Gluten free eating is “popular” these days, although I hesitate using that P word because some people who are truly gluten intolerant (think, Celiac Disease) get offended, and understandably so. But gluten-free is popular in the sense that a lot of people who don’t have Celiac Disease are opting for the gluten free route — which isn’t necessarily an easy or inexpensive one — when maybe things don’t have to be so hard.
In our family, we ourselves do not operate best when we eat contemporary wheat, and given that we live in the midst of wheat country, we’re not surprised. Wheat is sprayed — a lot — and when the crop is harvested and the land is bare, the soil is pretty dead looking.
But even organic wheat wasn’t necessarily our answer, and after reading William Davis’ Wheat Belly, which discusses how contemporary wheat has been adjusted and hybridized and tinkered with over the last 50 years so that it’s not quite the same thing our grandparents ate, we decided to explore ancient grains — Kamut®, Einkorn, Emmer, Spelt — and see if we felt, literally, any different.
(By the way, Davis’ solution is to eliminate grains altogether, something we didn’t want to do, in the same way we didn’t want to buy small, expensive packages of gluten-free flours and adjust our entire way of thinking and baking. We hit upon using ancient grains as a happy alternative.)
Kamut®, an ancient relative of modern day wheat, is becoming increasingly available, although it’s still a specialty product. You can get it, as you can get pretty much anything with a price tag on it, through Amazon, but we order through Azure Standard, an organic food cooperative based in Dufur, OR.
Even though Kamut® is wheat, it doesn’t act the same as your all purpose, bleached product from the grocery store, 1) because it’s a whole grain, and no whole grain is a fluffy, light, and airy as bleached white flour, and 2) because it produces a denser, drier product. So, there’s a bit of adjustment — both in how you use the wheat and what you expect to eat as a result of it, but we’ve been happy with the results.
This link will take you to my recipe for Kamut® rolls — chewy, complex, buttery bits of happy, healthy eating. They’re not necessarily fast — there’s a lot of time mixing, beating, and kneading — but such time is well spent in thinking, a process a lot of us don’t have a lot of time for these days, because we’re always worried about getting things done quickly so that we can . . . what? Watch a TV show? Send out another e-mail? Text?
On your next day off, when you want to try something new and you’re willing to spend quality time with a lump of dough, give these rolls a try. If you’ve baked before, you’ll be intrigued by the flavor and textural complexity; if you’ve never baked before, then you’ve just made your first yeast project — congratulations! Baking bread is a timeless, ancient activity, and when you use ancient wheat, you connect with the past on a whole new level.
This article was originally published in ThoughtfulWomen.org.