Reducing and Preparing Grains {So We Can Keep Enjoying Them}

Grains have gotten a bad rap in recent years. They’re blamed for everything from our belly fat to allergies, and many people have ditched them entirely. I’m all for avoiding foods our bodies don’t agree with, and I personally go on a grain-free diet one month each year just to give my digestive system a break and a boost, but I believe that if we’re preparing grains properly and eating them in moderation, we can benefit from having them in our diet. 

{Note:If you are currently allergic to grains, I highly recommend looking into the GAPS diet. This diet focuses on healing bone broths and enzyme-rich cultured foods to heal a digestive track sensitive to grains. It also addresses many other conditions such as neurological disorders, milk intolerance, and seasonal allergies.}

Two Steps to Enjoying and Properly Preparing Grains

Step One: Moderation

We eat way too many grains these days, people! They are cheap, self-stable, and convenient in their packaged form so we default to them for way too many snacks and main dishes. To avoid building an intolerance to grains and to continue to enjoy them without the associated weight gain and health problems, we must learn to:

  • plan meals around veggies and protein instead of grain
  • skip grain as a side dish–your meal can be complete and delicious without the rolls or garlic bread!
  • choose one meal a day or one day a week to go ‘grain free’ and build your repitiore of recipes that don’t rely on grain
  • enjoy delicious desserts are naturally grain free–fruits, crustless cheesecakes, and, of course, ice cream!

Step Two: Preparation

For thousands of years, from primitive people groups to gourmet bakers in Europe, grains have been soaked, sprouted, or fermented before baking. Only in the last century has this slower, more nutritional approach to grain preparation been abandoned in favor of convenience and profit margin.Proper grain prep can be found in the three S’s:

  • Sprouting involves soaking the grain in water before it is ground, allowing it to start the germination process. Suddenly the grain’s nutritional content sky-rockets, and it becomes easier to digest! After sprouting the grain is dried and then ground into flour.
  • Soaking can be done after a grain is already ground. A pre-dough is made with the flour and some acidic liquid such as kefir, yogurt, buttermilk, or even lemon juice. This is left at room temperature for about 8 hours, then the rest of the ingredients are added and the baking process continued as normal. This reduces difficult to digest elements of the grain, and also produces a lighter, whole grain loaf.
  • Sourdough is the traditional method of preparing grains that also uses natural yeast as leavening. It’s probably the trickiest technique of the three S’s, but well worth mastering for the variety of delicious breads and snacks you can make (<–click to see 10 things I learned to make with sourdough this year!)

Soaking and Sprouting: Not Just For Grains!

Any food that is a seed–from beans and nuts to all types of grains–benefits from soaking or sprouting. If the whole idea of preparing seeds properly confuses or overwhelms you, check out this handy infographic created by the talented DaNelle of Weed’em and Reap. Print this and put it inside your kitchen cupboard for easy reference!



 Resources for learning to soak and sprout:

My friend, Jessica, is on the journey of learning to prepare her grains properly, and she wrote me the other day–

over 60 delicious family-friendly real food recipes with tips for fitting real food into your busy day!

“So, for the last month or two, I’ve been on a search for the best soaked wheat bread recipe. A couple weeks ago, I tried yours…and the search is over! Both [my husband] and I were MAJORLY impressed with the texture and how well it holds up to being sliced thin (he really doesn’t like the massive bread slices that usually have to happen with homemade wheat bread so the slices don’t crumble to bits). We all liked it so much we went through twice as much bread in a week as we normally do! Anyway…between the bread, tortillas and pizza crust, you are definitely becoming my go-to for grain products and so I even ended up buying a print version of your book for easier reference!  Thanks for making such a great cookbook!”

Grab your copy of Real {Fast} Food to take the next steps on your real food journey! (Available as a PDF instant download, for your Kindle or Nook, or as a beautiful, full-color paperback!)

a month of simple steps to make progress on your real food journey

Do you soak, sprout, or sour your dough? When’s the last time you had a grain-free meal? Do you feel your grain intake is in balance, or needs some tweaking? 

We’re two weeks into the Your Real Food Journey series–if you’re feeling a tad overwhelmed, you are going to LOVE tomorrow’s post–we’re gonna talk about how candy bars can reduce stress on the real food journey. Yes, I’m serious. 😉


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