A GUEST POST FROM MY SISTER & A STORY ABOUT ALIVE BREAD
Today I’m passing the saha space over to someone else that truly, inherently understands what ‘saha’ means. She is my sister – Graziella. She is also (like everyone in my family!) passionate about real, whole, healthy food. And she doesn’t believe in cutting corners. She is brutally honest and no fuss. This is why I love her.
I have embarked on a new way of eating and preparing foods. I’m calling it my Alive Food Movement and it happens in my 1 x 2 metre kitchen. It covers the staples in my families diet. Yoghurt and Bread.
For lunch: Potato, rice, quinoa or some sort of salad with creamy savoury yoghurt on the side with whatever protein we’re eating that day.
Dinner: lamb stew with savoury yoghurt and chutney. Soup with a dollop of savoury yoghurt and drizzle of olive oil. And of course anything that gets marinated usually gets yoghurt in the marinade too.
I make my own yoghurt as does my mother, my sisters my aunts and all the women in our family going back through time – it can’t be counted. Not because there isn’t an equivalent, (supermarkets are full of natural yoghurt brands) but for the ultimate creaminess you get in homemade strained yoghurt. It’s creamier than cream, and it’s cheaper. Also you can always add sweetness, either in the process or afterwards so it’s perfect for all yoghurt needs.
So despite all this wonderful yoghurt packed with good bacteria my family were eating I an my daugher were constantly bloated. She was so puffy and malnourished which totally defied the sheer quantity of food she consumes – the joke in our family is that my two year old eats like a man. (It’s true! Her favourite word is yummy and she can pack away more than a grown man. She amazes! – CO)
Instinctly, I knew who the culprit was; it was that ever tempting fluffy white or brown loaf of love. Bread love. Oh, I love bread. I love it like some people love cake.
Of course denial can last years. But it was getting to the point where bread and I either went our seperate ways – a divorce of the gluten variety – or I made it work. I chose to make it work. Here is what I learned.
First I thought gluten was my problem…isn’t gluten intolerance the candida of the 80’s? So I got into spelt flour (lower gluten profile) and made bread with that. No help.
I tried unleavened breads, quick breads, chickpea, rice and buckwheat breads. My gracious partner wondered why I was in a dizzying haze of flour all day long and why our toddler became frightened of the oven (and sometimes what it produced). This was serious – I was trying to solve a health problem. Small improvements were made, but not enough. Until I remembered I never felt bloated on sourdough bread! (Ding, ding! – CO)
Sourdough, my friends, is the equivalent to whole, organic, unpasteurised milk (raw!) that has the two proteins to help you digest it as well as the enzyme lactase. Sourdough uses natural yeast available in the flour and your home (oh yeah) to create a bubbly beer like good bacteria that breaks down the stuff in grains that turns our guts into fermentation chambers, which keeps us gassed out and farting. And of course sourdough is the way bread used to be made, until for the sake of the mighty dollar and progress we ruined our own food.
I studied. I researched. I workshopped. And…I learned the most shocking truths. Eating regular wholegrain bread is worse for you in the long term than eating that wonderful fluffy white stuff they pump full of preservatives. The fluffy white crap makes you fat and the fancy wholemeal stuff actually depletes your system of calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron! How? Phytates. Phytates, Phtytates.
Phytic acid has a strong binding affinity to important minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. When a mineral binds to phytic acid, it becomes insoluble, precipitates and will be non-absorbable in the intestines. This process can therefore contribute to mineral deficiencies in people whose diets rely on these foods for their mineral intake.
So in plain English: Phytic Acid makes grains difficult to digest and can prevent you from absorbing essential minerals. They actually help your body to get rid of them.
Think about how often do we eat whole wheat bread and other whole grains thinking they are good for us? It’s not what we eat it’s what we assimilate – to paraphrase my Naturopath Elyane Brightlight.
So the moral of the story is this: Bread leavened with bakers yeast (most bread) does nothing to help break down the phytic acid in grains. Consume sourdough or make your own bread. It’s expensive to buy the proper stuff (beware of cheap imitations use flavorings or vinegar but still use bakers yeast) but it’s easy to make after a bit of time getting a sourdough “starter” going.
After two months of intensive experiments I can now make a delicious crusty sourdough bread of the easy no-knead variety and a family friendly whole meal sourdough sandwich loaf that stays fresh for days. Here are a couple of recipes and techniques to anyone who wants to bypass two months of living in a floury haze and waking at 2am to “check on my starter”.
This is basically the recipe I used except in the first mix I added 2 tablespoons of my own natural (unsweetened yoghurt) to get it going. You can use a good store bought one If you like or leave it out. (We like Jalna!)
This recipe really needs a week to get going properly before your bread will rise really well. Get the best quality rye flour you can find. Rye makes the best and quickest sourdough starters. You can still make white bread or any flour mix using it, just add a tablespoon of honey or agave to the dough if you don’t like the rye flavour. My breads have a very faint hint of rye taste to them that is subtle yet quite nice.
After a week just pop it into the fridge and only feed it after you use it each time using a cup of rye flour and filtered water (or tap water left to sit out for a while to remove the chlorine)
This is the most fool-proof sourdough recipe I have ever found. It comes out just like a loaf from an artisan baker and is delicious! Use the rye starter. It works every time.