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Our Love Affair with Wheat!

4 June 2013 - by Fiona

We love wheat in our family. In fact, I started baking bread when I was 20 years old. More than 30 years of baking bread.

The kind lady who started me on this lifelong passion, handed me her favourite recipe on a piece of paper. At the same time, she handed over a couple of her best tips for dealing with yeast.  And the rest is history. All manner of breads came pouring forth from various kitchens over the years!   Stollen’s, spicy fruit rolls, Onion kluchens, crumpets, pizzas, rosemary flowerpot breads, Polish rye breads, French baguettes, olive filled fagousse, all-white for people who detested whole wheat, even croissants for one particular family event. I  taught bread making classes to adults and children, and turned up at fundraising events with baskets of fresh, hot homemade bread! But our mainstay was whole wheat bread, kept interesting with handfuls of different flours and seeds, and raisin bread for our weekly seventh day Sabbath. Strangely enough, I didn’t actually eat much bread myself, I just LOVED the entire process of baking bread!

For many years I baked two to three loaves a day of organic whole wheat bread. We had four hungry children at that time and a fifth on the way. For a number of those years I bought organic whole wheat grain, ground just before making the bread, so the oils in the flour wouldn’t have time to turn rancid. We dabbled in sourdough also (pictured right), but the children didn’t like the flavour.

All these years of bread were not without their challenges though. Lethargy after eating bread seemed to be reduced by switching to organic wheat flour. Mysterious rashes were tracked down to a certain type of yeast. We changed yeasts to the simplest we could find, and then set about reducing the yeast by one quarter of a teaspoon at a time until we hit the least amount of yeast to rise three loaves of bread at a time. And we never ate bread fresh and warm from the oven. Years before, early in my bread making adventures, an elderly Glaswegian chappie had told me that in “the old country” hot bread was known to upset the stomach. We aimed for just one meal a day where wheat was eaten, opting for non-wheat complex carbohydrates at other meals.

We knew about celiac disease, and we knew some people in the family had reactions when they ate wheat. “Not us,” we thought. “We can eat wheat.”

Beautiful Brown Bread - and Ill Health?

You can see where this is heading! Some years ago, we began to suspect wheat could be having a negative effect on at least some of us. By this time we had moved from New Zealand to the Highlands of Scotland and back to New Zealand again! To cut a long story short, most of our bread making efforts over the past three years have been of the gluten free variety, yeast free or yeasted. For one of us, grain free seems to be the healthiest right now! Now grain free, believe me, is an emotional and intellectual challenge! I thank God every day for the wonderful women bloggers who share their secrets with the world.

Being told that better health is to be gained by cutting out beautiful brown bread is hard to hear, hard to listen to and even harder to accept. We're talking a grief process here! Especially when you have spent years baking bread daily, and believing you are giving your family the healthiest bread available. I was shattered and rebellious and initially in denial. The advice I had been given must be wrong! After all, wheat is a healthy whole grain. Bread is the “staff of life,” high in fibre and B-vitamins and all sorts of other goodies.

After huffing and puffing inside my head about the horrors of a life without wheat, I prayed, I really earnestly prayed.  And you know what? Blessings arrived! We have learned so much about ourselves, about our spiritual connection to God through our minds, about different bodies requiring different foods at different ages and different seasons of the year.  I continue to pray about our food choices, and the food I put in front of my family every day!

"Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers." 3 John 2

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Posted: Tue 04 Jun 2013