Thursday, January 31, 2008

Homemade Sprouted-Grain Bread

Since the New Year, I have been making homemade bread every other week with flour made from grain that I have sprouted, dried, and ground at home. I can’t even begin to describe how easy it is, how delicious it is, and how much money I’m saving!

My routine is this: I bake a double batch of bread every two weeks. One batch equals two loaves. I make two loaves of sandwich bread with hard red wheat (sprouted), and two loaves of cinnamon (honey) raisin bread with hard white wheat (sprouted). For my husband and me, this lasts about 14 days. I’ve also made cinnamon rolls and pizza crust, and those are delicious as well.

You may ask, “Why are you troubling yourself with sprouting the grain before grinding it, and, in fact, why bother with grinding your own grain at all?”

Good question.

It was only two months ago that I discovered how easy sprouting grain can be—and how much healthier it is to sprout grain BEFORE consuming it! When grain is sprouted, it turns from a starch into a vegetable-like compound. So, when you eat bread made from sprouted grain—your body digests it like a vegetable! How cool is that. Whole grain is often difficult to digest, so sprouting it first neutralizes both the phytates (difficult-to-digest proteins) and the protective casing of the grain.

Flour ground from sprouted grain doesn’t taste any different that normal whole grain flour—it simply digests differently. People have been known to lose weight when switching from regular whole grain or white flour to sprouted whole grain flour because their bodies are not clinging to the starch during digestion.

Interested in making your own bread from sprouted flour?

Follow these steps:

1. Start Buying Whole Grain
Co-ops are a good place to start. Buy the grain in bulk to get the best price: hard red wheat, white wheat, spelt, kamut, etc. Store it properly—either in the fridge or in a cool, dry place, placing a bay leaf in with the grain to keep the critters away. Buying whole grain for flour is far less expensive than buying prepackaged whole grain flour from the store. On average 1 cup of grain = 1.5 cups of flour.

I purchase organic grain from Quail Cove Farms. They sell organic hard red wheat for .56 per pound at 25 lbs, and .52 per pound at 50 lbs! You can sprout grain, or grind it into flour first (using a coffee bean mill or grain mill) and then soak it in cultured milk as part of a recipe (read more below). Soaking also neutralizes the phytates.

2. Review Sue Gregg’s Website and/or Buy Her Whole Grain Baking Cookbook
Sue Gregg has already done all the experimenting for you, so all you have to do is follow her instructions and recipes! Here are two pamphlets available online as PDFs showing Sue Gregg’s most basic sprouted/soaked bread recipes: Sprouted Bread, Soaking Process.

3. Purchase a Food Dehydrator (or Use Your Oven)
Once you have sprouted the grain, it must be completely dried before grinding it into flour.

The food dehydrator I own is the Nesco American Harvest Snackmaster Encore Dehydrator and Jerky Maker. I bought it at Bed Bath and Beyond using one of their in-the-mail 20% off coupons. With the coupon, it only cost $48. It takes about 12 hours for sprouted grain to dry using the Nesco dehydrator. No supervision is needed. I find this the most convenient method for my busy lifestyle.

The other option is to dry grain using your oven. The ideal temperature for drying sprouted grain is 150 degrees. However, most modern ovens don’t go below 170. A friend of mind dries her sprouted grain in the oven at170 degrees for about 9 hours. During this time, she periodically opens the oven to release some of the heat so as not to over dry or burn the sprouts. This method, though, demands that you be at home.

4. Purchase Tulle (Netting) from the Fabric Store
You will need about one yard. It will cost you about $1 at most fabric stores. Choose a light color other than white so you can see the netting once you cut it to fit your dehydrator shelves. The netting is what your grain will rest on while drying, otherwise the grain is so small it will fall through the cracks of your dehydrator shelves.

5. Use 3-4 Quart-Sized Mason Jars
These will be used for the actual sprouting process. Follow Sue Gregg’s instructions available in the links above.

6. Purchase a Coffee Bean Mill or Grain Mill
If you already have a coffee bean mill, it will do nicely for making small recipes calling for no more than 3 cups of flour. You will grind 1/3 cup of sprouted grain at a time in your bean mill. This will equal about 1/2 a cup of flour. Coffee bean mills can be purchased for $15-$20.

>If you wish to purchase a grain mill, there are many varieties available. I own the grain mill attachment for the KitchenAid Mixer. This costs approximately $130-$150, depending on where you purchase it.

The simplest choice is to start with a coffee bean mill, especially if you already own one, and then consider getting a grain mill once you get the hang of sprouting and using sprouted grain on a regular basis.

Sprouting and grinding your own grain is much less expensive than purchasing sprouted grain available online. And, sprouted grain, once ground, should be used as soon as possible so that it maintains all its nutrients.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Organic Milk on Trial

The Organic Consumers Organization reported on an article published in The Denver Post a few days ago concerning the treatment of cows that produce certified organic milk.

The issue is this: just because a cow is not treated with chemicals (via feed and shots), should that justify the "organic" label? Many farmers whose cows produce certified organic milk are being called to account for the treatment of their cows in other ways (e.g. grazing time and transition).

Of course, the simple solution to this issue is simply to get raw milk instead of organic milk. Find out more about the newest research on RAW MILK.

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Bananas Going Extinct

Sounds crazy right? The delicious, crescent-shaped, inexpensive fruit that so plentifully lines grocery store produce shelves may not last another 10 years some scientists say. Here's another article on the topic.

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Unsafe Plastics

Many plastic containers and water bottles are made of unsafe and carcinogen (cancer-causing) compounds. Specifically, plastic products labeled with a number 7 are particularly dangerous. Read more about this.

For more infomation, take a look at the list of safe vs. unsafe plastics.

Stainless steel water bottles are a safe option, as opposed to plastic.

Read More......

Monday, January 21, 2008

Sprouted Grain Digests Like a Vegetable--and is Available Online

Sprouted grain flour IS available for purchase online!

The scientific findings concerning sprouted grains will blow you away. Check out this site and discover how sprouting grains turns it from a starch into a vegetable!--AND why most gluten-senitive people are actually starch sensitive--making sprouted grain flour a healthy option for celiacs.

Here's another site that sells sprouted grain flour as well.

You'll notice that the sprouted flour on these sites is pricey. However, if you sprout grain yourself, you'll save quite a bit of money. Most organic hard red wheat sells for around .56-.68 per pound. There are nine cups of wheat in a pound, and 1 cup of grain equals 1.5 cups of flour! Think of how much money you'll save sprouting grain at home, drying it and then grinding it into flour for recipes. You can even use your coffee bean mill when grinding flour for small-to-medium recipes!

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Cloned Meat and Milk on the Market

The FDA recently approved the commercial sale of unlabeled cloned meat and milk. That means the next time you go to the store and buy a pound of ground beef or a gallon of milk, you don't know if it's coming from the offspring of a cloned cow or not!

Government scientist do not feel comfortable with the FDA's decision, claiming it unsafe.

The only way to be safe is to exclusively buy organic and/or trusted-label free-range beef and milk products. There are also ways to make your voice heard on this issue.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Heritage Health Food, Virginia Beach

Heritage Health Food is the largest health food store in the Hampton Roads region. I have hesitated to review it on this site up until now. However, after a recent visit, I have decided to note the wonderful variety and somewhat competitive prices.

Heritage offers large bins of loose bulk items including grains, legumes, dried fruit, trail mixes, etc. The grain and legumes are very competitively priced, and cost about the same amount as similar items in other health food stores in the region, including in-store items at Organic Food Depot.

A number of items at Heritage are too highly priced, in my opinion, when compared to online shopping at Organic Food Depot or Quail Cove Farms co-ops. However, Heritage's in-stock selection is enormous. I found things like fruit-sweetened syrups, organic makeup lines, a large variety of nut butters, frozen items, spices and other goods, many of which one can only get through Organic Food Depot or Quail Cove Farms if it is ordered in bulk. Case in point: I'd rather not buy a 12-bottle case of blackberry fruit-sweetened syrup if I know I can purchase 1 bottle of it at Heritage, albeit at 1-2 dollars more per bottle.

So, Heritage Health Food is worth looking at if you time to shop and you can price compare.

They also offer an organic deli counter at Heritage--a nice lunch spot.

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More Thoughts on Trader Joe's

Many of you may have read my previous posting on Trader Joe's. I've recently come across more and more Maker's-Diet friendly options that they offer. And their prices are amazing.

Many of their products are fruit-sweetened instead of sugar- and corn-syrup sweetened. And their organic options are wide. They also carry organic cultured sour cream and organic cultured butter, as well as organic yogurt, etc.

Their free-range meat/fowl selection is large.

They also carry all-natural corn tortilla shells made of simply ground corn (no flour or corn meal used), water and lime. The lime is the key ingredient here. By using lime, this indicates that the corn has gone through a soaking process (an age-old tradition) in order to break down the phytates in corn, making it easier to digest. I buy these corn tortillas, cut them into fours, brush organic olive oil (or sometimes organic safflower oil--not a Maker's Diet approved oil) on them and cook them for 8-10 minutes at 450 degrees. When they're done, just add sea salt. They make delicious homemade tortilla chips!

Please add your thoughts about Trader Joe's and their selection by posting a comment!

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