Over the last several years, as I’ve read more about whole, real foods, I’ve repeatedly and increasingly come across information about the dangers of grains (see some links at the end for additional reading). The more I read, the more I’m convinced that grains are dangerous to some people more than others, that whole grains are better than refined, and, like most anything besides vegetables, grains should be eaten in moderation. Weston Price and others are proponents of soaking grains, like many traditional cultures did (and do). I try to soak grains when it makes sense. I don’t soak or sprout our flour, but we eat much less bread than we used to so I figure it evens out a bit.  This is a great post summarizing loads of research into the subject if you’re interested.

I don’t always soak grains and legumes, but I try to when I think/plan ahead. I fall in the “I’ll do it when I have time” camp on this subject. I think the science says that it’s generally better, but we’re 1) not eating as many grains and 2) already eating whole, organic grains much of the time, so I’m not going to stress about it too much. Grant and Jasper, however, do eat cereal every morning for breakfast. Grant is a creature of habit, and I just can’t get him to kick his morning cereal habit. He can also eat the same thing for breakfast 365 days a year and not get sick of it, a characteristic that I envy since I get bored of things after about the fourth day. Jasper seems to be following in his footsteps on this one. They eat Ezekiel’s sprouted cereals (and have for four+ years – what is it with these boys?!), so I feel better about their starting off the day with grains, but that stuff is pricey. We buy it in bulk, so that helps a bit. I’ve started subbing in some soaked granola. This tastes great just with milk or over yogurt too. Grant and Jasper usually add some dried cranberries or raisins and some local honey too. It’s super easy to make, but it does take a lot of hands-off time so make a big batch to make it worth your while.

soaked granola

Soaked granola
Adapted from Nourishing Home 

Ingredients

For soaking:

6 cups organic rolled oats (traditional or thick-cut, not instant or quick cook)
2 cups organic rolled rye flakes (I’ve also made this with all oats if you can’t find rye flakes)
1 cup coconut oil, melted
1 can (14oz) canned coconut milk
2 cups water
4 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar (like Bragg’s)

After soaking:

1 1/2 cup raw honey*
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

Directions

Place coconut oil in a small sauce pan and heat until melted. Pour into a large mixing bowl and add coconut milk, water and vinegar; whisk to combine. Add oats and rye flakes and thoroughly combine. Cover the bowl and place it in a warm area of your kitchen for 24-48 hours. (I usually just put it in the oven as long as I don’t need to use it for a day or so). After soaking time is completed, preheat oven to 200° F. Whisk together honey, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla, and pour mixture over the soaked oats. Pour the honey mixture over the soaked oats. Using large rubber spatula, combine the honey and oat mixtures, until thoroughly combined. Spread the mixture out over two parchment paper-lined, rimmed-baking sheets. Bake for about 4-6 hours, depending on how crunchy you want it. The original recipe calls for you to bake it for eight hours and to turn the granola every two hours, but I don’t typically do that. I maybe remember to turn it once or twice, and we don’t like ours super crunchy, so I usually bake it for about five hours. Then turn off oven and allow to sit in warm oven overnight until completely cooled. The longer you bake it, the more “solid” it is in the sense that it comes out almost like a solid bar, which you then have to break apart in order to use in cereal. I typically don’t let it go that long so that it stays a little looser. But if I do let it go longer, I make “granola bars,” which we like to use as snacks around here. You can obviously add all sorts of things to the finished product – nuts, seeds, flax, dried fruits, coconut. Be adventurous!

*You can also replace the honey with half honey and half local maple syrup – so tasty!

[Below are some links to reading I’ve done on the dangers of grains. I really started reading more after hearing a few talks from Dr. Logan, a local practitioner whose opinions I really respect. My caveat is that, while I think today’s grains are probably unhealthy, I still really like eating grains. As I mentioned above, I try to eat them in moderation and eat only organic, whole grains as much as possible, but I still eat them! I will also caution that people on both ends of the spectrum on this issue get really passionate about their opinions, so research for yourself and make your own judgments.]

Why grains are unhealthy – Mark’s Daily Apple
The awful truth about eating grains – Dr. Mercola
How grains are killing you slowly – Wellness Mama
Grain manifesto – Whole9
What really makes us fat – Gary Taubes in the NYT
Nutrition Science Initiative

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