Even when we aren’t on an elimination diet, we limit our grains. Grains are hard for many people to digest, and contain phytic acid* – an anti-nutrient that inhibits absorption of many vitamins and minerals. We also notice that when we eat grain-heavy meals, we crave sugar (and more grains!) since that is what the body breaks carbs down into.
Please read, we are NOT completely grain free. I don’t even advocate that we should be. I don’t think we know enough about our bodies and our food to confidently eliminate an entire food group. God gave us grains, we’ve eaten them in various forms for thousands of years (though some would say that the first men & women did not), and even Jesus ate them.
At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. Matthew 12:1
I do, however, think that the average person consumes far too many of them, and most importantly, I feel better on a low-grain diet. I know I’m not the only one, so I thought I’d share with you some tips for making it work. This is copied, almost verbatim, from an email I mailed to a good friend of mine who just went grain-free:
When I’m trying to pull together a grain free meal and don’t have a recipe to try, I think through one of these three types of meals:
Egg quiche/frittata/custard – you’ll be able to find a recipe for one of these with any ingredients you have on hand. Here are mine & some faves:
-Pumpkin (or other sweet squash) Custard
Soups – Easy to make any of them grain free. Use a blender to make just about any soup creamy if you want a satisfying change of texture. Some faves:
Tomato, White Bean, Bacon Soup (our absolute fave)
Curried Cauliflower Soup
Snacks – Pairing things like hummus & veggies, sliced fruit, cheese, and grain free crackers (like these) makes a pretty plate. You can also think relish tray – deviled eggs, olives, celery w/peanut butter, etc.
Breakfast – I find bfast the easiest meal of the day to make grain free dishes for, so sometimes we eat breakfast for dinner! Eggs & bacon/sausage, omelets, almond pancakes, smoothies, yogurt & fruit, etc. Recipes:
Overnight Almond Pancakes
Carrot Cake Smoothie
Breakfast Egg “Muffins”
Banana Avocado Smoothie
Meat + Veggie – Steak & asparagus, fish & broccoli, chicken & spinach, etc. etc. Potatoes or sweet potatoes make a great additional side on occasion.
Salads – Every day!! I used to think I didn’t like salad. I think that was because 1) I don’t like most salad dressings, and 2) because I thought I needed to eat a raw spinach salad to be “really healthy,” but found that raw spinach messed with my digestion. Now I know that this is because well, it’s hard to digest! Oxalic acid in spinach also prevents absorption of the nutrients in spinach, but is broken down by cooking. Amaranth also messes with me and is high in Oxalic Acid. (Don’t skip spinach! Just cook it if raw bothers you!!) Anyhow, I love salad now and dress it with just olive oil and a bit of vinegar! I’ll share salad tips soon, Lord willing!
*I like almond flour the best as a flour substitute, it’s easy to find recipes that make you forget you’re not eating grain. Don’t overdo it though! It’s easy to find yourself baking more than necessary when you find a flour substitute that works!
*Coconut flour is tricky to use, don’t be discouraged if you don’t get the hang of it when/if you try it.
*If a recipe calls for bread crumbs or a crust, I just leave it out, or occasionally substitute coconut flour.
You aren’t going crazy if you noticed that there is a crust on that quiche and breadcrumbs on the baked squash. Both of those photos were taken before we went low-grains, but I regularly make those dishes without grain.
I will soon be posting more grain free recipes as I’ve been stockpiling them for when I have time to blog. That hasn’t happened to frequently these days, obviously. :) Leave me a comment and let me know if you are cutting back your grains these days, and what your favorite recipes are!
BONUS: Take a look at our favorite grain-free pizza crusts!
*If you are really (and I mean *really*) interested in the science (at least what we know of it) behind phytic acid and methods of minimizing your consumption of it (soaking, sprouting, etc.), check out the series that Katie at Kitchen Stewardship did recently.