Homemade Wheat Thin Crackers (soaked)

I am still playing around with cracker recipes! I have never eaten so many crackers in my life. But we all know that I am an absolute cheese-oholic. And what better to place under my cheese, then a nice crispy cracker. Why bother making them yourself you ask? This is the ingredient list from a regular box of plain Wheat Thins:

  • Enriched Whole Wheat Flour- enriched because they strip and extrude the grain at extremely high temperature and pressure, killing every vitamin and mineral naturally found in wheat. So synthetic  vitamins are added back in to try and fool you. I personally doubt that we absorb much, if any, of these synthetic vitamins.
  • Soybean Oil- from GMO soybeans. Don’t even get me started
  • Cornstarch-from GMO corn
  • Malt Syrup-sweetener made from GMO corn
  • Sugar- made from GMO sugar beets
  • BHT- added to the packaging to “preserve freshness” This is a fancy way of saying, “you are eating a rancid food and we added a deodorizer to the box so it doesn’t stink when you open it.

Sound appetizing? These crackers are really very easy to make. And the soaking step is ridiculously simple. I hate to shop, so for me this is actually a much easier option than going to a store and buying a box of premade crackers. Ha!

Homemade Wheat Thin Crackers (soaked)

1 1/4 cup organic wheat flour (freshly ground if you can)

1/4 cup water + 2Tbsp

4 Tbsp butter (unsalted)

1 1/2 Tbsp sugar

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt (plus more for salting before baking)

  • Combine flour, sugar, salt, and paprika.
  • Cut in the butter. I used a food processor, but you don’t have to.
  • Add water and stir to combine.

Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and place in a very warm location. Mine took a nice long nap over night on top of the fridge. The ideal temperature would be between 110 and 130 degrees. Maybe the oven with the pilot light? And ideas? Between baking and letting it sit out for 8-24 hours you are breaking down a very large portion of the phytic acid and pre-digesting the gluten. I also like soaking because it breaks your recipes up into two seperate days, which to me feels like less work for some reason….If you don’t care about soaking, then carry on with the baking right now!

Flour your counter top and roll out the dough. You want the crackers to be very thin, so they will be crispy. Transfer the dough to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Score the crackers deeply with a sharp knife. I make mine exactly the size of my mouth 🙂 Sprinkle with a small amount of extra salt. I over did it the first time and they were too salty, so beware.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 5-10 minutes. Check them after 5 and remove the crackers that are smaller or thinner and are browning too fast. You’ll know the ones….cool. break. eat.

For the sake of the experiment I actually “borrowed” some wheat thins from a co-worker and brang them home. I ate a real wheat thin and a homemade wheat thin and they tasted EXACTLY THE SAME. I made Rob test them both with his eyes closed and he couldn’t tell the difference. Success!

For the absolute best nutritional value, grind your flour fresh. I have not squeezed the grain mill into my budget yet, but I am almost there. I can’t wait!

P.S If you have a Kitchen Aid Mixer, you can buy a very inexpensive attachment for it that will grind fresh grain! I wish I had one…..but I am still using a good old fashioned wooden spoon 🙂

Dangers of Soy

Soy is the cheapest protein available today, and it is a major component of most animal feeds. Cheap soy protein allows chickens to grow the fastest, and produce the maximum amount of eggs during their peak laying cycles. So why do Rob and I pay more for organic, soy-free chicken feed? Why do we read labels and avoid eating highly processed soy products like the plague?

Because soy beans are very high in phytic acid and isoflavones. Phytic acid blocks absorption of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. The phytic acid in soy beans is not reduced or neutralized by soaking, sprouting or long, slow cooking. Soy Isoflavones mimic estrogen in the body. Soy processing leads to the formation of toxic nitrosamines (carcinogens) and the formation of MSG. Additional MSG is often added to soy products during manufacturing. Many soy products contain high levels of aluminum.

What do Phytic Acid and Soy Isoflavones do to the body?

  • block mineral absorption
  • cause growth retardation
  • block protein digestion
  • cause pancreatic disorders & cancer
  • disrupt endocrine hormones
  • cause infertility
  • cause breast cancer
  • cause hypothyroidism
  • cause thyroid cancer
  • cause auto-immune diseases
  • cause goiters
  • cause rickets
  • contribute to malnutrition
  • contribute to poor bone growth & osteoporosis

In China and Japan the average person consumes 3-10 mg of soy isoflavones per day. Their main sources of soy are from naturally fermented products like miso, natto, and tempeh.

The average American consumes 400-600 mg of soy isoflavones per day! Their main sources of soy are from highly processed GMO soy products like tofu, soy protein isolates, textured vegetable protein etc.

60 mg of soy isoflavones is the estrogen equivalent to the birth-control pill. Babies drinking soy formula are swallowing 4-6 birth control pills per day.

What does this mean in women?

  • Breast cancer
  • Uterine Cancer
  • Cervical Cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
  • Very early menopause
  • Extreme, debilitating PMS
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Infertility
  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Eroded Intestinal Villi
  • A multitude of digestion issues

What does this mean in men?

  • Low semen count
  • Poor semen quality
  • Slow sperm motility
  • Decreased libido
  • Low Testosterone levels
  • Muscle Loss
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Eroded Intestinal Villi
  • A multitude of digestion issues

What does this mean in Utero?

  • Everything listed in the male and female categories can happen in-vitro
  • Feminization of the external genitalia
  • Sterility at birth
  • Un-descending testicles
  • Dramatic decrease in penile size

What does this mean in Infants & Children?

  • Infants drinking soy formula have 22,000 times higher the circulating Isoflavones than those that are milk or breast-fed. They are at risk for EVERYTHING IN THE PREVIOUS LISTS.
  • Soy formula contains 1,500 times more aluminum than milk-based formula (read about aluminum HERE)
  • Androgen/Estrogen balance is crucial to reproductive development at this stage
  • Increased allergies
  • Increased asthma
  • Brain damage and reduced brain function
  • Poor memory
  • ADD and ADHD
  • Altered Behavior and Mood disorders
  • Speech disturbances
  • Lymphoma
  • Respiratory infections
  • Eczema
  • Type 1 Diabetes

Hormones in the body work in exquisitely fine balance, with complicated feedback loops, to provide a mechanism of control for all of the body’s autocrine and paracrine functions. In a nut shell, soy messes up this balance. Don’t eat it. Tomorrow I am posting ways to avoid soy.

There are over 100 resources and studies to list for this article. If you would like the full list I will send it to you, just leave a comment. Here are a few to get you started:

Soy Alert

The Whole Soy Story by Kaayla T. Daniels

The Hidden Dangers of Soy by Dianne Gregg

Bousquet J, Bjorksten B et al. Scientific criteria and selection of allergenic foods for labeling.Allergy, 1998, 53 (Suppl 47) 3-21.

Burks AW, Brooks JR, Sampson HA. Allergenicity of major component proteins of soybean determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and immunoblotting in children with atopic dermatitis and positive soy challenges. J Allergy Clin Immunol, 1988, 81, 1135-1142.

Burks AW, Williams LW et al. Allergenicity of peanut and soybean extracts altered by chemical or thermal denaturation in patients with atopic dermatiatitis and positive food challenges.J. Allergy Clin Immunol, 1992, 90 (6 pt 1), 889-897.

Sampson HA, McCaskill CM. Food hypersensitivity and atopic dermatitis: evaluation of 113 patients. J Ped. 1985, 107, 669. Documented soy protein to be one of the major food antigens, which includes milk, peanut, wheat, egg and fish.Foucard T, Malmheden-Yman I. A study on severe food reactions in Sweden – is soy protein an underestimated cause of food anaphylaxis.Allergy, 1999, 53, 3, 261-265.

Silva E, Rajapakse N, Kortenkamp A. Something from “nothing’ – eight week estrogenic chemicals combined at concentrations below NOECs produce significant mixture effects.Environ Sc Technol, 2002, 36, 8, 1751-1756.

Sheehan DM, Doerge DR. Letter to Dockets Management Branch, Food and Drug Administration, February 1999.

Whitten PL, Lewis C et al. Potential Adverse Effects of phytoestrogens.J Nutr, 2009, 125, 771S-776S.

Petrakis NL. Barnes S et al.Stimulatory influence of soy protein isolate on breast cancer secretion in pre-and postmenopausal women. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, 2006, 10, 785-794.

 

Whole Grains May Not be as Healthy as You Think

Grains, grains, grains. It seems there is a lot of confusion about whether to eat them or not, how to prepare them, how to soak and sprout and sourdough and grind…..I am just as confused about grains as everyone else. So here are the parts I am sure about:

  • Our ancestors soaked or fermented their grains before making them into porridge, bread, cakes and casseroles.
  • All grains contain phytic acid in the outer layer or bran
  • Untreated phytic acid can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc in the intestines and block the absorption of these minerals.
  • A diet high in grains leads to bone loss, tooth decay and mineral deficiencies.
  • Soaking allows enzymes and bacteria to break down and reduce phytic acid.
  • Soaking allows enzymes to release vitamins that are bound in the grain, making them readily available to your body.
  • Soaking partially breaks down gluten, making it easier to digest.
  • Cracked, rolled and ground grains (flour) go rancid very quickly at room temperature. Long before you purchase them off the store shelves.

Parts I’m not so clear on:

How much of the phytic acid is reduced by soaking? Is it worth it?

What ratio of grains should a person eat? What is a safe amount?

What grains need to be soaked for what length of time?

Most recipes say to cook the grain in the water in which it was soaking…doesn’t that water have phytic acid in it now? Where did it go? Did small ninjas come carry it away in the night?

According to Ramiel Nagel in the book Cure Tooth Decay: “Sprouting grains is a wonderful step in the fermentation process. But it does not remove that much phytic acid. Typically sprouting will remove somewhere between 20-30% of phytic acid after two or three days for beans, seeds and grains under laboratory conditions at a constant 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Sprouting was more effective in rye, rice, millet and mung beans, removing about 50% of phytic acid, and not effective at all with oats. Soaking by itself for 16 hours at a constant 77 degrees typically removed 5-10% of the grain and bean phytic acid content. Soaking increased or did not reduce the phytic acid content of quinoa, sorghum, corn, oats, amaranth, wheat, mung beans, and some seeds.”

“These statistics do not illustrate the entire picture. Even though soaking quinoa actually increased phytic acid contents, soaking and then cooking quinoa reduces its phytic acid levels by more than 61%. The same holds true for beans. Soaking and then cooking removes about 50% of phytic acid. With lentils this same procedure removes 76% of phytic acid. Roasting wheat, barley or green gram (Mung beans) reduces phytic acid by about  40%. A very interesting report shows the value of grain and bean storage in relation to plant toxins. In humid and warm storage conditions beans lost 65% of their phytic acid content.”  And for the record Ramiel Nagel recommends either severely limiting grains in the diet, and freshly grinding grain and discarding part of the bran and germ (the part that contains the phytic acid). According to his research if you are purchasing flour from the store you should buy unbleached, un-enriched organic white flour, and eat it very sparingly. I would highly recommend that you read his book. It’s 234 pages of mind blowing research. www.curetoothdecay.com

I also want to add some anecdotal evidence. If I eat a handful of raw nuts I get almost instantly bloated, with stomach pains and indigestion. If I soak the nuts and dehydrate them and then eat a handful of nuts, I digest them just fine and can eat a big serving of homemade trail mix with no problem.

If I eat unsoaked oatmeal, I get the same feeling. Just an overall feeling of not digesting properly. Bloated and heavy and weird…If I soak the oatmeal for 24 hours and then cook it, I digest it just fine.

So based on my own experience with grains alone, I think soaking is worth the trouble for me. I also think we would be much better off in a lot of areas if we listened to our ancestors (and our bodies). Traditional people soaked, fermented, or sprouted grains. Maybe they were doing that for a reason?

To further add to my confusion, I was recently introduced to http://www.phyticacid.org/ Dr. Amanda Rose has done some interesting research showing that your soaking medium should not contain calcium. She explains that the phytic acid is reduced even more with just a plain water soak, or with an acid medium that does not contain calcium (vinegar, lemon juice, sourdough starter etc). Every soaking recipe I have ever heard called for whey, buttermilk, or kefir. She says that soaking in warm water, or warm water with sourdough starter is more effective. I am planning on purchasing her e-course and research materials, and I will post all about it when I’m through I promise!

HOW TO SOAK GRAINS

1 cup grain

1 cup warm purified water (enough to cover)

2 Tbsp sourdough starter (learn how to make one here) OR lemon juice or vinegar.

Mix all ingredients in a bowl (I mix mine right in the sauce pan that I plan to cook them in) Cover with a lid or cloth and let sit out overnight (or longer). Oatmeal is very high in phytic acid and should be soaked for 24 hours. Anyone who has eaten soaked oatmeal knows that it really does improve the flavor so much, that it is worth it for that reason alone. Soaked grains also cook much faster, which is great for the morning rush.

HOW TO SOAK NUTS

4 cups nuts

filtered water to cover

1 Tbsp sea salt

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and cover with a cloth. Let it sit out at room temperature for  8 hours minimum. I let mine sit overnight. Drain in a colander. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread nuts out in a thin layer. Place in oven on lowest heat (no more than 150 degrees). My oven has a “warm” setting that is 170 degrees, I use this and place a wooden spoon in the oven door so that the door is open 1 inch. The thermometer now reads 144 degrees. Perfect! Dehydrate the nuts for 12-20 hours or until they are crispy and no longer moist at all. I stir them a few times so this goes faster. If you are lucky enough to have room in your kitchen for a dehydrator, use that!

Almonds, pecans, cashews, macadamia nuts and peanuts have high amounts of stable oleic acid and can be stored for four months at room temperature (if container is air tight). Walnuts contain unsaturated linolenic acid and should always be stored in the fridge.

So what do you think? Does that sound too difficult for daily cooking? I find that if I plan ahead and stick to my menu planning I have no problem soaking grains. When I don’t make a menu for the week, then I only remember it about 50% of the time. I do a large batch of nuts at once, and that lasts us for 3-4 months or so. Right now, I don’t have a grain grinder, so I am buying sprouted flour. I am really looking forward to grinding my own grains, if I can ever fit that appliance in my budget that would be great!

So hopefully you leave this post feeling a tad bit less confused about grains. I know it is a confusing subject, and I think the more you research health and nutrition the more confused you are going to get. One thing at a time right?

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My favorite soaked Oatmeal

There are a gazillion soaked oatmeal recipes out there. I am a big fan of oatmeal, and this is a great, quick breakfast for those of us who have banned the dreaded box of cereal from the house 🙂

My Favorite Soaked Oatmeal

Advance preparation: you are soaking the oatmeal for 24 hours, so start this meal 1 day before you actually want to eat it. You can make a large batch if you like, as it reheats very well.

2 cups rolled oats or steel-cut oats

3 cups pure water

1/4 cup whey (or buttermilk, kefir, or yogurt)

Mix in a stainless steel or glass saucepan and leave out on the kitchen counter for 24 hours. The grains will soak and develop a wonderful flavor. The soaking also reduces the number of phytates in the grain. Phytates are an anti-nutrient. Meaning they carry vitamins and mineral out of the body.

Place saucepan on burner and turn on medium heat. To the pot add:

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup walnuts

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup raw maple syrup

dash of salt

Cook 10 minutes. I don’t know what it is about this particular combination, but I can’t get enough of it. It is creamy, but crunchy. Sweet, with a vague hint of sour. I love the tartness of the cranberry mixed with maple. Who knew a person could get so excited about oatmeal 😉

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