Friday, January 13, 2012

WHOLE grains

I realized yesterday I left you with a list of options for breakfast and they all said whole wheat _____.  By now, we all know we should eat whole grains, but do you know why???  You do?  Awesome, you are ahead of the game.  Not sure?  Let me walk you through it, it's kind of boring...but important stuff.  So read all the way to the end.  There's going to be a quiz.

Here is a kernel of wheat.

Each part of the wheat kernel is important to your diet.  The inner part of the kernel contains soluble fiber, while the bran (the outer structural part) contains insoluble fiber.  In processing, this outer part is removed.  Since both types of fiber are very important to maintain your health, it is essential that you eat WHOLE GRAIN products and use WHOLE GRAIN flour.  Just a heads up, multigrain does not mean whole grain.  Look at the label, it should whole-wheat flour. 

Most Americans get nowhere near the amount of necessary fiber in their diet and that's a shame.  Want to know why?  I'll tell ya!  Fiber lowers your blood glucose levels and blood cholesterol levels.  Insoluble fiber reduces diverticular disease and colon cancer.  And here's how....

Soluble fiber slows down the emptying of your stomach, which slows down the absorption of glucose in your small intestine.  That helps to keep your blood sugar (amount of sugar in your bloodstream) steady.  It prevents that sugar spike that causes your pancreas to go "ahhh.....this body has lots of sugar in the blood, I need to release insulin that will tuck that sugar away as fat".  Keeping your blood sugar level steady is important for everyone, but especially for those that have (or are on the brink of having) Type II diabetes.

Soluble fiber also interferes with the absorption of cholesterol and reabsorption of bile acids from the small intestine.  Your body reuses bile (which contains cholesterol) and cholesterol in a fancy mechanism called enterohepatic circulation.  Soluble fiber interupts that fancy mechanism and instead of recycling, the body will eliminate some of that cholesterol and bile (and by eliminate, I mean poop it out!)  This is GOOD news for people battling high cholesterol, as that is the only way your body has of getting extra cholesterol out. 

Insoluble fiber (the stuff that is removed during processing) adds "bulk to the feces".  That's the technical way of saying, it helps you to poop more!  Many of us have divertcular disease and don't know it because 80% of the time it's asymptomatic.  Diverticula are parts of the large intestine that protrude and form small pouches.  These pouches can trap feces and bacteria, which leads to inflammation and infection.  And, it HURTS.  Insoluble fiber helps the feces to travel through the large intestine faster, thus, limiting the amount of time these pouches are exposed to the feces...therefore, limiting a risk of infection. 

Insoluble fiber is currently being studied as a means of preventing colon cancer.  Again, it limits the amount of time the feces is in contact with the large intestine, thus, limiting the amount of time the large intestine has to absorb any carcinogen in the feces. 

So, eat your whole grains!  Drink lots of water and happy pooping!  Oh wait, this is a blog about eliminating unprocessed foods.  So, you probably want a whole grain recipe to try.  First, you need whole wheat flour.

I use King Arthur flour because that's what my friend Astrid uses.  And, in the baking world, Astrid is WAY UP HERE and I am way down here.  So, when I am baking I like to channel my inner Astrid, which I think I have been doing improperly because everything I have baked these last two weeks has been a total failure.  In fact, I think I have been channeling this Astrid instead.

That would make sense because this Astrid probably knows nothing about baking with whole grains, as she is far to busy fighting dragons and eating large pieces of meat off of the bone. 

Anyway, last night I had success with baking, which I will share with you.  I got the recipe from the girl at 100 days of real food.  She is incredible.  She's sort of like the Cameron Diaz of giving up processed food.  I'm sort of like the Roseann Barr.  So, I totally get if you love her because I do too.  Here is her recipe:

Whole Wheat Biscuits
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup cold unsalted butter
  • 1 cup milk
1.  Preheat oven to 450.
2.  In a medium sized bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
3.  Mix well with whisk or fork.
4.  Cut the ½ stick butter into little pea sized pieces and then mix the pieces into the flour mixture. Using a fork, try to mash the butter pieces as you mix it together with the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs. It is okay if the outcome just looks like the same pea sized pieces of butter covered with flour.
5.  Then pour in the milk and mix it all together.
6.  Knead the dough with your hands 8 to 10 times and then turn out onto a counter or cutting board.
7.  Pat it out flat with your hands until the dough is a somewhat even ¾-inch thickness (sprinkle with a little flour if necessary). Turn a drinking glass upside down and cut out biscuit rounds.
8.  Then put them on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes or until lightly browned.

A little note here...I baked mine for about 10 minutes and they never got lightly browned on top.  I took them out and checked the bottoms and they were brown.  Good enough for me!  I flipped them over some plates and voila...

Now, you may be thinking, "Heids McGhee there is no way my kids are going from Pillsbury Grands to that."  This is how I did it.....I got my mini McGhees all bundled up and told them to go outside and not come back in until the driveway was cleared.  Twenty minutes later they came in screaming because the olest mini had shoved snow in the face of the two younger minis the driveway was clear.  They declared they were starving so I made them a plate of biscuits, set out some butter, some organic apple butter (ingredients: organic apples and organic apple juice), and some organic honey.  They gobbled them up within minutes.  Complete success.  And then I realized that the minis definition of the driveway being cleared does not match my definition of the driveway being cleared.  Thankfully Mr. McGhee came home and remedied the situation because I simply can not be bothered with tasks like that right now, as I am busy baking from scratch.