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The Whole-Grain Debate

The Whole-Grain Debate

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For a while there, whole grain seemed to be the marketing phrase on every product: whole-grain cereals and whole-grain breads were everywhere. According to a study from Harvard University, published by Cambridge Journals, the global market for whole-grain foods "is expected to exceed $US 24 billion by 2015."

The popularity of whole grains, however, seems to have diminished in light of the wheat-free, gluten-free diet. Gluten-free foods are, as it turns out, hitting 2013 food trend predictions across the board.

So what happened?

Turns out, consumers found out that not all whole-grain products were truly whole-grain, and they weren't too happy. "The variety of terms used to describe 'whole grains' as well as the unclear and inconsistent labelling of WG ingredients by manufacturers make it challenging for consumers and organizations such as schools and workplaces to identify more healthful WG products," the Harvard report says.

Currently, there are few regulations on the labelling of foods as "whole grains," Bob Klein, founder of Community Grains tells us. Products can have a mixture of whole grains, refined grains, and sugars, and proportions can't be found on the nutrition label. So consumers looking for true whole-grain products? "They've been lied to," Klein says.

To get to the bottom of the whole-grain debate, millers often start with the grain as it comes. Most grains have four components: the hull (an inedible shell), the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. Bruce Weinstein, author of Grain Mains, tells us that every part of the grain (save for the hull) offers nutrition. "When you eat milled grains like white rice and pearled barley, the bran is gone and the germ is gone, and there's a lot of nutrition to be had there," Weinstein says.

The germ, which carries a lot of nutrients, and the bran, which carries the fiber, are often knocked out in the roller milling process, leaving only the sweet but nutritionless endosperm. Most whole-grain products have actually had the three components of the grain separated first, Klein says, and then the germ and the bran are put back in. But somehow, it's still not the same as keeping all three parts together, which Klein calls true whole grain. "The bran isn't just fiber, it's fiber in connection to everything else, in connection to the germ with nutrients associated with fatty acids," Klein says.

And even though stone-milled grains tend to leave three components together before making flour or pasta, oftentimes millers can say their products are stone-milled without actually using a stone mill. "It can sit on the ceiling, and grains can pass under the stone mill," but it's still not stone-milled, Klein says. They call it a "drive-by stone mill."

So how does one buy true whole-grain products, that are both delicious and healthy? Click on through our slideshow for tips from the pros.

What's the Difference Between Whole Grain, Whole Wheat, and Multigrain Bread?

I&aposve been on a health kick recently, and part of that has been incorporating more whole grains in my diet. But the labeling of whole grains can be a little confusing, especially because I still don&apost really know the difference between whole grain and whole wheat. What does it mean to be whole wheat vs. whole grain, and is one better than the other? And even once I delude myself into thinking I can tell whole grain breads from the whole wheat ones, I&aposm faced with a slew of multigrain options𠅊nd what is the difference between multigrain and whole grain, anyway?

Let&aposs put this bread debate to bed once and for all, starting with the difference between whole wheat and whole grain. A grain is considered whole when it has all three of its original parts: the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. That&aposs according to the Whole Grains Council, an industry advocacy group. So if you&aposre eating something that&aposs labeled "whole grain," you&aposre eating a product made with every part of the kernel. Whole wheat, then, is a type of whole grain. But not all whole grains are wheat other examples of whole grains include barley, brown rice, buckwheat, millet, and even popcorn. To quote the experts at the Whole Grains Council, "Whole wheat is one kind of whole grain, so all whole wheat is whole grain, but not all whole grain is whole wheat."

Not all multigrains are whole grains, either. In fact, a lot, if not most, multigrains aren&apost whole grains. As the name suggests, a multigrain is made with multiple types of grains𠅋ut none of the grains included have to be whole grains. All of the grains in multigrain bread could have been stripped of the bran or the germ that gives whole grains their nutrients. And this is why whole grains are healthier than multigrains. Whole grains are high in fiber, and eating a diet that&aposs high in fiber can reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes, according to the American Heart Association. If you&aposre eating multigrains, you&aposre not guaranteed to get those same benefits.

To confirm that you&aposre buying and eating whole grains, even if you prefer eating multigrain bread, check the ingredients label. You want to see the word whole in front of the type of grain, and, as Megan Gordon writes for The Kitchn, it should be high up on the list, meaning it makes up a higher percentage of the total ingredients. That way you&aposre getting the most of the health benefits from your bread (because, yes, carbs can be healthy no matter what some people might try to make you believe).

The Great Grain Debate

Whether the latest diet debate centers around gluten-free, Atkins or Paleo, carbs are a hot topic these days. The problem is, the discussions typically cluster all carbs into one category: “bad”, and thus all carbohydrate-rich foods, such as grains, are also labeled. The reasoning goes like this: all carbs, and therefore all grains, are unhealthy, fattening and strictly to be avoided, to the point where some shoppers will pay $10 a package for Paleo Wraps. The fallout of this oversimplification keeps a lot of us steering clear of a really important fiber and nutrient source.

Carbohydrates are the starchy and sugary parts of food that break down into glucose, the sugar your body needs for fuel. It’s important not to confuse the carbs in processed grain products with those contained in whole grains. Refined grains break down and enter the bloodstream quickly, which can cause unhealthy fluctuations, especially long-term. Whole grains that combine carbohydrates with lots of fiber keep blood glucose levels stable with a slow, sustained release pattern. Clearly not all grains are created equal.

Whole grains are also an important source of fiber, a key nutrient many of us are deficient in. The general fiber recommendation for adults is 25 grams per day, and the average American is currently coming in at around half of that. Whole grains such as oats, quinoa, bulgur, brown rice, and wheat berries, fall into the complex carbohydrate family, and have a more leveling effect on blood sugar and insulin than do foods like white rice or pasta. The fiber contained in complex carbohydrates, gives us the feeling of fullness that keeps us from overeating in addition to all the health benefits it offers. And researchers have linked high fiber consumption with a lower risk of both cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

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Then there are the other kind—the simple or refined carbohydrates contained in white bread, white rice, pasta, pastries, crackers, most juices, and breakfast cereals. These are grains that started out whole, but then had the fibrous coating removed, so your body barely has to work to digest them. Refined carbs enter the blood stream in a surge, leading to a spike in insulin that leads to a kind of roller-coaster effect on blood sugar: way up, then way down. Insulin surges can create a cycle of hunger and overeating in the short term, and long-term are associated with weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and other health problems. To your body, refined grains like white rice are treated essentially the same way as a teaspoon of sugar: quick to convert to glucose, then leave you feeling hungry all over again.

Since most of us would benefit from increasing the fiber in our diets, you may want to think about making the switch to whole grains, the more intact the better. Look for bread that’s made with only 100% whole grains, like 100% whole-wheat bread, and limit even refined whole grain products to 1-2 servings per day.
Brown rice is better than white, but why not experiment with some delicious new alternatives? A dish that contains millet, wheat berries, hulled barley or bulgar can provide about ⅓ of your daily fiber requirement. Whole grains are also high in protein and other important nutrients like phytochemicals.

The less widely used grains offer an entire new experience in flavor and texture. From Quinoa Tabouli, Oven Baked Oats or Orange Fennel and Kamut salad, you’ll discover whole new favorites to replace those refined wheat products and fiber you up right!

Happy Whole Grain Thanksgiving!

As Thanksgiving looms on the very near horizon – gasp, only nine more days until that much awaited annual food coma! – I am thinking about my family’s Thanksgiving menu.

Let me preface with this: we take Thanksgiving VERY seriously in my family it is the one holiday where the entire family comes together to cook, eat, drink and generally be merry (and very, very full of food). We have a rag-tag group of family friends who have been joining in the festivities for longer than I’ve been around and then the usual group of stragglers: college roommates, European Thanksgiving newbies, and anyone else we can coerce into joining our motley crew. To say our table is full is an understatement.

The beautiful local, pastured, twenty six pound beauty of a turkey has been ordered and the to-brine-or-not-to-brine debate has been resolved (finally, I will get to brine the turkey). Everything else is pretty traditional: stuffing, potatoes, Brussels sprouts and then of course my favorite part, dessert!

As a whole grain guru, I started thinking to myself, why don’t we jazz up this year’s menu with some whole grains? I have to admit, this Queen of Quinoa considered experimenting with a quinoa stuffing but I was particularly taken with this Whole Grain Rice Stuffing with Apples, Pecans and Cranberries that will certainly make a cameo on our table. You certainly can’t beat the autumnal apple and cranberry flavors and rice is the perfect grain to soak up some of that delectable turkey flavor when stuffed inside the bird. Although we often buy bread from our local bakery to accompany dinner, this year I have decided to take on the task of making these Whole Wheat Brown and Serve Rolls. Not only are they an elegant addition to the table, they are quick and simple to make which is key in the chaos of a Thanksgiving prep kitchen!

As an avid baker, dessert is generally my favorite part of any meal to prepare, particularly since I have the most practice in this department. I also have a deep, dark secret to admit: I’m not very fond of pie. Yes, I said it. Luckily, with a group of twenty plus for dinner, we can have pie and other yummies. If you’re an avid pie fan, it’s simple to make a pie whole grain by experimenting with different flours have you ever had a sorghum pie crust? Whole grain flour goes beautifully with rich pumpkin or tart, fresh apples and gives any pie a hearty flavor. Remember these whole wheat birthday brownies? They might just become this year’s Turkey Day treats for us pie cynics!

As you begin to plan your Thanksgiving menu, we urge you to consider incorporating some delicious whole grains we have included some additional recipes to inspire you, below. From everyone here at the Whole Grains Council and Oldways, we wish you and your family a happy, healthy and safe holiday! (Mallory)

Whole Grains

Move over, potatoes and pasta. Make way for spelt, wild rice, bulgur, brown rice, quinoa, and barley! Grains are an excellent source of protein, vitamins, iron, and dietary fiber. In addition, each type of grain has its own distinctive flavor, making them as tasty as they are nutritious.

Barley is a mild-flavored grain often used to add thickness to stews and soups. Barley is also a great addition to casseroles with carrots, root veggies, and onions.

Pearled barley and hulled barley are the two most popular types. Pearled barley is milled barley, which takes 40 minutes to cook. Hulled barley--barley with its outer layer removed--is more nutritious than pearled but takes a full 90 minutes to cook.

More nutritious than white rice, brown rice is one of the more familiar whole grains. Brown rice cooks in double the amount of water or broth and it needs to simmer for a full 45 minutes. Cook up a batch and store it in a container in the refrigerator for days when you don&apost have time to let it cook slowly.

Bulgur Wheat

Par-boiled cracked wheat--bulgur--cooks by rehydration. Simply pour twice the amount of boiling water or broth over dry bulgur and let it stand for about 30 minutes.

Bulgur wheat&aposs greatest claim to fame is tabbouleh salad, but it&aposs also a terrific substitute for ground beef. When cooked in vegetarian chili, for example, its texture becomes very similar to ground beef--but offers more fiber and far less fat.

Quinoa (keen-wa) has been growing in South American fields for centuries (the Incans loved quinoa so much they called it "the mother grain").

Commonly used in salads, soups, pilafs, and side dishes, quinoa has a wonderful nutty taste and aroma. It&aposs a quick-cooking grain--done in 15 minutes in a saucepan filled with 2 cups water to 1 cup quinoa.

Whole Wheat

Chewy, nutty wheat grains make terrific side dishes and salads. Find farro (emmer wheat), spelt, or wheat berries in the healthy or bulk foods section of many grocery stores and health food stores. Soak the grains overnight for faster cooking. Use 2 cups water and 1 cup wheat, and cook it like brown rice.

Wild rice is not really rice at all: it is the seed of a grass grown in Minnesota and Canada.

Wild rice has an assertive flavor that&aposs delicious in soups and great paired with split peas or combined with other grains. It is one of the longer-cooking grains, using three to four times the amount of water or broth versus grain. The rice must simmer for a full 45 minutes to 1 hour before serving. The results are worth it!

17 Easy Whole Grain Pasta Recipes That Don’t Suck

I don’t know how long you’ve been experimenting with whole grain pasta recipes, but it’s safe to say that the whole grain pasta options out there are a whole lot tastier than they used to be. Years ago, I tried whole grain pasta for the first time—and vowed it would be the last. The consistency was gritty and off-putting, and the pasta tasted super al dente no matter how long it spent in boiling water. For a decade, I skipped over every whole grain pasta recipe I found in cookbooks, magazines and blog posts. No matter how great the picture looked, that initial whole grain pasta experience made me too skeptical to try again.

A few years ago, I started seeing whole grain pasta recipes everywhere, and figured the recipe developers behind them were maybe onto something that I wasn’t. Had food companies finally figured out a formula for whole grain pasta that could actually stand up to the refined grain version? Slowly, I started dipping my toes back into the depth of whole grain pasta recipes available, and was pleasantly surprised.

I won’t lie and tell you that whole grain pasta is exactly the same and just as delicious as the kind of pasta you likely grew up with, I will offer you the reassurance that it’s totally delicious in its own right, when used in the appropriate recipes. Whole grain pasta is still a little grainier than the original (duh), which means it does best in recipes with tons of other add-ins, or with especially heavy sauces. The following recipes all make great use of whole grain pasta, and just might change your mind about the stuff.

Ask and physiologist about the importance of breakfast. Every doctor should have learned the basics in medical school.
A morning meal is NOT needed to fuel you for the day ahead. Period. Your glucose levels do NOT need a morning meal in order to recover from a night of sleep. You do NOT need a morning meal to get your "metabolic machinery" going.
Eating a morning meals DOES get your body into the carb-burning fat-making state. This is not good.
Eating a morning meal DOES contribute to the learned behavior where anxiety sets in when the stomach is empty- and so the person eats.
This is what leads to obesity.
All the physiology is in Dr. Hagan's book "Breakfast: The Least Important Meal of the Day." It is cheap enough on Kindle, but all you need is to read the freebie pages. Then go talk to your doctor about it, or whatever diet guru you have ascribed to.

Researchers are often biased sometimes they don't make rational sense. Often, they don't do enough research—content to merely stick with convention. Actually, studies are showing that intermittent fasting (not eating from supper, till lunch the next day) can change you to a fat burning machine, improve your insulin levels, and even slow the aging process. For athletes and super active people, yes, by all means eat breakfast, but you've got to remember that there are plenty of us out here who don't exercise every day, and are eating sugary, unhealthy breakfasts. It's arguably better to skip breakfast if you eat healthy the other two meals, than to eat an unhealthy breakfast, lunch and dinner (like so many Americans do).

Exploring the world of whole grain bread

Our Artisan Bread series explores the world of professional-level bread baking and brings you more resources and guidance around how to hone your skills at true hand-crafted bread. You'll find tools, inspiration, and confidence to experiment and master what is perhaps the simplest, and the most complex, of baking genres: artisan bread.

I love white flour breads as much as the next person. After all, there's a reason I consider King Arthur all-purpose flour my go-to “bread” flour and keep a 50-pound bin of it under my kitchen counter. But there’s more to life than white flour and the breads it can produce. Once you start thinking about using whole grain flours in your loaves, it opens up a universe of possibilities. Today we'll explore some whole grains and talk about ways to incorporate them in artisan bread, breaking down how they affect your loaves and how best to put them to use for maximum success.

Yes, using whole grains means the texture of your breads will change, but not necessarily for the worse. And as bakers become increasingly more sophisticated in their approaches to working whole grain flours into their formulas, breads won't necessarily change all that much, in fact.

In exchange for a shift in texture, you get so much in return: new flavors and aromas, more nutrition, and — perhaps best of all — a world of options.

Refined flours are a relatively recent invention — roller mills, the first machines that could easily separate the various components of a grain, didn’t appear until around 1870. That timeline means people have been baking with whole grain flours for far longer than not, so there are loads of whole grain recipes to look to. And while “flour” most often implies wheat, there are plenty of other grains to consider as well, many of which are increasingly available in supermarkets, either as a flour or a whole grain.

Breaking down whole grains: anatomy of a wheat berry

To understand what whole grains can really do, we first need to understand exactly what they are. A wheat berry (also known as a “kernel”) contains three distinct parts: the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. The bran is the “shell” of the seed: a hard, water-resistant outer layer designed to protect the seed’s precious cargo from the elements until it’s high time to sprout. The germ is the future wheat plant, in embryonic form (in other words, it’s the “germ” of the plant-to-be). And the endosperm is the seed’s gas tank, the store of energy reserves the baby plant will utilize for growth until it’s mature enough to photosynthesize all on its own.

Whole grains provide better nutrition .

The endosperm represents about 83% of the weight of the grain and provides the greatest share of carbohydrates and protein it’s the part that is transformed into white flour during milling. The bran comprises about 14.5% of the grain’s weight, and contains a small amount of protein, large amounts of B vitamins, and lots of dietary fiber. The germ makes up the last 2.5% of the grain’s weight, and is high in fat, more B vitamins, and trace minerals. (The high fat content of the germ is what makes whole grain flours far more perishable than refined ones. For tips on how to keep the flavor of your flours at their best, see our post on the best way to store whole grains.)

When you use whole grains, you're getting all the nutrition of the bran and the germ, which are removed to create white flour. (This is why the nutrition content of white flour is lower than whole grain flour.)

Photo by Julia A. Reed

And offer bigger flavor

It's not all about nutrition: much of the flavor and aroma of grains is located in the germ and bran too. Bran is particularly rich in phenolic compounds, which strengthen the seedcoat and act as chemical defense against pests many of these molecules are also highly aromatic. (And of course, the flavor and aroma of foods are deeply intertwined.)

Each type of grain has a distinct aromatic signature. For example, whole wheat presents flavors reminiscent of vanilla, caramel, raw potato, and honey. Rye: cooked potatoes, mushrooms, and caramel. Oats: apples, cheese, and vanilla. Buckwheat: wintergreen, clove, honey, and caramel. Barley: malt, cocoa, and “fattiness."

Whole grain options: flours and grains for baking

Gone are the days when the only whole grain flours you might find on supermarket shelves would be whole wheat, cornmeal, and (if you're lucky) rye. At my local grocery store, I can find whole wheat, white whole wheat, pumpernickel (whole rye) and medium rye, spelt, oat, buckwheat, millet, einkorn (an “ancient” relative of wheat), quinoa, brown rice, and teff flours, as well as a few varieties of cornmeal.

Over in the grains aisle, I can find whole grain barley, oats (rolled and steel cut), amaranth, teff, wheat berries, farro (also known as emmer), and quinoa, khorasan wheat, freekeh (roasted green wheat), and rices galore. Each of these flours and grains presents a new potential for your bread baking. Let's dig into how to approach incorporating them.

Getting started: adding whole grains to your bread

There are so many different ways to begin using whole grains in your breads. The simplest is to just swap out a portion of a recipe's white flour for a whole grain one.

Trading out whole grain for white flour will always have an effect on the structure of your loaves, since they lower the overall concentration of gluten in the dough — even in the case of flours that do contain gluten, like whole wheat or spelt. (The gluten-forming proteins are found exclusively in the endosperm, so anything in your flour other than endosperm means less gluten overall.) And beyond that, the bran found in all whole grain flours is hard and sharp, which wreaks havoc on gluten structure.

But never fear: Up to a certain point, these effects are hardly worth worrying about. Results will vary depending upon the recipe in question, but generally speaking, you can usually get away with up to a 25% flour substitution without drastic consequences on the overall structure of a loaf. And even amounts more modest than that can still provide dramatic benefits in terms of the flavor and appearance of your breads. (I routinely add a stealthy 5% rye flour to my “white” flour loaves, which lends them nuttier flavor and a buff, flecked appearance to their crumb.)

For an extremely helpful guide to dancing the whole grain flour shuffle, take a look at Charlotte's post on baking with ancient grains. Another simple method to finding a ratio you like: turn to the breakfast table.

The pancake test

In her guide mentioned above, Charlotte talks about creating Easy Amaranth Pancakes by merely swapping 25% of the all-purpose flour in Simply Perfect Pancakes with 25% amaranth flour. This is a wonderfully accessible test for any baker: Pancakes present a perfect opportunity for a low-lift and near-immediate “pilot study” to try at home for yourself to determine how using a whole grain flour will alter the flavor, texture, and appearance of your bread.

Once you land on a pancake formula you like, you can then give it a go in your loaves with a good idea of what to expect. (Plus, you get pancakes out of the deal, so what’s not to like?) And if you want to push the envelope, you can you just need to understand what effect it'll have.

Take it a step further: bumping up the percentage

Going above 25% whole grain flour in a recipe that calls for 100% white flour is possible too, but doing so tends to require modifications to the recipe formula and/or technique. Whole grain flours are, as a rule, thirstier than refined ones, so that usually means adding more water to the dough to achieve a similar consistency. And while you can certainly live with the effects of gluten dilution (more water = less gluten overall) and increased bran on the structure of the loaf — a dense, compact crumb is often a nice thing — you can also counteract them by working in additional kneading or folds to the mixing and bulk proofing steps.

You can also sift your whole grain flour to remove some of the bran. A tightly-woven fine-meshed sieve will remove a decent amount of it (mine takes off about 10% of the total weight of the flour), which can make a big difference in the structure of your loaves. And while removing some bran through sifting reduces the nutritional content and flavor of a whole grain flour, it’ll still be far more nutritious and flavorful than white flour. (Taking off the coarsest 10% of your whole wheat flour amounts to a 90% “extraction rate” by comparison, the extraction rate of most white flours is around 70%.) And you can save the sifted bran to use elsewhere (bran muffins anyone?).

Advanced whole grain techniques

Though using whole grain flours in place of all-purpose flour can definitely compromise crumb structure and loaf height, there are numerous strategies that expert bakers employ to counteract the negative effects of all that bran on gluten development, especially when working with 100% whole grain breads.

The first is to increase the water content of the dough significantly there are some instances where dough hydration can even exceed 100%. All that extra water serves to both soften the bran and let the gluten more easily link up to form ordered networks capable of holding gases.

But extra water alone makes for a loose, sloppy dough, which is why high hydration is usually combined with a more sophisticated approach to building dough structure through folding. Periodically folding the dough during the bulk fermentation allows a baker to make the most of the nascent gluten structure present. (“Lamination” folding, where the dough is poured onto the work surface and stretched into a thin sheet before being folded back up, can be especially effective here.)

Extending the autolyse can serve similar goals as well. In a standard autolyse, you hold back the salt and preferment from your dough in order to give the flour time to hydrate and the gluten in it to get a head start on linking up. With white flours, 30 minutes or so is usually sufficient in whole grain doughs, however, it’s not uncommon for bakers to extend the autolyse to several hours (or even overnight), to give the water-phobic bran more time to soften, and to eke as much structure as possible out of the technique.

Other approaches to maximizing gluten structure when working with whole grain flours include doing a short final levain build before mixing a dough and/or using a small amount of levain in a dough, both of which can extend bulk fermentation to allow maximum development of strength.

Bonus: super soakers and potent porridges

Flours aren’t the only way to utilize whole grains in your breads. You can also add them to your loaves unmilled, in the form of a soaker — a quantity of grains or seeds that have been soaked in water for a few hours or overnight to fully hydrate them. This treatment serves to moisten them prior to their addition to a dough, so they won’t pull water from the dough and mess with your overall hydration. It also makes them more tender and more digestible. Many bakers also like to toast grains before soaking them to further intensify their flavor. For the skinny on soakers and how to use them, once again, Martin has you covered with his post: 3 ways to switch up your bread baking.

You can also cook the grains, rather than just soak them, before adding them to a dough. If the grains are easily broken down (such as rolled oats) or cooked long enough, you get a porridge, which — when used in a dough — gives you a porridge bread. Cooked grains and porridges perform similarly to soakers, but with a few key differences. Because the grains in porridge are cooked, their flavor profile is altered and often more intense. They contain much more water, which makes them even more tender and digestible. And because the starches they contain are gelatinized — a chemical transformation that occurs when starch and water are heated above about 140˚F — they hold onto that water more tenaciously, resulting in a noticeably more moist crumb and a bread that's especially resistant to staling.

Can't find whole grain flours? Grind yer own!

When whole grain flours are unavailable, another option is to mill your own. Tabletop stone mills for home bakers are increasingly more effective and affordable these days than ever before. (I own one, and use it all the time.) One advantage to milling your own whole grain flour is that whole grains are far less perishable than flours milled from them, so there’s far less concern about “using it or losing it” — simply grind as much flour as you need for immediate use.

Milling your own flour at home is easy to do, but it’s too big a subject to tackle here, so I’ll just refer you to Martin's excellent and extensive guide to milling your own flour, if it's something you decide to delve into.

Whole grain recipe roundup

Perhaps the easiest way to get into whole grain bread baking is to start with reliable, tried-and-tested recipes. Here are a few King Arthur favorites:

Just Bread: A wholesome, delicious, and plush-textured sandwich loaf, made with 75% white whole wheat flour.

Jeffrey’s Sourdough Rye: A caraway-scented rustic sourdough loaf containing more than 60% rye flour.

Mission Fig Bread: Martin's recipe for a fig-studded rustic loaf containing a 50/50 mix of whole wheat and white flour, along with a toasted cracked wheat soaker.

Vollkornbrot: A classic dark and dense German rye bread using pumpernickel (whole rye) flour along with rye chops (cracked rye berries).

Jeffrey’s Black Bread: Another dark and dense bread, this one containing a 50/50 mixture of rye and bread flours, along with an “altus” — a type of soaker made from toasted and moistened old bread — scented with ground coffee and charnushka ("black caraway") seeds.

Icelandic Rye: Also known as Rúgbrauð, a dense 100% rye flour quick bread leavened with baking powder, mildly sweetened with honey and molasses.

Fresh-Milled Spelt Sourdough Bread: A rustic sourdough bread containing a mix of flours and grains: 10% whole wheat, 20% freshly-milled spelt flour, and a cracked spelt soaker.

These are excellent entry points into the world of whole grain baking, which is endlessly rich for experimentation. Stay tuned for more explorations of whole grain bread this month! If you're curious about whole grain baking, we'd love to hear more about what questions you have leave a comment below!

Serves 6-8 people |30 minutes prep|45 minutes to cook|


  • 6 fuji apples
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp pumpkin spice
  • whole lemon zest and half lemon juiced
  • 1 cup oats
  • ½ cup quinoa/millet
  • ½ cp Whole Wheat flour
  • 1 stick of butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp pumpkin spice mix


1. Combine topping ingredients in food processor until cornmeal consistency OR cut butter into flour and mix in brown sugar, oats, and salt until well incorporated.

2. For filling, cut the apples into similar-sized slices and mix with the spices, lemon juice, zest, and brown sugar. Once well mixed, lay the apples evenly in one layer on the 9 x 12 pan and then put the coating on top, evenly as well.

3. Bake in oven for 45 minutes at 375 deg, or when the quinoa/millet tastes cooked (toasted and crunchy, not hard)

Did you make this recipe?

Share a photo and tag us — we can’t wait to see what you’ve made!

The Great Grain Debate

The status of grain in the modern diet is debated as if it held a place in office: should it be impeached from our dietary guidelines, should we use it to solve world hunger or should we blame it for the obesity of a nation and the degradation of worldwide environmental systems?

Some nutritional scholars believe that grains should be avoided completely, arguing that our bodies did not evolve to digest grains and they cause a downward spiral in many facets of your internal health. Ancient Eastern medicine traditions, on the other hand, hold grains as an important element of dietary balance. Recent western medicine research has popularized “whole grains” to an almost divine status launching campaigns that assure dieters and skeptics that anything labeled whole grain is an automatic health food.

You are confused? So am I. Avoiding grains completely is difficult and may not be the best option, but popular refined forms of grain are digging a rut into the health of many. I am going to venture out on a limb and say forget it: forget the great debate, proceed with moderation and, as always, keep in mind that whole foods are always better than their processed counterparts. Somewhere in-between the “whole grain” coco puffs and the Paleolithic style no grain diets there has to be level ground: a few whole grains from natural sources, a few indulgences and a happy and healthy body.

Figuring out how grains fit into your lifestyle and how they impact your health as an individual may be the best place to start. Pay attention to how you feel after eating a particular grain and make note of whether it was processed, whole, soaked, raw or cooked. You may find that some grains like quinoa, whole oats and millet are easier for your body to digest and provide more prolonged balanced energy.

There is some truth behind the recent “whole grain” campaign phenomena in that whole grains contain fiber, nutrients and protein that improve the way your body digests, uses, and stores grain-based foods. Whole grains have also been shown to play a role in helping improve cognitive function and mood. However, alleged “whole grains” in your honey nut cheerios, are probably not going to do the deed. The processing and additives that go into cereals, breads, cookies, crackers and the like are more than enough to destroy the health benefits of a natural whole grain.

Proper grain preparation methods are crucial to the health benefit they impart and may alleviate the health issues that grain opponents cite. Not eating packaged and processed grain products and taking the time to prepare whole grains at home is necessary to help your body absorb the nutrients. Soaking grains overnight helps germinate the dormant energy of the seed, release nutrients and ensure proper digestion.

Breakfast is the often the best (and most delicious) time to indulge in some healthy whole grains. During sleep your body’s systems slow down and burn energy reserves for basic function so it is important to wake up the process by providing healthy fuel. Whole grains provide the energy and nutrients your body needs to get your metabolism running and to power all internal organs for full daily function. But, no matter what the health claims a cereal box says, steer clear and start experimenting with homemade whole grains instead.

Soaking old-fashioned rolled oats in almond milk with a dash of cinnamon is one of my favorite easy go-to’s. Check back this Thursday for some easy at home and on the go healthy grain preparation tips and recipes.

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