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How Can This Ayurvedic Food Make You Feel Great?
Spelt packs a robust and earthy flavor. An ancient cousin of wheat, this centuries-old hearty grain sustained Roman soldiers as they marched. Spelt makes you feel sturdy and satisfied but is surprisingly light and easy to digest.
Toast some spelt berries and the sweet and nutty aroma will fill your kitchen and belly with warmth. The crunchy texture transforms into a chewy and gooey center as you bite into them.
Compared to wheat, it leaves a slightly rough and dry sensation in the mouth. This rustic feel has gained popularity in artisan breads and cereals. Plus, the antique grain is more nourishing than modern wheat.
Footnote: The information for this article was in part gathered from a 2019 study and survey of 11 students of Ayurveda who experimented with spelt. During the study, students ate spelt for 3 days and journaled the pharmacological effects. This study was sponsored by the Joyful Belly School of Ayurveda, and specifically the Mastering Ayurvedic Digestion & Nutrition certification course.
HistoryWheat was first cultivated around 10,000 years ago when society transitioned from hunting and gathering to agriculture based practices. Some of the earliest cultivars of wild wheat include einkorn, emmer, and varieties mixed with wild grass. Spelt is an ancient variety of wheat that was an important staple during the bronze age. The earliest evidence of spelt dates back to 5,000 B.C..
Modern durum and bread wheat are long lost cousins of these ancient grains.. It is durum wheat and bread wheat that dominate our markets and bakeries today.
As wheat grew in popularity, growers began experimenting with hulled forms of wheat. These hulled forms are known as spelt. The husk is different to separate from the flower of spelt, and that is part of its rustic character. Hulled wheats are called "farro" in Italy.
Today, most spelt is cultivated in Ohio as an alternative to barley and oats for grain feed for livestock. But spelt is not just for the birds! Spelt can be a sweet and sustaining addition to your meal. The extra protein that spelt has in comparison to wheat is another perk.
A Lighter Alternative to Wheat
The supermarkets today are filled with wheat alternatives, yet most of these options don't provide the sweet and satisfying feel of wheat. In contrast, spelt is interchanged seamlessly. Due to the familial relationship, spelt slightly alters the taste of baked goods, only. One student from our Ayurveda certification course reports "it tasted very similar to wheat pasta in texture, this made me very happy." Another remarks, "The spelt pasta felt lighter on my digestion and not as difficult as the regular pasta".
So what makes spelt easier to digest? It has a lower amount of fructan carbohydrates which tend to digest slowly and poorly. Those carbohydrates hinder the digestive fire (agni).
In fact, experimenting with spelt can be a great way to distinguish a gluten intolerance vs. a fructan intolerance. Many folks who can't digest gluten can easily palate spelt. However those with a true gluten allergy should steer clear of spelt.
Spelt & The Doshas
Though lighter than wheat, spelt is ultimately heavy, gooey, and smooth. It's sweetness and heartiness make spelt a great option in the winter, when the body naturally craves a cozy dish.
Vata and Pitta dosha benefit most from the smooth and heavy qualities (gunas) of spelt. Weak body types will benefit from the heartiness of spelt due to it's gentle and restorative actions.
Kapha's will find spelt lighter on their system than regular wheat, so spelt makes a great substitute in baked desserts. However, Kapha must still exercise moderation - spelt is building and Kapha aggravating in the end. So for daily meals, Kapha's do better with lighter grains such as quinoa or millet.
The anabolic and heavy nature of spelt may cause cause constipation in Kapha body type if it's eaten in excess. Use caution with refined or white spelt flour, it's had the fiber removed from it. Fiberless flours often induce constipation.
The heaviness may be too much for Kapha, but Vata's airy nature can benefit greatly! The sweetness will bring earth and water to Vata, which may be helpful for relieving constipation they're prone to. Don't get too spelt happy though, as the large amount of fiber can be too rough and dry for Vata. Vata's can balance the dryness of spelt by adding a bit of good quality fat, such as ghee or coconut oil to help mitigate the dryness.
Spelts dry quality will help pull excess water from the gastrointestinal tract, making it great for Pitta type loose stool.
Empty Carbs & Emotional Eating
But truth be told, bread is gold! Bread is often so satisfying and sweet that it can trigger an addiction. Carbs cause your blood sugar level to spike. This gives you a temporary energy jolt, familiar anytime you eat a tasty sugary snack. Equally notable is the crash induced after this burst of energy. Brain fog, lethargy, lack of motivation, etc. are some common sensations connected to this energy crash. This pattern of extreme increase and decrease of blood sugar is what leads to candida, toxicity (ama), and thick saliva.
So how can you tell if you've had too much spelt? Pay mind to the taste on your tongue 15 minutes after eating. If you detect a funky taste, try a smaller portion of spelt the next time. Generally, a foul taste in the mouth indicates there's been too much sweet taste. Excess sweet taste ends up feeding bad bacteria, resulting in the bad taste and smell of the breath.
Whole Grains & Health
Whole grain is a health market term that has been popping up more and more nowadays. Rightfully so, as whole grains do pack a nutritious punch.
Whole grains digest slowly which provides a more stable source of energy. This helps to stabilize blood sugar and keep insulin levels healthy. In fact, one study concluded that women who ate 5+ grams of whole grain had 30% less risk of developing diabetes.
Whole spelt's health benefits also allow folks to manage their weight, prevent metabolic syndrome, and lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
So why do grocery stores sell refined flour?
Industrialized farming removes the bran and germ from wheat in order to increase the shelf life. This removal robs us of essential nutrients, resulting in a global vitamin B deficiencies among other nutritional insufficiencies.
COOKING SPELT FLOURBrowse Recipes
Roasted spelt berries are a common garnish atop of salads. You'll savor the crunchy, chewy and nutty taste that roasted spelt berries impart in a dish.
Spelt can be used as a 1:1 substitute for wheat flour when baking. When baking with spelt, take care to knead the dough a bit more to improve the dough rising. Xantham gum, tapioca starch, or potato starch can help spelt to rise as well. And, add a bit more oil or dairy when baking to offset the dryness of spelt, if desired.
In addition to its usage in artisan breads, you can now find spelt noodles, bagels, tortillas, pretzels and more!
Spelt is also useful to thicken soups.. The starchiness of spelt becomes a binder, meaning the addition of spelt will make a recipe more creamy.
How to cook speltCook some whole spelt berries for a breakfast porridge or as a substitute for rice. Like rice, you want to be sure to rinse the spelt berries several times before consuming. Then toast the berries in a pot for 3-4 minutes on medium heat, this enhances the flavor. Next, add enough water to cover the berries by several inches. Then toss in any additional flavors you fancy. Spices, vegetables and dried fruits are some common additions.
Bring to a boil, then simmer and cook while covered for about 60 minutes until the spelt is chewy. Add more water if necessary. The longer it's cooked, the more tender the spelt berries become.
Sprouting SpeltSprouting spelt adds another possibility. Sprouting a grain allows for the nutrients to become more readily accessible and digestible. Sprout spelt by rinsing the berries and then soaking them overnight. The following morning, drain, rinse and then re-drain. Then, lay the grains out in a glass dish- a pyrex baking dish works well here. Cover with the lid slightly ajar, then place in a dark and cool place, such as your cupboard, for 1-5 days until the spelt berries have tiny tails. During the waiting process, be sure to rinse and drain them at least 2 times a day.
Once sprouted, experiment with tossing them on top of salads, adding to soups, stir fries, etc. You can also dehydrate them in your oven on low heat (150 degrees), until dry and crunchy. After dehydration, you can grind them into a highly nutritious spelt flour to use for baking and cooking.
How to Balance SpeltUse the following techniques to balance spelt:
Some of our favorite spelt recipes on Joyful Belly include Pistachio Pancakes with Cardamom, Angel Hair Pasta in Pumpkin Sauce and Pumpkin Waffles with Pecan Maple Syrup. We encourage you to sweeten your life with spelt!
WHY EAT AN AYURVEDIC DIET?Eating Ayurvedically makes you feel nourished and energized. An Ayurvedic diet is tailored to your individual body type and the specific imbalances you are working with at any given time. Ayurveda shows you your specific body type’s needs and what should be favored in your Ayurvedic menu. Watch as you eat less but feel more satisfied because what you are eating truly nourishes you. Since Ayurveda believes all disease begins in the digestive tract, food is your first medicine. By eating a healthy diet that’s ideal for your body, you experience optimal health.
Is Spelt Flour Good for My Ayurvedic Diet?
SERVING SIZE: 1/4 c
SPECIES: Triticum spelta
AYURVEDIC MEDICINAL BIOCHARACTERISTICSWhat is the biocharacteristic theory of medicine?
Experiences are PersonalExperiences vary according to the person and constitution. Individual results may vary. The list of herbal-actions below has not be approved by the FDA and should not be used to treat a medical condition.
Here are the herbal actions of Spelt Flour:
Makes you tired,
MAKES-YOU-TIREDInduces drowsiness and promotes sound sleep.
SEDATIVESedative herbs create a sense of calm in the mind and body by specifically calming or quieting the nervous system. Excellent for anxiety, stress and chronic pain.
SATISFIES-STOMACHProvides a sense of gratification and fullness in the stomach.
TONICA tonic herb restores function through strengthening tissue. This can happen through a combination of nourishing the tissue, and invigorating tissue metabolism. The tonic should not be withering, as in caffeine.
NUTRITIVEAn herb that is strengthening and nourishing.
DEMULCENTHerbs that coat or form a soothing film over a mucous membrane, relieving minor pain and inflammation of the membrane.
CALMS-HEARTAn herb that literally calms the heart. These herbs are helpful in the treatment of anxiety, sadness, depression, or other emotional imbalances in the heart. Related to the Chinese Herbal Category 'calms spirit.'
Joyful Belly is a recognized school of biocharacteristics medicine.
HEALTH & WELLNESS PRACTITIONERS!
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HOW DOES EATING AYURVEDICALLY MAKE YOU FEEL?Eating Ayurvedically makes you feel nourished and energized. Food digests with ease when right for your body type (dosha). Healthy digestion is seen as the cornerstone of well-being in Ayurveda. Healthy digestion generally prevents illness. If you do get sick, a strong digestive fire reduces the severity of illness and increases your resilience. It also improves your mood. Once you begin eating Ayurvedically, you will feel refreshed, vital and strong.
View Other Ingredients for Autumn-WinterSpelt Flour is recommended for Autumn-Winter. Check out these other Autumn-Winter foods here.
Comments & Impressions of 'Spelt Flour'Do you like 'spelt flour'? Why or why not? What makes it unique? Is there something you'd like to know about 'spelt flour'?
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I can eat spelt in moderation but if I eat it 2 days in a row I will get string intergestion. I'm vata/pitta
TRADITIONALLY INDICATED FOR THESE SYMPTOMSSpelt Flour may be beneficial for these symptoms. The suitability of any food for a condition is highly dependent on the individual. Please see your doctor before using this food to treat a medical condition.
About the AuthorJohn Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda. His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda , which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.