The reason I choose to eat ancient grains versus wheat is simple: I feel better. When I used to eat too much wheat, not only would my stomach complain, but I would get allergic reactions like itchy ears, nose and throat. However, I can eat as much spelt and other non-wheat products without any trouble.
Benefits of Spelt
- Spelt has not been bred and manipulated for manufacturing like common wheat so our body recognizes spelt as food.
- Spelt’s gluten structure is shorter, brittle and water soluble. This means it is easier for the body to break down and can be easier to digest for people with wheat and gluten sensitivities. However, people with celiac disease will not be able to tolerate spelt.
- Spelt is rich in protein and minerals including niacin, copper, iron, B vitamins, zinc, magnesium and phosphorus.
- Spelt has more soluble fibre than wheat which is beneficial in lowering blood cholesterol and regulating blood sugar levels.
- Spelt contains carbohydrates called “mucopolysaccharides” that are credited with strengthening body tissues and the body’s immune system.
- Organic spelt and any variation of it (grain, flour, flakes, etc) is considered a low acidic food and is one of the only grains listed to include in an alkaline diet.
Baking with Spelt Flour
Spelt flour is fairly easy to substitute cup for cup for wheat flour. You can substitute whole spelt flour for whole wheat flour and white (also called unbleached or all purpose) spelt flour for regular or all purpose wheat flour in your favourite recipes. The only adjustments you will need to make is to reduce the amount of liquid in your recipe by 25 percent and the mixing or kneading time by half as the gluten in spelt is weaker than wheat and will start to break down from being over kneaded whereas the gluten in wheat flour will get stronger.
Ancient grains have been gaining popularity, but there are still few cookbooks dedicated to baking with them. My favourite is one from 2007 called Spelt Healthy! that is tricky to find these days and was written way before anyone in North America cared what spelt was. Here is a list of some of the books I own (and have discovered) that inspire me to keep exploring ancient grains: