Thursday, October 25, 2007

Soaking & Sprouting Made Easier

A few weeks ago, I discovered that my husband and I are both sensitive to gluten. Gluten is found in such grains as wheat, spelt, kamut, barley, rye, and oats. After doing some research, I was able to find a variety of companies that sell all sorts of convenient and tasty gluten-free items. But while doing this research, I found information suggesting that those with gluten sensitivities can tolerate these same grains if they have first been soaked or sprouted. (Of course, if I had referred to my Maker's Diet book, I might have rememberd this!)

So I vigorously refreshed my search for a way to make sprouting/soaking easy, convenient, and successful for me. My previous experience soaking flour before using is in breads/muffins resulted in a moderate success, but not what i would call a win. My biggest issue up to now with soaking flour for bread is that the dough is inevitably too runny to cook nicely. I have even felt guilty adding additional flour to my soaked recipes just before baking.

The good news is, I have recently discovered one woman's answer to this baking problem. Sue Gregg offers two free online pamplets which solve the dilemma inherent in soaked flour baking. Her answer? Yes, you absolutely have to add more flour before baking soaked bread ... BUT, you should add sprouted grain flour. This way you get the easy-to-digest benefit of both soaked and sprouted grains, and your bread turns out delicious and moist ... and those with gluten-sensitivities can usually eat it.

Read Sue Gregg's tips on:
Sprouted Bread
The Two Stage Process of Soaking

As you noticed if you read through the above PDFs, Sue Gregg recommends using a food dehydrator and a grain mill. After talking with a few people who sprout their own grain, dry it and grind it, I discovered that you can also dry sprouted grain in your home oven. Many recipes suggest doing so at 150 degree F. However, many ovens nowdays don't go lower than 170 degrees. However, a friend of mine says she dries her sprouts all the time with her oven set to 170 degrees. She periodically opens the oven door to check on them a few times over about 9 hours. So, for those of you not interested in getting a food dehydrator, it is possible to dry grain sprouts in your oven.

However, I have done some research on food dehydrators as well. So, if your interested in purchasing one, my findings are below:

Food Dehydrators:

Option #1: The Nesco American Harvest Dehydrator (I believe it's FD-61), which is recommended by Sue Gregg. It is available one this site for 59.95. It is also avaiable at a variety of other sites, including Bed Bath & Beyond.

Option #2: Wal-Mart version, well reviewed - $44.88

Option #3: Target version, highly reviewed - $69.99

The next thing on the list is getting a grain mill.

I struggled at first with where to get this while keeping in mind the following concerns: cost, quality, and convenience. I spent days doing research online cross-referencing customer reviews on a variety of product models.

I found some very helpful websites for doing this:
This page offers a break-down chart for grain mills based on price, features, convenience, noise, etc. The one they mention called the "Whisper Mill" no longer exists and has been replaced by the Nutrimill:
This page offers more research and specifics on the results of each model reviewed.
This site notes that the “Best Grain Mill" offered by—which I originally considered purchasing—is more faulty than Lehman’s leads one to believe. This site also notes that the Country Living Grain Mill (turned by hand, not motorized) is the best on the market. However, its costs around $300-$350.

Now, that all said. I spoke with my friend who is an avid Maker's Diet cook, and she highly recommended the grain mill attachment for the Kitchenaid mixer as it works well and does not heat up as it grinds the grain. This is a reasonable option for people who already have a Kitchenaid mixer. It costs around $99 and is available through a variety of vendors: Bed Bath & Beyond, Macy's, JcPenney's, Kohl's, etc. And, since I do have a Kitchenaid mixer, I will probably purchase the attachment.

However, for those of you who don't own a Kitchenaid mixer, I have documented some additional grain mill options:

Grain Mills:

Option #1: The Family Grain Mill - only $69 on this site. This same model is also available on this site - but for $109.

Option #2: The Kitchen Mill Wheat Grinder by K-Tec - $168-$211, depending where online you purchase. Here is another seller. It is also available for a little less cost on some sites if you are willing to purchase a slightly used one. If you are interested, do a search on the product to see what is available. This model is motor-based so you don’t have to grind the grain by hand. It grinds very finely, holds up to 24 cups, and grinds at a very low temperature. It has received wonderful reviews online, but like almost all electric grain mills, it makes a lot of noise.

Option #3: The Nutrimill Grain Mill - $259. I've also seen it on for $254. This one has all the great features of The Kitchen Mill Wheat Grinder by K-Tec, but in addition it is very quiet.

Things to remember, though: most electric grain mills like options #2 and #3 above will heat the grain sprouts as they are ground. Most hand-turned grain mills will NOT heat the grain. Heating the grain during the grinding process can compromise some of the nutritional value. So, this is something to keep in mind.

As I did research on the web, the most highly recommended grain mill is the Country Living Grain Mill. However, it can cost between $300 and $375 depending on which website you look at. So, you may find that the options mentioned above will be more practical for your needs.

In addition to a food dehydrator and a grain mill, another appliance which has been highly recommended to me for natural baking/cooking is the Hamilton Beach Countertop Oven with Convection and Rotisserie. This appliance can bake two 12-inch pizzas or cook up to a 4-lb rotisserie chicken. It could also easily be used to dry sprouted grain as well as it's temperature can be set as low as 150 degrees. (This appliance does not have a toaster-oven feature.) The best deal on this item is through Circuit City online, where it is currently on sale for only $76.49.

Let me know if the above information has been helpful. Happy baking!

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Why Sprout?

Here's another helpful explanation, this one on the health benefits of sprouted grain. This article breaks it down into these categories: Nutrition, Ecology and Economy, Easy to Grow. The article goes on to provide a chart for sprouting a variety of grains, seeds, legumes and other things. These simple how-to tips are very helpful. The article suggests you can simply eat the sprouts as a raw food. Another way to consume them is to dry the sprouts in a 150-degree oven or food dehydrator and then grind them into flour for use in cooking and baking.

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Soaking Nut, Grains, Seeds, and Legumes

Are you curious about the age-old culinary art of soaking foods before cooking them? Have you read my posts on this website and wondered why soaking such things as grains and legumes before cooking and consuming them is so helpful to the digestive system?

Here's your answer: a marvelous explanation of exactly what happens to nuts, grains, seeds, and legumes when you soak them, and a few suggestions as to soaking/cooking methods.

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"Best Nutrient Bang for Your Buck"

Read this wonderfully succinct and informative explanation about how to choose foods that will give you the most "nutrient bang for your buck." For those of you who are new to my blog and often have questions about what really constitutes a "nutritious food," read and enjoy.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Environmental Magazine

I have recently subscribed to, an online environmentally-focused e-magazine, due to its wonderfully informative contents on anything green. Take a look. Very interesting articles this week!

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Funk Butter: Natural Deodorant

Have you been searching for a natural, aluminum-free deodorant that actually works and isn't wet, sticky, and gets all over your clothes? Well, I have your answer: Funk Butter.

Funk Butter is an all-natural, aluminum-free deodorant (it is not an anti-perspirant) made by Oyin Handmade, an online company that provides exceptional service and amazing one-of-a-kind handmade products made especially for you each time you order.

For the first time, I've found a deodorant that actually keeps me smelling ... like absolutely nothing! I've tried the over-the-counter deodorants/anti-persperants, which I know are not healthy for me because of the aluminum contents. I've tried natrual deodorants including Crystal, Avalon, Kiss My Face, and a multitude of online natural deodorants claiming to be IT.

But so far, only one has ever worked! Funk Butter. Check it out. I highly recommend you get only their unscented products as the scents they use are very strong. So if you have allergies or are sensitive to smells, the scents may be too strong for you. And, while they do use some natural essential oils, the ingredients list also mentions essential frangrances, which are not always "natural." So, stick with the unscented. It won't make any difference as far as body odor goes. I use their unscented Funk Butter and never even miss a scent to mask any smell . . . why? Because there is none. Thanks to Oyin!

Since each product you order is handmade, once your order is processed, it can take up to 2 weeks for your order to be shipped to you, which means you may not receive your order for 3 weeks once you place it online. But the wait is well worth it. Shipping is a flat rate of around $6 no matter what you order or how much of it. Funk Butter is made from all natural ingredients and comes in a 4 oz. tin sold for $4.50. You apply it sparingly with your fingertips. I have found on really warm days that I need to apply it twice--once in the morning and once in the afternoon. But on mild to cool days, one dose lasts all day. (Do not apply right after shaving.)

Oyin also provides a number of other wonderful products, one of my favorites being their Whipped Shea Butter. This is pure shea butter that's been whipped until it's light and fluffy. A treat for dry skin. (Again, stick with the unscented flavor.)

I hope this post will help those of you who've been looking for a natural, chemical-free deodorant that actually works. With Funk Butter, you've found it!

P.S. If you decide to order some, let me know by posting a comment (or emailing me -- those of you who know me). I'm interested in splitting an order with someone to save on shipping.

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Toxic Chemicals in the Body

It's another one, friends. Check out this article. Find out how this mom discovered her child had 7 times the toxicity level as his parents -- all from the harmful chemicals found in the everyday items we use!

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Sami's Bakery - What a find!

While Jordan Rubin in his book The Maker's Diet recommends that we limit our intake of unsprouted/unsoaked grains, he does suggest that it is alright to have small quantities of grains/flours that are unsoaked/unsprouted.

Sami's Bakery is a wonderful option for these types of items.

They carry gluten-free millet and brown rice breads, flat breads, rolls, muffins, hamberger/hot dog buns, and even cookies (only the honey-sweetened ones).

Sami's pita chips are particularly good, as well as their lavash and burger buns.

Sami's Bakery products are available locally in Hampton Roads through the Organic Food Depot.

Here is a reminder of Rubin's list of approved grains/flours for easy digestion:

Grains and starchy carbohydrates (whole-grain, organic, soaked is best)
Sprouted Ezekiel-type bread
Sprouted Essene bread
Fermented whole-grain sourdough bread
Kamut (in small quantities)
Sprouted cereal
Oats (in small quantities)
Brown rice (in small quantities)
Spelt (in small quantities)
Barley (in small quantities)
Whole-grain kamut or spelt pasta (in small quantities)

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Baby Cold Medicine Possibly Deadly

Remember this article the next time your baby has a cold. It's amazing what over-the-counter drugs are avaiable at the local pharmecy these days, especially ones, it seems, that have not been sufficiently tested prior to distribution.

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Alzheimer's a Form of Diabetes?

Here is an interesting article linking Alzheimer's with diabetes.

A friend of mind said this about the article:

"The research in this study and concurrent ones reveals a lot of factual information to educate us about how foods and chemicals are directly affecting our brains and how they control other organs and functions in our bodies. Eating has to be about being a good steward of yourself and all the daily functions of your body that you can LOSE if you eat chemicals, processed foods (loose interpretation), and satisfy your cravings rather than feed your body fue l(proper food) to run optimally and maintain YOU."

Aptly put.

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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Honey-Sweetened Whole Grain Banana Muffins

After much experimenting (and many batches of underdone or burnt banana bread/muffins), I have finally discovered how to successfully make banana muffins using no sugar—only honey as the sweetener. I began by using my great-grandmother’s banana bread recipe and substituting, replacing, removing and adding ingredients. Enjoy!

Honey-Sweetened Whole Grain Banana Muffins
By D. Nelson

Set oven to 325 degrees. Prepare muffin pans with paper muffin cups, or grease muffin pan with extra-virgin coconut oil.

Combine and set aside:
- 2 cups whole grain flour (I use spelt)
- 1½ tsp. baking soda
- dash of salt
- ½-1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

In separate bowl combine:
- 3 very ripe bananas (best if they are overripe and their skins are turning black)
- ½ cup softened butter (2 sticks)
- ¾ cup honey
- ¼ cup plain whole milk yogurt (add to yogurt: a couple drops water and a couple drops vinegar to sour; try make the total about ¼ cup)

Add dry ingredients to wet ones. Stir.

Fill muffin cups ½-¾ of the way.

Bake for 40-45 minutes. Perfection!

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Hidden Danger in Air Fresheners

Whether you know it or not, a dangerous group of chemicals is hiding in most of the fragranced products being sold on store shelves in America today. These are called phthalates. One especially dangerous one is known as DBP.

You may have heard of phthalates before. I’ve mentioned them in other posts on this site.

Read this important news article on the specific air fresheners that do and don’t contain these harmful chemicals.

Phthalates are also commonly found in nail polish, cologne, perfume, cosmetics of every kind, body care products (shampoos, lotions, oils), etc. Basically anything on the commercial market that is scented contains phthalates. Even candles. (See my blog called “Finding Safety: Body Care, Hair Care, Skin Care, and Cosmetics” for alternatives to these phthalate-filled products.)

You can find out more about these harmful effects at (click “Scientific Reports” on the left).

Use as another resource for safe alternatives to phthalate-filled products.

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