It may have been a bit ambitious to try to get my to-do list checked off today. Between 3:00 and dinner, I made 4 double batches of power bars from Healthy Snacks to Go, some for gifts and some for travel snacks, a batch of lacto-fermented homemade mayo, plus dinner itself, which was another “meal transformation,” making a reader recipe for chicken enchiladas into a real food version. This entailed making a 4-can batch of homemade cream of chicken soup, some for tomorrow and the next day.
The side was Cuban black beans and rice, a recipe I haven’t touched much in the last year but need to nail down for January’s release of the Beans & Legumes book (still need a title for that one). Yikes! Did I mention my 2 and 5-year-olds were both awake and around?
Then after dinner and getting the kids to sleep
(i.e. nearly 9 p.m.) I had homemade vanilla and Irish Cream to bottle up, graham crackers, homemade Wheat Thin crackers, and banana muffins to get soaking, lentils and barley to soak for dinner tomorrow, and a batch of rolls to bake and package up for teacher gifts, along with a little bottle of homemade vanilla extract, some power balls and a lip balm from MadeOn. Check out the order I received this week:
And dishes. Don’t forget the massive pile of dishes this all generated.
But for packaging the teacher gifts since the rolls are still cooling (and I’m out of energy), I did get all that done. The ambitious part was trying to write a detailed blog post that would take statistical analysis and probably a bunch of other heady, academic tasks I’m really not qualified to do, especially with the little brain power I have left after that day in the kitchen.
Therefore, I am not going to close out the Test Your Grains Challenge today. I’ll tackle that next week, since I didn’t really have a clear vision for next week anyway. I think it’ll be “catch-up week” for all the posts that got squeezed out because of time constraints.
Today I might as well tackle something else I’m totally not qualified for but will find much more fun. I’ve been wanting to go through Sarah’s post called Whole Grain Cause Cavities? point by point since I read it last week, so here goes:
A little background: The post is based on a conversation with Rami Nagel, author of Cure Tooth Decay, who is an advocate against whole grains because of the high phytic acid content, which can prevent absorption of minerals, which can cause tooth decay.
Sarah paraphrased Nagel saying:
Traditional societies did not usually make use of the entire grain…Rami recommends removal of the bran from wheat, spelt, rye, kamut, barley, corn, millet and oats through sifting or sieving.
Oh, man. I already complained a little about this Monday, but that just sounds like an incredible amount of extra work. I grind fresh grain already, which is already extra work adding a few minutes to my process every time I bake with flour. I can see the bran as it’s much darker than the rest of the flour and does tend to congregate together, but I have no idea how I’d even begin to sift it out. It’s just one. more. thing.
Am I lazy on this one? Maybe. But my family isn’t dealing with tooth decay, or I might feel differently.
Sarah and Rami:
Rami’s research also indicates that sprouting grains does not reduce phytic acid significantly enough to make them safe for consumption.
In addition, Rami told me that soaking whole or sprouted grains in buttermilk, clabbered milk, yogurt or kefir does not seem to reduce phytic acid content significantly. However, he did say that soaking will reduce phytic acid content but that plain, filtered water plus liquid whey is the best method for accomplishing this (substitute fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar for dairy free soaking).
“Not safe for consumption” really sounds scary. I don’t know how I feel about that. I can think of many “foods” and non-foods that are a lot more dangerous to consume than whole grains, in my uneducated book.
I should really look into Rami’s research, as it seems most other sources say sprouting grains is a very healthy way to go. Logically, it seems that beginning to sprout the seed ought to reduce most of the seed’s defenses against being eaten, but I really only barely understand the whole lot of this. What do you guys think?
Since whey literally comes from yogurt, why wouldn’t yogurt and why have the same impact? They have the same pH (I checked), and adding more whey or less whey to soaking water neither increased or decreased the pH. Yes, I do have pH strips in my kitchen, as a matter of fact. I’m kind of geeked about that!
I wanted to know if Sarah substituted lemon juice and vinegar for the whey based on what we’ve been taught by Nourishing Traditions, or if that’s what Rami Nagel said. I find it hard to believe that lemon juice would have the same effect as whey, but that yogurt would not. I’m dying for some human tests with all this! My personal hunch – literally just a hunch, based on very little – is that the lacto-fermentation that results in whey-soaked grains has a greater positive digestive impact than any slightly acidic pH, but I don’t test for mineral absorption in my kitchen (oh, if only!).
One of Sarah’s new goals:
I will be sifting and then soaking my sprouted flour before baking since sprouting alone does not seem to reduce phytic acid content significantly.
Sarah, you are amazing. What dedication! The only reason I would sprout flour or buy sprouted flour (or win it like you can right HERE!) is so that I can make cookies or something that either (a) I cannot soak or (b) I don’t want to take the time to soak. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to make muffins or pizza dough because you feel like eating them today, not tomorrow. I truly can’t imagine going through all the trouble or expense of making sprouted flour and then proceeding to both sift and soak it. Were it me, that line would be, “I’m swearing off grains forever, and may I die soon and go to Heaven so I can eat bread!” That is likely a little dramatic, but I’m feeling that way today.
Now, on to the comments at the post. There’s as much meat and controversy there as in the post itself, so get comfortable.
from Diana Bauman of A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa:
Sarah, I’m a little confused. When talking about the bran from whole wheat berries be it wheat, rye or spelt how would one separate the bran? The outer layer of the wheat berry? The bran makes up a considerable amount of nutrients including most of the fiber in the wheat. Once removed, your left with a small percentage of the germ and the endosperm… pretty much white flour. By sifting pulverized wheat berries (ground flour), there is no way to separate the bran from the rest of the wheat berry. I’m assuming if the bran is stripped the phytic acid would be nearly gone since all that is left would be the endosperm or white flour. Am I missing something? This is interesting though and would appreciate your comments.
a response from Elizabeth Walling of The Nourished Life:
Diana, Stephan Guyenet from Whole Health Source has written a lot about how grains were traditionally prepared in healthy cultures. He mentions more than once than separating the bran was a common practice. Here is one of his quotes:
“To make sourdough bread, first the dry grains are ground into flour. Next, the flour is sifted through a screen to remove a portion of the bran. The earliest bread eaters probably didn’t do this, although there is evidence of the wealthy eating sifted flour in societies as old as ancient Egypt and ancient Rome. I don’t know what the optimum amount of bran to include in flour is, but it’s not zero. I would be inclined to keep at least half of it, recognizing that the bran is disproportionately rich in nutrients.”
This is just one random quote that I grabbed up quickly, but there are a lot of other good quotes from his site about this. The point is that even traditional cultures did not always eat the entire grain, although they still ate a much less refined version (and typically fermented) than the white flour we’re familiar with today.
I feel like Dr. Guyenet backed up both Diana and Rami: get rid of some bran because it’s not good for you, but keep some because it holds all the nutrients. Phew!
from Diana again:
Elizabeth, coming from a very traditional family, in Spain… this was unheard of. So for me, culturally, I need to stick to that. However, I’m still interested. How does one separate the bran? I grind my own wheat… if I were to sift that, equal proportion of flour will go through the sifter. It doesn’t separate the bran from the endosperm or germ. It will all go through as it’s just being sifted creating a lighter volume of flour. I feel the only way one can separate the bran from the rest of the berry is if it’s man made… totally eliminating the value of grinding your own at home.
Me: I hear that…
Hi Diana, when you sift your fresh flour, much of the bran stays in the sifter. This is what you discard. Some of the bran will still go through, yes, but that is ok from what I understand from Rami. Getting most of the bran out is the goal not every single bit.
Oh, and yes you are pretty much left with freshly ground white flour (but it is not refined as there are no fillers and synthetic vitamins added nor is it bleached). There is nutrition and fiber in the bran, yes, but it does more harm than good digestively which is why it is discarded according to Rami’s research.
Me: Sarah does a lot of video blogging, and I’m really hoping she shows us how this all shakes out – literally – sometime soon! Also, wouldn’t the wheat germ be left in? There are healthy fats there not to be discounted. And I can buy white flour that is unbleached without fillers, although those synthetic vitamins are definitely in there. Store whole wheat flour, usually, has the bran but not the germ included, ironically, because it’s the germ that makes whole grains go rancid so quickly once ground. The fat oxidizes.
Sarah’s response to a comment about how to sprout:
When sprouting, only just the nub of the sprout should show before drying them out in a warm oven or dehydrator. The longer you let the sprout grow, the more of the germ is used up and the less flour you will get when you grind them up. This is why it is so hard to grind them if you let the sprout go too long.
Me: This is interesting, because Kate at Modern Alternative Mama has done a lot of experimentation in her family, and she finds that soaked grain is not tolerated well, but neither is sprouted grain with just a nub growing. However, with a half inch sprout, her family can tolerate sprouted grain baked goods. !!! You can find her story in her book In the Kitchen: Real Food Basics. It’s quite fascinating.
Sarah’s response to a reader question about why and how to cook oatmeal after soaking:
You MUST cook the oatmeal after soaking it overnight. It only takes a few minutes on medium heat to cook it up until it is nice and soft.
Me: I understand the reader’s question, because one popular breakfast that a few friends eat regularly is called “overnight oats.” It’s equal parts oatmeal and milk or yogurt, mixed and soaked in the refrigerator overnight, then eaten as is without cooking. One friend soaks enough for the whole week, and claims that as the days go by, the oatmeal gets even softer and more creamy.
My first thought, of course, was how darn similar that is to my soaked oatmeal, except for the soaking at room temperature vs. in the fridge. My second thought was, “No cooking? Really? That sounds easy…” and my third is wondering if there is any breakdown of phytic acid or other antinutrients with this process, since the oatmeal changes over time. Or is it just mushy oatmeal?
That oatmeal must be cooked is an interesting point – I’m not disputing this one, because I have no idea what the research is. I just want to know a source and a reason. What’s the science behind mandatory cooking of oatmeal? When I make soaked granola in my dehydrator, am I actually eating something just as unhealthy as regular old baked granola, which Sally Fallon called completely “indigestible” in her interview at KS?
Does anyone else’s head hurt? I definitely didn’t need one more thing to be afraid of, and I’m just going to have to take a bystander’s academic view of this situation. I’m not letting it infiltrate my kitchen quite yet, even though Diana did end up sifting some flour, surprised that the bran largely sifted out, and like her cookies even better.
I’m still pleased to hear that in general, sourdough preparation doesn’t get any knocks as a healthy way to prepare grains. At least we still have that going for us! If you haven’t checked out the sourdough eCourse yet offered by GNOWFGLINS, you’ll find some new features (a real food menu planner and monthly conference calls for starters) as well as a new membership tier to fit your time available and income.
I guest lectured on honey whole wheat sourdough and homemade crackers, plus did the “thank you” video for last month, which you can purchase individually if you’re still looking for some real food appetizers for your Christmas parties this month! I’m kind of excited (okay, totally thrilled) about my guest lecture for the next class, but I’m not sure if I can share it yet. Let’s just say it’s probably the one nourishing food preparation that I honestly feel like I’m an expert on, and I’m super pumped to videotape my process for you all! Check out all the classes HERE.
Disclosure: I am an affiliate for Real Food Basics, MadeOn and the sourdough eCourse, and I’ll earn a kickback if you start here and purchase there. It’s fun to collaborate with other bloggers! I respect the work Sarah and Rami Nagel do very much, and I hope this post is only viewed as intended, as a query into research and yen to know more, not a disagreement or argument. See my full disclosure statement here.