Are you confused already? I was when I first heard real food bloggers talking about the proper way to prepare grains. All I knew was to add flour and a bunch of other ingredients, pour in a pan, and bake. I also knew that whole wheat anything was better than white flour any day. But, what I learned was that our bodies are not made to digest whole wheat grain without properly preparing it first.
Is Your Body Struggling To Digest Whole Wheat?
Answer this question for yourself, When I eat whole wheat bread do I feel bad afterwards? Do you feel like your body has a hard time digesting whole wheat?
If you answered yes, your condition is easily explained because the protein of grain, gluten, is one of the hardest protein for the human body to digest. We’ll discuss more about why that is later in this post.
If you answered no, your on the same page as I was. I never had trouble digesting whole wheat, but eating unprepared whole wheat puts an enormous strain on the whole digestive mechanism. When this mechanism breaks down with age or overuse, the results take the form of allergies, celiac disease, mental illness, chronic indigestion, and candida albicans overgrowth. One thing that changed when I started eating properly prepared whole wheat is my yeast infection disappeared and has never returned. I had a constant yeast infection for years…I thought it was normal.
Your Ancestors Did
Another reason to properly prepare your whole grains is because our ancestors did. In America the pioneers were famous for their sourdough breads, pancakes, and biscuits. In Europe grains were soaked overnight in water before they were cooked and served as porridge.
The Scientific Reason
Nourishing Traditions provides the scientific reason for properly preparing grains:
All grains contain phytic acid (an organic acid in which phosphorous is bound) in the outer layer of the bran. Untreated phytic acid can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and especially zinc in the intestinal track and block their absorption. This is why a diet high in unfermented whole grains may lead to serious mineral deficiencies and bone loss.
Two Important Facts
Before I tell you about the different options on how to properly prepare your whole grains, there are two important facts to remember about whole wheat.
- Whole Grain goes rancid quickly after grinding. It is best to get freshly ground flour and to store extra in the freezer. Or grind your own using a grain mill.
- Buy organic whole grain. Most grains have been treated numerous times with pesticides and other sprays that inhibit mold and vermin. Genetically modified grains contain foreign proteins that usually are highly irritating to the digestive tract.
Here is the awesome thing… there are three different ways to properly prepare whole grains, so you get to choose the way that works best for you!
The first method, and I believe the easiest method is
- Soaking – The basic idea of this method is to mix the flour and warm water in a recipe 12 – 24 hours before you make it. If the recipe calls for milk use water instead to soak the grains. The reason for this as Amanda Rose from Rebuild From Depression explains it:
“many times a high-calcium food is added to the soaking grains to improve the pH. While pH is critical in reducing phytic acid in grains, adding calcium is counter-productive.”
Watch her video for further explanation about soaking whole grains in water instead of dairy.
A great soaked bread recipe is Soaked Honey Oatmeal Bread.
The second method is
- Sprouting -Fill a wide-mouth, quart-sized mason jar one-third full with your grain. Add water to the top of the jar and screw on the top using a screen insert. Allow the grain to soak overnight, for one night, and pour off the water. Rinse the grain well without removing the top. Invert the jar and let it sit at an angle to drain and to allow air to circulate. Rinse the grain every few hours to twice a day. The sprouts will be ready in one to four days. Rinse well, shake out the extra moisture, and use or store your sprout in the fridge with a regular lid.
In sprouting, not only is the phytic acid neutralized, but the vitamin content of the grain increases! Here’s another video from Amanda Rose on Sprouting Grain.
Try this sprouted bread recipe: Essene Bread
You can also buy sprouted flour online and use it like regular whole wheat flour in recipes. Of course, you can make your own sprouted flour by dehydrating your sprouted grain and then milling it. Too much work for me!
The third method (I would say the best method) is
- Fermenting – Create a sourdough starter using whole wheat flour and water. Use a portion of the starter in recipes that call for flour to ferment the whole wheat flour. Allow 12 to 24 hours to ferment. Then add the remaining ingredients and bake.
In sourdough bread, with a long fermentation, the phytic acid is almost completely destroyed.
This is the method I personally use. In my next post I will explain better how to create a sourdough starter and how to make sourdough bread that does feel and taste like a brick!
A Note About White Flour
So, maybe you’re thinking since the the phytic acid is in the bran and since white flour no longer has the bran in it, that it might just be best to use white flour. Well, refined carbohydrates such as sugar, white flour products, white rice, and processed fruits and vegetables are to blame for elevated triglycerides in the blood which have been linked to heart disease, strain on the pancreas which causes diabetes, and depleting the body’s precious reserves of vitamins and minerals. Nourishing Traditions also gives a warning about consuming refined carbohydrates:
Whole grains provide vitamin E, B vitamins in abundance, and many important minerals, all of which are essential to life. These are discarded in the refining process. Fiber is also removed. Refined flour is fortified with several synthetic vitamins and minerals, some of which may be dangerous. Some researchers believe that excess iron from fortified flour can cause tissue damage, and other studies link excess or toxic iron to heart disease. Vitamins B1 and B2 added to grains without B6 lead to imbalances in numerous processes involving B vitamin pathways. The safety of bromating and bleaching agents, almost universally applied to white flour, has never been established.