Thursday, November 27, 2014

Whole Wheat

Remember Rosie Schwartz? She's a Canadian nutritionist and author of The Enlightened Eater, a book we purchased 30 years or so ago and which has had a prominent place on my cookbook shelf ever since. We were so taken with Rosie's information and common sense that we attended an author presentation when she came to the school just around the corner from where we were living at the time.

Rosie Schwartz Enlightened Eater

It looks like the book has probably been updated and reissued a few times since it was first published.

Now, many years later, Rosie has a blog, and is still informing us about nutritional issues. The blog offers up tips and tricks, nutrition news and book reviews. There are recipes to try and questions answered.

One of the recent questions that came via Rosie's Facebook Page concerned the difference between whole grain and whole wheat. I have always thought that if I was using whole wheat flour in a recipe that I was also getting whole grain, but that is incorrect. Only certain brands of whole wheat flour are also whole grain.

Here's what Rosie says:

 In Canada, outdated legislation allows for up to 70 per cent of the germ to be removed and the product can still be called whole wheat.

A whole grain contains the entire kernel of the grain which includes three parts – the outer bran, the endosperm and the inner germ. So if you thought that whole wheat should mean the entire kernel of a wheat grain, you would be wrong if you’re Canadian.

Health Canada thinks that if you’re looking for whole grain wheat, you should look for “whole grain whole wheat”.  It seems redundant to me. Would you agree?

As a result, if you purchase whole wheat flour – if it’s a Canadian brand, with a few exceptions,  it’s likely not whole grain. It’s still offering you more in the way of nutritional value than all-purpose but whole grain is the best.

Rosie offers a list of Canadian whole wheat flours with a note as to whether they are whole grain or not. As you can imagine, the brands we usually buy, e.g. Robin Hood, are not whole grain. The only brand I recognized that is whole grain is Bob's Red Mill, a US brand.

Organic Whole Wheat Flour

Here's a link to her blog post about Whole Grain . While you're visiting there, have a look around. I think you'll find her blog very informative. And if you have a nutritional question that's been nagging you for awhile, visit her Facebook page.

Rosie isn't much impressed by the arguments for being gluten-free (Wheat Belly and Grain Brain are two books she mentions) but she does point out that our generation is eating much more gluten than previous generations, thanks to the prevalent use of wheat (largely hidden, but check the ingredient list) in processed foods, which are so popular and quick. I think that limiting our intake of processed foods and of baking in general, whether gluten-free or not, just makes sense. And if we are going to eat something made of wheat, we should make sure it's the most nutritious baked good we can find, not just whole wheat, but whole grain to maximize its goodness.We are what we eat!