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Monday Mission: Eat Fewer Grains

I just finished a brownie. Unsoaked. White sugar. Whole wheat flour.

It was delicious.

So let’s get one thing straight. I eat grains. I eat wheat. Probably too much, too late at night. I’m no grain hater.

I was planning on having the first Monday Mission of grains’ month be to move away from white flour to whole wheat, both in your store-bought bread and when you bake. I was going to teach you to go ½ and ½ white flour and whole wheat in your quick breads and cookies. I was going to reference How to Read a Bread Bag: Searching for Whole Grains and my Granola Bar recipe.

Homemade Granola and Granola Bars

Now I’m not so sure.

The more I research, the more I find that whole grains really do have a nutrient-blocker in them, and you’re getting very little increased nutrition between white and whole wheat bread, for example. Whole wheat has more fiber. But that’s about it. For the increased expense, some would say that’s just not worth the buck (or two or three).

On the other hand, there are just as many who say that white flour must be eradicated from a healthy diet, that it’s broken down so quickly into sugars in the body that you may as well be drinking Country Time lemonade when you’re eating a piece of white bread.

In spite of the anti-nutrients in whole grains, it still seems a step up from the quick-sugar-high starch of refined grains, because at least you do have that fiber to slow down the body’s metabolism process. I think.

In light of all that information, and the fact that most of you are probably fairly well-versed in eating whole grains already, here is your revised, appropriate Monday Mission:

Eat Fewer Grains

That’s right. There’s a substantial body of research that criticizes grains as part of a healthy diet, period. I’ll share more in a basic grains food for thought this week, but for now, let’s make it a goal to have one grain-less meal each day this week, and to be more thoughtful about our grain consumption, especially as the lone item in quick snacks.

Hmph. This on a week when I just made two batches of granola bars this weekend and have sourdough bread rising in the oven as we speak. The oatmeal’s already soaking for Monday morning, too. Tuesday, though, I’ll have yogurt or eggs for breakfast!

Some Substitution Ideas

Instead of…Try…
Oatmeal, pancakes, or toastEggs, breakfast meats
CerealYogurt with fruit
Crackers and cheeseJust cheese. I guess. !!
Granola BarsAlmond Power Bars
Munchy things like pretzelsNuts, seeds, dried fruit
Side breads like biscuits, toast, cornbreadFilling your plate with the main course of meat and vegetables; pumping up your salad with nuts and seeds
Pasta, riceExtra steamed vegetables; potatoes (although again, some say potatoes are no better than grains)
SandwichMeat on a salad
Tortilla wrapsExtra beans
Brownies, cookiesIce cream (this one’s not hurtin’ my feelings at all)
Other ideas? Do share!UPDATE:  The comments are chuck full of fabulous ideas! Spaghetti squash and cauliflower for pasta, et. al. subs are often mentioned. It’s worth skimming down…

I’m not asking you to give up grains completely! One meal. Try for one grain-less meal. My intent is to encourage you to increase your consciousness of the amount of grains you eat. Trying to avoid something is a surefire way to notice how often it’s a part of your life.

I will not ask you to continue to give up grains beyond this Monday Mission, but to examine them and hopefully FIX them so that you can get more nutrients out when you consume them.

This is one of the first Monday Missions that I’m working through right alongside you. I feel like I’ll be held accountable, so I felt guilty for wanting to eat pasta for lunch. My crackers and granola bars were calling my name all day. I prepared a grain-less meal for my family for dinner, and I must say it was also one step easier. Love that.

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

We had these Mexican stuffed peppers in roasted red peppers frozen from the summer Farmer’s Market. I made a few changes in the recipe:

  • venison with taco seasoning instead of sausage
  • threw in some cooked liver and beef heart (don’t tell hubs!)
  • threw in a few sweet potato puree cubes (ditto)
  • increased the beans and decreased the corn
  • left out the rice

I’m sure it was great, but of course, I went out to eat with a gaggle of fabulous blogging ladies: Donielle from Naturally Knocked Up, Jill from The Diaper Diaries, Jodi from Jodimichelle, Kelly from Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Heather from Autumn at Oak Hollow (link no longer available) and Stacey from Stacey Says. It was a blast. My camera’s batteries lasted all of one picture, so I’m going to have to wait to see what the others post this week and appreciate their captures. Here’s Donielle‘s awesome post about us, and Heather’s.

I had one piece of bread. (And bottomless soup and salad.)  I was so flustered by all the conversation that I wasn’t able to think clearly and get meat at a restaurant that serves local, grass-fed, organic, pastured beef and pork. Duh. Naturally, I came home hungry.

I digress. Back to the grains. Here are some of the main concerns people might have when facing the thought of preparing grain-free meals:

    • Isn’t it cost-prohibitive? We need grains as inexpensive fillers or we’ll go broke! I have the same problem. $3/dozen for good eggs vs. the $11.25 I just spent for an entire 25-lb bag of oatmeal. Big difference!
      • Yes, you spend more on meats and vegetables.
      • Legumes are another good filler, and much more healthy than an abundance of grains.
      • Perhaps we need to eat less overall as a culture, and then we could spend less.
      • Don’t get rid of grains altogether. They can still be fillers, just not as often.
    • We need to eat more whole grains. From Luanne: Whole grains have amazing healing power, are a good source of protein, can sustain energy levels, and have been around forever…any food that is a plant and can die is not necessarily one you want to write off. And in the American diet today, most people need to ADD more WHOLE grains into their diet, not reduce. My response:  Americans absolutely need to switch out the white flours and processed grains and would do better to eat whole grains. However, overall we tend to eat more grains than we need, and they’re usually not properly prepared. I’d rather you cut down on grains a little this week to prepare to learn to soak, sprout, and sourdough your grains over the coming month. All three prep methods are better than standard “whole grain bread”. (I think.)
    • Grains are a traditional food; don’t dismiss them. This was often mentioned! Did I repeat yet that I only asked for one meal without grains? Scriptures often talk about bread.

      My response:  “Traditional” for thousands of years, but some cultures even now have little to no grains, and nomadic peoples couldn’t stop long enough to cultivate grain. So how far back do we want to go? I also can’t discount the fact that Christ says, “I am the Bread of Life.”  Actually, my dear friend Sarah (no longer available) says it much better than I’m about to (from Monday’s comments):

      Something to consider to those who say that we’ve “always eaten grains” (and take this with a grain of salt, as I too still eat some grains) but the primal eaters disagree. They claim that our bodies (as homo sapiens) have really not evolved to eat grains. As we were originally hunter-gatherers our bodies are made to digest fruits, veggies, seeds, nuts, meat, fat, some dairy, but never did a hunter-gatherer come across a patch of wheat or rice and think, “hmmm . . .that looks tasty. Now, if I only had time in my nomadic life to cut it, thrash it, remove the outer hull, let it dry, soak it in milk or water for a few days to ferment and then cook it over a fire. That would make a pretty tasty meal.” Nope, they said, “what is this weed? Makes a great rope, but if I eat it, my stomach hurts. Better avoid that one and go eat these berries and gnaw on a hunk of meat.”

    It was only when tribes began to build civilizations and grow agriculture that they started to consider growing and eating grains. Yet our bodies digestive system hasn’t “evolved” at all from those original hunter-gatherers. The only animals that do regularly eat grains and seeds are birds, which have a completely different body structure than we do. Everybody else (mammals) likes their grasses and tubers and veggies and meats. They’ll eat grains when they come across them, but they don’t seek them out.

    There’s some food for thought for you!

    The other side of the coin is, as a Christian, I believe that God made everything good. And when he gave us the Lord’s Prayer which states, “give us this day our daily bread,” he confirmed that bread was, indeed, real food for us (on both literal and theological levels!). Do I think we need to eat a lot of it? No. I also don’t think we need it to fill in all of our meals and snacks with it (like our current society does, all in the name of convenience and frugality – those essences of American society). And I think that the soaking/sourdough process makes it more digestible.

    So where does that leave me? With lots of things to think about . . .

    …And promises of more to come! Like this one:

    • “Since wheat is just a seed, what would make wheat seeds bad for us and other seeds good? Obviously, gluten plays a part in this condemnation of wheat – but not all grains contain gluten. How does sprouting or soaking change the nutrient profile?” It’s all about the phytates when it comes to soaking. All seeds have phytates, and all should be properly soaked…if there is a way to properly soak them. Research is forthcoming!Here is Jason, from yesterday’s comments:“When you soak wheat berries, millet, quinoa, and other hole grains (just in plain water), you start the sprouting process, which not only pre-digests the phytates, but vastly increases the nutrition and makes them slightly alkalizing instead of acidifying, lowers the carbohydrate and fat load, and increases the protein content. In essence, you are turning a seed into a vegetable.”I don’t know if his facts are true, but it sure sounds good, doesn’t i?
    • Be sure to see ~M’s ideas for reducing your grains in the comments at yesterday’s post!

    Is that a lot of good information, or what? I’m still trying to digest it all. *pun!*

    Happy eating!

    Get caught up with a handy list of all the soaking grains information.

Need More Baby Steps?

Monday Missions Baby Steps Back to Basics

Here at Kitchen Stewardship, we’ve always been all about the baby steps. But if you’re just starting your real food and natural living journey, sifting through all that we’ve shared here over the years can be totally overwhelming.

That’s why we took the best 10 rookie “Monday Missions” that used to post once a week and got them all spruced up to send to your inbox – once a week on Mondays, so you can learn to be a kitchen steward one baby step at a time, in a doable sequence.

Sign up to get weekly challenges and teaching on key topics like meal planning, homemade foods that save the budget (and don’t take too much time), what to cut out of your pantry, and more.

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

73 thoughts on “Monday Mission: Eat Fewer Grains”

  1. I find your website very interesting and I have enjoyed the whole foods recipes and opinion. I am currently as student studying nutrition and there is one thing I wanted to mention. First of all, your research regarding whole grains: did you use a science research database to find your information such as pubmed? These search engines provide the most accurate information regarding nutrition. Although even at that point it is important to remember that every article needs to be read objectively. The second thing I want to say is that research has found that a diet consisting of whole grains including fiber rich foods helps with regulation of the digestive system, helps with reducing risk for heart disease, helps with management of diabetes, and a whole list of other health problems. I can see where you are coming from with the whole grains I just wanted to make sure you were being a smart researcher as I am sure you are. Have a great day and keep on writing!

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Thanks Elsa…this post is years old, and I really don’t remember how I did all my research, sorry. 🙂 Katie

  2. Sarah,

    Great info! Thanks! I just started a very strict diet to eliminate a Candida yeast overgrowth and my oldest daughter just started a dairy/gluten free diet to see if it is causing her recurring ear infections. This is helpful!

    God Bless,
    Anne

  3. FYI, the hyperlink to “Organizing Your Space: Notes from a Small Kitchen” appears to be broken.

    1. Lucy, Thank you! But…I just clicked on it, and it went through. I think Keeper of the Home’s site was having tech difficulties earlier today, so I bet you hit it at the wrong time. 🙂 Katie

  4. Pingback: Soaking Grains Exploration RETURNS! | Kitchen Stewardship

  5. Ice cream, you have been vindicated! We’ve had some rough years, but we’re still going strong. Nothing will ever tear us apart.

    ~Your secret admirer

    Thanks, Katie, for the suggestions. It’s hard to think in a different framework.

  6. aw man, it’s depressing for me to find out this truth about whole grains. i have always been against white stuff like white rice and flour because i know they are “empty” calories–with little or no nutrients at all. but i thought whole wheat/ grains were good for you. i love baking and i love pastry and baked goods…and weeeell, i don’t really want to give them up… =S

    1. Tracy,
      Don’t despair! This series continues – definitely check out the latest post here: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2010/02/16/food-for-thought-is-soaking-grains-traditional/ and keep up for lots more research.

      I don’t think they’re bad, just a tangled web.

      🙂 Katie

  7. hey katie, what you have posted up here on whole grains is totally contradicting what Kelly the Kitchen Kop said. She recommends eating MORE of whole grains. :-/ i’m confused…

    http://kellythekitchenkop.com/2008/05/health-benefits-of-whole-grains.html

    1. Tracy,
      Sorry it took me so long to respond to this comment. It got lost in the shuffle! Kelly’s post is a rookie step, meant not to overwhelm, much like my post on how to find whole grain bread from last summer. Now I’m pushing a little deeper! She does include links to “properly prepared grains” and soaking/sprouting. In the comments, you’ll see someone who says we shouldn’t be eating whole grains unsoaked, and then Kelly replies that it’s just a rookie step away from white flour, but not the ideal.

      My mission here is just to reduce, simply to increase consciousness of how many grains we eat. Keep reading in this series for more info on how to prepare grains when you do eat them!
      Thanks – Katie

  8. I am relatively new to the world of “real foods only” and I have to say that right now I am very confused about grains. My instinct, though, is to eat some but not as a pillar of my diet. I can do that.
    .-= Maggie´s last blog ..One Quarter Dipping Sauce =-.

  9. My Petite Chefs

    Someone mentioned Elana Pantry (http://www.elanaspantry.com/) I love her site for grainless options. She does use mostly Agave Syrup and some may not want to use that- but I’m sure honey or maple could be subbed in for many recipes.

    As for desserts how about black bean brownies.- http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/amazing-black-bean-brownies-recipe.html
    .-= My Petite Chefs´s last blog ..My Poor Man’s Microwave Tortilla Warmer =-.

  10. Actually, I just did a post on using alternate grains. When using whole wheat flour, btw, I don’t dilute it with white at all–even in cakes. I think it tastes fine, and the texture isn’t bad either.

    http://trialanderrorhomeec.blogspot.com/2010/02/social-responsibility-in-kitchen.html
    .-= Rachel´s last blog ..KTT-Inventory Management =-.

  11. Just putting in my two cents. And I’m not lecturing anyone. I don’t think cutting back on grains is the problem. And I don’t think cutting back on meat is the problem. The problem lies in our perception of what a serving is. 2 oz meat and 2-3 servings of starch is a normal serving for a meal. That is to be topped off with fresh fruits and vegetables. As a whole, our bodies are not set up for eating animals. But even vegetarians and vegans will tell you that they don’t eat just grains. I’m of the mindset that balance is the key. I also want to add that just because one reads it on the internet doesn’t mean it’s right. It takes a lot of research from many different perspectives for me to make up my mind about something. Having gone the vegetarian way and the low carb way, I find that I feel best when I have a variety of foods. Oh, and too much meat and not enough starch is super hard on the kidneys. That is a scientific fact.

    1. um, we are omnivores biologically. look it up. this too, in scientific fact.
      .-= emily´s last blog ..Where to Buy Real Food in Minneapolis? Your Local Asain Market! =-.

  12. perhaps, though, when Jesus was walking the earth there were not so many people with gluten-intolerance and celiac disease, both of which make gluten-containing grain eating dangerous, in the case of celiac even leading to cancer of the intestines.
    .-= emily´s last blog ..Where to Buy Real Food in Minneapolis? Your Local Asain Market! =-.

  13. Whoops…I see a couple of other people have already shared this basic thought. Oh well…at least I’m in good company!
    .-= April´s last blog ..April Asks the Internet: Episode I =-.

  14. I’m not Catholic, and this is by no means a scientific answer, but here’s a thought: As a Christian, I have a hard time writing off grains entirely and saying they are bad for us. And here’s why: What is the food that we eat during communion? Bread. And who instituted that? Christ. Does that mean that we should be eating as many grains as we do on the standard American diet? I certainly don’t think so. But I don’t think we can call something bad that the Lord has called good. Just my two cents.
    .-= April´s last blog ..April Asks the Internet: Episode I =-.

  15. I’ve been reading about this as well lately. Dr. Joel Fuhrman has compiled a lot of research on the nutrient density of foods, and he says that grains, even whole, aren’t that nutrient dense. Crazy how much we are taught that is actually false information!

    1. the dr you refer to also advocates a vegan diet, which in my opinion is wrong on so many levels.
      .-= emily´s last blog ..Where to Buy Real Food in Minneapolis? Your Local Asain Market! =-.

      1. While this is a common misconception, It is simply not true. I have seen Dr. Fuhrman on the Dr. Oz show and he stated specifically that he was not vegan and gave examples of clean fish that he advocates for.

  16. Great to be exploring this topic!

    I just want to respond to a couple of the responses above that state – ‘grains have been around forever!’

    Grains have only been around for about 10.ooo years. Humans have been around far longer than that, if you accept the theory of evolution.

    It takes anywhere from 40,000 – 100,000 years for genetic adaptation to a change in environment to occur. The agricultural revolution was a major change in environment. We haven’t really adapted yet. Many degenerative diseases only showed up in humans after the ag revolution.

    Nora Gedgaudas’ book ‘Primal Body, Primal Mind’ explores the topic very well. Great book! Quite the eye opener.

    Great blog!
    .-= Durga´s last blog ..Into the Kitchen! =-.

    1. I can’t say I agree with this assertion about human adaptation. Genetic mutation happens all the time, in everyone, and how quickly a mutation would spread throughout a population depends more on extent of the environmental pressure than on any specific length of time.

      For example, imagine that the H1N1 virus had been as lethal as the 1916 Spanish flu epidemic, but had also had the global reach that today’s transportation systems give us. If a large portion of the human population had been wiped out, and those remaining had survived due to a protective mutation of some sort, how long could we say it took for human to “adapt” to H1N1? I don’t mean to split hairs, but I think a statement like “it takes X number of years for a random, unpredictable series of events to happen” is paradoxical. I also think that the fact that humans do have some obvious physiological adaptations to eating grains (amalase, the enzyme that breaks down starch, is present in our saliva) suggests that we have made at least some genetic “progress” in that direction.

      For that matter, the ability of adults to digest lactose is also an adaptive latecomer which could only have been the result of animal domestication, which would have occurred concurrently with grain domestication (I can’t imagine people had much luck milking wild animals). So how is it that we had enough time to adapt to milk, and we can recommend it to everyone as a “good” food, but we can’t say the same about grains? This is further complicated by the fact that when I say that, I’m excluding the majority of adults worldwide who are not of Caucasian descent, and cannot, in fact, drink milk because they do not possess that genetic adaptation. Maybe in the same vein, grains are good for some local groups who may have adapted to its digestion more effectively than others.

      I apologize if this is a bit of a rant, it was not my intention. I love Katie’s blog, as well as many others about healthy eating. However, I admit I sometimes become irked by the inadvertent ethnocentric slant of some of these “real food” movements.

      1. Julie,
        I love your rant. 🙂 Believe me, I feel like ranting, too, mostly because I CANNOT determine a research-based answer and I’m tired of people disseminating falsehoods!

        I never once thought of the ethnicity issue with grains, and you make an excellent point about milk. It always comes back to “everything in moderation” and figuring out what works for your body, doesn’t it?

        Thanks for adding to the body of knowledge here. It’s awesome!
        🙂 Katie

        1. When I took a class on NT, the teacher said on the first day that any given diet will only work for about 1/3 of people. That’s somehing to keep in mind as we all journey together on preparing an optimal diet. I think everyone reading here will agree it should be comprised of “real food.” But as far as the proverbial food pyramid, that will probably be quite different from person to person, family to family. Our ethnic background, personal sensitivities/intolerances (b/c of or in spite of our ethnic background), religious beliefs, physique, etc all play a part in what foods we choose to eat and make us function at our best. (And maybe some of it is psychological too? There are so many areas that are lacking good research to provide us better answers!)

          I think sometimes we are trying to find a “one size fits all” perfect diet. There isn’t one! But we’ve certainly been presented with lots of food for thought (thanks Katie and others!). It is probably worthwhile to re-examine our personal food pyramids from time to time. 🙂

          1. Sarah,

            I love the “personal food pyramids” idea! You’re so right – there’s not going to be one best answer. I so desire to know how to eat my grains when I eat them, because I’m gonna eat them! 😉 Katie

  17. funny about the timing of this post becuz i have increased my family’s grain intake recently. ~smile~ i have done so becuz of a bible study i have been doing- and using the family meal table book by nancy campbell as well (available at www.aboverubies.org)
    i noted how often bread was mentioned in conjunction with Jesus and about the meals He Himself ate- plus the israelites’ meals in particular- and saw how much grain was incorporated into them. NOT the wonder bread stuff tho ! lol lol i do use all whole wheat and want to start adding spelt and rye too.
    i love this blog!
    .-= Tami Lewis´s last blog ..Let’s Eat! =-.

  18. Thanks for the post, it is very timely. I too have started thinking we need to reduce our grains as well. I currently use the sprouted spelt flour for anything I bake at home. I also found a company where I can buy sprouted oats (or granola)–the company is Bingo Granola. They only have a blog currently; however their contact information is given in the blog. It is nice to have the convience of sprouted oats to throw into yogurt or to make a cereal (hot or cold) for my little one on occasion. I haven’t had time to learn to sprout yet, so this is a great option.

    Thanks for your great blog! I wanted to mention that for some reason your print friendly option is not working–I’m not sure if it’s on your end or not but thought I mention it just in case.

    I just made your homemade Italian dressing this weekend–it is so good!!! Thanks this will be another area where I can make at home and feel good about the ingredients rather than pay for something that may have oils I’d rather stay away from. I plan on trying the ranch recipe soon. Your video on making homemade mayo will encourage me to try making that as well.

    1. Krissy,

      Thank YOU! I am glad to share good recipes. I checked the Print Friendly button and it is working for me. ?? Silly computers, never consistent, are they?
      🙂 Katie

      1. As I mentioned at another post, I, too, am having problems with the printer-friendly button. I noticed in one of your comments somewhere that you use Firefox? Because I use Internet Explorer, could that be the problem?

  19. I need to make a correction. The bakery I mentioned is Grindstone Bakery (www.grindstonebakery.com) in Santa Rosa, CA.

  20. Yes, I agree… and I use a grain mill. For practical purposes I grind what I use within a few weeks and store it in air tight container in a dark cool place. I have just gotten into soaking and love it. I believe wheat and other grains are very helpful in our nutrition unless they have been processed and the nutrients killed. I am just discovering sprouting and am trying to do more of that also.
    .-= Virginia´s last blog ..Picante Black Bean Soup =-.

  21. I agree with the comments above to not be too quick to give up grains. I would also point out that grain and bread in particular, have many scriptural references.
    For example, Jesus refers to himself as the bread of life (see John 6). When you stop eating bread, the symbolic meaning is lost. As the creator, I don’t think he would be meaning “I am the bread of life, but don’t eat bread, it’s not good for you.” Other scripture references refer specifically to bread and grain. The one that’s most clear to me will probably mean the least to you, because it doesn’t come from the Bible, but from the Doctrine and Covenants, which is a book of revelations given in modern times to the living prophet (see www.mormon.org) . In 1834, a revelation on health was given which includes this phrase “All grain is ordained for the use of man.”
    I understand that you have your own beliefs, but I would encourage you to study the scriptures on this topic as well as the science. I believe that there is a lot of guidance about grains. The science may be confusing sometimes, but we are fortunate to also have the word of God to help answer our questions!
    .-= chanelle´s last blog ..Real Food Basics: Grass Fed Beef =-.

  22. I’m of the opinion that moderation is the key. We don’t eat grains for every meal, although my standard breakfast consist of yogurt, homemade oatmeal & berries, and maybe I’ll scale back the proportion of the oats to the nuts & dried fruit in it. But thinking back to what our ancestors ate (mine, likely at potatoes in Ireland), it seems like the Greeks & Romans were eating pasta way back when. Of course Asian cultures eat noodles as well. So again, I’m sort of the opinion that grains, like most things, or okay in moderation, and I still think whole grains are better than white. It’s just that the habit of eating grains has been around for a long, long time. After all, “Jesus took the bread…” – okay, so I’m sure it wasn’t a loaf of Wonder Bread and probably doesn’t much resemble the bread we eat today, but still…

  23. Just writing so I can follow the comment thread. Very interesting topic and somewhat controversial in the TF world!

  24. I’m confused in this area and ready to learn! I just read that it’s not just grains that have “anti-nutrients” in them … beans, nuts, seeds and some veggies have it too. Many cultures soak and ferment to make it safe. I saw this on Ramiel Nagel’s “Cure Tooth Decay” newsletter I get. Before Christmas, I found a bread company called Grinding Grains (excellent website) through Body Ecology … they grind the grains and apply enzymes immediately before baking (gluten free too). I read also that you are better off to go with “sourdough” because it is more fermented and better digested than whole grains. Such a confusing topic. I look forward seeing what you have found. Thanks for doing all that research! 😉

  25. I’ve just recently started reading your blog and feel like it is going to be a blessing on my journey!

    We’ve been taking baby steps towards going primarily organic/local/homegrown items and now are taking on the challenge when it comes to our meat. I already have a grain mill on my wish list so I look forward to what you have learned about grains!

    I’m also a Catholic mommy blogger so I’d be interested in whatever you are up to. With an 18 month old and another coming in June my posting has been slow lately, but I’m excited to do what I can and share my journey.

    Thanks for all your work and looking forward to reading your archives…

    Heather
    .-= Heather´s last blog ..What’s Up? =-.

  26. I believe God gave us grains, herbs, plants to use as food. Scale back, sure, but give up I don’t think so, unless of course there is an senstivity of some sort.
    I’m pulling organic brown rice crackers out of the oven now to enjoy some sort of crunchy treat.
    I’m also trying chia seed/brn rice flour mix for some muffins later.

    1. Libby,
      Do see tomorrow’s post for my response. I DEFinitely don’t advocate giving up all grains, as I’m all about balance and baby steps. Now I’m hungry after reading your comment…where are those crackers I made last week? 😉 Katie

  27. Something to consider to those who say that we’ve “always eaten grains” (and take this with a grain of salt, as I too still eat some grains) but the primal eaters disagree. They claim that our bodies (as homo sapiens) have really not evolved to eat grains. As we were originally hunter-gatherers our bodies are made to digest fruits, veggies, seeds, nuts, meat, fat, some dairy, but never did a hunter-gatherer come across a patch of wheat or rice and think, “hmmm . . .that looks tasty. Now, if I only had time in my nomadic life to cut it, thrash it, remove the outer hull, let it dry, soak it in milk or water for a few days to ferment and then cook it over a fire. That would make a pretty tasty meal.” Nope, they said, “what is this weed? Makes a great rope, but if I eat it, my stomach hurts. Better avoid that one and go eat these berries and gnaw on a hunk of meat.”

    It was only when tribes began to build civilizations and grow agriculture that they started to consider growing and eating grains. Yet our bodies digestive system hasn’t “evolved” at all from those original hunter gatherers. The only animals that do regularly eat grains and seeds are birds, which have a completely different body structure than we do. Everybody else (mammals) likes their grasses and tubers and veggies and meats. They’ll eat grains when they come across them, but they don’t seek them out.

    There’s some food for thought for you!

    The other side of the coin is, as a Christian, I believe that God made everything good. And when he gave us the Lord’s Prayer which states, “give us this day our daily bread,” he confirmed that bread was, indeed, real food for us (on both literal and theological levels!). Do I think we need to eat a lot of it? No. I also don’t think we need it to fill in all of our meals and snacks with it (like our current society does, all in the name of convenience and frugality – those essences of American society). And I think that the soaking/sourdough process makes it more digestible.

    So where does that leave me? With lots of things to think about . . . 🙂

    Best,
    Sarah
    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..Fifty Dangerous Things (you should let your children do) =-.

  28. I’ve been struggling with the grain issue a bit. It hasn’t been a big problem for dinner since I try to have at least two veggies for dinner and I couldn’t tell you the last time we had rolls at dinner. We like pasta, but we have that usually once each week. But…we eat a lot of grains when it comes to snacks – muffins, pancakes, pretzels, cereal, and toast. I am working on soaking grains before baking to maximize the nutrition, and I bake less. My kids are not veggie lovers, but they love fruit so I do try to spend money on fresh fruit. I also have two cases of organic applesauce that I found at a local grocery outlet. I just keep babystepping away from grains and towards fruits, veggies, and other foods.
    .-= [email protected] Daily Round´s last blog ..Soaked (Pumpkin) Gingerbread =-.

  29. i think my perfect diet would be no grains, no sugar but i’ll realistically strive for LESS grains, less sugar! a good pasta/potato sub is cauliflower, either mashed with butter, cream and salt, or chopped and covered in sauce/cheesy goodness!
    .-= emily´s last blog ..Where to Buy Real Food in Minneapolis? Your Local Asain Market! =-.

  30. As others said, spaghetti squash! We had that for dinner last night! Not my favorite but it helps the cravings for pasta. I like to make a lot of vegetable soups. And COCONUT, as always, remains my favorite sub for everything. I’ve been making chocolate coconut flour muffins for breakfast. Sprouted buckwheat’s not bad either (in fact, it’s GOOD…it balances insulin/blood sugar and actually functions as a prebiotic), so I made sprouted buckwheat pancakes with sunbutter (kids are allergic to peanuts). Seeds are good!

    I’m going to steal this post (with links of course) because I’m doing a similar post about grains soon (Wed)…so I will be pointing people in your direction!
    .-= Kate´s last blog ..Pseudo-Healthy Diets =-.

  31. Cara @ Health Home and Happiness

    We did grain free for a while, and still do off and on. But I like grains! You’ve read Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, right? I think that Weston Price found that most traditional cultures do use whole fermented grains, and are very healthy. They aren’t necessary, as we’ve found since we’ve been on GAPS, and I think a grain free diet *is* good for people who have different nutritional needs. But I’m happy to use them as a less expensive whole-foods ‘filler’. Just my opinion 🙂
    .-= Cara @ Health Home and Happiness´s last blog ..Holistic Dentistry: Root Canals, Oral Allergy Syndrome, and Tooth Soap =-.

  32. I agree with JulieVW…be careful not to dismiss grains. It’s definately a good idea to reduce refined and processed grains, because by that time they have lost a lot of their nutrients.

    However, whole grains have amazing healing power, are a good source of protein, can sustain energy levels, and have been around forever…any food that is a plant and can die is not necessarily one you want to write off. And in the American diet today, most people need to ADD more WHOLE grains into their diet, not reduce.

    Good thoughts!! Keep on reading!
    .-= Luanne´s last blog ..Just Drink The Water… =-.

  33. Interesting . . . we’ve been on a low-grain diet for several months now and are doing great. I’ve pretty much dramatically reduced our use of rice or quinoa but I do still have the need for bread every once in a while, which is why I’ve been so into sourdough because it breaks it down even further, whether using whole or white flours. I’ve been baking a bit more often than I probably should, recently, but it is difficult feeding little ones without it, I’ve found.

    Most of our dinners are a meat, a salad and a cooked veggie. No grains, legumes or breads. And that is enough! Snacks are normally veggies and dip, yogurt with honey and grain-free granola or fruit, fruit, cheese . . . though breakfast for my little guy is often soaked oatmeal and, for me, a green smoothie or eggs.

    When I don’t eat grains I lose weight and my stomach feels at ease. We still eat them from time to time, but not nearly as readily as we used to (a dinner of pasta with homemade garlic bread on the side is a special treat!) – and we still love our occasional bag of tortilla chips. We’ve been substituting spaghetti squash, other squash and cauliflower for most of our “grains” and it’s been a great success! We make cauliflower gratin rather than mac and cheese and serve it up with smoked sausages (rather than hot dogs) for a meal that the whole family loves, I make spaghetti squash puttanesca instead of using linguine, I’ve made cauli-fried rice once when I made homemade Chinese food. The options are out there! Bags of frozen cauliflower are now my new “pantry” staple.

    Angela – it’s funny you should mention freshly ground flours. Most of my uber and professional baking bloggers that I follow state that a flour must have time to rest and age after milling to make a better bread. Whenever they have a bread flop, they always say that they doubted the flour was aged long enough (like a great wine, I suppose! 🙂 There’s always two sides to the coin!

    Great post Katie! I’m looking forward to seeing where you go with this . . .

    Best,
    Sarah

    PS – If you didn’t already assume, count me in on that Catholic mama thing.
    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..Fifty Dangerous Things (you should let your children do) =-.

    1. Sarah,

      Great info! Thanks! I just started a very strickt diet to eliminate a Candida yeast overgrowth and my oldest daughter just started a dairy/gluten free diet to see if it is causing her recurring ear infections. This is helpful!

      God Bless,
      Anne

  34. Angela: Yes, whole grains ground at home should be nutritionally superior to what you find in the supermarket. If you aren’t ready for this, I believe that often flours are packaged with other gases, so they don’t oxidize and go rancid. And, I would prefer to purchase something stone ground from a small scale mill, rather than a large scale operation.

    When grinding at home, I think it’s generally accepted that the flour should be used or frozen within about 72 hours (I think I’ve also heard 48). You should probably freeze any store bought flour, too. It’s pretty easy to work with frozen, so that’s not an issue.

  35. What about switching to more nutrient dense ancient grains? Our culture has a love affair with some of the least nutritious grains. Hybridized wheat (GMO if not organic), hybridized rice, and oats (high in phytates). In my understanding, the goal of hybridizing is to produce a crop that is easier to grow and harvest (but usually only suited to limited growing conditions), increase it’s shelf life, or to create a tastier plant (often by increasing the sugar content). Neither of these reasons have anyconcern for the mineral content (which typically has diminished in hybrid plants). I believe that the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is also often improperly skewed. The above grains are also stored for long periods before consumption, which introduced molds into the crop.

    On the other hand, there are better options. Millet and quinoa are alkalizing, which means the body doesn’t have to draw from it’s own store of nutrients to buffer the acidic ash created in digestion, as with some other grains. Amaranth, kamut, and spelt should also be considered, as they are much closer to their original forms and therefore higher in nutrients. None of these are stored for long periods.

    The preparation is also important. To me, turning a grain into flour seems to be the least desirable way to eat it. You’ve destroyed it’s ability to sprout and opened it up to oxidation. So, eating porridge or adding sprouts to salads or soups, on a regular basis, seems a better choice than breads. For bread however, carefully creating a sourdough loaf has many benefits over yeasted and quick breads.

    If flour is soaked overnight in an acid or probiotic medium, the phytates are pre-digested–which is good. Oats are steamed at the factory, so soaking them probably only reduces phytates, as well. BUT, when you soak wheat berries, millet, quinoa, and other whole grains (just in plain water), you start the sprouting process, which not only pre-digests the phytates, but vastly increases the nutrition and makes them slightly alkalizing instead of acidifying, lowers the carbohydrate and fat load, and increases the protein content. In essence, you are turning a seed into a vegetable.

    Ancient cultures somehow had a better understanding than we do about preparing grains. I agree with JulieVW, since grains were a staple in most ancient and healthy cultures, we should not eschew them just because they are typically prepared or grown inappropriately.

    1. i have heard that over use of millet can cause gioter…
      .-= emily´s last blog ..Where to Buy Real Food in Minneapolis? Your Local Asain Market! =-.

      1. Emily: Certainly something to consider, however, overuse of any food is problematic.

        Too many buckwheat greens can lead to sun sensitivity.

        Too many carrots can lead to orange tinted skin.

        Too many almonds or teas can lead to issues with tannic acid.

        Too many raw cruciferous veggies can lead to thyroid issues (in people already deficient in iodine).

        Too few raw veggies can lead to constipation.

        Too much sweet fruit can lead to some of the same issues as processed sugar.

        Too much meat–even grass fed–carries issues, as well. I’d better admit that we don’t eat meat at our house (yes, Katie, you have a vegetarian reading and enjoying your blog), but I’ll try not to be biased. Michael Pollan advocates considering meat as a condiment. IMO I don’t know if it’s wise to replace 7 grain meals a week with 7 meat meals. I’d say it’s better to keep them both in their place.

        1. Jason! Where have you been until now? I think we’re all blessed that this vegetarian is reading KS and finally commenting. Please continue. You’re spot on to help us all consider all the angles.

          🙂 Katie

        2. i actually don’t think people in America need any more meat, probably most need less, especially if we’re refering to the majority of meat eaten in the usa which is grain-fed/ gmo-feed fed animals that are abused and misused horribly. i think most people are good-fat deficient, and im not talking about vegetable oil as “good” fat, because it is way too high in omega 6 fatty acids which can lead to all sorts of inflamitory processeses in the human body.
          .-= emily´s last blog ..Where to Buy Real Food in Minneapolis? Your Local Asain Market! =-.

    2. Jason,You certainly have a body of knowledge surpassing my own! I have a lot of research to do this month, but much of it thus far echoes what you’re saying. Check out tomorrow’s post for more responses.
      Thank you!
      Katie

    3. Katie’s post for Feb. 9 encouraged me to offer some sources for the information I posted.

      A clarification on the fat content: According to “Sprouts for Optimum Health” by healthlibrary.com, during sprouting “Fats and oils are converted into more simple fatty acids by the action of the enzyme lipase. ” This article is no longer online, so I don’t know it’s scientific basis, but several websites quote it extensively.

      One notable study on sprouted grains was performed by the University of Minnesota, and focused on the increase in vitamins, minerals, and enzymes (with findings of 300-500% increase in certain vitamins). I have not found the actual study, but there are many websites that reference it. Other Universities, including Cornell, U of Pennsylvania, Yale, and McGill have also conducted studies. So, you could use these search terms if you’re looking for more information.

      A clarification on the Omega 3 vs. 6 ratio in hybrid seeds. That may not be correct. I think what I was remembering is the effect on Omega 3 & 6 ratios in pasture fed vs. grain fed livestock.

  36. What do you think this would do to a food budget? I use meat, vegs, and a starch because a lot of times a starch is cheap and a filler. Do you think this would have a large impact on your budget??

  37. I’ve been gluten-free for many years, and eat (gf) grains sparingly, mostly soaked brown basmati rice, quinoa, teff and sometimes other flours like sorghum and buckwheat. I use a lot of almond flour and coconut flour.

    Instead of cereal, try a grain-free granola, like the one at Elana’s Pantry (all nuts and raisins). Or a muffin made with almond or coconut flour. Elana and Kelly at Spunky Coconut have some good options.

    Squash and/or sweet potato fries are a great alternative to grains for dinner.

    I haven’t made my own grain-free crackers; but cheese is great with fruit – like granny smiths + cheddar!

    Trail mix as a snack is great! So is Elana’s faux tapioca pudding, made with chia seeds or a green smoothie.

    Instead of a sandwich or wrap, try romaine lettuce. Many gf bloggers – GF Goddess and Ali at nourishingmeals recommend this. Heidi at 101 cookbooks also uses a thin egg crepe.

    Good luck!

    1. M,
      Really, really excellent ideas! I’m such a newbie at this myself, definitely not qualified to help others substitute things. Thank you for taking the time to share!!
      🙂 Katie

  38. On One Hand, You Have a Point -In general, people eat too many grains. Once upon a time I thought nothing about having bread with dinner (esp. with a pasta-based dish, or potato soup).

    Now that I’m feeding a diabetic husband we limit ourselves to one starch per meal (pasta OR bread; sandwich OR granola bar; hamburger bun OR fries). Reducing starch has been more of a challenge than cutting sugar.

    HOWEVER . . . I think we should be careful not to completely dismiss a traditional food just because we don’t understand all of the nutritional science yet. Grains have been around forever and every culture eats them.

    1. Julie,
      Can I just “second” everything you said? You are right on. Although I don’t think every trad’l culture eats grains – some Eskimos and such just can’t grow them and eat 95% animal products, and the nomadic tribes also would not have been able to have agriculture going on.

      Thanks, Katie

      1. also traditional tibetan cuisine had no grains, mostly yak meat, very few small tubers, and yak milk/butter/cheese.
        .-= emily´s last blog ..Where to Buy Real Food in Minneapolis? Your Local Asain Market! =-.

  39. Lenetta @ Nettacow

    I know that when I went on a yeast elimination diet, my baby weight FELL OFF. I couldn’t sustain it, though, and I’m not sure exactly what that says.

    You know this already, but I love the Blessed Mother! :>) Would love to be a part of whatever you’re cooking up!
    .-= Lenetta @ Nettacow´s last blog ..Link Roundup – On the Road Edition =-.

  40. Interesting challenge! How about Spaghetti Squash?
    I am new to real food. So I am wondering if one is to eat wheat/oats and other grains and decides to take the time to make things from scratch is it best to invest in a grain mill? Similar to what your post is all about, I read that even the wheat flour we buy in stores is void of nutrients. Anyone out there use a grain mill? I read that you need to use the freshly ground flour right away, within a couple of hours…does that mean you should not soak it?

    1. Angela,
      I’ll write a Food for Thought with this info in a few weeks, although I see you’ve already gotten an answer here as well.

      Forgot Spag squash – that’s a great one!
      🙂 Katie

  41. Hi there – I’ll see you tonight at the blogger get together!

    I have been on “diets” before where grains were limited, and find I don’t really miss them. I do like a good homemade whole grain bread or granola though.
    .-= Wendy´s last blog ..Maple Glazed Parsnips =-.

    1. Wendy,
      I’m sorry I missed you in my note here! I was going off a tweet from Donielle – see you tonight! 🙂 Katie

  42. I’ve been looking at this recently as well. I’ve read The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain and The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson and both provide some evidence for why grains are terrible for our nutrition period, or at the very least unnecessary. WAPF, on the other hand, says grains are terrible unless they are soaked/sprouted to reduce antinutrients, at which point, they’re a healthy addition to any diet. Since wheat is just a seed, what would make wheat seeds bad for us and other seeds good? Obviously, gluten plays a part in this condemnation of wheat – but not all grains contain gluten. How does sprouting or soaking change the nutrient profile? Wheat grass is touted as being super-nutritious — if we accept that, then at what point does wheat turn from terrible to nutritious? I haven’t looked as thoroughly as I’d like, but I haven’t found satisfactory answers yet. Let me know if you’ve come across any answers in your research!

    1. I think WAPF feels that for a perfectly healthy person grains can be fine. But we are not all healthy so some go grain-free for a while or forever I guess. I don’t know about the grain/seed difference. Maybe grains are seeds that grow grasses (rye, wheat, oat, barley-all grasses) and seeds grow plants (sunflowers, trees)? But the GAPS diet allows seeds and nuts but not grains or potatoes. And that is a good diet to look at if you want to find some grain- free ideas like for example mix one banana with one egg and pour into a pan with coconut oil or lard etc. and make a banana pancake. Top it with nut butter and/or raw honey. Delicious! Also from what I understand wheat grass is not digestible for us because we do not have rumens like a cow or goat. So I’m sure there may be a few vitamins or minerals in it but basically it is pointless. Someone correct me if I’m wrong on that.

      I can say that when I stopped eating breakfast cereal and began soaking my grains and only eating sourdough bread all bloating went away. I had always thought that was just normal but now I realize I don’t have to live with that pain! Go to WAPF website or do an internet search “Soaking Grains” and you can read all kinds of info about how the nutrient content is increased by preparing this way.

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