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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 Sloan Guisinger on March 23, 2011 at 3:09pm
I added a cup of each this morning like you said to.  About 4 hours later there were some bubbles on top so I added another cup of flour & water.  It's been 1-1 1/2 hours and there are a few bubbles on top, but it's certainly not bubbly and growing like yeast does.  Is this normal, or should it look like yeast?  I don't think it's raised much.  It's a 4 cups now, and I think that's amount of flour/water that I've put in there.
Comment by Rachelle Kolo on March 23, 2011 at 9:40am
Thank you so much for the help, the comments are very informative!  I appreciate it.  I am so excited to have an active starter and make bread with it.  :)
Comment by James Simmons on March 23, 2011 at 7:00am
Sloan, as a general rule we add equal parts water and flour; however the final determinant is the consistency. We enjoy working with starter that has a pancake-batter like consistency because it is easier to knead it in well when we are actually mixing bread. However, if for any reason we will not be using our starter for an extended period of time (vacation, etc), we will add much more flour than water to create a stiff dough and then will refrigerate that until we are ready to make bread again. Even while refrigerated the friendly bacteria continue to feed slowly, although they are semi-dormant. When we get around to using the starter again, say a month later, we will add fresh water and flour to the blender, along with some of the stiff starter and will blend it back into a pancake-like consistency--so that it is easier to work with. Since we generally use our starter at least once a week, we mostly keep it in the softer consistency by mixing at about a 1:1 ratio.

Janalyn, activated starter goes semi-dormant in the refrigerator; it can be stored for a very long time, although the longer it sits the more separated it becomes and a liquid forms on top which I believe is alcohol. Sometimes it is dark and disgusting looking. Just pour it off and stir in fresh flour and water and allow it to come back to room temperature. Once it is back to room temperature and becomes very active (bubbly) feed it once or twice more during three to four hours until the "very acidic or sour" smell is replaced by a very nice and subtle aroma. You can make bread when it is very acidic, but the bread will have a "tart" flavor. If you freshen the starter until you achieve the more subtle aroma, it will produce a wonderfully flavored bread. We've had starter unused in our refrigerator for a couple months and even longer and have refreshed it as described above and it is just as good as ever. After the feed is exhausted in the starter, the living bacteria eventually all die off; however, they leave behind spores, and as soon as more fresh flour or feed is added, new life begins from the new food source.

Rachelle, the starter may be covered or uncovered; uncovered it pulls more lactobacilli from the air and the crustiness goes away the moment water is added; however, Colleen covers it too and it works just fine either way. We sit it out primarily to bring it to room temperature where it becomes most active and it is easiest to freshen to the aroma we desire (see previous comment). Actually, I just read Rachelle's comment and she is right on. Loosely covered when it is set out works very well to prevent the crust from forming. However, if you do end up with a crust, just stir it in and it will dissolve. In fact, a good friend mixes his dough in a big 3 gallon white bucket before the kneading stage. He pours it out onto the counter to knead by and and allows any left overs to dry hard on the inside of the bucket. Once dry, these become his starter for the next bread he does. As soon as he adds water, this crusty mess dissolves into a vibrant active starter:)
Comment by Janalyn on March 22, 2011 at 10:58pm
Rachelle, I had the same question about covering it.  I'm not certain of the answer, but just today I read somewhere else about sourdough starters.  It said to loosely cover it while on the counter and tightly cover it when put in the fridge.  I just refreshed my starter today and put the lid on top of the container, but crookedly so some air was able to flow.  It seemed to work okay.  No thick crust.  But, I'm still new at this too!  Good luck!
Comment by Rachelle Kolo on March 22, 2011 at 10:37pm
I have just started my NL bread start that I received a few days ago.  I have a question about whether or not I should be covering it.  In the instructions it does not mention covering the start over the period of time when reviving the start.  However, a thick crust forms over it as it sits out without being covered.  Am I doing this correctly?  Your input would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you!
Comment by Janalyn on March 14, 2011 at 9:09am
Once the dough is made, how long can it be stored in the fridge before used to make bread or other recipes?  Or does it need to be used immediately?  I'd like to be able to make fresh loaves daily or as needed with dough on-hand.
Comment by Sloan Guisinger on February 14, 2011 at 6:35am
Do you add equal part of flour and water to create and refresh the sourdough mixture? (ie. 3 cups of each to reach the 6+ stage?)

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