The Scoop on Grains: Spelt

It’s been awhile since my last “Scoop on Grains” post. Last time, we talked about kamut, an ancient grain that makes a great alternative to ordinary wheat. This time, we’ll talk about another ancient grain, spelt.

Spelt has been around since biblical times (check out Exodus 9:32, Isaiah 28:25, and Ezekiel 4:9). It was very prominent in early medieval Europe and is still used abundantly there, especially in Switzerland, Germany, and Austria. It was initially brought to the United States by Swiss immigrants, and was used primarily as horse feed until the early part of the twentieth century! A food production company finally began producing it for human consumption after receiving demands from European immigrants.

Unlike ordinary wheat, spelt tolerates poorly drained, low fertility soils and thrives without chemical intervention or fertilizer. It requires a minimum of care, isn’t susceptible to typical grain diseases, and outproduces oats and wheat in most soil, making it a desirable crop.

Many people who suffer from wheat intolerances and allergies are able to eat spelt just fine. It’s higher in protein, fat, and fiber than ordinary wheat…in fact, it can fulfill human daily protein requirements! It’s also high in B vitamins, potassium, and iron; and it’s ratio of complex to simple carbohydrates avoids causing blood sugar spikes and drops, making it ideal for diabetics and hypoglycemics.

Spelt is also highly bioavailable. Unlike wheat, where the vital nutrients are found in the outer hull and wheat germ bud, spelt’s nutritional value lies in the inner kernel of the grain. Some theorize that this is why those who have trouble with wheat and gluten can tolerate spelt (which does contain gluten!): it’s so easily digested that it doesn’t irritate the intestinal villi. There are multiple other health claims about spelt, from it’s benefits for indigestion and nausea to preventing cancer.

I use spelt in rotation with kamut and wheat for my bread and other baked goods. It has a pleasant, nutty flavor and adds a nutritional punch to anything! As I’ve mentioned before, I think using a variety of grains lessens the chance of becoming sensitized to any particular one, plus each one has unique nutritional benefits! I use spelt alone or in combination with other grains in nearly any recipe that calls for flour. Some of my favorites with spelt have been:

If you’ve used spelt, what has it worked well in for you?
I’ll be sharing more about other lesser-known whole grains in the future. In the meantime, don’t miss the rest of the series:
Grains of Truth, Using Whole Grains the Easy Way

You may also want to check out the book  Grains of Truth, Using Whole Grains the Easy Way by Donna Spann for a wealth of information about all types of grains. It’s one of the main sources I’ve used for this series of posts. 

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