Wheat (grain) is referred to in the bible as the Staff of Life. What is a staff? It bears you up and supports you. Historically, wheat and other grains have been a main staple in the human dietary. It's mentioned over and over throughout scripture in various settings. Here are just a couple of many examples:
* Exodus 12:34, it says, “And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading troughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders."
* To prepare for the 7 year famine that swept across Egypt, Joseph collected grain for 7 years.
There are a number of reasons people are having issues with grains - particularly gluten grains, mainly wheat.
One of those reasons is that modern wheat has been severely hybridized, & our bellies are not handling it in a friendly fashion. Einkorn wheat is the most ancient form of wheat in existence today. It's man's first form of cultivated wheat. It's a lot smaller than modern wheat & looks a bit different... almost like a cross between wheat & flat brown rice. It's classified as a *diploid*, because it only has two sets of chromosomes. Modern wheat is classified as *hexaploid*, because it has six sets of chromosomes due to all the hybridization. Sigh..... Kinda frustrating, isn't it.
In ancient times grains naturally sprouted themselves as they were left in the fields under the warm sun until it could be gathered up - (They didn't have machinery to gather it quickly like we do now). This process automatically broke down the anti-nutrients (natural preservatives) in grains. These natural preservatives have allowed wheat to stay good for thousands of years. Wheat has been found in ancient tombs that were able to still be sprouted.
Modern wheat (hard white, etc...) will at least be more nutritious & more easily tolerated, if you can just soak and/or sprout it first. But if you can afford it, Einkorn and other more ancient forms of wheat (such as Kamut & Spelt) are definitely the better choice.
Natural yeast (also called Pioneer Yeast or Natural Leavening) is where I'm heading now... It can be used for making regular homemade breads as well as sweet bread, waffles pancakes, cinnamon rolls, muffins, donuts, & more. It is not always sour dough. This natural yeast is the yeast that has been historically used since the beginning of bread making. It is liquidy & bubbly... Not dry & grainy, like 'store yeast'.
Commercial yeast used today IS NOT NATURAL. "Modern" yeast was created in a laboratory in 1984 (possibly sooner, according to what Caleb Warnock, co-author of "The Art of Baking With Natural Yeast has since found out). Our digestive systems don't recognize it, & some people are now allergic to the yeast itself! This is one of the several reasons for the rapid growth of Celiac disease, gluten intolerance/allergies, acid reflux, diabetes, skin issues, & more. Another problem is that commercial yeast is an isolated form of yeast & rises bread quickly but does not break down the gluten, phytic acid & other anti-nutrients.
Natural yeast begins the digestion process before the grain ever even hits your mouth. It breaks down the harmful anti-nutrients (natural preservatives) such as phytic acid ahead of time & turns it into a cancer-fighting antioxidant! Natural yeast "eats gluten". ((-It breaks the gluten chains down into amino acids!-)) It will not spike blood sugar levels, it's a pre-biotic AND pro-biotic. It helps your body to absorb vitamins, minerals, & fiber. It fights weight gain (It doesn't cause it!) & is good for your digestive system & often times very healing. Some people with wheat/gluten allergies as well as diagnosed celiac disease have been able to actually eat bread & gluten foods when using natural yeast! But the best part about natural yeast is that it can prevent these issues from happening in the first place. You can read more about this on Caleb's blog.
Some natural yeasts are very sour, some are a little sour, & some aren't sour at all. The best strains have been passed down for generations. Caleb offers a free sample of a 200 year old strain of natural yeast flakes on his website - as well as instructions on how to activate and use it . When you grow your own natural yeast, you will NEVER have to buy yeast again. It is one of the most valuable preparedness foods you can store. You can even dehydrate or freeze it, and it will not die! I also highly recommend his beautiful book on baking with natural yeast as pictured at the end of this post. It is AMAZING.
Many 'real food' bloggers & websites teach about soaking and sprouting grains, seeds, & nuts. I've also talked about it & often do it. This process also breaks down phytic acid & other anti-nutrients. My choice though, when it comes to recipes that use yeast... are to not necessarily worry about soaking/sprouting if I don't have time - but to use natural 'pioneer' yeast. For more information, please visit the 2 best websites out there:
Caleb Warnock's website, www.calebwarnock.blogspot.com & Natural Leavening's website, www.naturalleavening.com are the only comprehensive sites on this subject to date that I've seen. Amy McClean R.D. and Matthew McClean, D.C. (authors of Natural Leavening) have dedicated themselves to educating people about grains (modern, ancient, gluten, & gluten free) & natural yeast. They also have yeasts available on their website that are made from various grains - including gluten free yeast! They are also finishing up a book that will be published soon.
Update: You can also see natural yeast recipe how to videos on "Original Fast Foods" website HERE.
There is hope, people! Grains (and wheat) do not need to be - and SHOULD NOT BE - banished from the human diet. This is yet another modern fad - as well as a very sad health condition that never should have become an issue in the first place. Grains are a beautiful natural God given food that are extremely healthful. What is detrimental to us are modern versions of overly hybridized wheat, genetically modified wheat, & modern commercial yeast, improper grain preparation, refining & processing - as well as the various reasons our guts are suffering from disorders - (Mostly from faulty nutrition, anti-biotics, & other pharmaceuticals).
If you have celiac disease (which is an auto-immune disorder), or if you are allergic to wheat, or if you have gluten intolerance, there are often ways to reverse these conditions. The gut needs to be healed. Gut healing can reverse many auto-immune disorders. GAPS diet is one successful method. Real food diets are extremely important, & energy therapies are also very helpful! Proving to be very successful - soaking, sprouting, & natural yeast just might be the solution to your problems :) Don't give up!
As I learn more about this, I will continue to share. I've been studying natural yeast & grain issues for a while now. I'm SO excited that on June 21st, I'll be taking a couple of classes from Caleb Warnock himself on this very thing! So I'm confident that this post isn't the end of posts on this subject. Stay tuned for more!
Just a fun random fact that no one else will really care about, but I feel like sharing it anyway... Caleb lives in Utah. I grew up in Southern California. I learned not long ago that Caleb is now neighbors in Utah with my awesome California babysitter from 30 years ago! Pretty cool, eh? I can't wait to meet him :)
Einkorn wheat is more expensive than modern hybrid wheat such as hard white, hard red, etc. Some people simply can't afford to purchase it. If this is the case, there is hopeful news. You can still soak & sprout modern wheat, & you can still use natural yeast with modern wheat - which helps tremendously. If you've been contemplating going wheat/grain free, don't give up hope thinking you can't eat it anymore, just because you can't afford the good original ancient non-hybridized stuff. Try the natural yeast (or soaking/sprouting) first & see how you do.
To make & use sprouted flour, simply sprout your berries until they form little tiny tails. Then spread them out on a dehydrator & dry them at 105 degrees or below, so the nutrients are not killed by high heat. Once they're completely dry, you can simply grind them as usual in your grinder!
I have many buckets of white & red wheat. However, I'm planning to slowly add more & more Einkorn to my supply as I can. Baby steps.....
If you would like to purchase Einkorn, it's becoming increasingly available & the prices are coming down. You can find it at these & other locations:
Real Foods Market