Wheat (and other grains) is the basis for any home storage system and is of course very nutritious. It contains high amounts of protein, calcium, niacin, riboflavin and thiamin. When it is sprouted, it also contains vitamins A and C in increased amounts. Not all wheat is the same however. Even the hard red or white wheat comes in different qualities and packaging. A good price does not always guarantee a good product. You also have to add in the cost of packaging. Wheat in buckets or cans will cost you more, but will store better in the long run. Try the Hard White wheat as an alternative to the hard red. If it is packaged and stored well, its shelf life and nutritional value is the same as the hard red wheat. We like it better as it is lighter in color and milder in flavor.
Consider these other reasons for using wheat in your diet now as opposed to white flour:
Whole Wheat vs. White Flour
The process of making white flour reduces the nutritional value of wheat by as much as 85%. (A more detailed explanation of this process can be found in Making the Best of Basics by James Talmage Stevens) More than 50 years ago the Food and Drug Administration knew there was no nutritive value left in the processed white flour, so a law was passed that assured all white flour would be enriched with three vitamin B’s and iron.
Flour is made from wheat berries. The wheat berry is made up of the bran, the germ and the endosperm. All parts are filled with nutrients and are used in whole wheat flour.
White bread on the other hand, uses only the endosperm – the starchy inner layer. There are a lot of nutrients missing in white bread.
Switching to whole-wheat may seem overwhelming. Try a little bit at a time. You could try using some whole-wheat flour in white flour recipes your family already likes. Eventually you’ll be able to increase the amount until you are using whole-wheat flour ½ and ½ or exclusively. It may be easiest to begin with one meal a day. Take breakfast for example. Cracked wheat mush can be a hard sell for breakfast everyday. But almost everyone likes whole-wheat waffles, pancakes and muffins. In about an hour and a half, you can prepare a number of delicious whole-wheat breakfasts for quick convenient use later. Here are three breakfast ideas to get you started.
Fix a large batch of batter that can double as waffles and pancakes, cook the waffles and freeze for quick reheating in the toaster later. Then make pancake “batter bags” for quick, no-mess pancake breakfasts later. Batter bags are made by pouring 5-6 cups of pancake batter into labeled quart-sized freezer bags (this is enough for about 4 people). Push out as much air as you can, seal, and freeze flat on a cookie sheet. When you’re ready to cook the pancakes, thaw the batter bags in a sink of hot water or in the microwave on defrost. Open the bag and check the consistency, adding more flour or liquid if necessary. Then seal the bag again and clip a small corner off the bottom. You can now “pipe” the batter onto a hot grill for delicious, hot, whole-wheat pancakes.
Multiply your favorite basic muffin recipe by four or five (use Whole Wheat), and then prepare variations as desired. Cook the muffins, freeze, and microwave for easy 1-minute microwave breakfasts and snacks.
Mix up a quick batch of delicious Wheat Blender Pancakes.
Make your own whole wheat bread. I use Tanya’s Whole Wheat Bread recipe.
Check the Wheat category on this site for more recipes.
Wheat can also be used to make wheat berries (cooked whole wheat kernels) or cracked wheat that can be eaten alone or used as a meat replacement or enhancer. To make using wheat berries convenient, cook a big batch all at once, and then freeze so you have the wheat on hand when you need it. The easiest way to cook a batch is to use the crock-pot; put the wheat and water in before you go to bed (one cup dry wheat plus 3 cups water yields 2 cups of cooked wheat berries—for a big batch, try 3 C wheat plus 9 C water) set it on low, and it’ll be ready in the morning. Drain and freeze small amounts (try 1 or 2 cups) in freezer bags. Then whenever you cook with hamburger, pop a bag of wheat berries in the microwave, thaw, and stir the wheat into whatever you’re making. It can also be used as a substitute for rice, or use half and half. Try sending them through the food processor or blender. You can blend them until they are oatmeal consistency (I tricked my kids this way), or just to the cracked wheat stage. I’ve used them in sloppy joes and my family couldn’t tell. Try toasting them with seasoning and using them in place of croutons. You can’t tell the difference in taste, but you can in cost (a cup of wheat berries costs only a few cents) and in fat (the wheat berries are virtually fat-free).
To use whole wheat in your favorite cake recipe, substitute approximately one-fourth of the amount of flour given in the recipe with cornstarch and use whole-wheat flour for the other three-fourths. This will give the cake a finer texture and help it keep its delicate lightness. To eliminate course texture in a cake, be sure that it has been thoroughly beaten together. Most cakes require that the batter be beaten about 300 complete strokes by hand or about 2 minutes with mixer. Try adding ¼ – 1/3 C. instant pudding to make your baked goods moist.
To make the best use of your wheat you need to have a wheat grinder. It doesn’t have to be expensive or even electric. A hand grinder will work fine in times of need. If you use your wheat regularly, the investment of a grinder will pay for itself very quickly. Keep in mind that the finer you can grind your wheat will, in part, determine your success in substituting whole wheat flour in your in baked goods. Another point to remember is that whole-wheat flour looses nutrients the longer it is exposed to the air. A grinder allows you to grind only the amount you need to use each time.
There are of course baked items that are simply better with white flour. Just try to keep those to a minimum and focus on getting more whole grains into your diet.