Whole wheats, whole grains, and whole oats. OH MY!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Buckwheat - is it wheat or what?

Don’t let the word ‘wheat’ in it’s name confuse you. Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) looks like a grain and tastes like a grain but isn't a grain at all. Buckwheat is thought of as a cereal, but is actually an herb of the buckwheat family, Polygonaceae, a relative of the rhubarb. Buckwheat is also gluten free, which makes it an ideal food for those allergic or sensitive to the gluten in found wheat and other true grains. After being removed from the husk, the triangular seeds are used to make flour.

Buckwheat has been eaten for hundreds of years in the Far East. Buckwheat can also be used for a variety of baked products, including pancakes, breads, muffins, crackers, bagels, cookies, and tortillas , pasta, bread and Japanese soba noodles. The de-hulled seeds (groats) can be ground into grits and roasted to make kasha, served as a starchy side dish by people of a variety of ethnic backgrounds, especially Russians and eastern Europeans.

One pound of raw buckwheat has 1,520 calories. Nutritionally, buckwheat provides vitamins B1 and B2, the minerals potassium, magnesium, phosphate and iron (buckwheat contains more iron than cereal grains), and it has nearly twice the amount of the amino acid lysine found in rice. Buckwheat bran (farinetta) contains rutin, a flavonoid known to reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure and maintain the strength and flexibility of capillaries. A recently discovered compound in buckwheat called fagopyritol may have potential to help manage type II diabetes.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Millet is not just for the birds.

Although it is also widely known to be used as bird seed, millet can be cooked as a delicious grain to be added to your whole grain diet. Millet will remain fresh for over a year when stored in a cool, dark place in an air-tight container.

The amazingly long-lived people, the Hunzas in Manchuria, use millet as a staple grain in their diets. For this reason it has gained escalating attention from scientists studying their way of life. Considered to be one of the five sacred grains by the Chinese, millet is exceptionally rich in B vitamins, minerals, and protein.

Across the globe millet is ground into flour for flatbreads and other baked goods. It is made into porridge, added to soups, and used for stuffing or to make all kinds of patties and croquettes. Millet can be cooked in a broth or water base just as rice and fluffed with a fork much like couscous. Cooked a bit longer with more liquid, it serves as a perfect binder for veggie burgers.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Quinoa - a grain pronounced KeenWah.

Quinoa has been enjoying a rebirth from it’s origin as a sacred grain to the early Incas, thanks to its high protein and calcium content and sweet and nutty flavor. Most quinoa is white in color before you cook it and then becomes almost semi-transparent with a little "tag" (which is actually the germ) curled up against the grain. Red, yellow, and black quinoa can also be found in specialty grocers.

It is likely that you will want to store quinoa in an airtight container and keep it refrigerated, because of its higher fat content. You will want to rinse Quinoa out very well in a fine meshed sieve or cheese cloth or rinse it at least three times in a bowl because it comes with a coating of a natural substance called saponin that can taste quite bitter if not removed by rinsing.

Quinoa cooks more quickly than most other whole grains and is ready to eat in roughly fifteen to twenty minutes. Quinoa prepared on its own makes a great side dish or it can be cooked with a little olive oil or butter and onion to make a pilaf. It's also great in salads or as dressed up as a warm breakfast cereal.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bread at home

Not only is baking your own bread with whole wheat at home much much healthier. You also know exactly what is going into your bread, unlike what you buy at the store.

You've heard the saying 'practice makes perfect' right? Well, that's what baking bread is like. It's not that hard to bake bread, but it does take practice. It may seem a little scary at first to start baking your own bread at home, but don't sweat it just find a good bread recipe. I'm sure you may have neighbors or a grandmother who have amazing bread recipes, and they may even want to join you and come help with the process. Don't be ashamed to ask for some help, I'm sure they would be thrilled to lend a hand.

Once you've gotten good at making just plain ole whole wheat bread at home. You can try other great bread recipes or even try baking some biscuits, or rolls, or even pastries! Once you get good at one thing, you can start adding in a few other recipes and testing out all sorts of ways to make your breads better. The possibilities are endless!

I started off making bread from my milled whole grains and now I've gotten to where I can make biscuits, pretzels, pizza crusts, bagels, flat breads, etc. I can make all sorts of things if I just put my mind to it. It's a whole lot of fun. Start out small and with one or two things to make, because you don't want to get discouraged if you can't do 4 different types of breads. Never give up, you're going to have some mishaps, just push through.

And have fun! That's the key. If you're making this for you family or even if you're just doing it for yourself. Don't slave away in the kitchen, have fun with it and don't stress if a recipe doesn't work out exactly how you planned. Who knows, that mistake may even give you a better recipe. It's happened to me plenty of times.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

The rest of the tip...

Here's the rest of that tip from the other day, as promised :D...sorry I didn't blog it sooner, I've been busy the past few days. Hopefully it won't happen again.

Let us look at how to measure properly before we mill those little kernels of nutritional 'gold'. Most wheat, spelt and rye (kernels that are the size and shape of a grain of rice) will make one third again as much flour as the measured whole grain itself. For example: If I place 1 cup of the described type of grain in my Nutrimill and grind it on the finest ground setting, I will end up with approximately 1 and 1/3 cups of flour. So to make my usual whole wheat bread recipe which calls for 3.25 cups of flour, I know that I can measure 2.5 cups of wheat (I mix 1 cup of Hard Red Winter and 1.5 cups of Hard White Spring) and end up with about 3 and 1/3 cups of fresh, ready-to-use whole flour. The tiny bit left that does not go in the recipe, dusts the counter for forming the loaf!

The larger the grain the more flour/meal it will produce, up to half again as much. Buckwheat and corn will mill almost half again as much flour per measured grain. After a little bit of figuring I have not had nearly any waist of fresh flour for most of my regularly prepared recipes. Also, don’t forget, I have another weapon in my arsenal of this Waist Not Want Not War. That is your NEXT Tip!

Keep coming back for more tips and information or subscribe to my feed. Thanks for reading and happy eating! :)

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Waste Not Want Not War

For some people, being a good or frugal steward of their resources is learned by example or it just comes naturally. Not so for me. Learning how to measure and gauge the amount of whole grains to mill each time I baked took some time and effort. Along the way I wasted excess grain or used 'old' flour which had been milled days before only to keep from waiting it - all the while knowing the older flour was not what was BEST for us nor was using ’old’ four the reason I mill grains in the first place. Because of my desire not to waste our supply of grain and to not eat 'old' flour, I had to devise a cunning plan to keep from wasting the flour once it had been milled.

By trial and error, I found that there are two means of being sure to make the most of the grains and not waste the flour they produce. Measuring accurately before milling is the first of my two weapons in this Waste Not Want Not War....

This is only the part of the tip. Come back tomorrow for the rest of it. :)

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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

What you should know about store bought bread

Here are a few things you should know if you eat white bread, or any kind of store bought bread for that matter.

In the mid 1950's the inclusion of artificial emulsifiers, hydrogenated oils, preservatives, additives and other chemicals in bread became standard practice. Whole wheat flour was replaced by bleached, enriched white flour around this same time. Which is then artificially "enriched" by adding in materials that were destroyed in the chemical process of bleaching, like vitamins and minerals.

Milling the endosperm part of a grain produces white flour. Also, all the natural nutrients are removed during this process by taking out the bran and germ. "Enriching" the flour can never completely replace what was lost. Thus, enriched bread is nowhere near nutritionally equal to whole wheat bread.

The manufacturers make white flour because, compared to whole wheat flour, it has a longer shelf life (because of the chemical preservatives), which saves them money because they don't have to worry about spoilage. However, that flour could be killing you because of the lack of nutrients in it. It turns into glue in your colon! Not to mention all those chemicals and additives you're putting in your body.

There's more that you should know about the kind of bread you put in your body, I'll post more on it later, so keep reading for more info!

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