This section is to inform you about the different types of flour and which are best for you to choose. Most of these recipes call for all purpose flour. Here we learn what flour is made of.
Wheat grains consists of 3 parts:
- Bran: This is the hard outer layer of the grain where the majority of the fiber lives.
- Germ: This part is the tiny bit in the middle of the grain, also known as the embryo. This part contains the greatest concentration of nutrients.
- Endosperm: This is what surrounds the germ. This is the largest part of the grain. It mostly consists of starch and contains almost no fiber or other nutrients.
Wheat grains are extremely nutritious in an unaltered state. There is much of a process to get from the wheat grain to the fluffy white powder we are accustomed to. There are typically 3 types of flour that are readily available:
Bleached white flour: Avoid
Bleached flour is made using only one part of the grain: the endosperm. As we know the endosperm does not have much nutritional value, but it also turns out it can actually be harmful to our health. To bleach flour, it is chemically treated with a chlorine gas. The same chemical used to clean swimming pools is treating bleached flour!! The flour is treated with chlorine because it makes it that perfect white color that we’re accustomed to seeing. It also artificially “ages” the flour, which betters the taste.
Unbleached white flour: Use in moderation
Unbleached flour, just like the bleached variety, is only made from the endosperm so it contains very few nutrients. It is, however, allowed to age naturally, and isn’t bleached with chlorine. It is a much better alternative to bleached flour. Typically when you buy all purpose white flour—this is it.
Whole wheat flour: Best choice
Whole wheat flour uses all three layers of the wheat grain: bran, germ and endosperm. It contains high amounts of nutrients and lots of fiber. Eating fiber-rich foods helps lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It also slows down digestion, which makes us feel full faster and for a longer period of time so we are less prone to overeating. There is a white whole wheat flour that tastes very similar to white flour, but with the benefit of it being whole wheat as to not lose any nutritional value. This is our choice for flour.
What should you do if you are used to eating whole wheat flour, and you can’t imaging leaving your white flour behind?? Try removing bleached flour from your diet altogether. Whole wheat flour is the best choice, but if you’re not used to the taste of whole wheat flour, start gradually incorporating it into your cooking.
If a recipe calls for one cup of flour, use 3/4 cup unbleached flour and 1/4 cup whole wheat flour. Once you get accustomed to the taste, gradually increase the ratio of whole wheat flour to white flour. This will take time, but little by little you can increase your level of nutrition by taking some small steps.
Oil and fats (butter):
Butter is a traditional fat. It is made from a simple process that comes from separating the cream from the milk. This is a natural process that only takes a little patience. Once it has separated, all you need to do is skim off the cream and shake it until it becomes butter. It can be made in the blender in about 2 minutes.
Now let’s talk about vegetable oils and margarines:
Vegetable oils are oils that have been extracted from various seeds. The most common include rapeseed (canola oil), soybean, corn, sunflower, safflower, peanut, etc. Unlike coconut oil or olive oil that can be extracted by pressing, these new-fangled oils have to be extracted in very unnatural ways.
The process of making canola oil is overall complicated. It is made from a hybrid version of the rapeseed and is genetically modified and heavily treated with pesticides. They then heat it at an unnaturally high temperature so that it can oxidize. It is then processed with a petroleum solvent to extract the oils from it. Then it is heated some more, and acid is added to remove any nasty wax solids that formed during the process. From there it is treated with chemicals to improve the color.
Sounds yummy?!?!? Now if you want to make margarine, you take it a few steps farther and hydrogenate it until it becomes a solid. Hmmmm…maybe something we should be avoiding.
You can actually make your own coconut oil and olive oil. If something can be made at home, don’t you think it would be the best choice to use? Do an internet search as to how to make it. See the difference in these oils. I don’t recommend doing it, I just want you to think about how those “vegetable oils” are made, and why it is a BETTER choice to use coconut oil and olive oil for cooking and baking.
The problem with these “bad” oils is that they are in every sort of convenience food. If you look on the back of any wrapper, you are sure to see one of them listed. This is all about choices. Try and choose the best nutritional product as possible. It won’t always be possible, but for the majority of the time that you eat, let it be wholesome.