Sprouted grains and beans go mainstream

A healthy new trend is sprouting up in markets–sprouted foods. Germinating, or sprouting, seeds, beans and legumes super concentrates their power and makes them more nutritious and digestible.

Commercial sprouted foods cost more than their regular counterparts, but there are tradeoffs. Companies have taken what was once a messy, time-consuming DIY affair and have made it mainstream and shelf-stable yet kept it organic. Plus sprouted grains and beans cook up in minutes.

Food for Life has been sprouting foods since the 1960s, starting with Ezekiel 4:9 sprouted bread and now including sprouted cinnamon raisin cereal ($5.97,16 ounces). It’s serious rather than sweet and somewhat gravelly. Made from sprouted grains and beans including barley and lentils, a cup serving has 190 calories, 1 fat gram, 5 grams of fiber, 160 milligrams sodium and 7 grams protein.

It’s National Pasta Month, so try Ezekial 4:9 Sprouted Grain Pasta ($4.99, 16 ounces)–a field’s worth of sprouted grains and beans from barley to soybeans. It cooks in 5 minutes, tastes mild and offers germinated nutrition. A 2-ounce serving (dry) contains 210 calories, 2 fat grams, 7 grams fiber, 10 milligrams sodium and 9 protein grams.

Garden of Life Apple Cinnamon Super Seed Bar ($2.99, 2.4 ounces) tastes like a Fig Newton but is made with 18 sprouted grains, nuts and beans, plus honey and dates for a satisfying sweetness. The company is Palm Beach-based and it’s always nice to support a home team, especially when they’re making something good and good for you. One totally yum bar contains 250 calories, 35 milligrams sodium, 6 grams each of protein and fat and 4 grams fiber.

Get to the root of sprouting with truRoots sprouted grains and beans. The company sources sustainably, and their sprouted products cook superfast. Even lentils ($5.99, 10 ounces) cook in less than 10 minutes. A quarter cup of dry sprouted lentils contains 140 calories, 1 fat gram, 7 fiber grams, 10 milligrams sodium, and 10 protein grams.

These and other sprouted foods are sprouting up at Whole Foods and other natural food stores and at some supermarkets.

Makes 4 servings

1 cup lentils 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling 1 pinch red pepper flakes 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 onion, chopped fine 1 stalk celery, chopped fine 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes 1 bunch kale, torn into bite-sized pieces 8 ounces whole grain pasta Sea salt to taste

Cook’s note: For sprouted lentils: Bring 3 cups water to boil in a medium-sized pot. Add lentils. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes. Turn off heat but leave pot on the burner and let lentils continue to cook for another 2 minutes. Taste for tenderness. For regular dried lentils: Rinse and drain lentils. Bring 3 cups water to boil in a medium-sized pot. Add lentils. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 20 to 30 minutes, until lentils are just tender. Directions: 1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. 2. Add pepper flakes. When they start to sizzle, add the garlic, onion and celery. 3. Cook, stirring, about 5 minutes, until vegetables soften. 4. Reduce heat to medium and cook another 5 minutes. 5. Stir in tomatoes. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. 6. Cook pasta according to package directions until barely al dente. Drain. 7. Add kale by the handful to tomatoes and vegetables. 8. Stir, cooking about 5 minutes or until the kale is just tender and still bright green. 9. Stir in the lentils. Add sea salt as desired. 10. Return pasta to the pot. 11. Pour in tomatoes, lentils and kale. Stir to combine and taste again for salt. 12. Drizzle with additional olive oil if desired. Nutritional information per serving: 348 calories (20 percent from fat), 8 g fat (1 g saturated fat, 5 g monounsaturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 13 g protein, 6 g fiber, 193 mg sodium.

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