Posts Tagged ‘whole grains’

As I was mixing up some sourdough pancakes last night (I mix them up the night before and cook them in the morning) I was thinking about an area that I should have mentioned for my Real Food Challenge. In January I decided to quit buying white flour, at least for us to eat. I’ve always purchased some organic white flour to keep in the pantry. I do however have a beautiful grain mill and a variety of whole grains for grinding.

About 80% of the baked grain products we eat are made with 100% freshly ground whole wheat flour, but I often mixed in some white flour to keep the light texture. So our pancakes would be half white, most of the bread I made was about 20% white since I used to feed my sourdough starter white flour. In January when I ran out of white flour I simply quit buying it. I’ll buy any I need in the future in small quantities from my health food store (I still use it when making bread/baked goods for gifts and when we have guests).

Surprisingly we haven’t even noticed. The last batch of cookies I made were 100% freshly ground white wheat and you couldn’t even tell. That lemon pound cake I made was 100% freshly ground white wheat and the guests at the party I took it to didn’t even notice (I asked a few).

When you grind your grain fresh it doesn’t have that bitterness that preground whole wheat flour can have. That bitterness is actually the oil in the flour going rancid – YUCK! That’s why whole grain items often have a bad reputation of being bitter and bad. You also have to learn a little about the different kind of wheat and when to use them. I buy hard red wheat for bread and soft white wheat for cookies, cakes and other things. If you’re wanting to switch to whole grain bread I’d highly recommend Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor and Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours.

This choice is part of our effort to reduce our food down to the lowest possible denominator. As much as possible we’ve been trying to replace items with options that are as close to the natural form. So instead of rolled oats, we switched to steel cut oats, then we switched to oat groats. Instead of purchased pasta we started making our own, now we’re switching to homemade with freshly ground flour. One of the wonderful things about doing this is that you learn to appreciate each food as close to natural as possible. It’s amazing the differences you notice. The taste is often more complex and the texture is usually better as well. This year we are going to be able to use mostly maple syrup for our sweetening needs because of the great season, it sure does make a difference in chai tea and coffee!

Are you a whole grain or a white flour kind of household? Have you ever thought about the different levels of processing in foods?

I can also be found at Chiot’s Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, beekeeping, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Ethel Gloves, Simple, Green, Frugal, Co-op, and you can follow me on Twitter.

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When we did our ‘Real Food’ challenge here at Not Dabbling we gave up processed cereals.  Toast with homemade bread, eggs from our chickens, and oatmeal replaced the out of the box stuff.

I have recently taken it a step farther and have started making breakfast the night before with whole grains and my slow cooker.

Here are a few things I’ve learned…

Although most recipes seem to call for a ratio of 4 to 1 water to grains…I prefer 4.5 to 1 for a creamer dish.

I had trouble with the edges getting a little burnt and crispy, so I found that if I put water in the slow cooker and put another bowl in it (like a double boiler) there are no burnt edges.

Coating the bowl with a touch of oil will save on clean up.

We have used the following grains so far…

Whole oat groats

Hulled barley (not pearled)


Wheat berries


Brown Rice

Wild Rice

You can cook these in water or a combination of water.  Just put your liquids, your grain (try different combos), and a touch of salt in your slow cooker set on the lowest setting.  Turn it on right before bed and you have hot whole grain porridge in the morning!

You can also jazz it up with dried fruits and spices like cinnamon!

There really is no end to the yummy concoctions you can come up with whole grains and your handy dandy slow cooker!

So what about you?  Have you tried whole grains for breakfast yet?

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As a busy mom I am always looking for easy and quick and most importantly healthy ways to serve whole grains to my family.

About the easiest way to serve grains is  cooked and cooled with a simple marinade that relies on vinegar and oil with a supporting cast of garlic and herbs and spices.

I just throw all the ingredients in my blender, blend till smooth and pour over my cooked/cooled grain.  This is based off of a recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks ‘Amazing Grains’

Into blender…

1/3 cup balsamic or white wine vinegar (I really like balsamic)

2 TBSP Olive or other strongly flavored oil (I use local hazelnut oil)

3 to 4 cloves garlic peeled (fresh always!)

6 TBSP fresh herbs (I almost always use Basil as it grows on my windowsill year round, but any favorite single herb or combination of herbs that you love)

Sea Salt to taste

Fresh Ground pepper to taste

Tiny drizzle of honey or pinch of sugar (the more you add the more you get a sweet/sour marinade, I like the vinegar so only add just a tiny bit of honey)

Any ground spices you enjoy with your chosen herb.

Blend till well combined.  Pour over your whole grain.  Our favorite is Quinoa, but we have also used it on brown rice and buckwheat.  This can also easily be made into a vegetable salad with the addition of fresh finely chopped veggies from the garden.

Experiment with combinations of fresh herbs and accompanying spices till you find your favorite!

If you are looking for another way to introduce some whole grains into your family’s diet and one that doesn’t involve making bread…this is for you!

Kim can also be found at the inadvertent farmer where she raises organic fruits, veggies, critters, kids, and…a a camel!

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As promised part two to my personal bread challenge (if you are looking for part 1 it can be found here.)

Now down to the nitty gritty…or they yummy part!

First of all here is my make twice a week whole wheat bread recipe that is almost identical to the one that my folks made for so many years…my go to recipe…everyday bread for sandwiches, toast, and just because I feel like bread!

Mix…2/3 Cup Oil (I use organic canola), 2/3 to 3/4 Cup Sweetener (honey, molasses or a combo), 5 1/2 Cup very warm water.

Add…3 Tablespoons yeast and let proof (stand until the yeast is all puffy!)

Mix…4 heaping Tablespoons Vital Wheat Gluten, 2 Tablespoons Salt, your ‘extra’ flours up to 4 cups (I usually use 1 Cup rye, 1 Cup oat, and 2 Cups White Whole Wheat flours)…you do not have to add these flours but it is fun!

Mix into liquid/yeast mixture.

Then add your Whole Wheat Flour

In total you use about 14 Cups of flour (this includes the ‘extra’ flours)…this is approximate as it is slightly different each time.

All of this I do in my Bosch Bread Mixer…you can do it by hand.

Knead 10 minutes. Turn into very large oil coated bowl.  Cover and let rise until doubled.  Punch down, form into loaves and let rise till it is about an inch above the rim of the bread pans.

Bake at 350 until a deep golden brown (or 195 on a bread thermometer)(or until it sounds hollow when tapped)

This makes 6 loaves or 1 large pan of sticky buns and four medium loaves.

big bread2

My sticky buns are made from this recipe.  I pre-cookk raisins with brown sugar and cinnamon and then roll out my dough into a rectangle and add the raisins on top.  Roll into a long log. Slice into rounds and put in a pan that has a little oil, brown sugar, cinnamon and chopped nuts at the bottom.  Flip the whole thing over when done so the sticky bottom is on the top and the plain top is on the bottom.  I am trying hard to resist the urge to be humorous here about sticky bottoms and sticky buns…but I will refrain!


Next is one of my all time favorite recipes it is directly from the back of my bag of King Arthur Flour’s organic cracked wheat.  I don’t make it for us anymore since going vegan but I still make it for my friends and they always appreciate it….it is heavenly!

Pour 1 1/4 Cups boiling water over 1/2 Cup Cracked Wheat in a large bowl, cover and let rest for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.

Stir in 2 Tablespoons butter, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 Cup Honey or Molasses let cool to lukewarm.  Add 2 teaspoons yeast and let proof for about 10 minutes (skip this step if using instant yeast)

Stir in 1/4 Cup organic dry milk, 1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour, and 2 Cups White Whole Wheat or All Purpose Flour ( I used White Whole Wheat)

Knead by hand, mixer or bread machine to make a soft slightly sticky dough (8 minutes by hand is what I did).  Let rise covered till doubled (1 1/2 hours or so).  Shape into loaves and put into 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan.  Cover and let rise till 1 to 2 inches above rim.  Cut a vertical slash down the middle of the loaf place in preheated 350 F oven.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until brown and hollow sounding when tapped or 195 degrees F on instant-read thermometer.

Makes 1 loaf.


Finally there is a whole book that Alan asked me about that I use often.  It is called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. It truly is a time saver and an incredibly easy way to make bread.  My go to recipe is the olive oil dough that I use with white whole wheat flour for pizza and focaccia bread.  There are recipes galore in there although most are not whole grain.  It takes a little playing with the recipes to adapt them for whole grain flours but it is well worth it.

The concept of this book is to mix without kneading, let rise and then put the dough in the frig for use every day.  Just grab some, shape, sometimes let it rise or sometimes not (depending on what you are using it for) and voila…bread in just minutes of prep time…awesome!  It keeps from 5 days to almost 2 weeks depending on the recipe…if you love sourdough leave it in he fridge a week and use, yummy!

Now for the technical stuff.  I use a very old Bosch Mixer, Grain Master Whisper Mill for grinding grain, I order most of my grains from Azure food co-op with some speciality flours from King Arthur.  King Arthur also has a great book called Whole Grain Baking…wonderful recipes!


Lastly as far as baking with kids here are a few hints to make it easier and more fun.  I bake with two little ones ages 6 and 2, they both have their own stools to bring to the counter (although the baby ends up on the counter most often) They each get an itty bitty bread pan or two to make their own loaves…trust me this can take a loooong time.  We use measurements and reading recipes for reading and math for homeschool.  We often give bread as gifts which the kids love…they make a card and tie the loaf up with ribbon.  Sweet Girl likes to experiment with different spices in her bread…some have been hits (pumpkin pie spice) some not so much (white pepper).  Remember this is a learning experience for them…this is how we bring up the next generation of bakers and lovers of real food.

Most of all have fun…take the time…it is seriously worth the effort!


Kim raises organic fruits, veggies, critter, kids, and a camel over at the inadvertent farmer

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