessary for that seed to grow into a plant.  What does this mean for us?  We are now eating a living plant, not a dormant seed.  It's nutritional profile has changed dramatically, and enhanced the bio-availability of its nutrients.  The protein, calcium, iron, zinc, and fiber content of the rice all significantly increase upon germination. Take calcium for instance.  Once sprouted, the calcium content goes from about 7 mg to 30 mg!  I'd say that's pretty impressive. 

Another perk of germination, it naturally releases an amino acid called gamma-amniobutyric acid (GABA).  GABA has been shown to have various health benefits including promoting lean muscle mass, aiding in weight loss, treating anxiety and high blood pressure, and improving sleep.  There has been a renewed interest in sprouted rice lately due to the recent studies done on GABA. 

For thousands of years, in virtually every culture, people have either soaked, sprouted, or fermented their grains, seeds, and beans before consuming them.  They didn't have all the scientific evidence we do today, they just instinctively knew to do it. This time honored tradition has been long forgotten in our society.  The feverish pace at which we live does not accommodate such practices.  Or does it?  Like I promised earlier, all it takes to reap the benefits of sprouted rice is a tad bit of planning.   Once you eat your sprouted rice you will immediately notice it's mellow, nutty flavor and it's improved digestibility.  Sprouted brown rice also has a shorter cook time, which makes it a perfect choice for a busy weeknight.  Once your rice has been sprouted, it can be cooked as is or dried and ground into a flour for making a wide array of baked goods, or even baby cereal. 

Sprouted Brown Rice

2 c organic brown rice  (any brown rice will sprout, I have had the fastest results with short grain)

rinse rice well and place in bowl or wide mouth mason jar.

cover with cool water and let soak 12-24 hours ( I prefer to soak mine overnight)

In the morning, rinse and drain well.  Cover with a sprouting lid or cheesecloth secured with a rubber band.   

Invert jar at an angle over a bowl to allow for water drainage and air circulation.  Place in an area away from direct sunlight.

Rinse and drain at 8-12 hour intervals until small sprouts begin to appear.  I usually notice sprouts after one day.  Rice is ready when sprouts are about 1/8 of an inch.

If consuming immediately, bring 1 1/2 c water to a boil and add 1 c sprouted rice.  Reduce heat to low and simmer until done, about 30 minutes.

Alternately, you can dehydrate the sprouted rice and then grind it into a flour and freeze.

Any unused sprouted rice can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week, but allow rice to drain fully before putting in fridge.  You want to reduce surface moisture as much as possible to prevent spoilage if storing in the refrigerator.

Of course I realize, sprouting grains isn't for everyone.  If you don't want to sprout your own, you can purchase sprouted rice and other grains at many grocery stores.  I recently found sprouted quinoa in the Natural Foods section at Raley's!  For the greatest selection of sprouted grains, your local co-op or Whole Foods would be your best bet.  

Happy Sprouting!! 

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