What I Put Into My Bread–The “Why”

bread with seeds

Bread Ingredients


The Role of Each Ingredient in the Final Product


I would like to explain what each of the ingredients does and how it interacts in my bread recipe.  Once you understand this, it is easy to modify a recipe and make it your own.  Perhaps you avoid eggs, or want a product with less gluten, etc.  If you understand the interplay of these ingredients, you can make substitutions, and create your own variant.

 I prefer to start with natural ingredients as much as possible.  I will mill my own flour before I get started to ensure that I have the highest nutrient density in my family’s bread.  Where possible, I highly recommend pastured eggs.  The Omega 3 is clear to see in the bright yellow yolks—bugs and sunshine make the best eggs!  Lastly, if you can use filtered water you will get better performance with your recipe ingredients (and you will not miss the Chlorine). 

pitcher of water

Water—Beyond joining the bread ingredients, water temperature is very important for activating yeast.  You want your water to be approximately 110-155˚F.  Again, filtered water is going to give the best results. 

 Altitude is another consideration on how much water you need to add to your recipe.  Higher altitudes are dryer climates (lower boiling point for water) and will require a higher ratio of water to the dry ingredients.  My recipe worked for me at both sea level in North Carolina and at 3,000 ft here in Montana . . . however I have to use a slightly higher water-to-flour ratio here at 3,000 ft.  When I tried to bake bread at 7,000 ft in Colorado Springs, my low altitude recipe failedClick here for a tested high altitude bread recipe.

  olive oil

Oil—Next to flour, the quality of the oil has the most direct effect on the quality your bread, both in flavor and in nutrition.  I almost exclusively use olive oil, because when you examine the finished product, you will know the recipe by ingredients used to make it.  It is this fat content that makes a tender and moist baked good.  The fat interacts with the strands of gluten to shorten (why we call them “shorteners”) the length of the gluten strands.  This allows the gases more freedom of movement so that your baked goods are more “airy”.  Egg yolks also help serve this purpose.


Honey—I always add the oil first so that the honey will slide out of the same measuring cup without mess or waste.  Traditional cookbook recipes just use plain white sugar, which is good for plain white bread.  But why, when you can take your bread from “boring” to “rich”?  Honey within itself is the original antibiotic—it is extremely healthy for your immune system, it is easily digestible.  Yes, it is one of the more expensive items on the ingredients list—but if you did a blind taste test between two loaves of bread, you would know which one had the honey.  I have baked with a variety of sweeteners over the years, to include agave nectar, stevia, and molasses.  I find that the honey has the least finicky response in the recipe and is the most versatile.

flax seeds

Flax Seed—this is a completely optional  in my list of recipe ingredients, but one I choose for the Omega 3 fatty acids.  I know that it is difficult (depending upon your geography) to fill your diet with excellent seafood.  If you do not grind the flax seed, you are basically only getting the fiber and the rest of the nutrition passes through undigested.  It is an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. If you grind it in a coffee grinder (you can typically pick one up cheaply for about $10.00 at a box store or pharmacy store) that you have reserved only for your herbs and seeds, you will get many precious phytochemicals in your bread.  Flax, like other seed grains, has a lot of antioxidants, including lignans. 

We like to use bread for sandwiches, but I commonly hear the complaint that homemade bread can crumble too much for this use.  Here’s a great trick:  grind your flax seed and add a tablespoon of water to it and let it sit in a bowl for a minute before adding it to your dough.  It will work as a binder–just like egg–and will help hold your bread together even while giving you the great nutritional benefit of flax.

 soy lecithin


Lecithin—This one ingredient single-handedly transformed my early breads to something edible.  I did not know WHY back then.  Since then I have learned that it is considered a health supplement for its ability to break down fats, to improve memory, and for its promotion of healthy gall bladder functioning.  It lowers cholesterol and has been linked to improving women’s reproductive health.  In cooking, it is used as an emulsifier to prevent sticking (such as what you find in a cooking spray and chocolate). It provides a tenderness and (perhaps the most important thing of all), it extends the shelf life of the bread!  I get several more days at room temperature out of my bread with lecithin, than the bread I have made omitting this ingredient.  “Lecithin” is a generic term that can mean any emulsifier and it can be made from many sources.  Although I typically avoid soy due to the GMO factor these days, I have used soy lecithin in my bread in the past.  You can live without this ingredient, but its shelf life extension, texture improvement, and health benefits make this one you need to weigh personally. 

Now that I’ve mentioned all the benefits and how I never baked without it in the early years, I must fess up and tell you I do not use it now.  I can “read” my bread dough better with years of experience and don’t need the lecithin to help hold it together for me any more.  I do have some on my shelf but I rarely reach for it now.



Salt—I have forgotten it more than once.  Your bread is flavorless without it, entirely.  I have also overdosed on it, and that makes the bread inedible at best.   Salt also tempers the effect of the yeast; you usually realize you have forgotten the salt when your bread will not stop rising!  Stick with sea salt if you can; it greatly enhances the flavor and nutrition of your bread.  It makes it something richer.

 Palouse Flour


Flour—The single most important of all the ingredients, which is why I only use home-milled flours because of the marked health benefits.  Store bought flours, even the gourmet ones, have had to strip some of the nutrients out in order to give it shelf life.  Flours in the frozen section maintain most of the nutrition but freezer life will take its toll on that as well.  Milling your own flour is easy, affordable, and the most nutrient dense way to bake bread.  You can substitute bean and other flours (chickpea, for example) for some of the wheat, but do not go over 25% (you will likely need to add gluten) of the entire flour content or it will not rise properly. 

 Not all wheat is the same.  “Hard” wheat has higher gluten and is best for yeast breads.  “Soft” has lower gluten and better for lighter baking products like cake that use other rising methods, such as egg yolk, baking powder, and baking soda which also appear in quick breads.

 Hard Red—this has the dark, wheaty flavor.  I started with Hard White and began adding this in slowly.  This can be an acquired taste, now I love it!  Hard Red wheat responds very well to yeast recipe breads. 

Hard White—Less wheaty flavor.  Very tasty, excellent to use in yeast products.

Soft White—This is the best for quick breads, cookies, baking items with lighter structures.  I sometimes mix some in with bread flours for yeast bread, but never more than 10-25% of the total flour. 

Durum—This is your pasta wheat!  Very tasty and you will see a difference, but in a pinch, use soft white instead. 

Spelt—This is delicious and versatile wheat substitute.  You can use it in both breads and quick breads.  Some people who have sensitivity to wheat breads do well with this flour.




Eggs—This is the binder in your bread.  I have tried to live without them and I have tasted several loaves from other bakers without it and I come to the same conclusion every time—use eggs (even better, get your own chickens)!  The bread crumbles more easily without it—so if you want sandwich bread you cannot skip this step.  You might want to play with how many you use.  Eggs also provide another source of healthy fat for your bread, which helps lighten the overall texture. 

 There are likely thousands or even tens or thousands of bread recipes across the world, but each one will differ based on the ingredients.  The food science is the same though, so choosing recipe ingredients that are fresh, quality and wholesome will yield a superior product.  If you come across a recipe that you want to modify, you can as long as you which bread ingredients do what and why.  If you come across any ingredients that I did not mention here, please leave a comment below and let me know what you like to see in your bread recipe.





Photo Credits:

Pitcher of water  http:/www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1857%22%3EImage:%20zirconicusso%20/%20FreeDigitalPhotos.net%3C/a%3E%3C/p%3E

 Oil  http:/www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=681%22%3EImage:%20m_bartosch%20/%20FreeDigitalPhotos.net%3C/a%3E%3C/p%3E

Honey  http:/www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=851%22%3EImage:%20Danilo%20Rizzuti%20/%20FreeDigitalPhotos.net%3C/a%3E%3C/p%3E

Salt  http:/www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=345%22%3EImage:%20Carlos%20Porto%20/%20FreeDigitalPhotos.net%3C/a%3E%3C/p%3E

 Eggs  http:/www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1758%22%3EImage:%20Rawich%20/%20FreeDigitalPhotos.net%3C/a%3E%3C/p%3E





Nothing in this blog constitutes medical advice.  You should consult your own physician before making any dietary changes.  Statements in this blog may or may not be congruent with current USDA or FDA guidance.


Homemade Bread Recipe–Pantry Paratus Style

Bread in Oven

 Pantry Paratus bread with infused olive oil

Pantry Paratus Style


This is my personal homemade bread recipe; I hope you enjoy it.  I use this dough for many purposes as it is the base for herbed breads, rolls, hamburger buns, stuffed loaves—YUM. 

 Bread in Norpro Nonstick Pans

I have worked with this recipe for bread over the years and am confident with it.  It also continues to evolve from time to time.   Get creative, and leave a comment below telling me what you have tried and how you have modified it to fit your family’s needs.  If you need a high altitude version click here.

If you avoid all soy, skip the lecithin.  Use it if you want to give your bread a longer shelf life or if you have had problems with the bread being too crumbly in the past (and you had difficulty using it for sandwiches).   If you want to skip the soy but troubleshoot crumbly bread, consider grinding flax seed and letting it soak in a tablespoon of water for a minute–it will serve well as a binder.

Recipe for Whole Wheat Bread

 Yields:  three loaves in 10’’ pans

  • 4 cups warm water (leftover water from boiling potatoes is great)
  • 3 tablespoons yeast
  • ½ cup flax seed, ground (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons lecithin (optional; if omitted, consider 3rd egg as a binder)
  • ¼ cup gluten (recommended but optional)
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 14-17 cups hard red or hard white flour (I use 15 cups at 3,000 ft altitude, average weather)
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup honey
  • 2-3 eggs
  • Sesame seeds (optional)

Pull out all ingredients and have them handy to speed up the process and cut down on the mess.

 I Crack my eggs into a separate bowl, stir, and let them warm to room temperature for best results.


  Step 1: Add yeast to warm water (approx. 110-115 degrees) and proof to ensure the yeast is viable.  Add oil and honey (oil allows the honey to pour easily from your measuring cup).  Let this sit until you see bubbling yeast activity. 

 Step 2:  Stir in flax, gluten, lecithin, salt, and eggs. 

 Step 3:   Add flour.  If you want to proof your flour (to lower the Phytic acid content) do this now by only adding 5-10 cups of the flour, stirring, and letting it sit as desired.  Otherwise, add all the flour you can still stir.  I recommend that you mill flour fresh for highest nutritional values.

 Step 4: Oil or flour your work surface.  Dump your flour out onto the table, adding the rest of the flour.  Remember to oil your hands to eliminate sticking as you knead the dough. 

 Step 5: Knead the dough approximately 10-12 minutes (I sing through “The Lord’s Prayer” twice), or until the dough is soft to the touch, firm and yet still pliable.  Avoid adding too much flour during the kneading process—it is a common mistake that can make your bread dry. 

 Step 6: Place the dough back into the bowl and cover.  Let sit for one hour.  If you have a cold kitchen, remove the trays from your Excalibur dehydrator and proof the bread in there at approximately 80°.

 Step 7: Punch down your dough to release the gases.  Then form into loaves with the seam down and place into the greased or floured bread pans.  Lightly oil and add seeds if desired.

 Step 8: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 

 Step 9: Cover your loaves again and let them sit for 15-30 minutes longer (not necessary at higher altitudes). 

 Step 10: Bake for approximately 30 minutes.  Check for even browning and rotate if needed (every oven is different).  If they brown too quickly, cover with foil for the first half of baking.  

 I also did a separate blog entry to give the why every ingredient appears in the wheat bread recipe, some science behind the reactions and what happens if you omit or substitute an ingredient.  Bread baking is so much fun, I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do.

For best nutrition results, use a whole wheat bread recipe like this one to ensure that you are getting the healthiest results.  Flour that you mill at home has superior nutrition to the dead flour that you buy on the shelf at the grocery store. 

Bread in Oven
Bread in Oven

High altitude tip:  I thought that I knew how to bake bread until I tried it at my best friend’s house in Colorado Springs.  If your altitude is anything higher than approximately 2,000 ft, you might find you need to add more moisture to your bread dough, adjust your rise time, and adjust your cooking time. Try this high altitude bread recipe variant.

If you would like to see a video of this bread recipe, simply sign up for our news letter and you will receive a video link in your email walking you through step by step.  I recently had tasted someone’s second loaf of bread (ever) that she made after watching my video-and it came out great! 

If anyone modifies this specific recipe, or if you have another bread recipe altogether,  please leave a comment.  I would love to hear what works for you!


Bread with Frontier Sesame Seeds





Task Oriented

Produce, Prepare, & Preserve Your Harvest

Somewhere along the way, I’ve become task-oriented.  I have always appreciated hard work and the ability to crash asleep from a day’s accomplishments.  I’ve always enjoyed pushing myself beyond even my own boundary of capabilities; to know that I did something I didn’t know was possible.

In spite of these qualities, I was not always task-oriented.  I love people by nature and could easily pine away an afternoon at a coffee shop or bookstore with a dear friend.  And I’d ask if they’d like to meet there again tomorrow.

friends over coffee

Goodness, I could pine away that same afternoon quite contentedly by myself, enjoying my own solitude with my calligraphy pen or banjo.  Even at the bookstore, I enjoy the alone-time. Perhaps it would be an adventure; a conversation with a stranger or perhaps I’d witness an event in the peripheral that I’d otherwise miss—like that young couple falling in love but not admitting it yet, or that creative little girl trying to win her mother over to her brilliant idea of giving her what she wants.  Yes, I people watch. Even more than these, a rainy afternoon calls my name; the book and tea await my arrival.

tea and a book

I still love every one of these things.  But along with these things, I now find that my “To Accomplish” list (doesn’t that sound better than “to-do”?) grows longer with every checked item.  I think chores breed chores.  The list within itself can contain a certain drudgery—as the rainy afternoons mount this time of year and the Book List grows with every radio program interview I overhear.

But yet the items on the list itself…these give me great joy.  After all, would they find their way to my list if there was not some merit to be gained?  My list today is no shorter than usual—zucchini must be processed, and so must the pears and apples.

Produce, Prepare, & Preserve Your Harvest
Apples to process

A dear friend gave me a precious bag of elderberries yesterday—I must start the tincture so it will be ready before the flu season comes! The mending in the corner is nearly toppling.  What of my son’s homeschooling curriculum—school is approaching and I haven’t yet decided our year!

Do they bring stress?  The stress is found within the urgency and the notion of prioritizing them, yes.  But knowing that I’m working for my family, that I’m modeling self sufficiency for my children, that I’m teaching basic life skills, that I’m encouraging an emphasis on family life and charity—these are my big picture.  Above all of this,

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

(Colossians 3:23-24 NIV)

I just wanted to pop this quick reminder your way…remember the big picture today!




friends over coffee

tea and a book

Northwest Montana Veterans Stand Down 2011

Stand Down . . . I had to ask the term to be defined to me the first time I heard it.  It was my first deployment in Kosovo. After a few weeks of falling asleep to the sound of mortars under the stars at our firebase along the border, I was beginning to shed my naïveté about the world we live in.  Our Platoon Sergeant asked the Commander for a “stand down” day so that we could refit, refuel and take care of administrative duties.

Local VFW Post 1548 Libby, MT


My initial acquaintance to the term “stand down” was under drastically different circumstances compared to my first Stand Down event here in Libby, MT.  Stand Down is an annual event put on every year by the Northwest Montana Veterans Stand Down & Food Pantry.  The event drew veterans from Montana, Idaho and points beyond to the Libby, MT local VFW Post 1548.  They formed a line that stretched out the door, across the parking lot and down half of a block.  The event featured its signature give away of semi-truck loads (yes, plural) of surplus military personal equipment (boots, uniform items, cold weather gear, sleeping bags, socks, undergarments, ruck sacks, etc.), free influenza shots, free hair cuts, dental exams, VA personnel of all kinds passing out information about services and points of contact and a hot meal—enough to feed, well, an army.  The volunteer group was enormous, cheerful and very eager to be helping any way they could.


Allen Erickson and Wilson

Mr. Allen W. Erickson is a veteran himself who unintentionally founded the effort back in 2000 after participating in other such events associated with the VA Hospital in Spokane, WA.  The surplus from other Stand Down events was housed in a semi trailer in Allen Erickson’s yard, so he started calling other veterans and giving the items away locally in Kalispell.  The funny thing about free-born Americans is that they are largely at heart very patriotic and manifestly benevolent to their beloved veterans.  Through divine providence a farmer from Polson had heard of Allen Erickson’s effort to give away the surplus to veterans, so the farmer decided to drop off two 4’ cube pallets of potatoes with the instructions, “Now call the veterans, we will feed them and we will clothe them.”   From there it was a short jump to doing Stand Down events locally, and in his first year of doing a Stand Down event, Allen Erickson had the largest such event in the nation.  Twelve years later, the rest of the story is a history of not just annual events, but of an active year round food pantry, clothing outlet, an employment opportunities board, service center all housed in a large building plus robust connections with the VA.


“Veterans  helping veterans” is not a cliché bumper sticker.  A private organization that gives away 224,000 pounds of food in a year is obviously doing something right.  Allen Erickson may not have set out to do something this large, but that is exactly what happened when he set out to do the right thing because he wondered who else would take care of these veterans.

fork lift


My favorite president of all time spoke of something called, “American Exceptionalism.”  Anyone lucky enough to be born an American is special, but a veteran is an unique brand of American—one who at one time wrote a blank check to his/her country up to and including his/her life if need be for this great nation.  Efforts like the Northwest Montana Veterans Stand Down & Food Pantry are exceptional and 100% American.

Truck Load


I am proud to welcome home my cousin back to Ft Riley in the near future after he concludes a long tour in Iraq.  There are things that only he and I will be able to talk about because of the extraordinary conditions and experiences that only someone deployed to Iraq to take care of their nation’s business can understand.  Yet it does not take a combat veteran to understand what it was like for someone like me coming back from Iraq (after an honorable discharge) and not being able to find a job.  Anyone can be a volunteer, make a difference in the life of a veteran and reach out a “helping hand up.”


North West Montana Veteran’s Stand Down & Food Pantry Mission Statement:

North West Montana Veteran’s Stand Down & Food Pantry is dedicated to providing a “helping hand up” to homeless, low income, and at-risk veterans, their families, and dependent children.


You may reach them at:

1349 Hwy 2 East Kalispell, MT 59901 (406) 756-7304



Pro Deo et Patria,


What Did $1.00 Buy?

Meatballs Frying

This was one of our most popular articles from 2011. 

Food Inflation

 Food inflation over time


We were too young, did not listen and we were blissfully happy.  Everyone told us to wait until we were out of college to get married, that it would be better to land good jobs first and do not be in a rush to start a family, “But we really want grandchildren by the way.”  We were 21 years old, headstrong, and in love.  Is that not how the story is told, over and over again?  So Wilson and I were students during the day (I took 21 credit hours to graduate earlier), and he changed tires at an auto store in the evening while I sold clothes.  Both ($6/hr) jobs were at the mall, so I would literally run from my side of the mall to his so that we could see each other on our dinner breaks.  But we made it through the progressive food inflation somehow.

 Life is not much different now—we are still very frugal.  My memory of that first year is so clear—the difficulty of balancing the checkbook and the contents of the cupboard shelves, both were usually simultaneously on empty.  So I will engage in that “yes, I’m old” game of “I remember when…” as we take a look at an inflation marker. We were married in 1998 and one pound ground beef was only $.99 a pound!

Ground Beef

What year did you get married or move out on your own?  Do you remember any of the cost of living prices?  Here’s a reality check: http://www.dollartimes.com/calculators/inflation.htm  You can measure the value of a dollar from one year to the next and see the average rate of inflation. 

 How far did your dollar go then?  For me in 1998, my dollar then requires $1.36 to wield the same purchasing power as I had in my newlywed bliss.  Sigh. 

 What is food inflation?  It depends who you ask.  The number magicians tend to omit the cost of fuel and food when it comes to calculating inflation.  Hmmmmmm, here in reality town the grocery store does not pay much attention to that fuzzy math. 


Broken Piggy Bank

So, it is clear to me that when I look at ground beef or green peppers, a dollar does not buy what it used to—that is the inflation of food prices for you.  Food inflation is real, kind of like I cannot find my keys and I am late to get somewhere—not just perceived as in, “Is it me or has that comic strip has not been funny since Kennedy was president?” 

 Let’s just say that you work a job that allows for an annual raise of 3% yearly to compensate for the rate of inflation, as mine did (prior to becoming a stay-at-home mother).  Many jobs are better than that rate, some are worse, but work with me.  12 x .03 = 36.  That is 36% in 13 years. 

So there you have it: if you have received a consistent 3% raise for every year for the last 13 years, you have kept up with inflation, almost neck to neck.  If your raises do not average that, you have fallen behind the decreasing value of the dollar. 

 To me food inflation is just one more reason to make your kitchen self sufficient.  A bucket of wheat purchased in 2011 will still be good in 2021, 2031 or 2041.  Today it cost $28.00 for 26 pounds—anyone want to take a guess at what it will cost in 2041?  Food inflation is real, but if you are smart with your food shopping you can stock your pantry, grind your own flour (which is much better for you) and come out ahead.  Use coupons, grow your own, buy in bulk—all of these can help you stay ahead of the inflation of food.  Can those green beans in the summer, eat them in the winter and enjoy the savings—you know Grandma used to.   Have a tip on saving at the grocery store?  Please leave a comment!




Photo Credits:

Bag of Beans by Pantry Paratus

Ground Beef by chidseyc  http://www.rgbstock.com/photo/mtLNWJW/sizzle

Piggy Bank by chidseyc  http://www.rgbstock.com/photo/mAbSBWW/Bankcrupt


My Less than Altruistic Motives for Kitchen Self-Sufficiency

Top ten list


Self Sufficiency, it is a goal.  To that end, we started Pantry Paratus to help other people produce, prepare and preserve their own food surplus.

So how do you know when you have gotten there?  What is the definition of self sufficiency?  Do you get there when you reach food self sufficiency?  How about economic self sufficiency? 

It is my goal, so I may never reach complete self sufficiency (as in autonomy), but here are the top ten  reasons why I make the pursuit: 

10.  If I take some time when I might have it then I have worked ahead on my kitchen prep for dinner on those days when I just do not have it in me to get it all done.

Rolling Pin

9.  I am cheap.  Frugal.  Economically inclined.  However you wanna say it. 

Tater Skin Crispies by Kitchen Stewardship
Tater Skin Crispies by Kitchen Stewardship

8.  If my house smells like fresh bread straight from the oven, it does NOT smell like poopy diaper or sweaty boy. 

Challah Bread with Frontier Sesame Seeds
Challah Bread with Frontier Sesame Seeds in Bulk

7.  A garden fresh tomato is not to be compared to the hormonally-ripened red replicas you buy in the grocery store.  And since I ca not grow them all year around, dehydrating or canning them gives me that instant mental vacation back to summer days. 


bowl of tomatoes

6.  Most of my daily tasks do not result in immediate gratification; a row of cooling jars on the counter from an hour in the canner, now THAT is something I can see!


5. Most of my daily tasks do not require a great deal of skill (diapers, dishes, laundry), and I enjoy trying a new recipe or developing new skills to stretch myself.


4. I want my sons to marry girls who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty and who know how to work hard.  I figure I probably ought to model that for them. 

carrots potatoes from garden

3. I want my daughter to be feminine, yet rugged in her ability to work from sun-up to sundown (and in a Northwest Montanan summer, that’s saying something) and I figure I probably ought to model that for her. 

Chaya building the goat shed
Chaya building the goat shed

2.  I still love to wiggle my naked toes in cool dirt.  I still love to eat produce straight out of the garden, unwashed.  My kids do too; these are the memories of summer.

1. I get better and faster at these skills as I go, and I can whip something up to wow last-minute dinner guests with very little effort! 

Gluten-Free Nacho Pizza
Gluten-Free Nacho Pizza

Self Sufficiency, it is a worthy goal.  What are your reasons?  Leave a comment below!



Photos Credits:

Rolling Pin by scottchan http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1701″

Tomato by Simon Howden http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=404

Carrots by Simon Howden http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=404

Whole Wheat vs. Hole Wheat

Bread Making Supplies at Pantry Paratus

Whole Wheat vs. Hole Wheat

 Ingredients found in fresh ground whole wheat flour and why they matter


Wheat structure

Wheat Kernel Diagram

The wheat kernel (or wheat berry) has three components: the bran, the germ, and the endosperm.  White flour that you purchase in the store is simply the endosperm.  Actually, it would simplify so much if they called it “wheat starch” instead of “flour” so that you would know it was a kissing cousin to corn starch.  The bran and germ sections have been sifted out, and are sold to you again as health supplements (or additives in healthy cereal, granola bars, salad toppings, etc.) or other value added products like animal feed.  It is quite a racket: to sell the same thing to you three separate times. 




The bran is the outer shell or wrapper consisting of 3 fibrous layers that protect the dormant nascent plant inside. These layers are rich in fiber and in minerals. One of these layers, the Aleurone layer, contains protein as well as high levels of vitamins and Phytic acid.


The germ is the embryo (remember, the grain is a seed of a plant), therefore it is high in both protein and fat, as well as containing the highest level of B vitamins.  This is the engine inside the seed of the wheat kernel that will propel the new plant upwards.  When the seed receives moisture and the plant starts to germinate, it is the germ that forms the new plant shoot. 


The endosperm is all starch and protein.  If the bran were to represent the fuselage and the germ the engine, the endosperm would be fuel for the new plant to start growing until it can metabolize sunlight on its own.  When you buy enriched flour in the store, this what you are actually eating.  It is the starch in the endosperm that contains gluten, giving baked products the composition to hold together.



A quick history of flour


The history of how white, deconstructed flour became “all the rage” is really quite fascinating.  Basically, sifted flour was the European Royalty treat (think “corsets and fainting women”) and the robust peasants milled their own, hearty flours. Sifting (or boulting) has been a method employed since Roman times (they had seven grades of sifted flour).  Sifting into “white” flour is nothing new, but it was never industrialized because the labor involved to go from raw wheat flour to refined sifted flour was so intensive. 


                                                                  Boulting at the Bakehouse


Enter the Industrial age—then an American figured out how to sift it commercially, and it became the thing in 1928.  At about the same time, scientists discovered the causes of Pellagra, Scurvy and Rickets were deficiencies in niacin, vitamin C and D along with phosphorus respectively.  The population at large was simply malnourished, and viola—“enrichment” became the Band-Aid® commonly practiced by 1938, and eventually the law in 1941.  Flour enrichment was intended to bring ordinary flour back closer to whole wheat bread.  This process is also credited with lowering the Pellagra rate from 10.5% in 1933 to only .5% by the year 1949.  Even in recent history (the 2000’s), enrichment of folic acid became law and the number of babies born with neural tube defects decreased by 26%.  Short version of the story, when you need to get some trace element out to the people, write a law and put it in the flour.


The Stripping and Enrichment Processes

So is whole wheat whole grain?  No.  It is very important understand that the greatest nutritional content of wheat is in the bran and germ, and that the endosperm—the stuff modern white bread is made of—does not contain the vitamins and minerals necessary for our daily diets.  Modern day flour mills strip far more vitamins and minerals from the flour then they add back into it, and the enrichment is not sufficient to meet your body’s full dietary needs.  Please do not misunderstand—adding some nutrition into dead flour has saved lives.  But how many more could it save if the flour was served whole?

What is whole wheat?  To answer that, please contrast the following two nutritional charts: the one on the left is for 1 serving of plain wheat berries (or kernels) and the one on the right is for a serving (1 slice) of store-bought white bread.  When you compare them, understand that the 1 cup of wheat is simply 1 cup of the berries; your homemade bread, with honey, salt, liquid (potato water is full of nutritional benefits), and oil will have even higher levels.


Pure Wheat Berries:                                                                  1 serving of White Bread:

Nutritional Chart, 1 cup of wheat berries1 Serving of White Bread


It is interesting to note that in the early 2000’s the law required the enrichment of flour with folate (folic acid).  Although the quantities are different, look at the nutritional values again.  Raw wheat berries and enriched bread are virtually the same amount of folic acid.  There is no comparison between the fiber, iron, thiamin, niacin, magnesium, vitamin B6, phosphorus, and zinc!  


There is something unique about the iron level differences between the raw and the processed.   Anemia is the most widespread vitamin deficiency in the world, irrespective of the financial health of the countries.  The white bread has been enriched with iron and cannot compare to the natural iron levels found within the wheat.  Since there is more than one type of iron, and because the type naturally found within wheat oxidizes quickly, the enrichment process will insert a form less easily digestible than the one that comes integral to your wheat kernel.  Actually, the iron in enriched flour “usually begins not only in iron ore mines in Minnesota, which is no surprise, but also in oil wells, which is” (Ettlinger, 2007).  Ettlinger goes on to point out in hilarious detail that the ferrous sulphate (iron substitute) in enriched flour actually is derived from crude oil (sulphur) and the rust residue in acid pickling tanks from steel mills  production lines (ferrous). 



If flour mills take far more out than they put back in through enrichment—so why take it out at all?  The reason is shelf stability.  True whole wheat flour (flour made from all three parts of the wheat kernel) will quickly oxidize and go rancid.  Actually, the nutritive value of the fresh ground whole wheat flour plummets in mere hours after it is ground (although the process can be stalled significantly if the whole wheat flour is immediately put into the freezer).


When flour mills strip the whole wheat grain of its bran and germ, they are taking more than the vitamins that you see on the label; they are stripping phytonutrients. Also called “phytochemicals,” these are plant nutrients that are not considered essential.  That just means that they enhance your life but might not be essential to it.  For instance, studies suggest that one such phytonutrient, Lignans, can guard against breast and prostate cancers (Mathis, 2005).  These may not make a label, but they are crucial for quality of life. 


“Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food” -Hippocrates. 


To get quantity, there must be a bulk filler (typically starch) that is used to add nutrients back into the flour for enrichment.  Remember that starch consists of high levels of glucose, and this turns quickly into a “sugar” in your body.  So the enrichment process is not without the unfortunate side effect of making bread products “starchy” and a poor choice for diabetics.  True living bread is not this way.  The natural starches contained within the wheat are counterbalanced by the naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein. 

Vitamin E—The original miracle drug  


Vitamin E is a fat soluble antioxidant. That means that they protect cells from harm done by damaging free radicals, which are molecules that contain an unshared electron (Office of Dietary Supplements, 2011).  The Ohio State University measured the amount of vitamin E in various foods, to include oils.  The highest item on the list was 1 tablespoon of wheat germ oil, just the oil!  That one tablespoon provides 20.3 milligrams of vitamin E—that’s 135.3% of your RDA! There is no greater known source of Vitamin E in the world than in whole wheat (Mosure, 2004).




Phosphorus along with Vitamin D are needed in healthy diets to fight Rickets (a disease where the bones degenerate and soften).  Phosphorus is represented in adequate quantities in enough unprocessed foods so that deficiencies are only a concern in people who routinely consume antacids or who have a disease in the kidneys.  Whole wheat is perhaps the second best common source for phosphorus you can find—the highest value going to the yeast used in bread baking.   With the advent of enriched flour, the tracer bullet manufacturing sector has had to share its primary ingredient (Phosphorus) with bakers.  Hmmmm, I think I will just stick to whole wheat home ground flour.




Let’s consider eating God’s bounty as He designed.  We could discuss the various vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients of whole wheat for many pages more; this is not an exhaustive list of the health benefits to this fundamental grain.  Rather, it is a brief highlight of the value of this often underated food staple.  Please consider replacing the deconstructed flour in your diet with true whole grain.  Flour milling is as simple in modern times as flipping the switch on any kitchen appliance.  The lingering scent of freshly baked bread, the indulgence of a warm slice from the oven, the improvement in skin, digestion, and overall health—this is a wonderful gift to yourself and to your family. 




Photo Credits:

Wheat kernel cutaway from the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee: http://wbc.agr.mt.gov/wbc/Consumer/Diagram_kernel/  

 Boulting Flour in the Bakehouse by Kentwell Hall Great Re-Creation, June 2010 (Depicting 1538) http://www.flickriver.com/photos/nigesphotobox/4741585459/

Bread by Viererie http://www.rgbstock.com/photo/nfAVg1Y/BreadBread


Works Cited:

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. (First printing, March 2007 ed., Vol. 1, p. 32). London: Hudson st Pr.

 Mathis MD, C. (2005, April 01). Web md. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/diet/phytonutrients-faq

 Mosure, J. (2004, November). The Ohio State University Extension Office Online. Retrieved from http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/pdf/5554.pdf

 Office of dietary supplements. (2011, October 11). Retrieved from http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional/

 For further study:

http://www.drcranton.com/nutrition/bread.htm (highly recommended reading)

www.americanbakers.org, “Celebrating 70 years of Enrichment”


www.wolframalpha.com  for the nutritional charts

http://www.mostproject.org/PDF/2.pdf   US Aid, “Manual for Wheat Flour Fortification with Iron”


http://www.lesliebeck.com/ingredient_index.php?featured_food=120  Leslie Beck, RD; “Wheat berries – March 2010’s Featured Food”

http://www.sph.emory.edu/wheatflour/KEYDOCS/MI_Fort_handbook.pdf  Wesley and Ranum, eds. “The Fortification Handbook” (2004).

http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/5554.html  Vitamin E: Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet

http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamine/  Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health. Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin E


Nothing in this blog constitutes medical advice.  You should consult your own physician before making any dietary changes.  Statements in this blog may or may not be congruent with current USDA or FDA guidance. 



posted on Saturday, June 14, 2014 10:07:40 PM America/Denver

Very interesting. Thank you for sharing this!


posted on Monday, October 6, 2014 9:49:08 AM America/Denver

I loved this Chaya!! You are singing my song. 🙂


posted on Wednesday, October 8, 2014 1:11:34 AM America/Denver

Thank you, thank you, thank you. The best article so far that I’ve read that explains this whole-wheat (berry) flour concept vs the supermarket white flour. Thank you.

Megan Stevens

posted on Monday, October 13, 2014 10:09:19 PM America/Denver

Hi Chaya, thank you so much for a wonderfully researched and insightful article!!! Two small things, you have “viola” up by/underneath the women sifting flour which is meant to be “voila.” I have done this myself and am always glad someone lets me know; so I hope you will not mind. Secondly, I think it would be helpful if you mention sourdough or sprouting, since the nutrients are much more accessible and historically-based as far as procedures and nutrition when the grain is predigested. Thanks, kindly, Megan 🙂


Thank you for catching that! I’ll change it right away; I want to get attribution correctly. You would enjoy this blog about Phytic Acid, in which I talk about there very thing! It would have made a good addition to this blog, agreed. It’s hard to fit so much science into a readable blog! Glad you liked the article.


posted on Wednesday, October 15, 2014 7:11:47 PM America/Denver

While I agree with most of what you have posted, I have to wonder if you have even read “Wheat Belly”? A huge amount of the problem with wheat – whole grain as well as supermarket white flour – is the fact that what we eat today is genetically modified to be nothing like what our ancestors ate (14 chromosomes in Einkorn vs 42 chromosomes in modern dwarf wheat) “The Bible says, “Give us this day our daily bread”. Eating bread is nearly a religious commandment. But the Einkorn, heirloom, Biblical wheat of our ancestors is something modern humans never eat. Instead, we eat dwarf wheat, the product of genetic manipulation and hybridization that created short, stubby, hardy, high yielding wheat plants with much higher amounts of starch and gluten and many more chromosomes coding for all sorts of new odd proteins.” (Credit: Dr Mark Hyman) Just some food for thought.JessMN, Thank you for the comment (I love it when people write thoughtful comments). I had set out to read Wheat Belly, but I never actually got to it. Good intentions aside, I did watch an hour-something long lecture by the author on the topic via Youtube almost two years ago. I found what he said interesting, but as someone who has come to faith through via the lonely journey of skeptism, I think that both my scientific thinking and my faith are better in practice and both are more epistemologically sound.

Why do I even mention that? Because the author seems to have an axe to grind with faith and the Bible/Christianity in particular–which is altogether fine by me. My problem is that if I was anti-vegetarianism, I would not go take a shot at Seventh Day Adventists straw-man to gain traction on my argument. If following the evidence where ever it leads gets him to be upset with the nativity scene, then I think that my bias detector is correct when I see that as irrelevant to the topic at hand.

Back to wheat, yes, if he is correct, we eat a lesser form of wheat. By way of comparison, Chaya and I used to own a Boxer named Dallas. She was a GREAT dog, very affectionate, loyal, athletic and quite the clown. She was a Boxer; she was not a wolf. All dogs descended from wolves, she was a wolf-minus if you will, but we got all of the canine we needed in that lovable package. The point is to show a diminished modern product does not mean that what we have is somehow needs to be discarded because it is not pure. Sure, I would love to eat 42 chromosome wheat, and hopefully the author can bring the strain back to vogue and we can compare the data. But for now, the wheat we eat is very good, high in protein in Vitamin E.

To be clear, when I say “wheat” (as in what we eat at our house), we start out with a wheat berry/kernel and then grind that into flour. That wheat is superior to the bagels stacked as cover art of dead white flour that had to be enriched by law to avoid vitamin deficiencies like beriberi and rickets. In that the author and I are in agreement, that is not wheat, that is wheat starch-minus.

Thanks for the comment!


Darryl C.

posted on Thursday, October 16, 2014 4:39:50 PM America/Denver

Thank you for UR article… I buy ‘Wheat Berries” Non-GMO, grind them when I want to make my flour. AND then make whatever bread version I want>>> Store bought, I try not to read their ingredient lists CUZ I can’t pronounce 90% of their ingredients! So I don’t buy it!!

Prudence, Wisdom Applied

apple tree in bloom


Wisdom Applied


Many of us are trying to reclaim the lost things of the past.  Some of us have taken up a hobby like knitting or calligraphy.  Many are also beginning to incorporate old homemaking skills like entertaining guests, canning, gardening, and baking.  We are just now beginning to understand the values of such forgotten things, and many of us are finding great joy in reclaiming these slivers of the past; gluing them into the mosaic of our modern lives. I have one more shard to lift out of the rubble, to dust off and reapply into your daily life.  This one does not require a skill or some other time requirement.  This is simply a word: prudence. 

 Learn it, begin using it and embrace it as it is a key component to complete world view as well as to daily life.  It is so key, that it shares the stage with justice, restraint, and courage as one of the “four cardinal virtues”.  St. Augustine gave this definition of prudence: “love distinguishing with sagacity between what hinders it and what helps it.” 

Webster minces few words with this prudence definition, “wisdom applied to practice.”  Did you catch that?  Wisdom shows you the way that is right; prudence will keep you cautious and deliberate in attempting to complete your task at hand.  It is the practical implication of how something must be done, not just the wisdom that it does need to be done.  For instance, you may know that you are supposed to do something differently in regards to your children’s education, but how will you go about it?  So many of the other moral virtues reside in the heart; prudence requires intellect. 



Solomon listed prudence as one of his main reasons for writing the book of Proverbs; it was the reason for dispensing the wisdom in the first place (Proverbs 1:4).  He gives the meaning of prudence, calls his listeners to understand what prudence truly is, and then explains the symbiotic relationship between wisdom and prudence in Proverbs 8:5-12:

 O you simple ones, understand prudence, And you fools, be of an understanding heart.

Listen, for I will speak of excellent things, And from the opening of my lips will come right things;

For my mouth will speak truth; Wickedness is an abomination to my lips.

All the words of my mouth are with righteousness; Nothing crooked or perverse is in them.

They are all plain to him who understands, And right to those who find knowledge.

Receive my instruction, and not silver, And knowledge rather than choice gold;

For wisdom is better than rubies, And all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her.

“I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, And find out knowledge and discretion.


We must pray for wisdom, and wisdom will often answer what is good.  Prudence is seeking knowledge and discretion to apply that wisdom.  Prudence will guide us to apply that wisdom so that we go about it the proper way.  Solomon personified wisdom here, saying “I (Wisdom) will find out knowledge and discretion by living with prudence.”  I think of my three-year old toddler on this one; the other day I heard screaming and saw him sitting on his baby sister.  When I questioned him, he was trying to strong-arm a marker out of her grip, because she is not allowed to have them.  He had the wisdom to know that a sixteen-month-old should not have markers.  He had no prudence to cautiously approach the situation to know how to go about it.  I think we always lumped this into the “wisdom” category, and they are truly inseparable virtues.  There are times, however, when we know what should be done, but are at a complete loss as to how.  You have a name for that which you seek—prudence.

 The apostle Paul says that God gives us prudence through the work of Jesus on the cross.  God does not leave us lacking, and thus we can now wrap our arms around what truly gives prudence meaning.  In Ephesians 1:3, Paul says that God the Father has given us every spiritual blessing through the work of Jesus Christ.  He continues to say that God chose to adopt us and so we should strive to live blamelessly.  He follows (v. 7-10):

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.


God uses both wisdom and prudence as the currency through which He bestows his blessings upon us, how wonderful!  He uses them to make the “mystery of His will” known to us so that we can give Him pleasure.  God implemented wisdom and prudence in the great plan of salvation through Jesus Christ.  God is truly a God of love.  And as St. Augustine so aptly reminded us (in my words), prudence is love’s use of wisdom to determine how to further the cause of love.  God has given us His love, and His plan was indeed prudent. 




Photo Credits:

Prudence Sign http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1701

Absorb This . . . Phytic Acid

Phytic Acid

Phytic Acid

Absorb This . . . Phytic Acid


Inositol Hexaphosphate—a little goes a long way



You may have heard the term “Phytic acid” before if you have read any food blogs out there at all, or if you have asked someone why they go to the trouble of sprouting their grains before preparing them.   Let’s explain what it is and its role in the grain first.

 Have you heard the new food science that all the experts are just so sure of?  We often demonize the next new term out there.  Cholesterol = bad!  Fats and Oils = bad!  Salt=bad!  Bad, bad, bad!  Grrrrrr!  And then we will pin wings onto other terms:  Omega 3 fatty acids are overdose-worthy!  Protein isgluttony-approved!

 It is just not that simple.  You have to learn about your family medical history and your own personal health first before you can know what you should eat or avoid eating.  This data set will look different for every individual person.  When foods are on the “bad list” we do not see the demand go down for that certain texture or taste, so we start seeing substitutes.  Saturated fat went out of vogue and (for awhile) transfats were in.  Sugar is worse than bad, how about aspartame instead—anyone? 

 Phytic acid is properly known as “inositol hexaphosphate” and “IP6” in the science world.  Foods with Phytic acid generally owe their existence to it.  The bad reputation it receives is largely because Phytic acid is the chemical within those foods that preserves that seed/nut until the time in which that seed or nut is brought back from its dormancy through the germination process.  


Inositol Hexaphosphate

Phytic acid grains (i.e. wheat, rice, barley, etc.) store their phosphorous (up to 50-80%) for future use within this chemical compound in the plant to slow the plant’s metabolism.  Furthermore, Phytic acid is an antioxidant naturally occurring in the plant, and it can make up 1-5% of the grain, seed, nut, and even the pollen. 

As you know, an antioxidant helps prevent cancers because they combat the damaging effect of oxidation within tissue.  Foods high in Phytic acid, such as beans, may trend towards the same effect.  There are numerous studies occurring at any given moment as to how Phytic acid might prevent (or even help cure) different forms of cancer; in fact, they have linked it definitively to preventing colon cancer.  Since colon cancer runs in my family the consumption of Phytic acid (for me) is a positive thing—within reasonable limits. 

We would not have the shelf life that we enjoy with such foods as beans, wheat, rice, etc. if it were not for the Phytic acid in food.   However, after it has done its job and the food is on the table, what other effect does it have on you?  And why the anti-phytic acid press if it is an antioxidant?  

As it turns out, we will still get all the Phytic acid even with preparing our grains/seeds/legumes in a way that minimizes Phytic acid.  A 2004 study (Onomi, Katayama) concluded that dietary intake of Phytic acid at a level of 0.035 percent may protect against a fatty liver, and that the anti-nutrient effect of Phytic acid on mineral absorption will only occur at 10 fold higher levels. The researchers even speculated that Phytic acid may be considered more like a vitamin than an anti-nutrient.   We easily reach that level of acid if we are eating whole grains, beans and nuts.  So we should not seek to eliminate it entirely, nor should we seek out Phytic acid as a supplement.

In that same study, mice overdosed on Phytic acid had severely reduced growth.  The acid attaches itself to minerals (namely iron) but it within itself is not absorbable. The entire complex passes through; this means that you will not get the full nutrition out of the food product.  The very fact that it suppresses iron is how it preserves the seed for future growth.  If you have a high grain diet, take note this is why grain based baby food is fortified with iron. 


In a conversation with Dr. Amanda Rose, I learned that you can soak your grains (or better yet sprout them first) to release the Phytates (or “Phytase”) which pull the Phytic acid from the food.  Dr. Amanda Rose covers this science in more detail along with cooking tips through her website

You need some Phytic acid in food, but you can easily get too much of a good thing.  Consider soaking your grains and seeds to keep your diet in balance.   Rinsing off rice and sprouting grains have been done for millenia now–nothing new there.  But we do want to make sure that we are keeping a proper balanced diet.   Phytic acid, a little goes a long way.  



Photo Credits:

Phytic acid checmical diagram is from the National Center for Biotechnology Information




Works Cited:

Onomi S, Okazaki Y and Katayama T. Effect of dietary level of phytic acid on hepatic and serum lipid status in rats fed a high-sucrose diet.. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2004 Jun;68(6):1379-81




Nothing in this blog constitutes medical advice.  You should consult your own physician before making any dietary changes.  Statements in this blog may or may not be congruent with USDA or FDA guidance.