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Properly Prepared Grains

Properly Prepared Grains (see online videos!)

A forgotten skill of self-sufficiency is how to make bread in a manner that best sustains human vitality. Traditional bread-making served the health of our forefathers until about 1930 (advent of commercial bread making). Unfortunately, it was not known until recently, that the natural and friendly bacteria used in traditional leavening neutralized many of today’s known harmful affects of gluten-containing grains. The commercial processes today do not employ the use of these friendly bacteria. Grain is a rich source of carbohydrates, dietary fiber, iron, B vitamins, and other nutrients. The bran of grain induces peristalsis—the contracting of the intestines—to facilitate movement of food through the digestive tract. It is one of the best fecal-bulking agents we can consume, leading to smooth bowel movements and a good stool. Bran also increases the surface area of starch, facilitating a longer digestive pace that leads to more stable blood sugars, thorough digestion, and to a feeling of satiety and wellness. Unfortunately, even with so much good, at least one in five Americans suffer from grain related disorders today because of commercial bread-making processes that are unnatural. 

Symptoms include gastrointestinal complaints such as stomach ache, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohns disease, and ulcerative colitis; they also include skin complaints such as itching, eczema, hives, and acne; joint and muscle complaints range from atypical pains to rheumatoid arthritis; headaches and migraines; chronic fatigue; asthma, chronic rhinitis or sinusitis; premenstrual syndrome; hypoglycemia; depression and anxiety; and sleeping disorders. Celiac disease is a grain-related autoimmune digestive disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. Eating grain can be life threatening to celiac victims.

The ADA (American Diabetes Association), AHA (American Heart Association) and other government agencies, recommend 6-8 daily servings of whole grains is necessary for optimal health. Yet, many health specialists today experience little success with their diabetic and other patients who follow standard grain recommendations. Consider what practitioners have found regarding wheat as you determine its best uses for you:

  • First, wheat contains a protein called gliadin. A by-product of its digestion is an opioid peptide known as exorphin. Exorphin bonds with opiate receptors in the brain. If not prepared properly, wheat stimulates addictive eating responses that lead to excessive weight gains and intolerances. (See Chapter Three of Original Fast Foods.) A pharmaceutical company is seeking FDA approval to sell a drug that blocks opioid receptor sites, leading to weight loss. Studies of this drug indicate that with no other changes in diet or exercise the average test subject lost 22.4 lbs over the course of 6 months, just by blocking the addictive effects of opioid peptides. 
  • Second, the carbohydrate unique to wheat has a glycemic index of 72 compared to table sugar at 59. The addictive nature of wheat is compounded when excess insulin released in response to quick absorption of this carbohydrate, carries the blood-sugars into the cellular regions of the body too swiftly. This leads to the over-production of insulin in the pancreas and to increased abdominal fat. And, as blood sugars lower too rapidly, the body releases glucagon, a hormone that causes stored sugars to be released back into the bloodstream. This leads to a yo-yo effect and to the  formation of a protein and sugar molecule that causes aging and various diseases.
  • Third, wheat also contains indigestible proteins known as lectins, which have demonstrated an ability to "unlock" normal intestinal barriers to allow undigested food particles to enter into the bloodstream (leaky-gut syndrome), which can lead to autoimmune disorders.
  • Fourth, without properly preparing wheat, hydrolysis does not occur to the phytates within wheat before it is digested. As the phytates enter the bloodstream they act as magnets which bind minerals to the phytates, blocking the the healthful absorption of minerals for use in metabolic purposes. How then do we overcome these significant problems?

Each of these problems paint a dismal picture of the staff of life. Yet, when wheat is naturally leavened, the gliadin is predigested during leavening, which neutralizes the opioid addictive effect of exorphin-- without using drugs. The sugar in wheat is pre-digested into a form that overcomes the yo-yo effect or glycation that causes aging. And the lectins are also pre-digested and do not lead to leaky-gut syndrome. Finally, hydrolysis occurs during natural leavening, which leads to the healthy absorption of minerals found in grain. What is the natural leavening of bread that does so much more to wheat than we realized when we cease leavening bread in this manner?

A study published in February 2004, in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, describes the results of a research team who sought to overcome the toxic effects of grain for celiac victims. By preparing breads using Old-World leavening techniques, the scientists fed 17 celiac victims bread without their experiencing ill effects. The natural leavening employed known strains of beneficial bacteria to leaven the bread. Researchers suggest the bacteria feed upon certain elements in the grain which cannot be digested by human digestive enzymes, such as gliadin, lectin, and the carbohydrates found in gluten-containing grains, thus neutralizing the various harmful effects associated with grain and better enabling the known benefits of grain. By employing traditional leavening techniques, they overcame each of the four known issues discussed above.

Further work with gluten-intolerant individuals, using naturally leavened bread, has been equally encouraging when it comes to the benefits of using naturally leavened breads. Without the use of pharmaceutical drugs to block opioid receptor sites in the brain, superior weight-loss results have been achieved among those who have switched from commercial whole-grain breads to naturally leavened breads. Also, many celiac victims have responded well to naturally leavened bread, and many others who suffer from various grain-intolerances. 

Steps to Overcoming Grain Intolerances
Grain Choices – Foods not believed to be harmful to those suffering from grain-related disorders include amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, popcorn, cornmeal, millet, corn, rice, oats, potato, soy, arrowroot, tapioca, sago, flax, and hominy.

Glycemic Research – When whole grains are enjoyed with leafy green vegetables, and other low glycemic vegetables, blood sugar levels remain stable—leading to stable dietary patterns and to great satisfaction at mealtime.

Dietary Lifestyle – A predominantly plant-based diet supports populations of friendly bacteria within the gut that aid in the digestion of grains; this benefit is mostly lost through diets that include high intakes of meat, sugar, fat, and alcohol.

Problem Foods – Avoid refined and processed grains; they are linked to disorders such as type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, appendicitis, arthritis, allergies, unstable blood sugars, irregular eating patterns, and so forth.

Naturally Leavened Bread Recipes – Buy or learn to make naturally leavened bread and avoid eating commercial breads. See naturally leavened bread recipes below and begin by making or obtaining an active starter.

Making NL Starter - Obtain a dry NL Starter Packet from us. See right column of this website just below the book Original Fast Foods and learn how to make Naturally Leavened Starter according to the following steps:

  • Step 1: Combine the dry starter you receive from us into blender with 1/2 cup of lukewarm water. Blend well and pour contents into a mixing bowl. Then add freshly ground whole wheat flour to mixture (about ½ cup) until you achieve a thick pancake batter consistency. 
  • Step 2: Allow this mixture to sit on countertop for 24 hours. 
  • Step 3: After 24 hours, add one cup of whole wheat flour and sufficient lukewarm or tepid water (about 1 cup) to maintain a thick pancake-like batter consistency. Allow mixture to sit on counter until starter becomes active (it will bubble and rise). 
  • Step 4: After it becomes active and begins to bubble and rise (could take a couple of days), add 3 more cups flour and water, making a total of 6+ cups of starter. Then, allow it to sit on counter for one or two more hours.
  • Step 5: Cover container and place it in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it to make any of the naturally leavened bread or pancakes options below. 

It is important to grow your first starter in the stages described above. However, after each future use of the starter (see recipes that follow), reserve at least 1 cup of NL starter to grow more starter in just one step. After reserving 1 cup of fresh starter, add enough flour and water to refill container while maintaining a pancake-batter consistency. This requires adding about one cup of water to every cup of whole-wheat flour.

Preserve the freshness of your starter by making pancakes at least once a week and bread, as desired (see pancake-making instructions below). Refill container after each use, always maintaining 6 to 8 cups of starter. If you do not use your starter for long periods of time, simply refresh it twice before next use by adding another cup of flour and water to your starter. Wait an hour or so for it to bubble, then refresh it again by adding yet another cup of flour and a cup of water.

After refreshing your starter, a nice fresh aroma should replace a fairly sour aroma. Always seek for a pleasant, fresh aroma before using it to make bread. If the aroma is sour, then your bread will turn out to be sour also. Using the starter at least once a week tends to keep sufficiently fresh that it doesn't need the extra steps of refreshing, as described above. 


Making Naturally Leavened Dough (see online video here) – Place the following ingredients into a bread mixer:
5¼ cups lukewarm water
1 cup sourdough starter – see instructions above.
12-14 cups freshly ground whole wheat flour
4 tsp sea salt

Add the starter, water, and salt to bread mixer and slowly add flour until the sides of the bowl become clean from all dough remnants. Then knead the dough for 10 additional minutes. Spray a large bread bowl with olive oil and transfer dough from mixer to the bowl; place a damp towel over the dough and allow dough to leaven for eight to twelve hours. Empty dough onto counter top and cut into four equal parts. The dough may now be used for making bread loaves, flat bread, braided pizza or braided fruit desserts, as per instructions below.

NL Bread Loaves (see video here) – To make a loaf of bread, add a little water to working area on the countertop and “pat” out 2 lbs of dough into a large rectangle, taking care not to stretch and break the gluten. Fold the rectangular dough along the long edge of the rectangle into thirds as you would a letter, from top to bottom. Then fold again from side to side and place dough into a sprayed loaf tin with seam side down. Cover dough with damp cloth. Allow dough to rise for 1 - 2 hours (depends upon room temperature; the warmer the room the less time it will take to rise). Place a panfull of water on the bottom shelf of oven and preheat oven to 450°F. After the bread loaves have risen to your satisfaction, they are ready to be baked. Bake bread at 450° F for 35 minutes.

NL French Toast – After making bread, as per the instructions above, cut it to desired thickness and use it as the bread in the French Toast Recipe found on page 126 of Original Fast Foods.

NL Flat Bread (see video here) – Roll out two pounds of NL dough evenly onto a jelly-roll pan that has been sprayed with olive oil or no-stick spray. Cut it into desired shapes and sizes and then allow it to sit for one hour before baking it. Bake it in preheated oven at 500° F for 12 minutes and enjoy. Enjoy plain, with jam, or sliced open and stuffed with veggies.

NL Braided Pizza (see video here) – Roll out one pound of NL dough evenly onto a jelly-roll pan that has been sprayed with olive oil or no-stick spray. Perpendicular to both long edges of the pan, cut 4”long slits in the dough every 1.5 inches, leaving an uncut strip of dough down the center of the jelly-roll pan where you will add tomato sauce, veggies of choice, pineapple, seasonings of choice, and Mozzarella cheese. After adding filling, weave 1.5 inch slits into a braid over the top of the filling. First take the top right slit and pull it across the filling and press end into second left slit; then braid top left slit to right slit number three; then braid right slit number two to left slit number four. Continue this pattern until you reach the bottom row. Pull the left slit across the bottom to prevent sauce from leaking out. Break off the slit from the right side and use it across the top of braid to prevent sauce from leaking out (see video clip linked above for complete braiding technique.) Let rise for about 20 to 30 minutes. Bake at 425 degrees for 18 minutes or until cheese melts and dough is done. Place a bowl or pan of water in the bottom of the oven during baking.

NL Braided Dessert (see video here) – Follow instructions for making braided pizza, only change the filling used inside the braid accordingly: to make the filling combine one cup ricotta cheese with ¼ cup honey. Stir until smooth. Spread cheese mixture down center of bread dough. Next spread a thin layer of simply fruit jam on top ofcheese mixture,(we like marionberry jam-seedless). Sprinkle coconut flakes on the jam and then put fresh fruit on top of the coconut, (we like to put fresh blueberries and raspberries on top). Weave the dough over the filling. See directions for braided pizza. Brushthe top of the braid with a little bit of agave or another sweetener. Let rise for 20 to 30 minutes and then bake at 425 degrees for 18 minutes.

NLCinnamon Rolls – Flatten 2 lbs of dough into rectangle shape. Brush melted butter on dough; sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon and add nuts and/or raisins if desired. Roll dough on the long side into a log. Cut 1 ½ inch thick pieces and place on an oiled baking sheet. Let rise for 30 to 60 minutes and bake at 425 degrees for 18 minutes. Place a bowl or pan of water in the bottom of oven while baking.

NL Sourdough Pancakes – We keep 5 to 6 cups of fresh NL starter in our refrigerator at all times. To make naturally leavened pancakes, combine 3 cups NL starter with 2 tbsp applesauce, ½ tsp salt, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, 2 tsp vanilla, and 2 tbsp maple syrup. Other ingredients may also be added at this time, such as nuts or berries. Let your imagination help you to use this batter as you would any other pancake batter. Mix above ingredients well and just before cooking pancakes mix in ¼ - ½ tsp baking soda and 2½ tsp baking powder to batter. This will cause the pancakes to bubble up and rise on the griddle. Baking soda neutralizes the acidity that is caused during the leavening process of the NL starter and sweetens the batter. Adjust amount of baking soda to create the sweetness you desire.

Live Pulse Mix – In addition to the preceding bread-making, learn to make and enjoy live pulse mixes. Live pulse mixes of legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds are brought to life through sprouting and may be eaten alone, over vegetable or fruit dishes, can be made into breads, added to soups, and so forth. Making pulse isn’t complicated. Any combination of whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds may be sprouted together by soaking them in water for 24 hours followed by draining and rinsing them thoroughly. Soak some dates for a couple of hours, until soft; cut them into pieces and add them to the pulse mix to add a nice sweetness. Entire mixture maybe enjoyed whole or chopped to desired consistency with a knife or the s-blade of a food processor. By adding mix to apple sauce, it will stay fresh much longer.

Muesli (see video here) – see recipe on page 131 of Original Fast Foods. When making muesli use a combination of raisins, any other fruits you desire, fresh squeezed apple juice, favorite nuts and seeds, and your choice of gluten-free grains such as amaranth, quinoa, oatmeal or oatgroats. You can mix up enough muesli to last a week. Begin by soaking your grains, nuts & seeds in water for 12 hours and then rinse them well. Be sure to maintain a ratio by volume of at least four to six times more grain than the combination of nuts and seeds. After rinsing the soaked grains, nuts and seeds, raisins, and choice of diced fruits (adjust amount to quantity of grains, nuts & seeds), add fresh squeezed apple juice and/or almond milk and cover mix. If you like cinnamon and/or nutmeg, you can also add to taste. A little goes a long ways in this mix. The mix is now ready to be placed into the refrigerator where it can remain for about a week or be eaten much sooner! Enjoy this delightful and energizing mix as a breakfast dish or at other times as a quick pick-me-up.

Wheat Berry Supreme (see page 132 of Original FastFoods)
Oatmeal Delight (see page 131 of Original Fast Foods)
Fruited Quinoa - (follow oatmeal delight instructions above;except substitute quinoa for oatmeal)
Corn Meal Cereal (see page 133 of Original Fast Foods)
Super Granola Mix (see page 131 of Original Fast Foods)
Banana Spice Muffins (see page 133 of Original Fast Foods) You can also make by substituting whole-wheat starter (see first recipe in this section) for the plain whole-wheat flour called for in the recipe.

Most all the bread-making and some of the other grain related dishes are included in the recipe videos under Properly Prepared Grains. Just click there and you can watch what we've described here in the instructions. Best!

Don't forget to ask questions and share your own favorite healthful grains below. Also, remember the place of grains in a diet; they are to compliment and to meet caloric needs that are not met by the intake of fruits and vegetables. Lean on them only as you would a staff. The overuse of grains in people and in animals includes the many grain-related disorders discussed at the beginning of this article.

The properly prepared grain videos and instructions are provided freely for your benefit. If you would like to support our efforts monetarily to provide helpful content on this website, you may do so by using the donate button that follows:

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Comment by Elisa Houston on March 29, 2012 at 11:35am

I may be going overkill on this, but want to clarify a few things.

Do I need to worry about using metal bowls, etc. to rise the bread?  Will the metal interact? I plan to store my starter in a half gallon mason jar.

Also, I baked a ton of bread with commercial yeast.  Do I have to worry about those yeasties overtaking my starter?  I've read that yeast live all around us, so I'm guessing I have a higher concentration in my kitchen, on my plastic bowls, etc. 

I'm excited to make the switch!  Thanks!

Comment by Dr. Matthew McClean on March 5, 2012 at 5:26pm

Yes, sprouted wheat flour can be used but you still want to use the natural leavening process as well.  Sprouted naturally leavened bread is yummy.

Comment by Cinnaminnies on March 5, 2012 at 1:50am

could sprouted wheat flour be used

Comment by Barb Tanner on December 15, 2011 at 9:57pm

As someone who has never made bread before.. let alone doing it w/ the starter.. I find your directions lacking. Do I stir the additions of flour/water into the starter to refresh it, or just let it lay on top. Can I use store bought whole wheat flour instead of freshly ground? My starter isnt doing anything.. not bubbling nor increasing in size... Also, I do not own a bread machine... what is the instructions for doing it by hand. Can you make the instructions simpler for someone just 'starting' out w starter. A video on how to create and feed the starter would be most helpful. thanks

Comment by James Simmons on November 18, 2011 at 10:14am

Emily, I was about to write what Dr McClean has just written. It is sound. Thanks Matt! Jim

Comment by Dr. Matthew McClean on November 17, 2011 at 10:32pm

Emily, the recipe has some potential.  Since you wanted to know how to make it healthier, I have a few suggestions.  You might not want to take all of these suggestions but this is what I would do.  I wouldn't pour boiling water over the  grain because I wouldn't want to kill any of the beneficial microbes.  Use freshly ground grain.  The honey will help with the crumb and give a little sweetness.  Change the oil to a healthy oil such as olive or coconut oil, replace the all purpose flour with another freshly ground whole grain, use sea salt instead of iodized salt.  You would also want to leaven the bread much longer to break down the grain and also transform the amino acids to release more flavor.  Hopefully this helps.  You might want to look into our hands-on naturally leavened bread classes for some additional help.  Dr. Matt McClean

Comment by Emily Saddler on November 16, 2011 at 3:43pm

Thanks James and Matthew.  I would love to share the recipe I have for multigrain bread.  It's a variation of America's Test Kitchen "Healthy Cookbook" recipe. 

2 cups boiling water

1 cup 9-grain cracked cereal

3 T honey

3 T GM-free canola oil

2 cups all purpose flour

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 envelope instant yeast

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Pour boiling water over cracked cereal and cover allowing to absorb for 30 minutes.  In the meantime mix together the flour, yeast and salt.  Just before adding the wet cereal to the flour mixture add the honey and oil and mix well.  Pour the cereal mixture over the flour and knead on med-low for 10 minutes.  Allow to raise until double (about 1-2 hours).  Spray 1 loaf pan with Pam and set aside.  Once dough has raised shape into loaf and place in pan.  (this will make a nice large loaf)  Allow to raise until double for another 40-60 minutes.  Bake at 350` for 35-45 minutes until the bread registers 200` in the middle ( I usually just bake it for 45 minutes). 

 

I tried this recipe with 1 cup starter and 1/2 a package of yeast.  I had to add an additional cup of flour and ended up actually making two loaves instead of one.  Let me know what you think I could do to adjust the recipe and make it even healthier!  Thanks again!

 

Comment by Dr. Matthew McClean on November 16, 2011 at 2:35pm

Emily, Jim is right, 1- 1 1/2  cups of starter is usually good for 8 pounds of dough.  In general most sourdough recipes will use between 10%-30% of the finished dough as starter by weight.  You can also substitute 1 cup of starter for a package of yeast.  You would then want to cut the water down in the recipe by 1/2 cup and the flour by 1/2-3/4 cup depending on how thick or thin your starter is.  Hopefully this helps you to convert your bread recipe to a healthy naturally leavened bread.

Comment by James Simmons on November 16, 2011 at 11:11am

Emily, send me your recipe and Colleen and I will determine from your ingredient list how much starter you should use. If you are reluctant to do that, then let me suggest that to make four two-pound loaves of bread, we only use one cup of starter. You can use more, like a cup and a half if desired, which speeds the process up a little, but one cup is sufficient. As the bread dough is kneaded the starter is spread evenly through the dough and the friendly bacteria begin to feed on this knew source of food (the bread dough). Over eight to twelve hours, their populations proliferate greatly. A by-product of their feeding on the dough is gas, and you will notice the dough begin to rise. It is the most natural process in the world and it is amenable to creativity and the use of other ingredients besides flour, water, salt, and starter. Have fun!

Comment by James Simmons on November 16, 2011 at 11:05am

There is not much to our ingredients list for our starter. It has whole-wheat flour, water, and friendly bacteria (various strains of natural yeasts and lactobacilli). 

Comment by Traci Sellers on November 15, 2011 at 7:49pm

I would like to request an ingredient list for your natural starter before I order it. I was thinking of using James Talmage Stevens Everlasting Yeast recipe if yours has ingredients that I don't use. Do you think another starter could be used?

Comment by Emily Saddler on October 27, 2011 at 9:49am

I have a recipe that I love to make for bread.  How much starter can I use in place of active dry yeast?  Love your website, thanks for sharing!

Comment by Emily Saddler on October 27, 2011 at 9:47am

Hi Jim and Collen,

I just recently stopped eating meat about 6 months ago.  I read that it is difficult to get vitamin B12 outside of animal sources for energy and the production of melatonin in the body.  Are grains sufficient in B12?  What are your thoughts and where do you get your source of B12?

Comment by Ken and Kristen Clark on July 26, 2011 at 9:21pm

Hi Jim and Colleen,

May I get the recipe for the focaccia? As in what is it that I put on top of the flattened out dough before baking it? Then at what temperature and for how long is it in the oven? Thank you so much for your classes in the past few weeks! Jim - Ken would still love to talk to you...

Comment by Carolyn on July 19, 2011 at 9:54am
I also live in the area and was wondering if I could pick up a starter?
Comment by Dena Sprague on July 18, 2011 at 9:54am
I just heard about your fascinating book and website.   I have been doing green smoothies for 3 1/2 yrs now and have been so impressed with them that I feel like this may be the next step in my quest for continued health and well being.  Since I live in the area is there anyway I could contact you and pick up a book and bread start from you?  No worries either way but I would love to get started reading and implementing a few changes soon!
Comment by Bethany Swalberg on July 6, 2011 at 7:49pm

We made it to Utah!  ...but have been facing challenges with dead and nearly dead cell phones, as well as a visit to  Timpanogas Hospital and Primary Children's Hospital and lack of sleep.  I am hopeful that tomorrow will be a better day and I will be able to contact you. 

Comment by Alicia Howard on July 6, 2011 at 12:38pm
I picked up my wet starter from you yesterday and came home and fed it 2 cup water/2 cup flour as you said.  Do I need to do this for a few days until I have several cups?  Or just till I have enough to make the bread?  The only info I can find on the site is starting with a dry start...so I'm not sure how it's different if starting with a wet one.  Also, do I ever need to leave it on the counter, or just feed and put it back into the fridge right away?  Thanks!
Comment by James Simmons on April 23, 2011 at 12:42pm
Thank you Dr. Matthew McClean! Folks, Dr. McClean taught Colleen and I how to make naturally leavened bread. His experience with those who are gluten intolerant and even with those who suffer from celiac disease leads him to believe that the only truly healthful way to leaven bread is by introducing various strains of friendly lactobacilli that are then kneaded into the bread. Recently, I discovered a variety of wheat that is considered to be the most ancient in the world. We will make it available to you at cost and will order in sufficient quantities that we can command the "best" pricing in the world. No mark up whatsoever will be added and we will also teach you how to make enjoyable and healthful everyday uses of this wheat!
Comment by Dr. Matthew McClean on April 22, 2011 at 3:51pm

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