-By Suzanne (AKA “Nana”)
Yum! Fresh bread and butter, homemade blueberry muffins, pancakes with warm maple syrup, cookies fresh from the oven! These are just a few of my favorite things (sorry, I am a Vermonter and Trapp Family/Sound of Music enthusiast). Baked goods are especially hard for me to resist with the cooler fall weather coming.
Two of my top core values are maintaining my health and EATING delicious food. Balancing these two goals can be a challenge and requires setting not-so-enjoyable boundaries. As you might have gleaned from Maia’s introduction in her post last week, I have spent the bulk of my adult life exploring how the food I serve and eat affects my health and the health of those I love.
“Nana Has a Fat Belly!”
I enjoy having a slim waistline and not feeling overweight. I say feeling overweight because people constantly tell me that I’m not fat, even though I don’t feel thin these days!
It’s true that Maia and I both have naturally fast metabolisms. My mother fretted about my skinny frame when I was a child, my brothers still refer to me as “Stickanne,” and I was ruthlessly teased as a teenager for my scrawny limbs—I used to eat an entire loaf of Wonder bread before falling asleep and pray I’d wake up with a curvier figure! The older I get, though, the more challenging it becomes to squeeze into skinny jeans (which seem to just keep getting skinnier!).
Maia’s son Felix is almost two, an age where little ones parrot everything they hear. He’s been witness to a lot of my self-talk recently, and last week he exclaimed, “Nana has a fat belly!” Yikes! I guess I’ve been complaining a lot about my expanding waistline!
Flour as a Vegetable
Over my many years of dietary permutations, I discovered through experimentation that bread and flour products were compromising my health and my waistline, especially once I reached middle age. So imagine my excitement when—a few years ago—I discovered a new food movement called Essential Eating, which makes the following claims (I’m simplifying here):
- Some very common health problems (including weight gain) are caused by one’s pancreas being overtaxed by foods that are difficult to digest.
- Starches in grains are very hard for the pancreas to digest.
- When sprouted, whole grains are digested as vegetables—not starches!
- Vegetables, as most of know, are some of the most nutritious things we eat.
As the founder of the Essential Eating movement, Janice Quinn (who went from a size 16 to a size 6), says: “Knowing that sprouted flour digests as a vegetable and not a starch makes getting more vegetables into your diet much easier.”
Eating My (Sprouted) Cake and Having It, Too
With my usual enthusiasm for new health food trends, I excitedly reintroduced all those yummy baked goods into my diet (oh, and I’m almost forgot about sprouted pasta and pizza, too!). Now, I’m not claiming that I’ve religiously stuck to the Essential Eating diet, but when I’m disciplined about it, I both look and feel better.
Maia and I laugh when we bake bread and say, “Let’s serve Felix a little veggie with butter,” or “How about a delicious veggie carob chip cookie for your snack!” It’s great knowing that we are giving him something nutritious that he loves.
I know this whole flour-as-a-vegetable idea sounds far-fetched, so I encourage you to read all about sprouted flour and the Essential Eating plan in Janice Quinn’s books, Essential Eating, A Cookbook, or Maia’s favorite, Essential Eating, Sprouted Baking. Felix gets sprouted carrot cake for birthdays—double veggies!
The Science Behind Sprouted Flour
My eyes glaze over when I read overly scientific text, but Maia’s husband, a recreational gourmet cook and brilliant, geeky scientist (geeks can be quite handsome!) always questions me with queries like, “Really, Suze?… Digests like a vegetable? How so?” He forces me to read the science behind my health claims.
Luckily, there is plenty of science to support eating sprouted grains in Janice Quinn’s books and more in Sally Fallon’s book, Nourishing Traditions, if you are interested.
If you aren’t worried about your weight, there are plenty of other reasons to choose sprouted flour over regular whole wheat, including its higher vitamin and protein content. For more compelling reasons, and to learn some of the problems with unsprouted flour, I encourage you all to read Essential Eating!
You Don’t Have to Make Your Own Flour!
I don’t know about you, but at my age, I have spent far too many hours in the kitchen grinding flour, making yogurt, and doing everything from scratch. I have no interest in sprouting my own grains, although my Amish friend, Fanny, does sprout her own flour, so if anybody is interested I could ask her to write out the directions. Those Amish have way more time than I do–apparently they are not wasting their Monday evenings viewing Bachelor Pad!
Anyway, I buy sprouted flour (Shiloh Farms), bread (Food for Life/Ezekiel), and pastas (Ezekiel) at the health food store. (By the way, I know I’m promoting all of these products and books pretty intensely, but I’m not being paid by anyone to do it; unfortunately, these folks don’t even know this blog exists—yet!
Blueberry Muffins that Won’t Leave You with a Muffin Top
Here is my own truly guilt-free blueberry muffin recipe, which I adapted from Sprouted Baking. (For those of you wondering how something with nearly a stick of butter can be guilt-free, check out what Sally Fallon says about the health benefits of butter.)
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 ¼ cups sprouted wheat flour
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1-2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
- Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease or line 12 cups of a standard muffin tin.
- In a large bowl, blend the butter and syrup. Add the eggs.
- Mix the dry ingredients and add to the wet.
- Fold in the blueberries.
- Pour the batter into prepared muffin tins.
- Bake 16-18 minutes, until the muffin tops are golden and a tester inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.
- Transfer to a rack and cool.
So…all of you youngins get out there and make some sprouted muffins! I’m tired of being in the kitchen, so while you’re at it, would one of you start a sprouted bakery? I’d like a place where I can buy healthy snacks for my two grandsons!
Please feel free to comment or let me know if you’re interested in other recipes. Fanny and I make a delicious sprouted pizza crust and I’d be happy to share that recipe.