At a end-of-semester Christmas party in college, the kind where everyone brings in something to share, one girl in that class brought in cookies. She looked almost apologetic when she announced, “I know that not everyone is going to like these cookies. They are made from a non-fat recipe.” I consider myself an adventurous person (not like Adam Richman level of adventurous), so with the belief that I had never once meet a cookie that I did not like, I took one and ate it.
That was the day that I met a cookie that I did not like. Some things belong in cookies, like fat for instance. And other foods in nature belong with all of their accessories as well—like the wheat berry.
Baking is both science and art. Believe me, Chaya is an artist in the kitchen with bread baking—and no two batches are the exact same. Now compare homemade bread (with flour that you ground in your kitchen) to store bought bread. Trust me, I could never go back to store bought bread; it lacks soul.
Whenever possible use whole grain products, ideally stone-ground. Whole grain flours are nutritionally superior, plus they have more flavor. “White” wheat flour has the “good stuff” taken out—the bran, wheat germ and “shorts” are removed; then to get the “bleached flour” the flour is treated with such things as oxides of chlorine, acetone peroxide, potassium bromate, nitrogen, nitrosyl chloride, chorine dioxide, benzoyl peroxide, azodicarbonamide, plaster of Paris, or ascorbic acid to whiten and “mature” the flour, rendering a “more tender final product in baking” (Mitchell, 1991).
Okay, let us dive right in here. Can you call home ground flour, “processed food?” I am going to say, “No and Yes.”
“No,” in that home ground flour is nearly orthogonal to the stuff you find in the bread aisle at the grocery store. That “bread” is not bread that you could produce in your house because you probably do not have Phosphorus in your kitchen cupboard. Phosphorus makes incendiary products and tracer ammunition possible, but is not an ingredient in our go-to bread recipe at our house. It may be a stretch to call that “bread” bread at all because real flour (the kind you grind at home) goes rancid at about the same rate as milk if you leave it on the counter. This is a problem for bread companies to bake it, transport it and have it meet up with consumers in the grocery store at the height of its freshness. So the more calcium sulfate (here is the MSDS for it) you add to your bread, the more “processed” it becomes on the real food continuum. However, you can also add calcium sulfate as a soil amendment or use it to comprise plaster or sheetrock—the possibilities are endless.
“For example, sometimes a recipe ends up needing to be modified with a little extra calcium sulfate or flavoring to balance acidity. Whatever it might take in Wayne [New Jersey], it would be a big challenge to the Twinkie bakery” (Ettlinger, 2007).
“Yes,” in that it alters the wheat from the form you find it in nature. I do not digest raw hops really well, but I love beer. Raw meat is not my thing, but I do enjoy a grilled steak. In the same way, flour baked into bread is a “process” that our house employs to derive nutrition from a wheat berry that would be plain roughage if swallowed whole.
A home use grain mill, like the Wondermill for example, is giving you a product that is 100% usable. Since most of our bread that we bake is derived from wheat flour, we are able to use 100% of the flour from 100% of the wheat berries put into the mill. The wheat berry comes in three main parts: the bran, the germ and the endosperm.
The bran is the wrapper that encases the wheat berry and keeps it sealed. The germ is the engine that starts the wheat plant when it germinates. The endosperm is the starch, or to the germ it is the fuel that powers the wheat plant until it can absorb the nutrients from the soil and metabolize the suns energy. Just like the fat in likeable cookies, the bran and the germ are part of the wheat package. Since you pay for the whole wheat berry, why not eat all of it?
It turns out that commercial flour strips the bran and the germ out because these are the parts that will go rancid. Rancid flour does not sell. However the bran and the germ can be sold as cattle feed. So the bread you buy in the store is not nearly as complete in nutrition as what is in the manger.
Most of today's mass-produced foods are seriously depleted of nutrients and are highly chemicalized with additives. Processed foods today are not just more sophisticated and more convenient versions of the foods eaten by our ancestors. A wide spectrum of essential nutrients has been removed in the manufacturing process. The basic molecular structure of what remains is also degraded and nutritionally inferior. Until recently, grains were ground between large stones to make flour. Everything in the original grain remained in the finished product, including the germ, the fiber, the starch, and a wide spectrum of vitamins and minerals. The final product contained all the naturally occurring vitamins, minerals and micronutrients (Cranton, 2011).
So if it is not nutrition that we are buying, what exactly are we paying for? Answer: Convenience.
“We do not need unhealthy foods to be more convenient or less expensive” (Pino, 2011).
Oh, but they indeed are both more convenient and less expensive—hence the appeal. You may remember the old food pyramid:
Now here is the new one:
Guess what the USDA is asking you to eat more of? What appears first in each pyramid—you guessed it grains. Where do most people get them? Already ground, stripped, baked and value-added-ready-to-eat on the shelf.
I can remember that when good homemade baked bread was a regularity in our house, we all felt much better after dumping the mass-produced bread in the store. Getting off the cheap starch is the one truly effective resolution that can change your life for the much better this week! Blood sugar spikes, inflammation of every kind all are effects of being on cheap starch. There is nothing wrong with fructose when it comes from fruit (eaten in moderation). When you amplify a good thing like fructose with another good thing like corn you can get a bad thing like high fructose corn syrup.
So how can you tell which source of grains are best? The answer is complex. Not that the answer is difficult to understand, the answer is complex carbohydrates should make up any carbohydrates taken in at all.
Simple and complex carbs are the two main forms of carbs. Carbohydrates provide the body with its main source of energy. . . . Simple carbs are single- or double-linked sugar molecules, and complex carbohydrates are three or more linked sugar molecules, according to MedlinePlus. Simple carb foods usually come from fruits, table sugars and dairy products. Complex carbs commonly come from starchy vegetables and whole grain breads and cereals. The energy from simple carbs is used faster by the body while complex carbs last longer because they are made up of more sugar molecules than simple carbs (Gulezian, 14 ).
Carbohydrates that give us energy also are what fuels the plant to grow initially. The body is an incredibly well designed machine, that needs high octane quality fuel—do not put the cheap stuff in your body.
Interested in more about bread? Check out some of our other bread blogs:
P.S.—if you cannot eat wheat flour because of gluten intolerance, then check out Gluten-Free Girl’s website.
Pro Deo & Patria
Grain by ml1gU02
Cookies by n49fTlI
first Bread by mgid8Bm
second Bread by nfAVg1Y
Mitchell, P. (1991). Grist mill quick loaf breads. (p. 3). Chatham: Sims-Mitchell House.
Ettlinger, S. (2007). Twinkie, deconstructed, my journey to discover how the ingredients found in processed foods are grown, mined (yes, mined), and manipulated into what America eats. (p. 84). London: Hudson st Pr.
Cranton, E. M. (2011, March 15). Modern bread, the broken staff of life [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.drcranton.com/nutrition/bread.htm
Pino, D. (2011, August 31). Why sliced bread was never a great invention. Retrieved from http://summertomato.com/truth-and-marketing-why-sliced-bread-was-never-a-great-invention/
Gulezian, T. (14 , July 2011). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/293310-high-complex-carbohydrate-diet/