You’ve likely heard the term “gluten-free” a lot in the last few years. For the millions who are allergic to modern hybrid wheat, gluten-free is not a fad, but a godsend.
Whole wheat is a good alternative, right? It could be, but it’s not the same thing. If you have gluten intolerance or celiac disease, you already know the difference. Whole wheat isn’t the answer, since it’s also hybridized.
You may be thinking, “But my grandmother ate wheat all the time. I grew up eating wheat, so what’s the problem?” The wheat we have now isn’t the same wheat our ancestors grew and ate. Modern dwarf wheat is hybridized — cross-bred and altered at the cellular level to grow faster, bigger and stronger. Modern wheat is also frequently sprayed with toxic chemicals, adding to allergy problems.
Enter einkorn, the original ancient grain.
Einkorn is the primitive “ancestor” to the commonly used modern dwarf wheat. The term “einkorn” refers to either the wild grass version (Triticum boeoticum) or the domesticated version (Triticum monococcum.)
Einkorn was one of the first grains planted and harvested by humans, dating back 10,000 years. It’s the “wheat from the Bible,” grown in countries with agriculture until science began hybridizing wheat. The modernization of wheat increases harvest size, resistance to disease and hardiness against weather and pests. Modernization has been successful, but there have been consequences. Cases of gluten intolerance and other ills from modern dwarf wheat have skyrocketed, with no other obvious explanation. Einkorn’s 14 chromosomes to modern wheat’s 42 chromosomes increases the gluten content exponentially, making it harder to digest.
Einkorn is not entirely gluten-free, but is considerably lower in gluten than our modern hybridized wheat. It contains a different type of gluten, and many gluten-sensitive people can consume it without a reaction. Einkorn has the highest amount of protein of all currently available grains, boasting 15 percent less starch and 30 percent more protein than modern wheat.
Most commercial breads contain bromides as well as added starch for lighter, fluffier bread. These two substances can cause increased digestive issues. The blood sugar “spike” that occurs after eating commercial wheat (including whole wheat) is absent in foods with einkorn. Einkorn is also more nutritious than whole wheat, and tastes better.
In 2009, Carla discovered that her daughter had wheat allergies, and she went looking for answers. She found einkorn in Italy and began growing and using it. Her daughter’s health quickly improved, and she immediately began research and development.
Carla, with her husband Rodolfo, founded the company Jovial Foods, and even wrote a cookbook (Einkorn: Recipes For Nature’s Original Wheat.) Today, einkorn is available as bagged flour or berries, which can be ground into a flour as needed for baking or other uses.
Einkorn can’t replace regular wheat flour on a cup-for-cup with einkorn. Jovial Foods’ website offers tips for using it.
If you’re interested in trying einkorn, then have a small amount of something made with it before digging into three or four slices of homemade einkorn bread. There’s no guarantee you won’t have an allergic reaction, so be cautious. (Einkorn isn’t safe for people with celiac disease.) A quick search online, or on Pinterest, will give you hundreds of einkorn recipes for breads, pancakes, rolls, cookies, pizza dough and even a chocolate cake.
If you’ve given up wheat but miss your favorite things, consider trying einkorn. Better breads, pizzas, muffins, cakes and other treats could be on your table again soon.
Have you ever eaten einkorn? Share your tips in the section below: