Whole Wheat Muffins…with a few extra (but really, really beneficial) steps.

Everyone likes homemade muffins and quick breads like pumpkin and zucchini bread…they are tasty, make the house smell great, and we feel like we are creating something special and homey for our families.  My kids love it when I make homemade muffins!  They are great to have on hand as part of a quick breakfast (like a muffin with butter and a hard boiled egg) when you have to run out the door! However, there are a few extra steps in the whole preparation process that I would like to tell you about that are really worth it to incorporate into your loving muffin making routine.  Its not that hard.  I promise!

The Extra Steps…and Why.

We have all heard that whole wheat flour is better for us than the refined, bleached kind of flour. It is true! There are all kinds of crazy nutritious things you get when you consume the whole grain…you get the normal protein and carbohydrates like in white flour, but you also get all the super fiber and minerals from the bran and the crazy important B Vitamins from the germ. However, instead of just picking up a bag of flour in the store to bake with…I like to buy the whole wheat berries (what flour is made from).  While yes, it takes a little more effort to source because they aren’t normally in your basic grocery store, they are not that hard to get.  I have found them in packaged bags or bulk bins of stores like Whole Foods or Sprouts but I normally buy them on Amazon from here.

Grind Your Own Flour…the Reason: Shortly after you grind up your wheat berries…those super nutrients are oxidized and destroyed, and the natural fats in the grain can spoil and become rancid.  I have read that within 40 hours after grinding, 40% of the nutrients could have oxidized and within 72 hours up to 90% are destroyed!  So…the reason is…if I go through all the effort to find and incorporate these healthy whole grains…I want to make sure those beneficial nutrients are still there!  I have a Vitamix Blender with a Dry Grains Container that I use to grind up my flour (in small batches).  There are lots of other types of grain grinders you can use.  In the past, I have also purchased bags of freshly ground flour (and stored in the freezer) from a bakery like The Great Harvest Bread Company which grinds their own flour too!

 

Soak Your Freshly Ground Flour Overnight…the Reason:  The next extra step is to soak your freshly ground flour overnight in a sour, cultured liquid like buttermilk, kefir, yogurt (or water with raw apple cider vinegar if avoiding dairy).  A long, long time ago…people used to do this.  The reason is that most grains naturally contain phytic acid which can combine with important minerals like calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc and block our ability to absorb these minerals.  Why go through all the effort to get freshly ground whole grains if you can’t absorb the nutrients they contain?!  Soaking grains this way gives them a pleasant, slightly sour taste (like sourdough bread) and also encourages the production of beneficial enzymes that actually increase the amount of B Vitamins in the flour.  A double whammy!

Just think of all the super nutrient (minerals, B vitamins, etc.) potential we are missing out on when we don’t freshly grind or soak our grains first! Crazy!

I admit…I’m busy too and can’t do this all the time.  But I do try to grind up and soak a batch of flour each week so I at least have some healthy breakfast muffins to keep in the fridge.  I also do this for Saturday morning pancakes. You can soak things like oats overnight too and pump up the nutrient volume of your morning oatmeal!  Below is the muffin recipe my family likes most.  Enjoy!

 

 

SOAKED WHOLE WHEAT RASPBERRY MUFFINS:

(which is basically the Basic Muffin recipe in Sally Fallon’s “Nourishing Traditions”)

  • 3 cups freshly ground organic whole wheat flour (I ground up whole wheat berries in my Vitamix Blender with their Dry Grains Container)
  • 2 cups plain kefir
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbs melted butter
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 Tbs large grained organic sugar (to sprinkle on top)

Mix the freshly ground flour with the kefir in a large glass or plastic bowl, cover loosely and set out on counter 12 to 24 hours.  Mix in all the rest of the ingredients saving the frozen raspberries until the end. Gently fold in the frozen raspberries (don’t over mix or it will all turn pink!).  Spoon into buttered muffin tins and sprinkle a little sugar on top to make it pretty.  Bake at 325 degrees for about 1 hour.  Cool and serve with a big slab of grass-fed butter! Yum!

The Salad I Make Each Week

So, since starting my Nutritional Therapy course, I have been making an effort to add a more vegetables to my meals…like more varieties.  I have always cooked most of our meals, which consisted mainly of a protein, a vegetable and a starch, or a mixture of the three in something like a soup or stew.  Lately, I have been making a concerted effort to have more than one vegetable at a meal, with a larger variety of colors and also mixing in some raw and fermented vegetables.

One particular vegetable I have learned is especially beneficial to consume on a regular basis – and that happy little veggie is THE BEET.  Are you surprised?!  I know…beets are tricky.  Many people don’t like them, and those that do have likely spent a long time developing a taste for them.  I happen to LOVE beets!  I look forward to them.  Especially steamed until just tender and then mixed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and goat cheese.  I could eat it for desert. YUM!

From my course with the Nutritional Therapy Association, I have learned that beets are especially good for our liver and gall bladder!  Good news!

A little info on liver and gallbladder function (from what I have learned) … the liver and gallbladder are important parts of the digestive process…especially when it comes to digesting fats.  (Your liver is involved in lots and lots of other necessary and important functions too, so keeping it running smoothly is super important!)  With digestion, your liver produces bile, a substance that mixes with the fat we eat and helps to break it down into smaller, more absorbable molecules.  The gallbladder stores this bile and releases it when you eat something containing fat.  The problem is…when it comes to bile, our liver/gallbladder system kind of has a “use it or lose it” philosophy.  We need to regularly eat healthy fats (grass-fed butter, olive oil, ghee, coconut oil, avocado, etc.) to keep this bile producing and flowing and mixing process going.  If we don’t eat the healthy fats, the bile produced by the liver will just sit there and get thick and viscous and filled with toxins that the liver is trying to get rid of.  When it IS needed…it will be sluggish and slow moving from the gallbladder and won’t be available to break down the consumed fats.  A situation like this can make it hard to digest fats (even healthy ones) and greasy foods, the liver gets clogged up…affecting its ability to be effective with all of its other super important functions, causing all kinds of other problems – and can possibly lead to things like burping, reflux, gallbladder attacks and gall stones.

Ok. Back to BEETS….beets have a lot of super anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and contain a special ingredient called BETAINE which can help to support, protect and detoxify your liver. Nice!  Beets have a lot of really useful fiber (helpful for…uh hum…constipation) and are rich in vitamins and minerals like iron, potassium, niacin, copper and vitamin C.  They also contain folic acid, wind, calcium, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus.   Eating beets on a regular basis helps to thin the bile so it doesn’t get clogged up and keeps things moving!  Add a little healthy fat (like the olive oil in this beet salad recipe) which will stimulate the gallbladder to release the bile, and you have a great combo for the liver & gallbladder.  Awesome!

So, long story short…when we get into a sluggish liver or poor fat digestion situation like this (easy to do), eating a little bit of beets combined with a healthy fat… every day is a super simple way to get things going again.  Yay!

Ok. So here is what I like to do.  Make this quick little raw beet and carrot salad (yay! more fiber!) and add a little bit to just about everything.  Seriously.  We even eat it with eggs for breakfast.  I make a big bowl of it, keep it in the fridge, and add a spoonful to each meal.  Nice!

RECIPE:  Raw Beet and Carrot Salad

(adapted from the “Liver Salad” learned at the Nutritional Therapy Association)

  • 2 medium raw, peeled beets and thinly sliced or grated
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced or grated
  • (you could also add some sliced green apple, or jicama, etc.)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbs apple cider vinegar (I like it tangy!)
  • 2-3 Tbs good quality olive oil
  • a little sea salt
  • Mix them all together. Cover. Refrigerate. Add a couple spoonfuls to everything!

ENJOY!