You’ve probably passed by it in the freezer section of your grocery store without even noticing it: sprouted grain bread. It’s a nutty, earthy tasting bread that needs to be refrigerated or frozen because it has fewer preservatives and more nutrients than wheat or white bread. Could sprouted grain bread be your key to enjoying carbs while losing weight?
If I was forced to eat only one type of food for the rest of my life, no question, it would be bread. I have an affinity (aka a slight addiction) for sweets that I battle with every day. I know very well that a black bean salad would be a more nutritious snack than, say, a PB&J sandwich, but man, I’m salivating just thinking about the sandwich!
So when I began reducing the amount of refined and processed foods from my diet, bread was one of the first changes I knew I had to make. Almost every package of bread I found on the grocery store shelf, including those marked “whole-wheat bread”, had refined flours and sugar. Then, I discovered sprouted grain bread hidden in the freezer section of my grocery store.
What are Sprouted Grains?
Sprouting grains is a process by which you soak the grain kernel (aka berry) in water for several days until tiny sprouts start to shoot out from the kernel. Wheat, Rye, Barley and basically any type of grain can be sprouted. Once the sprouts begin to grow, the grain is ground into a paste along with the sprout. Fun fact: This process is similar to “malting” hops for beer.
By contrast, whole-wheat bread is made by grinding the wheat grain kernels into flour before they sprout.
To make white bread, manufacturers remove the most nutrient-rich parts of the grain kernel - the germ and bran – before the outer shell of the kernel is ground into flour.
Benefits of Sprouted Grain Bread
- Rich, nutty taste
- Slightly higher protein than most breads when sprouted lentils and soybeans are found in the ingredients
- More nutrients – niacin, vitamin C, folate - than refined breads
- Easier to digest as the sprouting of the grains starts to break down some of the starches
- Lower Glycemic Index which can help keep blood sugar levels in check
- High in Fiber
- Most sprouted grain breads are egg-free and Vegan-Friendly
Cons of Sprouted Grain Bread
While comparable to the price of fresh-baked artisan bread, sprouted grain bread is more expensive than most other breads: about 50-70 cents more per loaf. I’ve found that sprouted grain breads are less expensive at Whole Foods and Trader Joes than in the “health food” isles at Shaw’s or Kroger.
Warning: Taste-adjustment required. If you’re use to eating bread made with high fructose corn syrup, sugar or other additives (and you can bet if the bread has been sitting on the shelf for more than a couple days, there are added preservatives), sprouted grain bread will seem “too healthy” for your taste buds. ” GIVE ME SUGAR!” your taste buds will scream. Your taste buds might need a week or so to adjust to the flavor.
When I first started eating sprouted grain bread, I thought it tasted more like a crunchy cracker than my beloved soft, whole-wheat bread. But now, after eating it for several years, all other breads seem too mushy and overly sweet. It’s amazing how your taste buds adjust!
Is Sprouted Grain Bread Gluten-Free?
While sprouting grains does not make them gluten-free (in fact wheat gluten is added to some sprouted grain breads), those who find themselves sensitive to gluten might be able to better digest sprouted grain breads. If you have Celiac Disease, you’ll definitely want to avoid sprouted grain breads.
Sprouted Grain Bread for Weight Loss
While there are only few studies about the health benefits of sprouted grain breads, multiple studies show people who eat diets high in fiber and choose whole grains over their refined counter-parts weigh less. This makes both 100% whole wheat and sprouted grain breads a great choice over other bread options.
Some sprouted grain breads are void of sugar or other sweeteners like honey, molasses, etc. If you’re trying to reduce your sugar consumption or are diabetic, sprouted grain bread can help keep your blood sugar and waist line in-check.
Here is another reason I recommend sprouted grain breads to those who are looking to lose a few pounds: it’s frozen! Instead of mindlessly grabbing slices of bread from the pantry, sprouted grain breads take a couple minutes to prepare. You have to pop them in the toaster oven for a few minutes or defrost before you can eat. This simple act of consciously choosing to “prepare” sprouted grain bread can help prevent snacking on bread out of boredom or emotional eating. Which, we all know from experience, is when we consume a lot of extra calories.
With it’s crunchy, earthy flavor, I like to eat sprouted grain breads as the side-kick to a hearty salad or soup for lunch. It satisfies both my bread and crunchy cravings while providing a nutrient-packed boost.
You can also stack avocado, tomato, cucumber and basil on top of sprouted grain bread for a refreshing snack. Some brands of sprouted grain breads come in the form of english muffins, hot dog buns, hamburger buns and even cereals.
Try these sprouted grain bread brands: Ezekiel, Trader Joes, Healthy Way and Alvarado Street Bakery. Be sure to read the ingredients as some have varying levels of sodium, sweeteners and protein-rich ingredients.
While I’ve never tried it myself, baking your own sprouted grain brain could be a really fun experiment. I’m sure kids young and old would be fascinated by the sprouting process. Check out this recipe for sprouted grain bread using the slow cooker on Rural Spin.