Grains, grains the magic fruit…whoops, wrong food! From Amaranth to whole wheat…what’s the fuss, most people wonder.
Grains have been part of the human diet as long as there have been appetites to be fed. In fact, grains are the seeds of various grasses, and evidence of said seeds has be unearthed by archaeo botanists in Israel dated to approximately 23,000 years ago. Sites in Northern Syria, China and Central America show physical evidence that seeds were collected, farmed and stored, leading to the creation of modern agriculture as we know it. However, many cultures didn’t adopt a grain-centric diet until about 1000 years ago…and thus began the quest for the perfect cinnamon bun!
(disclaimer-this post is NOT anti or pro gluten…I am a firm believer that YOU need to educate yourself to find out what supports YOUR body and works for YOU in terms of food. Finding out what works means not getting your nutritional information from random Facebook posts, but seeking out science-based factual nutritional resources and nutritionists. HINT: Government guidelines do not work…if they did, we would not have the huge prevalence of diabetes, heart disease and metabolic syndrome. Everyone is bio chemically different and the body is always in a state of change. One size does not fit all! Your current eating style may work for you now, and maybe in 6 months or a year that will change. Learn to listen to the messages your body is giving you. Learn to be in tune with your body!)
Some grains can contain a protein called gluten, which is actually a mixture of two proteins called gliadin and gluten, and is responsible for that lovely elastic texture of dough…think pizza dough…mmmmmmm.
However, those diagnosed with Celiac disease, in which the body’s immunological intolerance to gluten causes malabsorption of nutrients, diarrhea and weight loss, must absolutely avoid grains containing gluten at all costs. Those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or any kind of gluten intolerance or sensitivity should also avoid grains. True gluten, often thought to be only wheat, is also present in rye, barley, triticale and various other cross-breeds of grains. There is correlating archaeological evidence of a decrease in dental health and bone structural abnormalities in some cultures that had a high consumption of grains. Many brain disorders respond well to a gluten-free diet, including autism, schizophrenia and some forms of epilepsy.
There have been anecdotal studies in the past which have concluded that wheat gluten is addictive, although this has not been scientifically proven through clinical trials. Experiments have shown that when gluten is broken down in a test tube, the proteins formed can activate opioid receptors in the brain. Some researchers believe that these proteins find their way to the brain and cause unnatural cravings for gluten.
This might explain why when I go to my favourite cafe (where there are fresh baked croissants and danishes…at eye level, no less), I begin to salivate…uncontrollably…
We’ve also created our whole system of eating around gluten containing foods. Our diets have become “grain-centric”. Cereal and toast for breakfast, bagels, donuts and muffins for snack, wraps, buns, pasta, pizza for lunch and dinner…we really eat too much of the damn stuff. Wheat is ground, fluffed, puffed, enriched and vitaminized into a pseudo-food, with little or no nutritional value left when the end product is revealed. Caramel colouring and, what is jokingly referred to as “whole grain” is added to try and greenwash wheat products to make us think it’s good for us. Guess what? It’s not. At least not in the amounts we consume, which is why when people remove wheat containing products from their daily diet, they lose weight! We eat too much!
Processed wheat products like breads, cereals and pasta’s create a fast, sharp surge in blood sugar that creates all sorts of bio chemical reactions in the body, including a surge in insulin and cortisol, thus over time contributing to a myriad of disease including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease. Wheat products can also create an acidic environment in the body, wreaking havoc on those with osteoarthritis and joint injuries.
Whole grains ,when eaten in their WHOLE form, are incredibly nutritious and contain protein, iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, B vitamins and a whole slew of other minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fibre to boot! Eaten in conjunction with vegetables, fruit and healthy fats, whole grains can lower cholesterol too!
Sure, a nice piece of artisan sour dough bread is nice every once in a while, but not at every meal…too many grains! A balanced meal of protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats sans bread is much, much healthier! We’ve been led to believe that some wheat is ok, but if what you are looking for is to maintain the health you have, then by all means, continue eating large amounts and you’ll continue to have level of health, and weight, you currently have. If you want to improve your health, cut way back or stop eating processed wheat products all together. You will notice improvements in your health…and your weight. Wheat is a habit, one best marginalized or eliminated from your daily food intake! If you, like me, enjoy really great, well made bread, pastries and pastas, then pick homemade, artisanal, made with real sour dough starter (more on that later!) and organic flour and make it a treat…savour and enjoy.
Up next…the problem with whole grains…and the fix…the wonders of sourdough and fermented, soaked, sprouted grains!! Part 2 coming soon…
These are the best cinnamon rolls ever…at least that’s what they tell me! Use the best available ingredients you can get…organic flour, sugars and butter!!!
For the Rolls…
1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
1 cup warm milk
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups all purpose flour
Ooey Gooey Insides…
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 Tablespoons cinnamon
1/8 cup flour
1/3 cup butter, softened
Cream Cheese Icing…
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
1/2 to 1 teaspoon vanilla (we like more!)
1/8 teaspoon salt
Place yeast and warm milk in the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attachment.
Allow yeast to bloom…about 5 minutes.
Add sugar, butter, salt, eggs and flour. Mix medium-low speed until dough forms and is beginning to climb hook. (Note: above steps are easily done by hand if you don’t have a stand mixer…just a little upper body exercise while you knead the dough!!!)
Place dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, until it is approximately 20 inches long by 15 inches wide. Aim for about 1/4 of an inch thickness.
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Combine brown sugar and cinnamon and flour in a small bowl and spread the butter over the complete surface of the dough. Sprinkle sugar, cinnamon, flour mixture evenly over the dough.
Working carefully, from the upper long edge, roll the dough down to the bottom edge.
Cut the dough in half, then in half again. Continue to cut in half until you have 12 equal rolls.
Place the rolls in a lightly buttered 9 X 13 baking dish or place individual rolls into buttered muffin tin.
(At this point, you can cover and refrigerate over night. In the morning, remove from fridge and allow to proof for about an hour.
Allow to rise again for about half an hour.
Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until light golden brown.
While the rolls are baking, combine the icing ingredients and beat well with a mixer.
Allow rolls to cool and spread generously with icing.