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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Monday, May 7, 2007

Part two of Tip one

Part One of this tip may have helped you realize a few health reasons why it is good to mill your own grains, but that may still not be enough to convince your friends and family.

The second tip to answering the questions of why you bother to mill at home is the advantages of cost and storage. Of course, we can purchase 'whole wheat bread' at the store. Of course, 'dead bagged flour' lasts for a good period of time. Are these reasons to pass up home milling all together? Hardly! In fact, look closer and you can see why milling at home is better.

Putting all health reasons aside, with milling at home storage and cost come up on the convenience end of it. The cost of a loaf of 'whole wheat' bread from the store is generally $2.29. A home milled, fresh WHOLE GRAIN flour, loaf of bread costs me generally $.75 to make and that is using all organic (a bit pricier) grains and sugar. I also know totally what is in that loaf!

The shelf-life and storage for whole grains is amazing. They last for years! There have been grains found in pyramids that were over 4000 years old and when planted, they grew just as they were setup to. Talk about storage! Either mites, weevils or simply staleness can cause 'dead bagged flour' to be no good in only a few months. Just hold your whole grains in a sound container and from getting damp and you can store them for many years to come. You probably won't need them in the next 4000 years though.

Pretty cool huh? I hope you found this tip helpful. Check back here for more tips! I'll be posting more soon, as well as some other really great information about whole grains! :)

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Milling fresh whole grains - Tip 1

Here are some hints to milling and cooking with fresh whole grains.

Tip #1 - "You do WHAT? Why bother?" - Part One

Alright, I will be the first to say, I was not raised to be a domestic person. When I first heard of milling grain at home I thought it seemed time consuming, a big mess, and a far fetched idea. It didn't take me long to note how wrong I was.

One tip to answering those questions of 'You do what?' and 'Why bother?' is to understand the two greatest benefits of milling at home. First are the health benefits and second are the storage/cost effect benefits. the health reasons.

Grains are processed into flour for shelf storage, however, most of the 'parts' of the grain are removed to slow spoilage time. When those things are taken away, the flour is stripped of the Wheat Bran, Middlings, Wheat Germ and Wheat Germ oil. As we skim that list, we see at least three things that are now sold in health food stores across the globe. The Bran and Middlings give the fiber (and more), the Germ and oil give the vitamin E (and more), two things missing in the usual diet of the twentieth century.

Worse than what is absent, may also be what is added to the bagged flour. To make the widely used white appearance of flour, the first process used by manufacturers was in fact chlorine bleach! Although new chemicals and processes have now been approved, chemicals of any kind were not ever intended to be IN the grain itself. The list of what was stripped from the now fluffy flour is so long that manufacturers now feel the need to 'enrich' it with synthetic vitamins. Synthetic vitamins are just that - synthesized, not natural. Why add a 'fake' vitamin for a natural one that was taken away in processing? Enough said.

Check back for part two of this tip tomorrow! :)

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Milling grain - another reason to do it at home

Here's a short tip on milling grain and why you should bother doing it yourself.

It takes no more time than grabbing a bag of dead flour. Throw the grains in the Nutrimill, turn it on and by the time I've gathered the other ingredients for the recipe, the mill is done.

The Nurtimill has even saved us money! My family of 5 eats pizza every Friday night (our family tradition). We used to order 3 large pizzas from Papa Johns. Costing us between 30 and 40 dollars any given Friday. Now I make 3 16 inch pizza crusts ahead of time using fresh ingredients (with possibly less fats/grease) for around $10.00! The mill had been paid for itself in less than three months on pizza night alone!

Milling whole grains at home has many benefits, even outside of health. Come back and see us for more tips and grain information. :)

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Saturday, May 5, 2007

Pancake Recipe

Here's the pancake recipe I promised :D

4 cups freshly milled "soft white wheat"
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon backing soda*
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup oil
2 eggs
3 1/2 cups buttermilk

Mix together all the dry ingredients. Add liquids. Stir just until they are mixed. Fry on hot oiled griddle. To make a lighter pancake separate the eggs and whip the egg whites then fold gently into the batter. Serve however you like it and enjoy.
*To use sweet milk instead of buttermilk omit soda and increase baking powder to 4 teaspoons.

There you have it! I hope you like them.

God bless you and your family and happy eating! :)

Friday, May 4, 2007

Whole Wheat Pancakes

Who doesn't like eating pancakes? Freshly homemade and hot off the griddle with butter, and the maple syrup (or whatever you prefer) being poured on top. And your fork cutting into them, and they're nice and fluffy. Wow, my mouth is actually starting to water as I type this.

I've got a great recipe that I've tweaked and tested over the years with my freshly milled whole wheat flour. I've now got it to where they taste just as good as buying any pancake mix from the store. Only mine are healthier for you because you get the benefits of having whole wheat! My kids love them!

A variety of flours and flour blends can be used for this recipe, but what I almost always use in my recipe is soft white wheat. They are amazing!

I'll post the recipe up within the next few days, so check back a little later so you don't miss it!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Whole wheat pizza crusts

Whole wheat pizza crusts! See, you can still make GOOD stuff with whole wheat! Why use refined grains when you can use whole wheat and keep the goodness of grain in your diet!?

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Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The difference between whole grains and refined grains

There are differences between refined grains and whole grains, everyone knows that. Let's dig a little deeper into why though, and how.

Whole grains have all their parts still intact, the bran, wheat germ, and endosperm. Refined grains have all parts removed except for one, the endosperm. The bran and wheat germ have the majority of the grain's vitamins and fiber contained in them, while the endosperm has very little of both and is starchy. So basically you're eating something that is just empty calories, and it's like glue to your colon. All the goodness of the grain is gone!

So the difference between the two is mainly nutritional value. Removing the bran and germ from whole grains is not a good thing because it is depriving you of the nutrients your body needs, and replacing it with starch and empty calories.

For me, I'd rather eat whole grains and give my body what it needs, than to eat refined breads that supposedly taste better.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Cheese Biscuit Recipe (REALLY GOOD!)

Look out Red Lobster! These are so good!

These are such a great addition to a boring meal (that would be soup here)! They also work GREAT as a choice to take to a pot luck or brunch.

FIRST THING THOUGH - if you don't have Buttermilk handy - add 1 TBS of either lemon juice or vinegar to your regular milk and let it wait aside while you assemble all the other ingredients.

Here are the ingredients:
· 1 Cup Buttermilk or Soured Milk (as directed above)
· 1/4 Olive Oil
· 2 Cups FRESHLY MILLED FLOUR (in the Hopper at the same time gives you just enough)
· 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
· 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
· 1 tsp Garlic Salt
· 2 TBS Organic Evaporated Cane Sugar
· 1-2 Cups shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

In a large bowl, mix all the DRY ingredients together. Add the Shredded Cheese and toss just to cover each strands. Make a 'well' in the milddle of the dry ingredients. Combine the oil and buttermilk (soured milk) and pour the liquid slowly into the well while mixing until just barely combined. Do not over mix - batter should still be a bit lumpy.

Drop by spoonful or ice cream scoop on cookie sheet.

IF you would like to make them into 'cut' bisuits you can turn the batter out onto a heavily floured surface, pat lightly until about 1 inch thick and cut with biscuit cutter. Don't twist the cutter! Cut biscuits you would lay side by side (touching) in a baking pan.

Place a dollop of butter on top of each or brush with melted buttter. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes. Makes about 1 Dozen depending upon how big you cut/drop them!

This is only one of my great recipes. My kids love them! I hope yours do too. Thanks for reading, and Happy Eating! :)


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Monday, April 30, 2007

The anatomy of a grain of wheat

A whole grain is mostly made up of 3 parts. The bran, the germ, and the endosperm. Check out this cool picture.
As you can see from the picture. The endosperm makes up most of the kernal, the bran comes next and the germ makes up the least amount. Manufacturers remove the bran and germ when they make refined bread flour (white flour). Which is not good at all.

The bran is the outside layer of the grain and it is a rich source of many vitamins and minerals like magnesium, riboflavin, thiamin, phosphorus, niacin, iron and zinc. Almost all of the fiber within the grain comes from the bran.

The germ is the part of the grain from which a new plant would sprout if you were to plant it. It is a concentrated source of vitamin E, magnesium, riboflavin, thiamin, phosphorus, niacin, iron and zinc. The germ also contains some fat and protein.

The endosperm has very small amounts of vitamins, not nearly close to what the bran and germ have.

So now you know the anatomy of a whole grain of wheat, and you may see a little why it's important to eat the WHOLE grain and not just the endosperm. We're not getting the much needed vitamins, minerals and especially not getting the greatly needed fiber in our diets if we eat refined grains. So let's start eating whole grains more often! After all, if it'll help you live a healthier life, what can it hurt right?

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

What is considered a whole grain?

A whole grain is whole when it has all three parts of the grain. The bran, the wheat germ, and the endosperm. Contrast to refined grains which are only made up of the endosperm (the starchy insides that have little to no vitamins and fiber).

The three parts have many beneficial vitamins that are helpful for your body and health. The bran has much of the fiber. While the germ has much of the protein and nutrients. If both of these are removed from the grain then it really leaves you with not much substance and you're left with basically empty calories.

Here are a few common whole grains:

Oatmeal (whole oats)
Brown rice
Wild rice
Whole-wheat bread, pasta or crackers

All others like white rice, white bread, and enriched pastas are just like glue to your colon...and that's not even mentioning the chemicals and preservatives put into the stuff.

Whole grains aren't that hard to eat. They may not "taste" as good as the other refined versions, but they sure are better for you and will help you in the long run. Why not "taste" more of a good healthly life instead? Try eating a few from that list. :)

My passion is to help others learn more about grains and nutrition. So I hope this information and the things to come will be helpful to you and your family! Thanks for reading, happy eating, and God bless you!

Technorati Tags: Whole Grain, Bran, Wheat Germ, Endosperm

Friday, April 27, 2007

Milling/grinding grains what to do with leftovers

When grinding grains, there is often a bit left over in the mill that won't be used in the recipe I am currently making. Since one of the whole reasons behind milling fresh grains is to immediately use them during their peak nutritional state - left overs are not something that are usually planned!

Keeping in mind that we want to be frugal and good stewards of our foods, we have to plan what to DO with those left over grains after we have milled them. Here are a few ideas:

1. Save them in a zipper baggie to add to soups, or to bread items for frying.
2. If you've ground excess corn meal, keep in freezer for dusting the bottom of pizza pans or English muffin trays to absorb moisture.
3. Save extra in a zipper bag in the freezer to add just a bit more fiber and whole grain to other recipes that may usually be made with 'dead' flours.

I hope this info was helpful to you and your family. I'll be blogging every day with new ideas, tips, and cool information about fresh whole grains!

So thanks for reading and God bless you!