Buckwheat Crepes (as Gluten Free Sandwich Wraps)

Natalia Gill

Hello! My name is Natalia and I live in the “City in a Forest” (Atlanta, GA) with my husband and two children. I’ve been drawn to nutrition and natural healing since I was a young child, growing up in a Russian and Dutch home. I fondly remember my dad theatrically convincing me to love head cheese (with horseradish and lemon!) and learning to make herbal tinctures from my mom.

During my teens and early twenties, I strayed to more faddish health trends, but the color returned to my cheeks only when I came back to a time-honored way of eating. There is no greater joy than passing the gift of nourishment to my family and although we haven’t yet made full circle to the head cheese, the roots have been planted. ;) A former health columnist and project engineer, I now teach Pilates & yoga and offer practical inspiration to others as they carve a path of good health... AnAppetiteForJoy.com

Buckwheat Crepes as Sandwich Wraps

Delicate and gourmet, satisfying and rustic, buckwheat crepes can play a versatile role in any real food kitchen. Top them with a heap of blueberries, a drizzle of maple syrup for breakfast, and with some coconut whipped cream, if you want to make it extra special. Stuff them with chicken and mushrooms for dinner. Wrap your favorite sandwich toppings in a crepe for an easy & substantial lunch!

This recipe is a gluten free version of my mom’s beloved crepes. They can easily be made dairy free as well! Staple ingredients (buckwheat flour, milk, eggs) are combined in a blender, making for easy mixing and clean up. An overnight soak results in a crepe with a light flavor and texture that is more easily digested. (Read about the benefits of soaking grains here).

Although I have been making crepes for years, we have just started enjoying them as sandwich wraps. This is one of the simple ways my family is reducing the gluten in our diets.

Crepe sandwiches make a great light dinner or a lunch that is easy and appealing enough for children to make themselves. Here, I wrapped one around some Parmesan cheese, roasted red pepper and arugula. Ham and cheese is also a favorite!

Buckwheat Crepes as Gluten Free Sandwich Wraps

“THE WEEK OF CREPES”

Coincidentally, this recipe comes to you in perfect timing as we approach “the week of crepes”. For the Russian Orthodox, Cheesefare (“Maslinitsa”) begins this Monday, February 24. 

Cheesefare, which lasts a week, is a last hoorah before Orthodox lent begins. During this time, meat is not allowed, but fish, dairy and eggs are still permitted, so Russians eat loads of crepes before they have to give them up for 40 days. Giving up crepes (“blinchiki”) for any length of time is a big deal to a Russian!

LENTEN FAST GUIDELINES

The Lenten fast (see the 2014 dates here) is more or less vegan. Here are the parameters:

  • Meat is not allowed, with the exception of shellfish, which is included because it was not traditionally considered a luxury food.
  • There are a couple of specified dates that fish is allowed. But for the most part, it is not permitted.
  •  Some people omit all oils during this time while others interpret the “no oil rule” to refer specifically to olive oil.
  • Olive oil and wine are permitted on certain days, signified by a picture of a cluster of grapes on the calendar.

There is a measure of grace thrown into the rules. If someone has a medical condition that makes it a challenge to participate, they are not expected to. If someone who is fasting goes to eat at someone’s house where off-limits foods are served, they may eat them. Being a grateful guest trumps sticking to the rules.

MY EXPERIENCE WITH THE LENTEN FAST

My father is Orthodox and I participated in the fast with him once, about ten years ago. At the time I was eating a highly processed diet and it was a wonderful cleanse for me, both spiritually and physically. My mind was clear, I required less sleep and I felt very light and energized overall. Not to say that it wasn’t a challenge, but I did reap a lot of benefits.

I’ve considered participating in it again, but now that my diet is much more nourishing than it was ten years ago, I’m concerned that I won’t experience the same energy boost that I did before. As a mother of young children I need all the energy I can get!

It’s hard to imagine six weeks without broth and eggs in my diet. I’m so used to fueling myself with these traditionally nourishing foods. On the other hand, I remind myself that fasting is a very traditional practice and perhaps our bodies were designed to work best in a feast/famine, celebration/fasting routine.

I will continue to ponder and pray, but for now I don’t know if I will commit to this year’s Lenten fast. But one thing I do know for certain is that I will gladly partake in crepes next week!

Do you make fasting part of your routine? Why or why not? I’m interested to hear your thoughts on this!

Related Gluten-Free Recipes on The Nourishing Gourmet:

Recommended Kitchen Items for recipe:

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Buckwheat Crepes
 
Author:
Serves: 4
 
Buckwheat crepes are a versatile gluten free food and work great as an every day sandwich wrap. The batter for these is made right in the blender for easy clean up. This recipe makes about 13 7-inch crepes
Ingredients
  • 2 cups non-dairy milk (I used canned 9% fat coconut milk)
  • 2 tablespoons milk kefir (or water kefir, kombucha, lemon juice)
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil
  • 1.25 cups buckwheat flour (if grinding your own, use hulled groats)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon honey (optional)
  • 6 eggs
  • a little ghee or coconut oil to prepare the pan for the first pancake
Instructions
  1. Blend together the milk, 2 tablespoons ghee, flour, kefir, salt and honey in a blender (put in the wet ingredients first). Leave on the counter to soak for 12-24 hours (overnight).
  2. When they are done soaking, add the eggs to the batter and blend again to combine.
  3. Heat a 7-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. I sometimes bump it up to high heat to speed up the process, then reduce it back to medium when I start cooking the crepes. You want the skillet nice and hot.
  4. Add a small amount (1 teaspoon or so) of ghee or coconut oil to the pan to prepare it for your first pancake. Ladle ⅓ cup of the batter (a scant ladle full) into the skillet and swirl it around confidently until it covers the bottom of the pan and starts to set. Allow it to cook for about a minute, maybe less. Keep an eye on it.
  5. Once it seems done (you'll quickly get the hang of it) use a spatula to loosen it off the pan a bit and (again, with confidence) flip it over. Let it cook for 15-30 seconds, until golden. Repeat until your batter is done. Swirl the batter in the blender from time to time to keep the flour from settling.
  6. You will likely not need any more ghee or coconut oil for the remaining pancakes since there is some in the batter. From time to time the heat might need to be adjusted as the pan will get increasingly hot throughout the cooking.
Notes
I have found that a 7-inch cast iron skillet works best. Even an inch larger can make them a challenge to flip.

I once made the mistake of grinding up chia seeds into the batter and it got very smoky! So I definitely don't recommend incorporating ground chia or flax.

 

Individual Ricotta and Spinach Omelets in a Muffin Tin (Grain-free)

April Swiger

Hi, I’m April Swiger, wife to my best friend, and worship-pastor, Adam. We are hopeful adoptive parents waiting to bring home children from foster care. We live in Connecticut, less than an hour from where I grew up. As a native New Englander, I was brought up on delicious meals by my mother who values the art of cooking. Her guidance instilled in me foundational skills, and confidence in the kitchen from a very young age.

After graduating from James Madison University I spent six years in campus ministry, including a year in East Asia. As a result, my cooking has been greatly influenced by Chinese, Korean, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisine. You can bet that I fully indulged in many traditional, and unique, Asian dishes that year!/div>

I enjoy experimenting in the kitchen with simple, nourishing recipes, while strategically keeping to our tight ministry budget. On any given day you’ll find my crockpot bubbling with rich bone broth, mason jars full of coconut oil in the cabinet, and beans or grains soaking on the radiator. When I’m not caring for my husband and our home, you can find me reading, writing, blogging at Redemptive Homemaking, making my own beauty products, and researching new skills like gardening and lacto-fermentation. Whether it’s marriage, homemaking, or serving in our local church, I am first and foremost a follower of King Jesus, and my aim is to glorify Him with all that I do. 

Omelet in a muffin tin

By April Swiger, Contributing Writer.

Fluffy eggs and ricotta, with a hint of garlic, and nutrient-packed spinach. These individual ricotta and spinach omelets in a muffin tin are simple to prepare, easy on the budget, and deliciously nourishing. Eggs are “a powerhouse of nutrition” and one of the most frugal ways to get important vitamins and minerals into our diets on a budget. Depending on your choice of ingredients, this meal could be made for under $10, filling the bellies of your entire family!

I love the simplicity of this meal. It’s quick and easy to prepare, but it doesn’t have to look that way. There is something beautiful about the humble egg, and when prepared with a few other complementary ingredients, it can make any occasion feel special. In fact, when my husband and I got married we had a brunch reception with a full omelet bar! It was a unique, and very memorable detail from our day.

These individual omelets would be great for a bridal or baby shower, placed on a fancy plate, or a quick weeknight dinner for a busy family. After baking, the omelets freeze really well, providing an easy make-ahead meal for any occasion. Allow them to thaw overnight in the refrigerator, and they can be reheated in minutes.

Living on one pastor’s income, I’m always eager to find creative ways to save money, and still fill up on the most nutrient dense food we can afford. It’s my goal to steward our money well, while still preparing simple and nutritious meals that will keep my family healthy and energized. These individual omelets are so versatile, and can easily bring you out of that mundane egg slump that I have personally found myself in far too often. Let your taste buds, and family preferences be your guide. The combinations are truly endless!

Notes from Kimi: What type of eggs should you buy? There are more and more options in the stores and at the farmers markets. Here’s a quick guide to buying eggs. As part of our 21 steps to a nourishing diet series, we recommend that you buy the best eggs that you can afford! Eggs are a wonderful source of nutrition, and that’s most true from chickens raised the way nature meant them to be – with plenty of greens, bugs, and lots of space. (The following guide is adapted from Eggs: A Powerhouse of Nutrition

Shopping Guide for Eggs

  • Organic eggs are from chickens who have been feed organic feed, but that doesn’t mean they are free range chickens. They can be just as confined as other chickens, but are given better feed.
  • Vegetarian eggs means that the chickens were feed no animal products, but it also means that they weren’t eating any grubs and insects and are also not free-range eggs.
  • Cage free eggs indicates that the chickens have better living quarters and aren’t jammed into small cages, but they are usually cage free and running around in a warehouse. Once again, not necessarily a huge advantage nutritionally for their eggs.
  • Even eggs labeled “free range” aren’t necessarily benefiting from abundant feeding on insects and other natural food, because they are free “ranging” in a outside yard that no longer contains anything of value for them to eat (they live off of feed instead).
  • Omega-3 eggs are given feed (including flax seeds) that increase the omega 3′s in the eggs. When organic, these may be a good choice – though that’s still up to debate.
  • The best source would be getting eggs from a local farmer who allows them to truly “free range” or “pastures” his chickens. These chickens will often be moved around in a portable wire cage that allows them to eat bugs (which, believe it not, is what makes these eggs so nutritionally superior). I have found that my eggs from one such egg farmer are so different than even the expensive eggs in the store. The yolk is much more orange in color, instead of a pale yellow. They even cook differently (they won’t dry out as quickly). You can try to find such farmers by visiting farmer’s markets, looking out for signs while driving through the countryside, check out Craig’s List, Local Harvest, or word of mouth. Make sure you ask your farmer questions as to how they are raised, however. Or you can raise them yourself!
  • To see a visual example of the difference between commercial eggs and a true free range egg, look at this picture here! 

Easy Egg Recipes to enjoy with your pastured, free-range eggs:

Muffin Tin/Pan Recommendations:

Since we like muffins, and things made in muffin tins (like mini meatloaves and individual omelets), a few recommendations for muffin tins (Amazon is an affiliate to this blog). I try to avoid aluminum pans, so I personally own stainless steel muffin tins, and have really enjoyed using them. I am also so pleased to see that they have mini stainless steel muffin tins now too! I’ve also heard great things about clay muffin pans – which some feel is even safer than stainless steel. It’s more of a speciality item, so a little harder to track down, but well worth it. I have long admired Polish Pottery (which beautiful and  also lead and cadmium free). If you really wanted to have a beautiful kitchen item, you can check out some lovely ones like this one. I recommend them with an envious sigh.

Ricotta and Spinach Omelets in a Muffin Tin (grain-free)
 
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast, Brunch, or a Main Dish
Serves: 9-12 individual omelets depending on your egg size
 
These individual omelets are simple to make, incredibly frugal, and deliciously nourishing. They freeze well too, and are great for busy moms on the run!
Ingredients
  • 9 Eggs
  • ¾ Cup ricotta cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 Handfuls of spinach
  • Butter or oil to grease your pan and muffin tin
  • Parmesan to sprinkle on top
  • *Optional: mushrooms, peppers and onions, bacon, sausage, etc (basically anything you would put in your favorite omelet)
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 325 F, and grease your muffin tin with your choice of butter or oil.
  2. While the oven is heating up, mix in a large bowl the eggs, ricotta, and salt and pepper, until completely blended.
  3. In a pan on your stovetop, heat your choice of fat on medium, and sauté the garlic for about a minute. Make sure it doesn't brown. Add your spinach a handful at a time, and toss it until all the spinach has wilted. Add the wilted spinach to your egg and ricotta mixture.
  4. Spoon your egg mixture evenly into the muffin tins, and sprinkle with parmesan if desired. Fill them about ½-3/4 the way full. They will puff up in the oven!
  5. Bake the omelets for 15-20 minutes, or until the eggs have set in the middle.
Notes
These freeze really well! Store them in an airtight container, and thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

 

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Pancakes (Soaked)

Anna Harris

Anna lives Buffalo, NY surrounded by a cityscape of both blight and hope. She receives inspiration from the next-door urban farm and loves nothing more than to spend a lazy summer Saturday perusing the lush stalls of a farmers market with her two lively children and husband. Cream and butter are two of her most adored ingredients.

She is devoted to sustainable food sourcing and to encouraging others to find the links between simple, beautiful food and thriving health. Some of her major influences include Alice Waters, Sally Fallon, and the More-With-Less cookbooks. She enjoys challenging herself with serving large gatherings, living with intentional restraint, and engaging her children in the creative world of food.

Above all, she values relationships and finds joy in bringing people together around the table.

You can find her blogging at eastsidepicurean.com 

January Vertical

by Anna Harris, Contributing Writer

Meet a toddler’s breakfast nirvana and a mama’s healthy breakfast solution, fluffy buttermilk-soaked pastry wheat pancakes studded with winning bits of chocolate, flavored and enriched with classic pancakes additions of vanilla, egg, and butter. (To read more about the soaking method used in this recipe, read here.)

I realize that chocolate chip pancakes are not anything close to sophisticated cuisine.  To some of us they might not even sound remotely desirable. My three-year-old son, however, would beg to differ, as these are his weekly breakfast staples. It’s likely that as mamas (and some of us have grandiose visions of what the family meal table should look like-Eggs Florentine over homemade sourdough English muffins, Spelt Crepes filled with creme fraiche and local berries, Coconut Granola with home cultured yogurt-that sort of thing) we have the highest hopes for diverging our children’s palates and to nourish every cell of their tiny, developing bodies. I know that for myself, this is indeed a fierce longing.

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Additionally, I was raised in a food-centric, large,  and ravenous family where the notion was held that a cleaned plate was akin to godliness and wasting or throwing food away was practically a crime. So you can imagine my befuddlement when our second-born not  only showed little interest in food but was very (to add insult)…picky! I tried training, coaxing, allowing my toddler to get hungry, nothing much seemed to interest him in my whole-raw-milk-honey-drizzled-yogurt, or eggs,  perfectly raised yeast and sourdough breads, or even the soothing simplicity of warm oatmeal. I confess I even tempted him with store-bought cereal, the brightly packaged, fruity “kids” yogurt, and organic pop-tarts with no success at incurring a voracious manly appetite.

My whole being was perplexed and distressed because my tiny man truly is small as well, Elliot has spindly, long limbs left unpadded by even a hint of baby chub. It was as if he always had something more exciting to do, as if it were such a chore to sit down and eat. I believe the turning point was with these pancakes, being both sweet and easy to chew, something he could quickly recognize. He began to consistently eat breakfast with very rare conflict. For months at a time I fed him pancakes, with both a sigh of relief that he was being fed with the sustaining combination of whole grains and fats but also with a sigh of acceptance at his quirk of being absolutely ok with hardly any variety, something my own soul regularly craves.

It might grate on my butter-devoted nerves when Elliot balks at the sight of a golden pat melting across his single pancake, but oh! it brings me joy and relief to see him fed for the morning and his plate forked clean.  I also smile knowing that I can at least fry those pancakes in coconut oil or butter until the edges are so crisp they crackle at the bite and that he loves when we pour a trickle of real maple syrup atop. While those wonderful foods together (I am referencing my experience as a Trim Healthy Mama ) may not be the friendliest to my mama waistline, they are absolutely sublime for fueling my whippet-thin toddlers.

Practically speaking, I don’t whip up a batch of these fresh every day, becoming a veritable short-order Betty Crocker for my young ones fickle appetites, I typically will make a batch every week though, wrapping extras and storing in the fridge to pull out for the following mornings. We have a very loose rotation of simple and generally frugal breakfasts. Here are some of them.

Inexpensive & Healthy Breakfast Options

  • Overnight soaked oatmeal with toppings of butter, maple syrup, honey, raw milk, cinnamon, raisins, or walnuts.
  • I often will make of Trim Healthy pancake batter made of oats, cottage cheese, and egg whites for myself that sits in a half-gallon jar on a make-as-I-please basis.
  • Egg-based breakfasts, scrambled or fried, with or without homemade toast. (With eggs, as much as I adore them, my children just always think they taste better from our plates, which I guess is ok with me, as long as they are eating them.) Here is one of my especially nutrient dense scrambled egg recipes. 
  • Smoothies can be popular with the children when it’s warm, I can put loads of homemade yogurt, honey, and whatever frozen fruit we have, inside.
  • Super-simple favorites: A banana and peanut butter for Elliot, in particular.
  • Toast and pan-fried ham or bacon.
  • Leftovers, Eden and I are versatile and will happily eat leftover pasta (Eden) or leftover brown rice and quinoa (myself) along with leftover cooked vegetables and protein source. French toast using up odds and ends of bread fall into the yummy leftover category.
  • Just recently, my children also have been converted to enjoying vanilla-infused yogurt and toast. Perhaps this is due to the frequency yogurt is served in our house, they just can’t get away from it!

Since that critical point of my son’s toddler breakfast issues, we have come along way and he will eat what the rest of the family eats, even if it means us lending a hand in the momentous task of bringing the offending spoon to his weary mouth.

Soaked Chocolate Chip Pancakes
 
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast/Brunch
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4
 
Kid-friendly and simple, chocolate chip pancakes that both offer traditionally-prepared grains and fluffy texture, fried generously in coconut oil for diner-crisp edges and deep nourishment.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, sifted
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1-2 eggs
  • 2 tbs. butter, melted
  • 2 tbs. coconut sugar/sucanat
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. fine sea salt
  • ⅓-1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life brand with only 3 ingredients, also dairy-free)
  • Coconut oil, butter, ghee, peanut/sunflower oil for frying
Instructions
  1. Measure sifted flour into a bowl, mix gently with buttermilk, allow to sit overnight.
  2. Whisk together vanilla, egg, coconut sugar, melted butter, add salt, baking soda, and baking powder, pour into flour mixture. Add chocolate chips and stir gently to combine.
  3. It's helpful to let the batter rest for 10 minutes before frying. Use a ¼ cup measure to pour out onto a heated, well oiled skillet or frying pan. Cook on medium heat until bubbles begin to form around the edges, flip and cook on the other side until cooked through and browned.

I will also note, that while our family seems to digest dairy with ease, this recipe is so simple to make dairy-free by substituting coconut oil and milk or almond milk and sunflower oil for the butter and buttermilk. Just be sure to include an acid medium along with your alternative milk (lemon juice, apple cider vinegar) or you could always use half yogurt and half water for nice results. Spelt, barley, or kamut flour can be substituted for the more domesticated pastry wheat as well.

Other Nourishing Gourmet Pancake Recipes: 

Is Soaking Whole Grains Worth the Time and Bother?

KimiHarris

I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

Is soaking grains worth the trouble?

When I first read Nourishing Traditions, I found it inspiring and helpful and the changes I made were for the most part easy and simple to do. And did I mention delicious? Grass-fed beef, pastured butter and eggs, really delicious milk, and real food in general were not a hard sale for my family or me.

(Photo Recipes: Front page picture – Soaked Gluten-free Blender Pancakes. Photo Above: Gluten-free, Soaked Lemon Poppyseed Cake from this eBook).

But I balked a bit on her recommendation to “soak, sprout or sourdough” any whole grain. For those unfamiliar, this is recommended for better nutrition as it helps break down phytic acid, an anti-nutrient that blocks us from absorbing nutrients, as well as for better digestibility. It wasn’t that I felt unconvinced that it was a good thing to do, it was simply the change I felt most overwhelmed about because it changed how I made every single baked good.

Now that I’ve had some practice, I’ve mostly found that I love this method! I think that soaked whole grain baked goods, when done right, can be lighter in texture and more enjoyable to eat than the typical whole grain baked good. I’ve also found that it’s not more work, it just means pre-planning. I’ve done a lot of experimentation with gluten-free baked goods (I’ll link to a gluten-free soaked muffin eBook I have available at the bottom of the post), and have been really pleased with that as well.

So you could say that I’m happy with it. At one point in this process, I really wanted to make sure that there were sound reasons for it nutritionally, so I spent hours pouring over the many, many studies on it. In the end, I was impressed with how well documented the advantages of sprouting, soaking, or souring (such as with sourdough) are. I’ll also link to my blog series on that research below.

Today, instead of rehashing everything I’ve written before on the topic, I wanted to honestly answer some of the concerns I hear a lot about this practice. I hear rumblings about this method every once in a while, or even hear panic about time periods when someone isn’t being able to eat every whole grain soaked. There have been whole blog posts done about how soaking grains ruined their health because it stressed them out so much.

So let me just address some of the questions and concerns.

Is soaking, sprouting, or souring grains nutritionally that advantageous?

I think that a good question is whether or not the average American (who is often accused of being “overfed”, not undernourished) really needs the nutritional boost from this method. The majority of the studies done on this traditional practice were done for the benefit of Third World countries that relied greatly on whole grains for nutrition. For them, anything that gave a boost was important, and souring whole grains was found to be really helpful.

Do we really need to be that careful?

There is evidence that far more Americans are malnourished than you would think. For example, one out of four people are found to be malnourished when first hospitalized. While many feel that the RDA for many vitamins and minerals are far below the optimal levels, many Americans don’t meet even those. While a certain percentage of the malnourished are those from food insecure families, many more are just average Americans. An unfortunate factor in our diets today is soil depletion, leaving our food with 25% less (or more!) of key nutrients.

We could be eating the same diet as our great grandparents and end up with much fewer nutrients.

So, yes, I’m all for anything that gives our diet a boost nutritionally. I also know that many who follow this blog have very strict budgets that perhaps don’t allow them in buy all of the nutrient dense foods they’d like to. This method could help ensure they are getting the nutritional advantage to the food they eat.

Is there evidence that it will really help with digestion?

Besides the nutritional boost we get from soaked, sprouted or soured whole grains, there is the issue of the digestibility of whole grains. I was fascinated by a couple of studies done on fermented whole grains and rats. Here is a snippet. (And if you haven’t read the series yet, a quick explanation, Phytic acid is the main anti-nutrient acid in grains that can prevent us from absorbing nutrients from whole grains. Phytase is the enzyme that allows us do neutralize it.)

“I found two studies highly interesting as they were done on rats. Rats produce much more phytase than humans (the enzyme that breaks down phytic acid), so they shouldn’t be as affected by eating raw grains and legumes. After all, none of us expect a rat to soak and cook it’s dinner before eating! However, when rats were given a soaked diet, the rats had enhanced digestion of their feed as well as improved absorption and retention of minerals and trace elements!

So even rats who have so much more natural phytase in their little ratty bodies benefited from eating a phytic acid free feed. I find that very remarkable. And I think points to the fact, once again, that reducing our phytic acid content could be quite helpful for us humans too.

In a separate case, they studied both by rats and amino acid analysis the effect of fermenting soybeans and wheat. They found that while the fermentation did not significantly change the amino acid composition of the wheat and soybeans, rats fed the fermented wheat “improved” significantly and that the protein efficiency ratio was increased by fermentation. This may have been because fermented wheat is a better source of lysine. The mixture of fermented soybeans and wheat together supported growth with the fermentation process raising the protein efficiency ratio so that it was comparable to casein. So once again, rats fared better when fed fermented feed!

Another in vitro study found fermenting cereal gruels with a natural starter culture, had significantly improved protein digestibility. This was only not true for a grain developed to not contain tannins. So fermenting had a big impact on the digestibility of protein (it almost doubled the digestibility of the protein for some grains).” Read the rest here. 

Once again, I find that there is evidence to back the claim that we would benefit from this method.

But is it worth the stress?

I’ve read more than a couple harried blog posts from other bloggers sharing how soaking every baked good they made was ruining their life, stressing them out, or just not worth it.

Sometimes we are much too black and white about things. Just because something is the “best” choice, or a good choice, doesn’t mean that you should kill yourself with work or stress over it – because then you are hurting yourself, using up important vitamins (like your B vitamin complex), and perhaps driving your family crazy.

And I’m not just saying that. When life has thrown us a curve ball, I buy gluten-free bread at the store. Happily. And nope, it’s not soaked either. Does that mean I think that choice nutritionally equal? Of course not, it just means sometimes we have to do the best with what we’ve got, and sometimes that has meant making compromises.

Now, I’ve found that compromise not good in the long term for us, so it means back to baking my own at some point! But giving myself grace has been helpful in not being a harried mother trying to “do everything right” at the cost of her sanity.

Is it the most important thing for me to change?

I personally think most would find the best benefits to actually making grains in general a lower portion of their diet, and really hitting the healthy fats, proteins, and produce hard. The Mood Cure and The Diet Cure convinced me that produce and protein and fats were vital for our general and mental health. The author recommends a good portion of protein and a plateful of produce every meal, and then, if still hungry, enjoying your toast or grain of choice. I appreciated her realistic viewpoint. She wasn’t going to ask people to completely leave them behind, but simply make them the least important part of the meal.

Some people find that grains are simply not digestible one way or another, or find that they need to be on a healing, grain-free diet. Others find they do fine with soaked grains, but it’s not worth the trouble, so just eat grain-free. Others couldn’t imagine life without grains, but want optimal health benefits, so sprout or soak them. It’s a personal thing.

Can this really be practical?

Once again, what’s practical really depends on what you think is practical. I have friends who find it practical to be making soaked baked goods every single day, and they enjoy it, their family enjoys it, and everyone is happy. For me, right now I find it easier to get our grains generally in the form of soaked quinoa, or white rice cooked in broth for our dinners. And perhaps with a soaked gluten-free pizza thrown in here and there.

When I have more free time, I do often find myself making crackers, or gluten-free muffins, or pancakes on a daily basis. I make it work, and give myself grace when not every meal has soaked grains. It’s not an all or nothing, by the way. I’ve served bakery bread with lunch, and soaked quinoa for dinner many a time.

Really, for me, making a commitment to a nourishing, nutrient-dense lifestyle has meant making time, cutting out other things, and working for it. It doesn’t mean that I don’t make simple meals (because I do!), but it has meant that it does take some time, some commitment, and some work to accomplish. Because I am already in the kitchen making other good foods, setting some grains out to soak overnight isn’t such a stretch as you might think, I just have to keep the kitchen rhythm going. And when that rhythm gets broken, I shrug, smile, and get back on track when I can.

So, in closing, my encouragement to you, based on my current research is that yes soaking, sprouting or making sourdough grains and baked goods is worth it. But it does take time to learn, and life can be crazy, so as with any other good practice, grace should prevail.

Resources:

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Other sources of information for post:

http://www.foodandnutrition.org/September-October-2013/It-Takes-a-Village/

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=soil-depletion-and-nutrition-loss