With the raw food movement gaining popularity sprouted rice is all over the internet. It used to be hard to find much about it but in the last 12 months or so sprouted rice has become popular as a raw food. Now I’m not a raw foodie purist. And although I do believe in eating a lot of fresh raw fruit and vegetables and do prefer some raw products like honey, cocoa and nuts there are a number of phytochemicals that are better absorbed when treated with heat. And not being a puritan for raw foods I have no objection whatsoever to cooking my sprouted rice. But sprouted is how it should be if you want the maximum from it. Sprouted is best for all grains, not only rice.
Just to clarify I am talking about natural wholegrain rice. White rice will not sprout. It is not a whole grain – and although lovely with Asian food, it’s a scurrilous waste of nutrition – depleted in minerals and vitamins (in fact they add them back by law in the USA to enrich rice). It is devoid of fiber and ranks higher on the glycemic index. You won’t find this stuff in my pantry. As good as wholegrain rice is for you, soaking it increases the protein value over non soaked rice (rice just cooked from the dry state) and sprouting it increases nutritional value several fold. Especially a highly valued compound in the rice called GABA .
GABA is the acronym for Gabba-Aminobutyric acid. It’s the main neurotransmitter in the central nervous system its main action is to increase and decrease activity of neurons. It is necessary for proper brain functioning and a lack of it can contribute to depression and nervous disorders. A high intake of GABA can reduce blood pressure, improve sleep by promoting a deeper rest and increase the ability of the immune system. It inhibits the development and growth of cancer cells and may also help protect the liver. GABA also promotes fat loss by increasing production of Human Growth Hormone. There is also some research that suggests that sprouted rice might help prevent or ameliorate Alzheimer’s. Sprouted rice is higher in the lysine, Vitamin E, fiber, Vitamin B1 and B6, Magnesium and Niacin and other compounds: ferulic acid, tocotrienols, inositols, phytic acid, g-oryzanol , prolylendopeptidalse, zinc, potassium. Well that’s quite a mouthful of ‘ingredients’ in our sprouted rice and all of these are known to have positive effects on health. I recommend GABA rice to everyone who has diabetes because eating it regularly can help ease neuropathy.
Keeping blood sugars stable is important for weight control. Rice – especially white rice – is not the best food if you are trying to lose extra pounds because of the effect it has on blood sugars. Eating brown rice is better but eating sprouted rice is best for weight control. Rice causes a fairly fast rise in blood sugars, but sprouted rice has a slower effect. Fast rises in blood sugar are not good for anyone (unless you are just about to run a race and need a burst of energy). If your blood sugar is raised quickly this can lead to weight gain because excess sugars get stored as fat if the body can’t burn the energy quickly enough.
The optimal conditions for sprouting rice seem to be about 24 hours – this is when GABA will be highest. The GABA value will decrease a bit if it takes longer to sprout your rice but will still have increased overall – so go ahead and do it anyway. If you can get it to sprout in 24 hours all the better. The optimal temperature is about 30-40 Celsius (86 to 204 Fahrenheit ) and you just cover your rice with water – just enough to barely cover it 1 to 2 centimeters – about ½ an inch to one inch. You are supposed to rinse the rice and add fresh water because the rice can begin to smell due to bacteria growing in the water – but here’s a neat trick that helps to prevent that from happening AND increases GABA.
Soak your rice with green tea. What? — Really? — YES.
Now this is not some cockamamie hocus pocus crazy talk – the evidence shows that rice soaked in green tea has more GABA. Green tea has an antibacterial effect that is thought to protect the GABA from being degraded. In my first attempts at soaking rice I found that adding a couple of green tea bags definitely did prevent the water from smelling foul. It certainly can’t hurt to add green tea to the soaking water, but I have found a way that I’m quite happy with.
I don’t cover it completely to soak it
I put enough water in the rice to keep it thoroughly wet it and keep it in a warm environment and it sprouts in just about 24 hours. Sprouting works best with the right amount of acidity and I use either a tablespoon of kefir or yogurt to acidify the water. It also has the effect of adding good bacteria that will compete with any other bacteria trying to take hold. As long as the rice stays wet it will sprout. Now you don’t want to let this go too long or your rice will ferment with the bacteria – which will change the taste bit. There’s a bit of an art to sprouting rice but it’s not hard to master. I use a stainless steel pot and then once it’s sprouted I cook it. If you have a sprouting jar then that would work well too. There is also a commercial rice cooker that has a GABA setting on it to allow your rice to sit and germinate before cooking.
Once I’ve sprouted the rice I allow it to dry out and then I freeze it for later use. To dry it out you can either put it in a dehydrator if you have one, or spread it out on a metal baking tray and place it in a dry environment allow it to dry (the refrigerator is a good place to do this). It needs to dry fairly quickly because its possible for rice to become toxic when it sits at room temperature too long. Now the thing is, that since I’ve gone to all of this trouble to sprout the rice I want to digest every single bit of it – so I blend it up and use it as a base for burgers and other recipes. For this you need your high speed blender. Once the rice is dry I just grind it on the grain cycle. Because all of this takes some time I make a large amount – about 9 cups cooked at a time.
For the best benefit you should have a continuous intake of sprouted rice- try to eat it every day. If you don’t grind it, just make sure you chew it well so it doesn’t pass out of your body undigested.
Mix your sprouted rice with beans, or other protein bases, in casseroles, or make an old-fashioned cream of rice pudding. There are a thousand ways to use sprouted rice in recipes. See my Salmon Loaf with Sprouted rice here.
Germinated brown rice as a value added rice product: A review Swati Bhauso Patil & Md. Khalid Khan http://www.springerlink.com/content/8xq24715w5v4262t/fulltext.pdf
An improved process for high quality and nutrition of brown rice production. Watchararparpaiboon W, Laohakunjit N, Kerdchoechuen O.
Food Sci Technol Int. 2010 Apr;16(2):147-58. Epub 2010 Jul 9.
GABA Accumulations in Rice During Germination Panatda Jannoey, Hataichanoke Niamsup, Saisamon Lumyong,Shigeyuki Tajima Mika Nomura and Griangsak Chairote Chiang Mai J. Sci. 2010; 37(1) : 124-133