Written by Jan Walsh
Photography by Beau Gustafson
Food has become complicated. Seeds have pesticides (GMOs) in their DNA, which were put there in laboratories, not on farms. And some of what we are fed is not even food, although it looks like food. I do not believe that seeds need scientists or that nature intended for our food to be made in a lab. So I refuse to knowingly eat GMOs and any “foods” that are flavorless and lacking in nutrition. In my ongoing search for organic and wholesome foods, sprouted foods are among my favorites for both their flavor and health benefits.
Food starts with the seed. A seed naturally keeps its nutrients trapped inside until conditions are right for it to grow a new plant. When the seed of a grain is provided the right temperature and proper moisture conditions, it begins to sprout. And the sprouted grain is the beginning of a new living plant, which we can digest as a vegetable, not a grain. Sprouting also makes complex molecules simpler and easier to digest, increases vitamin C, B vitamins, folate, antioxidants, and soluble fiber, and decreases insoluble fiber and gluten. Sprouting also aids in the absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc. Yet sprouting only increases the vitamins that are already in a seed. So the quality of the seeds being sprouted is a critical factor to the resulting nutrients.
Sprouted whole grains are not new but are making a comeback. They happen in nature and are made from the entire plant: the germ, bran, and endosperm, much like our ancestors ate. Historically, many grains sprouted in the field before farmers needed them or sold them. It was not until the modern era with combines that man typically harvested grain before it sprouted. Timing and conditions are important to sprouting. Too much moisture, and the grain will drown. Or if a sprout grows too long, it becomes a new grass stalk that cannot be digested by humans.
Fortunately, I do not have to sprout my own foods. Alabama’s own To Your Health Sprouted Flour Company does the sprouting. They have engineered their own proprietary method of drying the sprouted grains to retain all the vitamins, minerals, and enzymes produced during sprouting.
Founder and president Peggy Sutton began baking sprouted goodies in her kitchen in 2005. Fast forward 11 years and today her USDA Organic products are found in Whole Foods Markets and other retail locations, are used in restaurants, and are sold online at HealthFlour.com. “I never would have dreamed that my business that started in a mason jar in my kitchen would end up being the world’s biggest producer of organic sprouted grains and flours in 10 short years,” Sutton says. “It’s been a whirlwind experience, and I’m still fascinated by the sprouting process. I continue to test new products in my kitchen in a couple of my original mason jars, so even though the business is now a modern food manufacturing plant, my heart is still in the simplicity of the process of germination.”
Choose among more than 100 products, with 31 of them being gluten-free. I am addicted to her granola, almonds, popcorn, and other snacks. And I cook and bake with the beans, peas, flours, and grits. They are wholesome, real foods that are both delicious and nutritious, sprouted here in Alabama.