December 6, 2012

Care of Amy Symington

What the Spelt?! For those agricultural scientists at home, spelt is classified as a Triticum Spelta species and comes from the Poaceae family. In layman’s terms, spelt is a cereal grain from the grass family. It is a delicious and healthy alternative to more widely used grains or flours. Recognizable by its nutty taste, while the exact origin of this lesser known grain is unknown, most accounts suggest it was first found somewhere in Europe or the Middle East.
Why the Spelt? Spelt is becoming more and more popular in North America, particularly with organic farmers as spelt requires far fewer fertilizers to grow adequately. Spelt is rich in protein, B vitamins, fibre and manganese. It is also a reliable source of iron, niacin, and phosphorous. Due to its richness in fibre, vitamins and minerals, spelt (like most whole grains) can be used in the prevention of Canada’s top diseases – Cancer, Heart disease and Diabetes – if consumed on a regular basis.
On top of potentially saving lives, spelt is also easier to digest than regular wheat because of its low gluten content.  It does however contain a small amount of gluten, so is therefore unsuitable to consume for those with Celiac’s disease. On the positive side, in some cases, because of its low gluten content, those with slight intolerances or allergies to gluten are able to tolerate and digest spelt with ease! For a diet based on 2000 calories per day, a single cup of cooked spelt contains 21% protein, 30% dietary fibre and 106% manganese of one’s daily recommended requirements. Talk about packing a potent punch.
Where’s the Spelt? Used in lieu of white flour as well as whole wheat flour, spelt flour is just as versatile as its cousins  It is more than suitable for pasta making, bread baking, pizza crusts, nutritional bars, hearty granola, muffins galore, cakes, pancakes, pies, cookies, croissants, and whole grain crackers – the list can and does go on. Note: One thing to keep in mind, when baking in particular, is that spelt flour is more water soluble in comparison to wheat flour.  This means you will need less liquid to get that dough of yours to the perfect consistency.
In addition to flour, spelt is also available in its hulled, whole grain form, referred to as spelt berries, which is often prepared and relished like rice. Consequently, this leads to another lengthy list of breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert options. Oh spelt! Oh spelt!

Filed under: Eat Veg elifelines Food of the Month Nutrition