Saint Louis University

Author: Sydney Messick
Published: Monday, March 18, 2013

A few years ago, I came across several articles on sprouting your own grains and beans. I had been buying some sprouted grain bread on occasion, but I had never thought of sprouting grains and beans myself. What is sprouting, you ask? And why on earth would you want to eat something that looks like it should be thrown out or put in the ground instead?

As you probably learned in 8th grade biology, seeds (like whole grains) contain germ, endosperm, and bran, which are all necessary for growing a new plant. The germ feeds on the starchy endosperm as the seed germinates and begins to grow, while the bran provides additional nutrients and protection for the seed. When the temperature and moisture conditions are just right, the seed germinates and begins to sprout. The enzyme activity converts the starchy endosperm into simpler molecules that are easier for the growing plant to digest.[1]

Saint Louis University Dietetic Interns sprouts

Ok. Enough biology review. The thought is that if the starches are easier for the plant to digest at this stage between seed and new plant, they’re easier for humans to digest too. What’s more, the sprouting process appears to make some vitamins and minerals more bioavailable as well.[2,3] One study found that the omega-3 content of wheat was about four times greater after sprouting, while the amount of potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron was up to twice as high in the sprouts.[4] Another study found that free amino acids, fiber content, and antioxidant capacity were all improved after 48 hours of sprouting in waxy wheat, a new variety of wheat that holds promise in the food manufacturing world for its unique characteristics.[5]

I’m not sure why it took me 2+ years to finally sprout my own seeds but it sounds more daunting than it actually is. I randomly brought up this long-lost goal of mine to my aunt recently and she informed me that she had successfully been sprouting seeds for a while and that it was quite easy. I had every intention of using a simple mason jar, but within a few days I found this handy sprouting cup waiting in my mailbox.

There are a lot of grains, beans, and nuts out there – lentils, chickpeas, black beans, quinoa, millet, wheat berries, almonds – where on earth do you start? She informed me that lentils practically sprout before your eyes and that I should start with those first. The instructions are extremely simple: Soak lentils 6-8 hours. Drain. Cover and let sit until sprouted, 12-16 hours. Yet I was certain I would mess it up somehow. I soaked the lentils one afternoon, drained them before I went to sleep, and the next evening when I came home from class, I found what you see in that picture below.

Saint Louis University Dietetic Interns sprouts

SUCCESS! So….what the heck do you do with sprouted beans, lentils, grains? Well, there are a million options – basically any way that you would use these items normally! I provided some links at the end of this post to spark some inspiration. I enjoyed mine by adding them to a quick homemade vegetable soup with some homemade bread. I've been baking my own bread for a few years now, so my next goal is definitely to make sprouted grain flour for homemade sprouted grain bread. Perhaps once the internship is over, I’ll update my personal blog with the progress! Happy sprouting!

Saint Louis University Dietetic Interns sprouts

Sprouted Lentil Soup
Sprouted Hummus
Warm Lentil Salad with Balsamic Roasted Squash
Roasted Summertime Chickpea Salad (use sprouted chickpeas!)


  4. Ozturk, I., Sagdic, O., Hayta, M., & Yetim, H. (2012). Alteration in α-tocopherol, some minerals, and fatty acid contents of wheat through sprouting. Chemistry of Natural Compounds, 47(6), 876-879.
  5. van Hung, P., Maeda, T., Yamamoto, S., & Morita, N. (2012). Effects of germination on nutritional composition of waxy wheat. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 92(3), 667-672.