From Amaranth to Quinoa; Meet the Grains
“Bread is life”-Noam Ben-Yossef
We often use bread as a metaphor for food in general; a symbol of nurturance and sustenance, the basis of bodily health, indeed even of spiritual life. We talk of “breaking bread” with others as a peace offering, and refer to our simple joys as our “bread and butter.”
Unfortunately, I see two dismal things that have happened to our relationship with bread.
- Carb-o-phobia! (as defined by urban dictionary) an irrational fear of element 6 of the periodic table, from which all organic life is based. As epitomized in the oh-so-famous Atkin’s diet, and the “low-carb” touting labels that everyone and their mother buys when given the choice.
There was a bagel shop in my hometown, that was the hottest morning spot to hit before work or school, and all the workers would wear t-shirts that said, “I Love Carbs!”
- Wheat Monopoly! Whether it’s white, “brown,” whole, or low-carb, almost every bread on the store shelf is wheat bread (yes, I know, potato bread, I see you, too.) For those of us with European ancestry, this makes sense as wheat has been a staple crop in many European climates for centuries. However, when we make our rounds at the local market and grab the same bread we grabbed last week and last month, we are certainly missing out!
Allow me to introduce… THE GRAINS!
And there are many more! All of these can be eaten as *whole grains,* meaning that consumption of the seed and the germ (aka “sex organs” of the crop) provide enormous additional benefit, and deliciousness to you!
From my own kitchen!
This last weekend, I baked a loaf of dark rye bread, and while I usually share whatever Sunday-Oven-Funday masterpiece with my housemates, I kept this one to myself over the last few days!
Here’s a spotlight on rye:
- Rye is a cereal grain that looks like wheat but is longer and more slender and varies in color from yellowish brown to grayish green. It is generally available in its whole or cracked grain form or as flour or flakes that look similar to old-fashioned oats. Because it is difficult to separate the germ and bran from the endosperm of rye, rye flour usually retains a large quantity of nutrients, in contrast to refined wheat flour. (source)
- Provides lots of fiber (about 1/3 of daily value, although it varies based on processing)
- Is a rich source of magnesium, a mineral that is required for the proper functioning of more than 300 enzymes, including some of those involved in the body’s use of glucose and insulin secretion. This leads some people to believe that whole rye can lower risk for heart disease, certain cancers, and Type-II diabetes.
And the recipe that I used for my Whole Dark Rye Loaf:
- 1 tbsp (or 1 package) active dry yeast
- 3/4 cup warm water (110 degrees to 115 degrees- referred to as “Blood-Warm” by old midwives, alewives, and… witches)
- 1/4 cup unsulphured, organic blackstrap molasses
- 3 tablespoons butter, softened (I used 3 tbsp of Flax oil, but organic butter or coconut oil would work great, too!)
- 1 cup rye flour
- 2 tablespoons raw cocoa powder (also a great source of magnesium!)
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds (I threw in a handful and a half)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
the lovely caraway seed!
- In the bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the molasses, butter, rye flour, cocoa powder, caraway seeds, salt and 1 cup of whole wheat flour. Mix to combine.
- Knead until the dough is smooth, elastic and webs your fingers together. Add remaining flour only as necessary to achieve the “right” consistency. You may not need the full amount of remaining flour – this is subjective. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for a few moments then collect dough into a ball.
- Place dough ball in greased bowl, turning once to ensure the top is greased. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size – about 2 hours.
- Punch down dough, shape into a loaf about 10” long.
- Place loaf onto a greased baking sheet or loaf pan, cover and let rise until doubled in size – about an hour.
- And bake at 350°F for 35-40 minutes or until bread sounds hallow when tapped. Remove from baking sheet and cool.
I will admit that I didn’t let it rise the second time, but it still turned out delicious!
**will you try a new kind of bread this week?**