Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Why do we use Buckwheat in our breads

When we started baking gluten-free breads nearly 4 years ago, they were made from potato, Sorghum and rice. In our efforts to make the breads wholesome we have tinkered with the ingredients over the years, which have changed a lot since then. Regular consumers of our breads will have noticed that some ingredients are a part of every bread that we bake and one such ingredient is Buckwheat.

Buckwheat is something that we introduced last of the many ingredients that we use in our breads and this is its story. ‘To use or not to use’ buckwheat is something we deliberated quite a bit and this is why; The first reason was because protein in Buckwheat inhibits starch gelatinisation and since our breads rely on gelatinisation for structure, we had to be extremely careful while baking our breads and this would make baking very tricky. A bad idea when baking large batches of bread.

The second reason was the cost- A kilogram of organic buckwheat flour costs upwards of 240 Rupees in the retail market, this would make the breads prohibitively expensive; something that is always a concern for us. We however felt that if we directly source the buckwheat from farmers and manage most of the ‘farm to fork’ chain ourselves, we could make the costs workable.

We know people want to eat healthy food and once people realise the wholesomeness buckwheat provides, they would understand why were are so gung-ho on it. We after all we want the best for all those who consumed our breads.

Buckwheat is a minor crop, grown in many parts of the world and in India it is largely cultivated in the Himalayas and sporadically in the Nilgiri hills. Changing agricultural and consumer patters are ensuring that buckwheat cultivation is dwindling in India.

Although called buckwheat- it has no relation whatsoever to wheat and biologically it is even classified as a fruit (we call it a pseudo-grain). Buckwheat has no gluten, and can be consumed by Celiac’s and even those following Paelo diets.

Once dried buckwheat grains are black in colour and are called un-hulled buckwheat. The black coating is removed in a process called hulling and it looks greenish in colour after that. It is now called Buckwheat goats and most flours are made from these groats.

We however use un-hulled buckwheat and stay true to our whole grain concept, it also ensures everyone who consumes our breads get a fiber and flavonoid rich diet.

So now that we know a bit about Buckwheat- you may ask- what’s so great about it ?
Therapeutic effects of Buckwheat: Over 80 prescriptions utilizing buckwheat have been described in traditional Chinese medicine. Studies have shown that food made from buckwheat have positive effect in reducing cholesterol, blood lipid, blood sugar, urinary sugar, and other indices. (Source 1) The therapeutic effects are attributed to the unique proteins, resistant starch, dietary fibers as well as Vitamins, minerals, flavonoids and phytosterols in buckwheat.
The flavonoids and phytosterols from Buckwheat have been found to be effective in reducing blood cholesterol, keeping capillaries and arteries strong and flexible, improving micro circulation and protecting the blood vessels from rupturing and forming clots. These flavonoids also demonstrate anti-oxidant, anti-microbal and inti-inflammatory activities.  The phytosterols are also understudy for their anti-tumor activities. (Source 2)
Although controversial as of now- fagopyrins from buckwheat is found to be an effective component for treatment of type-2 diabetes.

Protein and Amino Acids:
Buckwheat not only has a high level of protein but also a good quality of nutritional balance of proteins. Buckwheat is one of the best sources of high biological value (BV) protein in the plant kingdom.  The BV of buckwheat protein is 93, compared to 100 for egg, 68 for soya and 63 for wheat protein. Amino acid composition of Buckwheat protein is nutritionally well balanced and is rich in essential types (eg. Lysine and arginine).(Source 2)

Buckwheat contains about 10% crude fiber 30% of which is soluble dietary fiber. Buckwheat fiber is free of phytic acid.

Buckwheat is a treasure trove of minerals , especially Mg, Se, Fe, K, Ca, Cu, Mn and Zn. Analysis show that buckwheat flour contains Mg (13 times), Sr (5-36 times) Fe (4 times) that of wheat.

Buckwheat has high levels of Vitamin B1,  B2 , E and B3 (in the form of nicotinic acid)

Several flavonoids are found in Buckwheat, some of them are rutin, quercetin, kaempferol, orientin/isoorientin and vitexin/isovitexin. Rutin is the most important among these and is found only in buckwheat among cereals. Other than being an anti-oxidant, Rutin is also shows anti-inflammatory activity. All these flavonoids are present in the hull of the grain and hence we like to use un-hulled buckwheat.

Although benefits of Buckwheat are briefly stated here, they have many more healthy properties, which we have left out because research is still on them. Meanwhile, buckwheat grows in poor soils and requires very little water to cultivate, something that we has humankind need to lookout for in the food that we eat.

1. Statistical data from 187 samples of clinical observations by Beijing Grain Science Research Institute, Beijing. Lin RF, Zhou MD, Tao YR, Li JY, and Zhang ZW (eds.) (1992) Proceedings of the 5th International Symposium on Buckwheat, 20–26 August, Taiyuan, China. Beijing: Agricultural Publishing House; Corke H and Lin RF (eds.) (1998) Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Asian Food Product Development – Focus on Specialty Grains and Grain Products, 6–10 September, Taiyuan, China. Beijing and New York: Science Press.

2. Encyclopedia of food grains 2nd Edition (2016)- 4 Volume Set. 1st Volume Page 311-312
2. Encyclopedia of Food Sciences and Nutrition - 2nd Edition 2003 (10 Volume Set) Page 692.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Our Secret Ingredient

Over the years we have seen many food makers and bakers not being honest with all the ingredients that go into their food. They call it 'secret mix' or would just call it condiments, spices or any such generic term. This is just like pharmaceutical companies stating 'excipients' in their packaging without mentioning what they are.
There could be various reasons for it, but we at 'House of Grains' believe that such a practice is wrong and immoral. Every person who consumes a product has all the right to know what they are eating. They could be allergic to that item and may not even realise what made them ill when they consumed it.
Since the day we started making out products, we have always been honest and transparent on what goes into our product. Every product of ours, will mention every ingredient we use and all our secret ingredients are written at the back of every package.
We believe that people should eat healthy, know what they eat and feel good about it.

P.S. The above breads have the following ingredients: Yellow Sorghum, Rice, Yellow Pea, Un-hulled Buckwheat, Sunflower seeds, Sesame seeds, Chia seeds, Flax seeds, Sunflower oil, Salt, Yeast & Water.  All ingredients, except for Sesame seeds are organically grown.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Walnuts- Date rolls and Guava Cheese

It is Christmas season and if you are looking for some gifting ideas (either to yourself or for a loved one) we have made a basket full of them,
The packets with golden ribbon  have Gluten free 'Date and Walnut Roll' and the Silver ones have Guava cheese. Both are made from traditional family recipes and do not have any artificial colours or preservatives.
The Guava Cheese which in Goa are called 'Perad' are naturally coloured with beetroot.
They are available at 'People Tree' at 6 Assagao. - Goa

Friday, 25 November 2016

When it comes to nutrition, banana stands right there; up on the top. We had two banana bunches simultaneously ripening this week and Aarina baked a delicious and healthy banana bread loaf. Made of organic home ground flours like all our other breads, this one though had the special touch of our home grown bananas too. So what is the best accompaniment with it ? - I could be had just like that- although a sinful spread of butter after toasting makes it even more scrumptious.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

3 new flavours on my plate

Aarina experimented with three new breads this week. Breads that can be had without accompaniments. I enjoyed the flavours, but we felt the breads need a bit of working upon for the texture.
The dark one is a locavore bead encompassing three of Goa's quintessential products. Ragi / finger millet (locally called nachni), Cashew nuts and Coconut palm jaggery.
The second one was some thing I would like to call the 'germ of life'- made from flax seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame and chia seeds, I loved the way the seeds crunched at every bite.
The third one was a banana, coconut bread- another bead that has the potential to be a locavore. Moira bananas and Benaulim Coconuts, Goa has its moments.
Hoping to enrich your palette soon. 

Sunday, 13 November 2016

The 5 flavours

What a Sunday- we had orders for five different flavours. Every bread has its own quirks and baking them in pairs requires quite a lot of planning- Aarina did a great job with that.
The five flavours we baked were
Honey Coconut n Banana gluten free bread
Dry fruit Gluten free bread
Herbs and Cheeese gluten free bread
Multi grain gluten free bread
Herbs gluten free bread.
A few that we will be making soon are Cinnamon and Raisin bread- a favorite of mine and a Cheese and Spice bread. 

Friday, 28 October 2016

Honey, coconut and banana gluten free bread.

Goa's local Moira bananas and freshly grated Benaulim coconut along with some local honey flavour this amazing Gluten free bread, made of whole organic flours.
Made from home ground organic grains, this is one bread that does not require any accompaniment.
Pickup a slice a eat and it's truly delicious.
A toothsome and healthy breakfast awaits us tomorrow.

Herb and Cheese bread

A complete breakfast bread- Herb, cheese and whole organic flours. Our breakfast today was this gluten free bundle of nutrition. Whole Sorghum, Pea flour, un-hulled buckwheat and rice flavoured by six herbs (Basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano,fenugreek and sage) and cheese. Every bite was a mouthful of flavour.
The cheese on top is reminiscent of snow on roof top.  

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Nutritionally, a complete bread

Aarina has constantly been innovating and improving the Gluten free bread that she bakes. Today's bake was one such lovely innovation and I could not help but post a few photographs of it. Made of four whole organic flours (Buckwheat, Sorghum, Rice and Pea flour), which we ground at home and garnished with five herbs (Basil, Thyme, Oregano, fenugreek leaves, and sage), cheese and cashew nuts, I felt it was nutritionally a complete package. Now who would think a bread would do that.
Also, despite the lack of gums or egg white, the bread has got a nice spring and texture - hats off to the baker.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Gluten and Hypothyroidism

 When reading something completely unrelated, I came across a research paper that indicated an increased possibility of gluten causing Thyroid disease (Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s disease) . A bit more of inquisitive search, led to me to four more research reports ( link to the abstracts at the bottom, which has a further link to the complete report, if interested ) that indicated the same.

In recent times, many medical practitioners are recommending their patients with thyroid disease to test themselves for Celiac disease. After all one never knows, if found positive, its better to live on a gluten free diet, than spend your life consuming medicines. Now the question arises what has gluten to do with thyroid.

The thyroid gland is a small hormone-secreting gland located in the front of the neck just above the breastbone (sternum). The thyroid helps regulate a great many different processes in the body. If the thyroid is under-functioning the condition is called hypothyroidism. According to research, the structure of gliadin, a component of gluten, is very similar to thyroid cells. When people are intolerant to gluten their immune system tags gluten molecules for destruction and in the ensuring melee thyroid cells get destroyed too, a case of mistaken identity. The more gluten you eat, the more antibodies you will make and the more the thyroid will be attacked!

Although one does not need to get off gluten in a panic or make a drastic life altering dietary change, it is always prudent to be aware that other than Thyroid disease (Hyper and  hypothyroidism) a higher percentage of population with the following diseases have been found to be gluten intolerant (in other words gluten can act as a trigger for these illnesses in some people).
Just listing a few, where the research was available, although the list seemed quite long.
Type 1 diabetes, Arthritis,  Addison’s disease, Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative colitis, lupus,  ADD (attention deficit disorder) or ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), Autism, Depression, Anemia, Osteoporosis, Osteopenia (low bone mineral density), Epilepsy and cerebral calcifications
Brain and spinal cord defects (in newborns born to mothers with celiac disease who are eating gluten)
Neurological problems, such as ataxia, neuropathy, tingling, seizures, and optic myopathy. There were quite some more, but perhaps more research is required into them.
Meanwhile increasingly many health care personnel are asking their patients with the above illness to check themselves for gluten sensitivity (or celiac disease). In many cases people themselves are staying off gluten to see if it helps them. In any case who would not like to have their unpleasant symptoms disappear without medication.  

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Pearl Millet Flatbread

When we stopped gluten in our diet and changed over to alternate grains, one of the first grain we chose was Pearl Millet (commonly known in India as Bajra, Bajri and many other names). After Rice and wheat, pearl millet is probably the most consumed grain in India (Wheat and rice constitute 70% of the grains that humanity consumes on earth) and we quickly incorporated it in our diet. But we soon realised that it was quite a challenge to handle this millet. The flour was sticky and messed up our kitchen and we soon gave up on it. There were more kinder grains to choose from and so we forgot about this millet for a few years.
After months of practice handling other grains. we felt we could give this millet another chance. The millet after all is very tasty, and has a very cheesy flavour. It tastes like cheese on a pizza, and is quite addictive.
Well, so here it goes, we got our hands on some organic Pearl millet, made flour from it, and Aarina managed to make some tasty flat-breads, that could be eaten without any accompaniment when hot.
I guess we finally have another grain in our ever increasing grain family.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

How Hard Can It Get?

When we decided to go off gluten in our diet- we thought to ourselves how hard could it be. After all India is blessed with a plethora of grains and millet and substituting one would not be so hard.
The first obstacle came, when we realised that it was near impossible to locally find flour that was not processed in a mill that did not process wheat or barley. So we then went ahead a purchased a small four mill and decided to make our own flours. This had an added advantage of ensuring all processing would be free from any chemical treatments.
This however was not the end of our woes, speaking to farmers we also realised that many millet and grains in India are grown close to fields that also grow wheat. This meant, cross contamination of grains was a real possibility. So to prevent wheat entering our food, we started to sieve all our grains before we milled them. This measure, may sound too far fetched; but it was not. Our fears came true yesterday, when we found four wheat grains the pearl millet (Bajra) that we were preparing to mill!
There you can see it in the photograph above. Fortunately, wheat germ is quite large compared to all other grains that we use, other than rice, which we physically check for any contaminants.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Navrathan Flatbread - Gluten free

We finally managed to get what we have been trying for quite a long time: To connect with farmers, who grow organic grains and use it in our breads. After a lot of searching we finally connected with some of them, and managed to finally get our hands on some wholesome grains. To celebrate our little victory, Aarina and I, roasted these flatbreads and we named them "Navrathan flatbreads". Navrathan translates as nine gems. 
Made from nine organic whole flours : White Sorghum, Red Sorghum, Pearl Millet, Buckwheat, White Pea, Red rice, White Rice, White Amaranth and Finger Millet. All freshly ground at home, a process that I have come to enjoy more and more. 

The flatbreads were quite soft and despite the nine flours the taste was not overwhelming. Considering some grains like Amaranth and buckwheat have a stronger flavour than the others, the flour connoisseur (Aarina) did a great job in balancing them well.