Homemade Garlic Butter Croutons

Salad season is a lot of fun for me this year. I am having a blast coming up with all sorts of salad dressing and fun creations. But what is a salad without a crunchy, salty, buttery crouton? I had Rob time me, and these took exactly 3 minutes and 4 seconds to prepare, and 9 minutes to bake in the oven. Now, that’s what I call fast food! (and a great use for stale bread).

Homemade Garlic Butter Croutons

1 Tbsp Butter

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

2 Cloves garlic, crushed

salt and pepper

Dash of basil, thyme or parsley for color (totally optional)

4 slices bread, cubed

Preheat the oven to 425. Heat butter, olive oil and garlic in a skillet. Cube some stale bread (I used whole wheat sourdough, but whatever you have around will work) and throw it in the pan. Toss the bread around and stir to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread onto a cookie sheet and bake for 9-10 minutes. Let them cool completely and store in an airtight container. They will keep for 2-3 months.

 

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?

Related article

How I remineralized my tooth cavity without dentistry

My favorite soaked oatmeal recipe

Make your own Wild Yeast Sourdough Starter

Characteristics of Traditional Diets

Sourdough Deep Dish Pizza

 

Sourdough Deep Dish Pizza

makes two 12″ pizzas

1 cup pure water (no chlorine)

1/3 cup sourdough starter

4 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp sugar

1 Tbsp olive oil

Mix all ingredients and knead 10 minutes until dough is no longer sticky. Cover with plastic and let rest 4-7 hours, or overnight.

Punch dough down, and divide in two. You can tightly wrap one of the balls with plastic and place in freezer for later use if you like. Roll dough out so it will fit in your 12″ cast iron skillet. Place 1/4 inch of olive oil in the skillet and place dough on top. Cover and let rest in a warm place for 1-2 hours.

While dough is rising make your sauce

Pizza Sauce

1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce

1 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp marjoram

1/2 tsp basil

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

Combine and let sit for 1-2 hours for flavors to develop.

Top each pizza with 1 cup sauce, 1 cup mozzarella cheese and your choice of toppings. Rob and I love ground sausage and mushrooms on ours.

Bake in 475 degree oven for 20-22 minutes. Crust will turn golden brown and crispy around the edges. Enjoy!

I make a double batch and freeze three balls of dough for future pizzas. The night before you want to bake a pizza, place dough in fridge. Roll out and let rise 2 hours before dinner. Easy!

Featured on Real Food Wednesdays & Our Simple Farm

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Overnight Sourdough Bread

I have made this bread many times and it is almost impossible to screw up. No kneading is required and it uses only 4 ingredients, you can’t go wrong there.

Overnight No Knead Sourdough Bread

3 1/2 cups bread flour

1 1/2 tsp sea salt

1 1/2 cup pure water (no chlorine)

1/4 cup your homemade sourdough starter

1 round cast iron dutch oven with a lid. Like this:

Mix all ingredients in a bowl or food processor. Cover with plastic wrap overnight. 12-18 hours. Dough should be very wet and sticky.

The next day prepare  your dutch oven. Generously coat with butter, then sprinkle bottom and sides with cornmeal (or other coarse grain). Form dough into a ball and place in pan. Cover and let rise 1-2 hours, or until double in size.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees

Bake with lid for 30 minutes.

Reduce heat to 450 degrees and remove lid from pan

Bake without lid for additional 15 minutes

This bread is mildly sour, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. The most beautiful part is the almost zero hands on time. This is the perfect additional to a bowl of soup!

If you need additional help, check out the tutorial videos at Cultures for Health, my very favorite company for help with any and all fermenting questions 🙂

Wild Yeast Sourdough Starter

I have read many complicated recipes and methods for creating a sourdough starter over the years. In my mind I keep going back to the question I ask myself often. “What would they do a hundred years ago?” Well I’m going to tell you!

Wild Yeast Sourdough Starter

1 cup organic rye flour

1 cup purified water

Mix together and place in an open container. I use a 1 quart canning jar, but anything will do as long as it is plastic, glass or ceramic. Wild Yeasts do not like metals much.

Leave this jar sitting in a nice warm place. I put mine on top of the fridge, but I’ve heard of people keeping them on the water heater, in the oven with the light on, and on top of the DVD player. As long as you are in the 70 degree range you will be fine.

Now every day you are going to take the jar and add:

1/2 cup organic rye flour

1/2 cup purified water

As the jar sits there wild yeasts from the air land in the jar and start to grow in that nice warm environment, eating away at the gluten in the flour. At the end of 5-7 days you will start to see bubbles forming and it will start to smell yeasty. Now you are ready to bake!

By the time it is properly fermented you are going to have a large amount of starter to work with. If you are just starting your sourdough adventure, that is a good thing. You and your starter will be doing a lot of experimenting together so its good to have extra. Also, don’t forget to name your starter. It is a living organism, and loves being part of the family.

Starter Maintenance

I personally bake only on the weekends, usually starting on Friday night. So I leave my starter (his name is Rufus) napping in the fridge all week, on Thursday I take him out of the fridge and feed him some flour and water and instead of a lid I cover him with a coffee filter. He gets very excited when he sits on top of the fridge and gets all bubbly and full of life. By the time I’m ready to make up a batch of dough on Friday night he is ready to go! After I’m finished baking I feed him once more, and put a tight lid on him and put him back in the fridge to sleep.

Your starter should be fed once a week, whether you are baking or not. Here is your simple routine:

1. remove from fridge

2. feed water and flour

3. leave out  4-8 hours

4. cap tightly put in fridge.

 It sounds a little daunting and difficult, I know. But trust me, this couldn’t be easier. Now you have a fresh, healthy starter to use in any kind of baking. I use mine in any recipe that calls for yeast, baking, powder, or baking soda. I will post all the sourdough recipes that I use in the future.

Please, if you have any questions leave a comment and I’ll be happy to help.

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