Sprouted bread & gluten content


I had a brief interchange with a woman in the Farmer’s Market last Saturday which bugged me because I realized that I didn’t know what I was talking about in terms of whether or not there is gluten in sprouted grains. My impression is that a) it’s structure/chemistry has changed significantly and b) even if still present as gluten per se it is greatly reduced and has less impact for those who are gluten intolerant but not true celiac.

But when I thought about it, I realized that I couldn’t recall where I got this idea from or if I was just making it up. So I did a Google search and a few things came up.

Now bear in mind that for many this is a very emotional topic. And in line with what I feel about it, I paste in one of the comments to the post above:

“Since gluten is found in all grains, i have been following a grain free diet and was wondering about sprouted grains and grasses. thank you for your information and clarification. i will just continue grain free, no sprouts etc. i’ve been feeling much better and losing weight like crazy anyways. some of my pain is going away as well. the first time i tried gluten free, i ate other grains such as corn and rice and didn’t feel any better. this time, without any grains, i haven’t felt as good in a long time. it could be gluten, phytic acid, or lectins, or all three that have been causing my problematic symptoms of chronic fatigue, body pain, weight gain, depression, pms, brain fogginess and inability to exercise with muscle improvement. within a week of not eating any grains, i have lost weight, gained strength and energy, feel happier, and thinking more clearly and organized. do you know if meat from animals eating grains also affects our bodies?”

The part I find of particular interest is how the writer felt MUCH better when eliminating ALL grains, not just the ones with gluten. I am not sure if gluten is actually in all grains as she says.

In any case, there is some gluten in sprouted grains….



High Fructose Corn Syrup makes you stupid

The Common Food Ingredient That’s Making You Stupid

Lab studies show high-fructose corn syrup can actually sabotage your smarts in just 6 weeks.

By Leah Zerbe
“Brain-harming high-fructose corn syrup hides out in unexpected places. Be sure to read the label.

Foods that appear to be nutritious could actually be destroying your brainpower. The culprit? A common ingredient slipped into many “healthy” foods, including baby food, applesauce, and oatmeal, a breakfast favorite. Researchers at UCLA found that ingesting foods and drinks containing the ingredient high-fructose corn syrup for just six weeks caused troubling changes in brain function. “Our findings illustrate that what you eat affects how you think,” says Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, PhD, a professor of neurosurgery and integrative biology and physiology at UCLA. “Eating a high-fructose diet over the long term alters your brain’s ability to learn and remember information.”

While high-fructose corn syrup is rampant in soda and candy products, it also hides out in some seemingly innocuous items like bread, juices, ketchup, and instant oatmeal. (Previous studies have found high-fructose corn syrup is sometimes contaminated with mercury.) Most often associated with obesity and diabetes, this latest study, appearing in the Journal of Physiology, shows this industrial food ingredient can harm the brain, too….

3 Rules for Avoiding a High-Fructose Corn Syrup-Derived Brain Drain
#1: Eat organic. If you don’t feel like reading fine-print ingredient labels every time you reach for a product in the supermarket, just look for the organic seal. High-fructose corn syrup and many other harmful food additives are banned. And whatever you do, don’t ditch real fruit, which contains a natural form of fructose, not the dangerous processed type. “We’re not talking about naturally occurring fructose in fruits, which also contain important antioxidants,” explains Gomez-Pinilla. “We’re concerned about high-fructose corn syrup that is added to manufactured food products as a sweetener and preservative.”

Read More: The 9 Nastiest Things in Your Supermarket

#2: Find safer sweet treats. Gomez-Pinilla, a native of Chile and an exercise enthusiast who practices what he preaches, advises people to keep fructose intake to a minimum and swap sugary desserts for fresh berries and Greek yogurt, which he keeps within arm’s reach in a small refrigerator in his office. An occasional bar of dark chocolate that hasn’t been processed with a lot of extra sweetener is fine, too, he adds.

#3: Eat for brain protection. Be sure to eat foods containing naturally robust levels of omega-3 fatty acids, especially if you’ll be indulging in food containing high-fructose corn syrup. Omega-3–rich foods include eggs from pastured hens, wild-caught Alaskan salmon, flaxseed, and walnuts. DHA, the type of omega-3 that comes from omega-3–rich animal products, helps protect against damage to brain synapses. These synapses are critical to tasks like memory and learning—the very functions that high-fructose corn syrup damages.  ”

Nice to see connection with diet and intelligence, though this author misses the enteric brain connection (still par for the course with mainstream science and dieticians unfortunately). But also nice to see in the list at the end flax seeds and walnuts. I have flax seeds in my nearly all-white sandwich loaf (I kg), and all the ‘vollkorn’ / fresh ground loaves and the sprouted loaf. (The flax is purchases ground so is not sprouted but soaked for several days; next time I put in a large order I will get whole flax seeds which will then be sprouted along with everything else.) And of course walnuts (organic, from Kashmir of all places) in the walnut loaf.

HFCS impairs insulin management which has all sorts of nasty systemic side effects. Apart from many other things, it messes up the microbial population in the gut which most definitely has a bad effect not only on digestion, but also enteric brain functions, most of which we still don’t know much about, although Japanese and most Asians have identified that region as the source of most intelligence for millenia. For most of us, we are so inculcated with the belief that intelligence resides only in the brain that we simply cannot grasp the observed scientific fact that more synaptic activity (which this article discusses if you read the whole thing) takes place in the enteric brain (gut region) than the head brain (in the head). We can read it a hundred times but it will make no difference: we all ‘know’ that intelligence is in the brain.

In any case, BUY ORGANIC, BUY ORGANIC, BUY ORGANIC. Even better, buy local stuff made without chemical additives.

Related: 12 Household Toxins to banish from your home

Related: Natural Cleaning Recipes

Overgrowth of bacteria definitively linked to IBS syndrome


study linked therein:   http://www.springerlink.com/content/x17x860280077516/?MUD=MP

An overgrowth of bacteria in the gut has been definitively linked to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), according to the results of a new study at Cedars-Sinai (Los Angeles) which used cultures from the small intestine.

This is the first study to use this “gold standard” method of connecting bacteria to the cause of the disease, which affects an estimated 30 million people in the US alone. Previous studies have indicated that aerobic bacteria play a role in the disease, including breath tests detecting methane – a byproduct of bacterial fermentation in the gut. But this study was the first to make the link using bacterial cultures.

The study, published May 11 by Digestive Diseases and Sciences (“The prevalence of overgrowth by aerobic bacteria in the small intestine by small bowel culture: relationship with irritable bowel syndrome”), examined samples of patients’ small bowel cultures to confirm the presence of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth – or SIBO – in more than 320 subjects.

In patients with IBS, 37.5% also were diagnosed with small intestine bacterial overgrowth – SIBO [excessive bacteria of the type normally found in the colon, which ferment carbohydrates into gas] – compared to fewer than 10% of those without the disorder.

• Of those with diarrhea-predominant IBS, 60% also had SIBO.

• And of those with constipation predominant IBS, 27.3% had SIBO.

• Overgrowth of Escherichia coli, Enterococcus spp and Klebsiella pneumoniae were the most common isolates found.

• A history of type 2 diabetes and intake of proton pump inhibitors (drugs to reduce stomach acid) were also independently and positively associated with SIBO.

• Gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining) appeared to be protective against SIBO.

“This clear evidence of the role bacteria play in the disease underscores our clinical trial findings, which show that antibiotics are a successful treatment for IBS,” says Mark Pimentel, MD, director of the Cedars-Sinai GI Motility Program and an author of the study.

Dr. Pimentel first bucked standard medical thought more than a decade ago when he suggested that bacteria played a significant role in the disease. He has led clinical trials showing that rifaximin, a targeted antibiotic that is absorbed only in the gut and not into the circulatory system, is an effective treatment for patients with IBS – and that “Patients who take rifaximin experience relief of their symptoms even after they stop taking the medication.”

“In the past, treatments for IBS have always focused on trying to alleviate the symptoms,” Dr. Pimentel adds, and “this new study confirms what our findings with the antibiotic and our previous studies always led us to believe: Bacteria are key contributors to the cause of IBS.”

The study is a collaboration with researchers at Sismanogleion General Hospital in Athens, Greece, and at the University of Athens. ”

I suspect there are ways other than antibiotics, even targeted ones (probiotics, garlic, spices etc. etc. ) but it’s good to see mainstream science acknowledging the role of bacteria versus blaming things on organ tissue or whatever.

Personally, I regularly drink Kombucha, fermented almond milk and eat home made sauerkraut or other cultured vegetables every day, but then I don’t have IBS albeit I have had some intestinal problems the past year, quite possibly due to eating way too much bread as part of starting up a bakery. Yes, it’s sourdough and organic and all the rest of it, but I went 3 months at one point with about 80% of my diet being bread (!!!) and I think I messed things up down there a little. That said, all seems more or less fine now and I made these improvements by adding cultured vegetables and drinks to my regular daily diet.

New Fennel-Seed Onion Semola Fougasse – fresh out of the brick oven!

Fennel Seed-Onion Semola Fougasse

Inspired by stumbling upon the Hungry Ghost Bakery website, and seeing they have a fennel fougasse, I decided to bake up one of my own, albeit mine has some white onion in there too (along with being sourdough, and having both fresh-ground and soaked anise seeds plus soaked rosemary, Lebanese olive oil, plus fresh-ground sea-salt crystals on top,  plus being 25% semola flour).

More later. The bake is underway still. But this is a very nice-looking, delicious smelling (bread, onions and anise) and hopefully also a delicious-tasting piece of whatever…

(2 hrs later – YUP – tastes great!)

The dough is a bit too dense from being heavily man-handled during shaping, which sourdough doesn’t respond well too (best to treat extremely gently). Next time I’ll get it right, hopefully, by upping the hydration which makes it less sensitive. Also, the semola made it denser in any case, albeit it adds a delightfully earthy undertone, not to mention a buttery golden colour. The occasional crunch of anise seed is also a welcome surprise. Excellent with high quality olive oil.

Hmm, the more I eat this one the better I like it – except I put too much sea salt on top or in the dough. Again, will be perfect next time, but it’s already a world-class bread!

Canadian Govt. threatening to encroach on privacy further


Click on that link to sign petition and send message to your MP protesting this proposed/possible bill.

Most Canadians don’t know it, but the police and other interested parties already have the right to request your ISP for information about your browsing and email without informing you. Just another example of how our friendly, caring government is slowly and steadily tightening the noose. They are very good at this. Most well-meaning Canadians think it’s a good thing that the government controls our food, our medicines and now monitors our interpersonal communications. All for our own good of course. Anyone who objects must have something to hide, so probably it’s best that we spend first millions, then billions for faceless strangers to analyse our communications all without letting us know.

Frankly, if things go too far down that path, then I will greatly cut back on computer use and go back to reading books and listening to music. Simpler, richer pleasures. Like good bread, good wine, good cheese, and good friends?

Red Fife results

These pictures are from my first tests with Speerville Flour Mill’s Red Fife hard wheat. All tests used a 100% fresh ground rye starter culture with only Red Fife flour. I had three flours to work with and unfortunately did not keep track of the pictures well in terms of which is which exactly, but they were:

1. Fresh-ground from the kernels: this loaf was over-hydrated for sure, but only slightly. The picture was taken after I cut into it a little too soon after baking since usually these loaves need at least a day to set up rather than the usual 2-3 hours for a typical loaf. By the next day the crumb was firmer. Then I gave it away to someone and didn’t get a better picture! The actual colour was darker than the picture below. The taste was the best I’ve ever had from an all-wheat loaf.

2. Whole White – a Speerville original grind which sifts out the bran but leaves in most of the germ (if I understand correctly). In any case, whether it is with this Red Fife or normal hard red wheat, it is a truly delicious grind, and one which Maritimers have been fortunate to have available for decades now. I am pretty sure this is the right picture. My new camera doesn’t zoom in well and often takes wobbly pictures since it refuses to flash or whatever so you can’t see the crumb clearly; but it was slightly shiny and delicious, springy but not as rubbery/resilient has normal hard wheat, but perfectly fine that way. If this is what wheat was like in the old days, and seemingly it was since this strain has not been modified, then I fail to ‘grock’ how modern wheat is a substantive improvement. Flavour-wise, whether the whole grain or the whole white, this Red Fife is more aromatic, softer, deeper, clearly more delicious. It has a soft gluten which feels much like spelt to the touch, but the grain isn’t quite as water soluble, though it feels to me, intuitively, that it is closer to spelt that way and therefore very user-friendly, digestion wise. Certainly it doesn’t have the overly strong gluten structure of modern hybrid varieties.

3. Stone Ground whole. I think this is the right picture.

In sum: this is a truly superior grain making delicious bread. I will soon be mainly switching over to it, albeit I would like to find a more affordable supply of the white flour at some point.

100% Fresh-Ground Rye and Spelt Loaves


This is one of my all-time personal favorite breads. Vollkorn is German and simply means Whole (voll) and Grain (korn), so probably this isn’t a correct title, but that’s what I call it to myself. At the market, since I try to avoid foreign names like focaccio and vollkorn, I call it ” 100% fresh-ground rye” which is simply what it is.

Yes, folks, this is a bona fide 100% rye loaf. It is easy to make. It is delicious and nutritious. All you need is a rye starter and a grain mill. If you don’t have a grain mill, then use organic rye flour and it will still work fine, albeit probably you’ll have to change the hydration level somewhat.

Overview:  the only grain is organic rye, fresh-ground on a medium setting. But also there are sunflower seeds and ground flax, 116g of each. (This recipe is for my standard 8 loaves.) Spices are: coriander, fennel seeds, anise seeds and caraway seeds. These are ground together with the rye grains during the mix.

Process:  To make these 8 loaves, you will need to have already prepared 190g whole rye starter at 100% hydration as described earlier on this blog (50% fresh-ground rye, 50% water). For me usually this means that on the morning of Mix Day I begin to build up the starter from my mother in the fridge, and it is ready by 5-7pm when I mix it in with the dough which has been soaking all day. So here goes:

In the morning grind the rye with the spices and then add in the water and salt and seeds and leave to soak all day. Purists might first soak the flour for 20 minutes or so before adding salt. (I don’t because I have such a long soaking time that I don’t think it matters.) Recently I have added 2 tsp 100% chocolate powder per 8 loaf batch to add an exotic element, but also chocolate dries things out and counteracts the highly moist quality of this loaf.

In the evening mix in the starter.

On the morning of Bake Day, spoon/pour the dough into well-oiled metal loaf pans. In this recipe the amount to use is 778 g, which will result in 685 baked weight which is 1.5 pounds. After 6 hours or so it will have risen considerably and then you bake in a low temp oven which for me is 400-450F, or around 200C. You want a slow bake which penetrates into the dense, moist dough which does not have heat-transmitting large bubble pockets like a wheat loaf, otherwise the crust will become far too hard before the interior is ready. In a convection oven I suspect 350F would be better for the same reason, but since radiant heat penetrates the centre of whatever is being cooked, I can do everything hotter (such as my delicious rosemary garlic sisters – focaccia – at 750F, 400C.)

The loaves in this picture are twice the size – using larger loaf pans – in order to get slices with more height that fit better in modern toasters. But it’s the same stuff and, as usual, not very good photographs. I used to be a very good photographer but have been unable to use digital stuff and am too lazy/busy to figure it all out.This picture shows a 100% fresh ground spelt on the left, and a 100% fresh-ground rye on the white. Come to think of it, I’ll put in the spelt recipe too since they are almost identical.

Crumb Shot:

Again, apologies for the poor photo quality – you can’t really see the crumb.

Spelt Menu Panel:

This is the same basic recipe except two small changes:

1. I up the amount of sunflower and ground flax. The rye was having problems of late so I pared them back.

2. Addition of chia seeds with 4 times their weight in water (which is taken away from the water amount in the main recipe, now showing as 1616g). Chia absorb moisture, and since spelt has a tendency to dry out much faster than wheat or rye, I use the chia as a moisture retainer to help the loaf age more slowly. (Smart, eh?!) Apart from that it’s the same. (Oh – I don’t put caraway in this spelt loaf because some of my customers don’t like caraway so this loaf is an option. Personally I think it is better with.)

3. I use a 100% spelt starter which I maintain just for this loaf, mainly for purists who want a spelt-only loaf. But it works well – spelt makes a great starter – so why not?

General Remarks: the key to this loaf, frankly, is using a loaf pan. Without a loaf pan they would resemble un-lift-offable flying saucers. That way I can have a well hydrated dough meaning that the fermentation process is deep and thorough, which you want with whole grains. Now 100% rye is hard to handle since it doesn’t have the gluten of wheat, but in a pan, a well hydrated dough like this will basically be more like a steamed pudding than what we usually think of as ‘bread’, and bubbles will form in it and rye starch gelatinized when it gets to around 90C just like wheat starch. What you will have is a delicious, easy to digest, 100% whole grain bread. And you might find, just like me, that it quickly becomes by far your favorite bread to eat.

That said, the spelt is also excellent, with a sweeter but also cheesier flavor. I once made a similar 100% Red Fife and it was superlative, truly outstanding. I just don’t have a lot of those kernels yet, also am limited in how much can offer at my very small Farmer’s Market in Sydney. Frankly, I suspect that a Spelt-Rye-Red Fife 100% fresh-ground would hit the spot. Next week I’ll make it, take pictures and add to this post!

Background History: The reason I developed this loaf was because I couldn’t get good results with fresh-ground whole grains. The loaves were just too dense and granular. Perhaps they were healthy, but texture-wise they were too crude as hearth loaves. But when I upped the hydration and put them in pan loaves, a whole new level of flavour emerged, and that was that. Since then I haven’t tried at all to make a 100% rye hearth loaf. I gather some bakers do, and do it well, but it is quite a tricky enterprise and I am so satisfied with the current offering that probably I shall never bother trying to master it.

This history relates to how I am trying to share my recipes which is not so much giving away the flour quantities etc. Lord knows there are zillions of fantastic recipes around. Rather I am trying to show how various recipes are designed for various reasons, some of them organoleptic (!), some technical, being due to the exigencies of a small bakery, or having to fit into the cyclical heat of a brick oven. There are reasons which hopefully I am explaining and in so doing the reader gets a better understanding of the baking process and then has an easier time troubleshooting their own recipes, or developing new ones, but now understanding better what’s involved.


Red Fife marching into Quebec

Last year I enjoyed correspondence with Robert Beachamps, the founder and president of Meunerie Milanaise about Red Fife (as part of an attempt on my part to encourage him to grow more heritage hard red wheat strains), and today received a very kind email informing me that he has not only considered it, but they are already growing 800 tons this year which will be available this fall.

Always amazing when you deal with people who don’t just talk, but act. That’s bona fide private sector commerce for you!

Here is a picture of their Red Fife wheat just growing right now…

Red Fife field in St-Polycarpe Qc

I hope we will be able to try it!

You can Google Red Fife to learn a bit more about it. Here is one page that tells the story fairly well:

The History of our Red Fife Wheat:

Canada’s oldest successfully grown variety of wheat, known as Red Fife, has found a home at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village. Enough of the heritage grain was obtained from two remaining sources, allowing our staff to plant three acres at the Village.

It is named after David Fife, who first grew the wheat in 1842 in southern Ontario, and is known to have originated in what is now Western Ukraine. Wheat has always played a strong role in Ukrainian customs and rituals, and is associated with ancestry, fertility and prosperity. So it was natural that the early Ukrainian pioneers who farmed in Western Canada brought sacks of seed with them to replant familiar crops over here.

But they would refer to this wheat by one of the names used in the Old Country – “Chervona Vusata.”

The wheat had high milling qualities and was known for making exceptional baked goods with extremely white flour. The distinctive plant can grow from three to five feet tall, unheard of among today’s quick-maturing grains. Most varieties of red spring wheat owe their ancestry to this particular grain, including the development of the cross-bred Marquis variety, a true Canadian success story that helped change the world.

However, the original wheat that started it all, “rooted” in Ukraine and transplanted to the New World in Canada, is still Red Fife. We hope that you’ll experience this rare taste of things the way they were meant to be by our ancestors.


Grown and milled at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage VIllage.


(Note in the picture above how tall the wheat is: modern hard red is about half that height so that it doesn’t droop after being fed huge quantities of nitrogen in fertilizer which boosts growth but not corresponding strength, even though they also have unnaturally high gluten/protein levels to facilitate rapid industrial bread-making techniques. Vicious circle. Heritage grains are a way of getting back to natural breads. Rye and Spelt are essentially like this already and are featured prominently in my menu offerings.)


P.S. Robert in his email also warned me that it looks like Canada will allow GM wheat in the next five years. Although disappointed to hear this I am not surprised. NAFTA basically means that American corporations can do whatever they want in Canada one way or another. GM is a way to centralise and control food production to benefit rentier special interests who hold the patents. It is entirely disgraceful, reactionary, a huge step backwards and illustrates how even something essentially good like science can be perverted into something wicked. Of course we are all much too docile and polite in Canada to question our governments, so this development will probably take place with nary a whisper in our highly controlled press.