Grains at Our House
Over the years we’ve been gluten-free and at times even grain-free,, but at present our family is able to enjoy a moderate amount of grains without any adverse effects. And boy are we happy to have our bread back!! Come along as I explain how and why we are able to eat grains at our house. Read here to find out more about our journey up to this point.
The Trouble with Grains
Grains are the cause of a whole lot of trouble for a whole lot of people!
Acne, eczema, psoriasis, joint pain, headaches, bloating, gas, and other digestive complaints… these can all be directly related to a diet high in grains.
But haven’t people been eating grains for thousands of years? Why suddenly are we developing conditions such as IBS, food sensitivities, Celiac, and more?
Hybridization is a very common farming practice. It is the process of crossing two different varieties of plant in order to produce a desirable result, usually higher yields, disease resistance, even (in the case of wheat) better baking properties. Unfortunately, one of the unintended results of this hybridization is that modern hybridized wheat now has an altered gluten protein and chromosome structure. This altered form of gluten is very difficult to digest and can cause an inflammatory immune response in some (possibly all) people. This immune response attacks not only the foreign gluten protein found inside the body, but also the body itself leading to many inflammatory reactions and a condition called “leaky gut” (the root of a whole host of health problems).
Hybridization is not the only problematic modern solution to the difficulties of farming. You see, wheat crops cannot be harvested from the field until the plants have completely died and gone to seed. Naturally, some plants die back sooner than others, making harvest time difficult and unpredictable. That is, until someone had a brilliant (and evil) idea: If you spray the entire field with Glyphosate (the active ingredient in the pesticide RoundUp) just a few days before your desired harvest date, all the plants will die back at exactly the same time and ALL the wheat can be harvested! Hooray! Higher yields for farmers! Lower prices for consumers! The end of world hunger! … right?
Unfortunately Glyphosate is HIGHLY toxic! It powerfully disrupts human physiology in so many ways… causing severe mineral deficiencies, destroying healthy gut bacteria, making heavy metals more toxic and causing them to accumulate in our bodies.
And we spray this on our wheat just before harvesting!!??!?
It turns out that many people who believe they have a wheat sensitivity, may actually be having a reaction to the high levels of Glyphosate on the wheat.
Organic wheat cannot be sprayed with Glyphosate, making wheat one of the most important products to buy organic!
For more information on the extremely pervasive dangers of Glyphosate, check out the videos below by Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist from MIT.
Okay, just one more! I can’t help it. This information is so important. If possible, round up your friends and family and trick them into sitting down to watch these videos with you… You’ll need to put on your scientist hat for this one, but it’ll be well worth it. I promise.
Starches and Carbs
Starches and carbs are a necessary part of the human diet, but too many, especially those that are devoid of nutrients due to over-processing have a very negative affect on the body, causing spikes in blood sugar, and providing a ready supply of food for pathogenic bacteria and yeast in the gut. Grains were never meant to be bleached and processed the way they are in our current American food system, nor were they ever meant to make up the bulk of our diet…
Yeah, that food pyramid you had to color every year in elementary school? Just turn it upside down.
Phytic acid is a substance naturally found in grains (as well as nuts, legumes, and every other kind of seed). This substance binds with nutrients in the hull of the grain, making them unavailable and indigestible under normal circumstances. The presence of phytic acid is just another reason why a diet high in grains has a negative effect on the body. More about phytic acid and what you can do about it here.
So how can we cope with all of this unfortunate information?
Grain-Free / Paleo
Going completely grain-free is an excellent idea for most (though not all) people, at least for a time of healing. Gut healing is a crucial part of recovering from any of the conditions mentioned above and you cannot heal your gut while eating grains.
Sorry. Just isn’t going to happen.
I don’t doubt that a permanently grain-free diet would be beneficial for many people, but for our family we chose to add a moderate amount of grains back into our diet after we reversed our food sensitivities. Eating completely grain-free for a large family requires a pretty hefty amount of meat and veggies every week. This, of course, is a good thing if you have either an ample budget or a backyard homestead, but for most families it can put a bit of a strain on finances. In the summer we are able to eat a much higher percentage of fresh veggies from the garden and we hope to increase that amount each year.
Still, for us, grains will remain a part of our diet for as long as we can tolerate them.
Also, we like bread. 🙂
Gluten is a beast. It just is. You may not want to believe it. That’s okay. I didn’t either. But it doesn’t change the facts. Gluten is not your friend. If you are suffering from any of the above complaints and are also eating gluten… Well, there you go.
For this reason, more and more people are choosing to go “gluten-free”. I know this sounds like a bandwagon. It sounds too trendy to believe, but it’s true – cutting gluten out of your diet will completely change the way you feel. Symptoms you didn’t even realize you had will begin to disappear and you’ll feel better than you ever have before because, like I said, gluten is truly a beast. It’s tearing apart your gut lining, continuously setting off your immune response, causing huge amounts of inflammation, and skyrocketing your stress hormones.
So yes, gluten is best left out of your diet completely. The problem here is that gluten-free products and recipes (which are now quite plentiful and easy to find) are often full of processed starches, excessive amounts of nut flours, and chemical additives.
We do avoid gluten, but we don’t do so in a typical way…
Lol! We don’t do anything in a typical way.
Grains at Our House
We’ve learned that we can go without them completely and while we are SO GLAD to have them back, we do keep them in moderation.
As I mentioned earlier, modern wheat is structured very differently from what it once was, having a total of 48 chromosomes (and an altered gluten protein) compared to the 14 chromosomes that ancient wheat once contained.
There is only one ancient wheat variety that has never been hybridized. This ancient wheat is called Einkorn and it is what we choose to use at our house. Many people find that simply switching to Einkorn is enough to make a difference for their health.
We purchase our Organic Einkorn wheat berries at Pleasant Hill Grain. It comes in a large bucket, which we store in a basement closet.
We use Gamma Seal Lids to air-lock these buckets. These lids are helpful for two reasons: First, you’ll break your fingernails right off trying to remove the regular bucket lids. And second, it keeps the grain fresh and safe from critters.
I keep a small supply of grain in a large glass jar in the kitchen, filling it from the downstairs bucket every now and then.
I shoot for 2/3 Einkorn + 1/3 Oats when baking bread. I find the oat flour also gives the bread a softer/lighter texture. If you over do it on the oats, though, your bread can become a bit gummy.
Grinding Grain at Home
- Allows us to purchase whole wheat berries in bulk for a lower price.
- Prevents nutrient loss. Grains lose most of their vitamin content within the first few days after being milled.
- Unsaturated fats within the wheat germ quickly become rancid after milling.
- Purchasing whole wheat berries ensures that our flour will never be bleached, bromated, or fortified with synthetic vitamins.
Purchasing a grain grinder is an investment. For us it has been well worth it This is the grinder that we use every day. We keep it out on the counter in a little nook.
Whenever I need to use the grain grinder I always grind a few cups extra. I keep the extra in freezer bag so that I always have a little on hand for feeding the sourdough, adding to soaked oats, or for any other reason that I might need just a bit of flour. Some families prefer to grind and freeze larger amounts of flour at a time. For us it really is not too much of an inconvenience to pour the grain into the top of the grinder and wait a minute or two for it to process through. Still, it’s handy to have a small amount in the freezer.
Traditional sourdough works to break down the small amount of gluten present in the Einkorn. We know this from the research we’ve done, but mostly because our bellies tell us that it’s true.
Using a true sourdough increases nutrients and digestibility and works to break down phytic acid and gluten even further.
As I mentioned above, we also cut our Einkorn flour with oat flour. (Oats are free of gluten – except that they are often planted in the same fields with wheat and/or processed in the same facilities, so there can be traces).
We have never had any adverse effects eating our Einkorn & oat sourdough bread, crackers, pizza dough, etc…
Happy skin. Happy digestion. Happy family.
Soaking grains in water + a couple tablespoons of acid medium (such as whey, yogurt, lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar) is a great way to get the digestion process started and to break down phytates, but it has little affect on gluten content. We have noticed that for our family, soaked recipes containing wheat (while better than eating a conventional recipe) still are not tolerated as well as sourdough. For that reason, we typically use the soaking method only for oats, quinoa, rice, and legumes.
This is another option that (like the others) greatly increases the nutrient content of the grains, but can be a bit time consuming, and (like soaking) doesn’t much affect the gluten content. In order to make sprouted wheat flour at home, one would have to: #1- sprout the grains by soaking and rinsing them in water for 3-5 days, #2- dehydrate the grains until completely dry, and then #3 – grind the grain into flour.
I have no interest in putting this much effort into making flour, especially considering that the sourdough is by far the best choice for our digestion.
Sprouted grain flours and products can be purchased at your local real-food grocery store, and in theory, this would be a very convenient option because you can use the flour as you normally would and don’t have to alter your recipes as you do for soaked flour and sourdough. However we have noticed that we do not tolerate the sprouted grain flours from the store well at all. Tummy aches all around. Every time.
This is a break down of how we use grains at our house:
Grains at Our House
Starter – we keep ours on the counter and feed it every day so that it’s always ready when we need it.
Crusty Dinner Bread – 2 times per week-ish
Pizza Crust – Every Friday night
Skillet Bread – Once every week or two
Crackers – Occasionally, though I should really make them more often because they are SO GOOD!
Sandwich Bread – Occasionally.. still working on this recipe. Tastes great, but it’s a bit crumbly and not that convenient for sandwiches! Makes great toast though.
Chocolate Cake – For birthdays
Oats 3-4 times per week for breakfasts. This includes: soaked oatmeal, baked oatmeal, and oat biscuits (oat cakes)
Rice – Once a week or so.
Blender Waffles – Once or twice per month on Saturdays when Daddy’s home to make them. LOVE this recipe! Super easy.
Muffins, Oatmeal Cookies, etc.. Very occasionally (if I can find a sourdough or grain-free option that’s always my first preference).
I very occasionally purchase sprouted grain products like hamburger buns or sandwich bread, but only in a pinch for road trips and last minute summer BBQs. Always check for added gluten on the ingredient list.
What about Pasta????
Well, it is possible to make your own pasta using any of the above options, and perhaps I will someday, but for now, with a house full of littles, I’m pretty happy to purchase organic rice pasta when we need it. This is a compromise in some ways, but I’m happy to have access to it and it doesn’t cause us any trouble for our skin or digestion.
Rice pasta cooks up just like regular pasta and tastes nearly the same. It’s also gluten free.
Is it processed? Yes. But for right now this is our go-to when we need dinner on the table fast, or when I forgot to start the sourdough this morning and now it’s dinner time… We try to keep this to once per week, but sometimes it sneaks in twice.
Conventional corn is not only genetically modified, it’s equipped with the Bt-toxin, meaning that the corn is not only sprayed with pesticide, it actually produces its own pesticide within the cells of the plant! Learn more about GMO corn here.
Because it is a grain and was a particular problem for one of my children especially, we try not to over do it on corn. It’s hard though, because we all love it so much. We add organic frozen corn to our taco meat or chili once a week or so. We also purchase NON-GMO Verified Corn tortilla chips to have along with them.
Somewhere around here I’ve got a great recipe for sourdough tortilla chips that I’ve been meaning to try for years, which would be preferable. Someday.
We also love to pop popcorn on the stove in pastured lard and/or butter for a quick after-church lunch, not every week, but often.
Recipes and Resources
I’m so looking forward to sharing all of our favorite recipes with you, as well as a simple sourdough tutorial. But alas, my house is full of lovely, needy, loud, little people. So in the event that you have to wait a bit for my recipes, check out the resources below.
Search for their sourdough or “soaked” recipes. These are great resources that I trust and depend on myself.
– I know, it says it’s for kids, but I’m finding that I like it ever so much more than the adult version… I wonder what that says about me? 😏
For a list of all our favorite resources check out our Homestead Kitchen Resources page.
Pin it for Later
And as always friends, please remember that I’ve got kids sledding down the stairs on Costco boxes as I write to you…
So, if you think I’ve forgotten something important, have any questions or comments, or simply a bit of encouragement to share, please use the comments below, send me an email, or find us on Facebook.
I’d love to hear from you.