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THE HEALTHY SPELT GRAIN
MAKES A COMEBACK

Spelt makes a comeback. The best new grain has a long history. Sometimes the original ideas are still the best. The wheel hasn't changed much in thousands of years, and tasty and nutritious spelt, one of the first grains to be grown by early farmers as long ago as 5,000 BC., is finding renewed popularity with American consumers.

Spelt's "nutty" flavor has long been popular in Europe, but it's not just good taste that has caught the attention of consumers on this side of the Atlantic. The grain is naturally high in fiber, and contain significantly more protein than wheat. Spelt is also higher in B complex vitamins, and both simple and complex carbohydrates. Another important benefit is that some gluten-sensitive people have been able to include spelt-based foods in their diets.

What brought the decline in production of spelt in North America is now thought of as a benefit. Spelt has a tough hull, or husk, that makes it more difficult to process than modern wheat varieties. However, the husk, separated just before milling, not only protects the kernel, but helps retain nutrients and maintain freshness. Modern wheat has changed dramatically over the decades as it has been bred to be easier to grow and harvest, to increase yield, and to have a high gluten content for the production of high-volume commercial baked goods. Unlike wheat, spelt has retained many of its original traits and remains highly nutritious and full of flavor. Also, unlike other grains, spelt's husk protects it from pollutants and insects and usually allows growers to avoid using pesticides.

Since its reintroduction to the market in 1987 by Purity Foods Inc., spelt has become a top-selling product in the organic and health food markets. Flour made from the versatile grain can be substituted for wheat flour in breads, pasta, cookies, crackers, cakes, muffins, pancakes and waffles.

Written by: J.T. Hoagland


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