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As a mom, I have felt it my duty and responsibility to provide nutritious food for my family. I have always been interested in nutrition, and was employed at one time to educate people how to eat in order to decrease their risk for heart disease and diabetes. I feel that it is another way to live a life worthy of the calling – by fueling my body as well as my family’s in order to live fully for Him, and fulfill the calling He given us.
It can be a challenge, however, to create meals that fit a budget, provide the right nutrition without the excess processed junk, and reach at least 3 1/2 stars (I count it a success if at least half the family gives it a thumbs up!).
Health food kicks vs. Realities of life
I get on kicks from time to time to clear out processed foods. We begin eating whole foods, and I cook things from scratch. At one point this fall I even gave a large bag of sugar to my neighbor. I was going to be done with processed white sugar, and my kids would finally learn to like vegetables if they weren’t filling up on sweet treats!
Then life happens. Lots and lots of basketball games or other activities consume our evenings! The kids all bring a packed lunch to school everyday, so packing a supper as well, can get a little monotonous. We often fall prey to concession stand suppers. I also start to give in at the grocery store, finding easy food to pack for lunches and snacks, and more and more junk finds its way back into our house. Boxes of processed foods begin to fill my pantry once again. The bag of sugar is back, because – well, they like to bring treats to events. I’m pretty cheap, so baking our own just seems like the most logical thing. That’s kind of where we are right now.
The one thing I’m changing
A couple months ago I stumbled upon a podcast by Jami Balmet. It was quite inspiring to listen to. It reminded me of what I already knew, but had put it on a back shelf of my mind where it was collecting dust. She motivated me to dust off this great information and begin implementing it! I was reminded that bread is actually a very healthy food if using the right ingredients. The one thing I am doing differently – is getting whole grains into my kids, and they actually like it!
Bread has gotten such a bad rap with all the low carb and keto diets. People often avoid bread like the plague. I was reminded of what I knew to be true, and then went on to do some of my own research on how nutritious a kernel of wheat is!
Facts about Whole Grains
- 40 out of 44 essential nutrients that our bodies need are found in whole grains!
- There are three main parts to a whole grain: the bran, endosperm and germ.
- The bran and germ hold the majority of the nutrients, while the endosperm contains the starchy carbohydrates – that’s where the white flour comes from.
- When a grain kernel is broken it is exposed to oxidation, causing it to lose 45% of its nutrients in the first day and 90% of all it’s nutrients are lost in 3 days!
What happened to the whole grain?
- Once upon a time, a city would grind just enough wheat to make the bread needed for the day since once it was ground, the whole wheat went rancid very quickly.
- As time went on, a new discovery was made that allowed the wheat to be separated as it was ground. The 2 parts containing most of the nutrients were sorted out, and what was left was the endosperm. This was shelf stable and it allowed the flour to be ground in large quantities and shipped and stored for long periods of time.
- The nutrient-dense “by-products” were used as animal feed, creating a lucrative business.
What is enriched wheat flour?
- After disassembling the grain as it was meant to be, it was not surprising that outbreaks of disease and illness relating to vitamin deficiencies became widespread.
- It became such an issue that the health officials begged the milling industry to return the bran and germ back to the flour.
- The germ and bran had become so essential in the animal feed business, that other measures needed to take place.
- They chose to “enrich” the flour instead. However, they only put 4 of the nutrients in a synthetic form back into the flour, missing 80% of the nutrients found in the original kernel of wheat!
- Only 7% of the fiber is left.
- The little bit of Vitamin E that is left is destroyed by the bleaching process the flour goes through to make it extra white.
- The amount of protein remains about the same, but the essential amino acid, Lysine that is required as building block for the body’s protein structure, is lost, so the nutritional value of the protein in white flour is gone.
- White wheat flour is essentially non-essential – it contains the starchy part of the wheat containing very little nutrients.
- No wonder bread has gotten a bad rap! When white flour is consumed in such large quantities as our average American diet, we are stuffing ourselves with empty calories. We are starving our bodies of the nutrition it needs.
While I’ve known the importance of whole grain, it was not until I was introduced to “FRESH” ground grain, that I realized I could really do something about this, and it might even taste good!
Can whole wheat bread taste good and be nutritious?
A neighbor of mine quite a few years back, gave me a delicious loaf of fluffy, homemade, whole wheat bread. I was amazed! My own attempts at baking bread were pretty unsuccessful, even with a bread machine – it did not taste this good. The whole wheat I used just made it so dense and dry.
I gave my neighbor a call and told her I needed the recipe! She sort of laughed and said, well… I have some equipment that helps me. For one, she had a grain mill. She actually ground her own grains and made the bread with this fresh ground flour!
This was a new thing for me. Never in my life did I ever consider grinding my own grain to make bread. She was kind enough to invite me over to show me the process. There it was, the NutriMill. I watched how she got her grains grinding while putting the rest of the ingredients in her Bosch mixer. Another machine I did not have. By the time her ingredients were measured and dumped into the mixer, the wheat was done grinding and ready to be added to the mixing bowl. The mixer kneaded the ingredients to a beautiful soft, flexible dough.
When the kneading was done, she showed me how she quickly divides the dough and places it in her bread pans to rise. Later, after a nice rounded loaf is formed, she places them in the oven to create the wonderful aroma in her home and out comes a beautiful looking loaf of bread, soon to be devoured by her 7 kids.
Is it worth it?
I thought about and debated this in my mind for quite some time. Did I really want to do this myself? Would it be worth my time and effort to make my own bread. Would it pay off to invest in these appliances? I did my research and saved up and finally decided to take the plunge to buy these two machines. I began grinding my own grain and making my own bread. This was so crazy to me, but exciting and satisfying at the same time!
I did this for many years, making bread for my family. More babies came into the picture. We also moved to a farm, and had lots and lots of sheep to care for. There were many periods during those years when survival mode kicked in and I got out of the habit of making bread. I decided to just compromise in that area and buy bread from the store.
My mill broke!
It has been about 10 years since I started the journey of grinding my own wheat and making my own bread. I burned the motor out of my grain mill while milling corn a few months ago. I had ground corn many times before, but this time the mill stopped. A burned smell followed shortly after.
I brought it down to the storage room where it sat on a shelf for a time. I had been trying to cut out carbs in my diet, So I decided I didn’t really need to worry about it for awhile. Then I came across the podcast I mentioned. I began to get excited again about using fresh ground grain.
I thought about my broken grain mill sitting on a shelf, and I began to investigate the warranty policy. It said it had a life-time warranty. Did it really? I called the company I bought it from, and they sent me to the distributer. When I contacted that company, a very nice man told me just to send it in and they would take a look at it.
Backed by warranty!
I boxed it up and sent it in. It cost $26 to send it. I worried whether it was worth it. Would they fix it, or determine it was not covered under the warranty? It had been a couple weeks and not a word. I called them, and a man said, “Let me look, yes it says here the motor had burned out, so a brand new Nutrimill is on its way to you”. It actually arrived that day!
I have once again begun to grind my wheat and spelt to make my own bread. Before you think this is a super crazy thing to do. Think about the nutrition you could add to your family…especially if they just won’t eat their broccoli!
Why make the effort to mill my own grain?
When I read the fact that a kernel of wheat contains 40 out of 44 nutrients that my body needs , I am amazed and astounded! I try, try, try to get me kids to eat vegetables, but it is to no avail most days. This makes me realize that if I can pack the food they are already eating with the nutrients their body so desperately needs – it sounds like a win – win to me!
By milling my own grain, and cooking with that flour right away, I am packing that bread with enormous amounts of essential nutrients!
It does save money!
I looked into the cost of the bread of the recipe I use. It has just 6 ingredients: whole wheat flour, honey, oil, salt, yeast, and vital wheat gluten (this helps give it a bit of a fluffier texture). The cost of one loaf of bread is just over $1.00. That is getting the wheat berries from Amazon. It is a bit cheaper from Azure Standard, but it isn’t always available through them. However, I hope to use Azure in the future, as there are many varieties of grain, and mostly organic for cheaper than I found on Amazon.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t even find cheap white bread for a $1.00, except on occasion store brands will have their bread marked down – but it is not very good! This is a huge cost savings for me. I can get healthy, nutritious food to my kids for a $1.00 a loaf! Not to mention all the baked goods like pancakes, waffles, muffins, granola bars, etc. I can bake with this flour that will pack my kids with the nutrients they need!
What if it doesn’t taste good, and my family won’t eat it?
Fresh ground flour is nothing like store bought whole wheat flour. Whole wheat flour from the store has sat on a shelf, and the oils have gone rancid. It cooks up dense and dry. Buying whole wheat bread, tortillas, bagels, etc. are going to have flour that has been labeled whole wheat flour, has had to have some processing to make it shelf stable. It is still going to be missing out on nutrients. Those products also don’t taste very good! I really tried to make the switch to using all whole wheat products. It was hard, my kids complained and grumbled and wanted the white stuff back.
When I began cooking pancakes with fresh ground whole wheat – no one complained! They gobbled them up. The same is true with muffins, and I even made cookie bars. It tastes good, I promise. If my kids will eat it, so will yours!
What if I don’t have time?
That is a very valid question. I went through a period of crazy/busy and I had to put it aside. By doing the research again, and reeducating myself on all the benefits gained and the nutrients I would be putting into my family, I knew it was something I wanted to carve time out for.
I love the time-saving aspect of having an electric, stand alone mixer. There are many types of electric mixers that also knead bread. I have loved our Bosch. It has a powerful motor and has been going strong for 10 years. You can also buy a blender attachment for it that uses the same powerful motor to make delicious smoothies! A mixer is not required, however. You can knead it by hand. Many people say that is great therapy!
I can grind the grain, mix the bread ingredients in 10 min or less. I leave it in the mixing bowl to rise. An hour later I put it in bread pans, and then I sick it in the oven after that has risen.
You do need to be home for a 3 hour period, but the actual time it takes to make the bread is so minimal! So, perhaps starting it when you get home from work or a Saturday morning if you are not home during the day could be an option. Actually the woman who taught me, had a couple of her kids assigned to that job. They had the method down! You can make a big batch to freeze. I have been able to get enough ingredients in the mixer to make 5 loaves of bread at one time!
What if I am gluten intolerant?
There are so many other grains and flours out there, so if you are intolerant to gluten, you can choose other grain to make an alternative flour. The grain mill that I have will grind most grains, but not nuts or seeds as these are more oily and will clog it up. You can experiment with many grains. One ancient grain I use is spelt. It is similar to wheat, so it still has gluten, but there are so many others to try if you are gluten intolerant.
My closing thoughts and encouragement for you
The last thing I want to do is to leave you with a load of guilt or the feeling of one more thing to try and do in your already hectic life. There is balance in everything. There may be other healthy choices you have made, and you just aren’t going to try and change over to milling your own grain. That’s ok. I just love sharing what I have learned, and to come alongside those that may be interested or motivated to make this one change in their family’s diet.
I have much more to say on this topic, like where to buy the grain, how to store it, the different types of grains – hard, soft, red white, etc., and recipes to share. Many of you, if you were like me before meeting my neighbor, have never even considered making your own bread in this way. I’d love to help you, just as my neighbor helped me.
Give me a shout if you would like to learn more. I’ll be posting more information in the days to come. I’d love to answer any questions you might have if you are thinking this might be something you would like to try with your family.