Spelled – The Healthy Grain

Spelled was forgotten for a long time, but has been enjoying a well-deserved renaissance for several years now. Even with food allergies, spelled is considered to be extremely well tolerated and seems to have an overall harmonizing effect on the body, especially on digestion. But how great can its health benefits be, given that spelled – like all grains – is one of the acid-forming foods? And what advantages does spell have over wheat? We will clarify all of this and of course also present you with many delicious spelled recipes!

Spelled – An ancient relative of wheat

Spelled (Triticum spelta) is a type of wheat and botanically closely related to common wheat (Triticum aestivum), which is the economically most important type of wheat today.

Along with the old grain varieties Einkorn and Emmer, as well as barley, spelled is one of the so-called “spelled grains”, which is reflected in its botanical name “Triticum spelta”.

With these types of grain, the actual grain is still surrounded by a protective covering – the husk or simply the husk – which has to be removed before further processing in the so-called “tanning process”.

Spelled is said to have been cultivated by the Egyptians around 8,000 years ago. It later spread to central and northern Europe through mass migration.

The first growing areas in Germany – from around 500 AD – were Baden-Württemberg and Franconia, which is why spelled was also given the nickname “Schwabenkorn”. Place names such as “Dinkelsbühl” (with three ears of spell in the city coat of arms) still testify to the popularity of this type of grain at the time.

Up until the 18th century, spelling was one of the most important commercial grains in these regions.

Green spelled, only spicier

By the way, unripe spelled is nothing more than spelled harvested 2 to 3 weeks before maturity. He was probably “born” out of sheer desperation about 300 years ago when, after torrential downpours and a total crop failure, farmers tried to save what could still be saved and harvested the still unripe grain – before it threatened to rot.

The wet grain was then kiln-dried over the fire and one was surprised at how spicy and good the spell tasted in this variant.

Crucial for the unripe spelled is that it is harvested at exactly the right time, at the “milk maturity” stage. Owing to the kilning, the spelled grains experience after-ripening, are broken down, and are easier to digest. The nutrients are particularly readily available.

Green spelled is said to have a stimulating effect on the metabolism, nerves, and senses and is often given to patients in cancer clinics.

Spelled – THE grain for organic cultivation

In the course of agricultural industrialization, spelled and unripe spelled were increasingly forgotten. Yields that are up to 40 percent higher and significantly higher profits can be achieved with wheat than with spelled – for at least two reasons:

On the one hand, the husk has to be removed from the spelled in an extra step, which is not necessary with wheat. On the other hand, wheat responds extremely well to artificial fertilizers, while spelled is unaffected by chemical fertilizers.

Spelled is therefore also the ideal grain for organic farming.

Although it is less productive and more labor-intensive than wheat in terms of harvesting and processing, organic farmers appreciate the advantages of this type of grain, which are also present: Spelled is considered to be very robust and weather-resistant and can also be grown on poor, stony soils up to an altitude of around 1,000 meters.

Since it does not tolerate artificial fertilizers, spelled can also be grown in water protection areas.

The husk that is present in spelled and has to be removed in a separate step is by no means only seen as a disadvantage. It protects the grain from pests, fungi, and all sorts of environmental influences and is probably one of the main reasons for the resilience of this grain.

Wheat, on the other hand, often requires chemical fungicides or other pesticides to survive until harvest.

Spelled is hardly radioactive – wheat is

Incidentally, radioactive measurements after the Chornobyl catastrophe showed only minimal contamination in spell compared to wheat grain. Thus, the husk casing not only protects the spelled grain from harmful environmental influences but ultimately also the consumer – which in itself is a good reason to increasingly rely on spelled instead of wheat these days.

Hildegard von Bingen saves the spelled

The new topicality of spelled is closely linked to the rediscovery of Hildegard medicine – yes, one can almost say that Saint Hildegard von Bingen (1098 – 1179) posthumously “saved the life” of this type of grain, because spelling is one of the Main pillars of their dietetics.

The abbess saw spelled as an “all-rounder” in the best sense – suitable and beneficial for everyone and in every situation.

At the time of Hildegard von Bingen, there were of course no nutritional tables that could have given information about the ingredients of a certain food.

However, the abbess believed that every plant and every living thing possessed different qualities (she called it “subtlety”) which, taken together, could affect human health both positively and negatively.

Based on the experiences she had with certain foods, herbs, etc. in herself and in other people, she distinguished between healthy and less healthy foods.

In this way, she must have accumulated an enormous wealth of experience, considering that it was mainly the monasteries in Hildegard von Bingen’s time that ensured the basic medical care of the population.

Hildegard von Bingen assigned spelled an all-around positive subtlety, which can be seen from the fact that spelled was allowed during each of her three fasting cures. Even during the “Hildegard Fast”, her strictest form of fasting, which only consisted of liquid food, you were allowed to drink spilled coffee.

For cancer: “Nothing but spelled and water”

dr Gottfried Hertzka, one of the discoverers of Hildegard medicine, as a result of his many years of practice and his experience with spelled, answered the question of what he would do in the event of cancer as follows:

“If I ever got cancer, I would retire to an alp with a sack full of spelled and some salt and live only on spelled and water. Then you would see who was stronger, me or cancer.”
You may be wondering at this point how can that be, when spelled as grain after all, when the grain is acid-forming according to the acid-base theory and cancer can thrive so well in acidic tissue in particular.

Spelled – A “good” acidifier

First of all, there are quite a few people who think that spelled is an alkaline grain. In reality, however, spelled is only alkaline if it has been germinated for a long time – as is the case with all other types of grain.

According to our acid-base model, spelled can be counted among the good acidifiers and can, therefore – in small quantities – very well supplement a high-quality and healthy diet with excess base.

For stable health, the organism not only needs alkaline foods but also good acidifiers. A diet consisting of 80% alkaline foods and 20% good acidifiers would be ideal.

Spelled: Naturally whole grain

Of course, as part of a healthy diet, spelled is preferred in its whole grain varieties and less in the form of white flour products.

The term “white flour” has long included not only wheat flour but also spelled flour – when the germ and outer layers have been removed.

The lightest spelled flour is called Type 630 (for wheat, the lightest flour is Type 405).

The type number provides information about the residual amount of minerals still contained in the flour. White flour with the type number 405 therefore still contains 405 milligrams of minerals per 100 grams. It can therefore be said that white spelled flour contains a few more minerals than white wheat flour.

According to an elaboration by Bioland entitled “Spelt, Emmer & Einkorn – Renaissance of the great-grandfathers”, vitamins and trace elements in spelled are distributed more evenly over the whole grain than in wheat and are therefore also detectable in the endosperm. This would explain why even the lightest spelled flour contains even more minerals than the lightest wheat flour.

Ideally, you should use freshly ground wholemeal spelled flour if you want to enjoy all the minerals and other ingredients.

Spelled – More minerals than wheat

Overall, spelled provides more minerals and trace elements than wheat. For example, while spelled contains 4.2 milligrams of iron per 100 grams, wheat only has 3.3 milligrams. There are also more milligrams of magnesium in spelled (namely 130) than in wheat (only 97 mg).

The situation is similar to the trace elements. Zinc, manganese, copper – they are all much more strongly represented in spelled than in wheat.

Spelled also has a high silicic acid content. Silicic acid also called silicon and known in homeopathy as “Silicea”, gives the body tissues strength and elasticity and is particularly known for its beneficial effect on skin, hair, and nails.

In addition, silicon also promotes concentration, so it is not surprising that spelling used to be considered the “grain of poets and thinkers”.

How to deactivate the phytic acid in spelled

The absorption of the minerals contained in spelled could be made more difficult by the now much-discussed phytic acid. Phytic acid or “phytate” is a secondary plant substance that is contained in many plant seeds (cereals, legumes, oilseeds) and has the property of binding some of the minerals it contains – in such a way that the human organism can no longer use them can become.

Only during the germination process do phytic acid-splitting enzymes, so-called “phytases”, become active in the grain, which is able to dissolve the phytate-mineral compound again so that the previously bound minerals are now freely available.

Spelled practically has a significantly higher phytase activity than wheat, which certainly also contributes to the well-known higher digestibility of spelled.

So if you soak spelled in water for a few hours, you will achieve a noticeable reduction in phytic acid – as long as the soaking water is discarded. However, soaking in kefir or yogurt does not lead to a significantly lower phytic acid content.

Spelled sprouts or so-called sprouted bread, i.e. bread made from sprouted spelled grain, are therefore a good idea for enjoying spelled products that are low in phytic acid and at the same time rich in minerals.

If you want to cook spelled grains – e.g. B. to prepare a grain salad from it – then you simply leave them (like legumes) in water overnight (or even better two to three days – change the water again and again), then rinse the grain well and then boil it in fresh water.

In addition to sprouting or swelling the spelled, other preparation methods can reduce the phytic acid in the spelled and thus make the minerals more usable:

While cooking or baking, i.e. heating the grain, has no effect on the amount of phytic acid, the phytic acid content can be reduced by using yeast or even better with the help of sourdough or baking ferment (organic shop/health food store).

Not least, for this reason, it would be highly recommended to bake your own wholemeal bread and to choose a dough process that is as long as possible, whereby the phytic acid can be completely broken down.

However, there are also organic bakers who have long since mastered the art of correctly kneading the dough and save you the hassle of baking it yourself. Just ask your organic baker!

You can read details about phytic acid and how foods containing phytic acid can best be prepared in order to break down the phytic acid as much as possible here: Despite phytic acid: beans and rice are nutritious

Spelled – More vitamins than wheat

The situation with vitamins is similar to that of minerals and trace elements. Here, too, spelled provides higher levels than wheat: more vitamin B1, more vitamin B2, more vitamin B3, and also more vitamin B6.

Since the B vitamins not only protect the nervous system but also boost the metabolism, wholemeal spells should not be underestimated.

After all, spelling is said to have more vitamin E than the best wheat (spelled 2.4 mg, wheat 1.5 mg per 100 g, source: Bognar, A., BFA-Nutrition) and is, therefore, better supplied with antioxidants.

So if sensible prevention of diseases and an all-around sensible supply of vital substances are important to you, you should definitely replace the wheat in your kitchen with spelling.

Of course, spelled not only contains micronutrients such as minerals and vitamins, but also nutrients – amino acids and fatty acids – of particularly high quality.

Spelled is richer in protein than wheat

Like wheat, spelled has high-quality protein in the form of all 8 essential amino acids. The total protein content in spelled is up to 15 percent and is, therefore, higher than that in wheat.

With the exception of the amino acid lysine, all other essential amino acids are consistently found in larger amounts in spelled than in wheat – above all the so-called BCAA (branched-chain amino acids), i.e. the three amino acids that are particularly responsible for muscle building and muscle maintenance.

Spelled puts you in a good mood

Spelled is also a good source of the amino acid tryptophan, which is responsible for the formation of serotonin (our “feel good hormone”). Its tryptophan content is 180 mg, which is higher than that of wheat, which only contains 114 mg of tryptophan per 100 g.

The reason for the alleged mood-enhancing effect of spelled lies is hidden here as well.

In any case, the news that spelled does not settle on the hips as easily as many other carbohydrate-rich foods should certainly lift the mood of many people.

Chickens fed with spelled kept their ideal weight, did not put on any fat, and – thanks to spelled – laid even more eggs than before. Of course, you will not suddenly lay eggs by eating more spelled, but your mental and physical performance could now noticeably increase.

According to TCM, spelled strengthens your core

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) does not evaluate food based on its individual ingredients but observes how the food affects the organism as a whole.

Roughly speaking, foods are classified according to their thermic effect on the body (cold, refreshing, neutral, warm and hot) and their taste (sweet, sour, pungent, bitter, and salty).

TCM, therefore, counts – just like the so-called Hildegard medicine – in large areas to empirical medicine.

Spelled and wheat do not differ so much in terms of taste (both are assigned the taste “sweet”). The difference between the two types of grain lies more in the temperature behavior:

While spelled has a neutral temperature behavior, wheat is considered refreshing.

According to TCM, in order to maintain health in the long term, a diet that consists mainly of foods with a neutral temperature behavior is recommended. Such foods are most likely to strengthen the center – and a “strong center” is synonymous with health.

However, wheat also has its advantages. From the Chinese point of view, for example, because of its refreshing effect on the organism, it unfolds its full power where there is heat in the body. For example, it could be used for night sweats, hot flashes, or restlessness.

However, constant consumption of wheat, as is predominantly the case today, has a cooling effect on the middle and weakens the digestive fire. A weakened center can ultimately manifest itself in all sorts of diseases.

So, according to TCM, spelled would clearly be the more suitable food. This coincides with the observation that spelled is usually very well tolerated, even by people who cannot tolerate wheat.

Spelled and the gluten problem

However, just like wheat and many other types of grain, spelled contains the grain protein gluten. Yes, spelled contains even more gluten than wheat (even spelled varieties), which is simply because spelled is the higher protein grain overall (15 percent protein – wheat provides only 12 percent). And when a gluten-containing grain contains more protein, it automatically contains more gluten.

On the one hand, this is very good, since spelled are a better source of protein than wheat and many other grains. Spelled also has good baking properties – precisely because of the higher gluten content. As so-called gluten protein, gluten holds the dough together when baking bread.

On the other hand, not everyone tolerates gluten. People with celiac disease must not consume the smallest amount of gluten if they want to remain symptom-free and therefore not spelled.

However, celiac disease is quite rare. Celiac disease-independent gluten intolerance (also called gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity) is widespread. Often you don’t even know that you don’t tolerate gluten very well. You suffer from chronic diseases such as B. Hashimoto or rheumatism, chronic headaches, dizziness, or concentration disorders and have no idea that the symptoms would improve if one lived gluten-free or at least low in gluten.

It is interesting here that this gluten sensitivity often does not seem to apply to spelled gluten. Because gluten is not just gluten.

Spelled Gluten and Wheat Gluten: The Difference

Gluten is a protein mix. So it does not consist of a single protein, but of several. Such a protein mixture is not only found in highly cultivated wheat and spelled, but also in rye, barley, and many so-called ancient grains (e.g. in einkorn, emmer, etc.).

However, each of these cereals has a species-specific gluten, i.e. its own protein mixture.

Gluten always consists of two protein groups, the so-called prolamins, and the glutelins. This is the case with every grain.

However, the prolamins and glutelins in wheat differ from those in spelled and other grains. They differ in their structure. Therefore, they are called differently for each type of grain.

The glutelins in wheat are called glutenin.

The prolamins are called gliadin in wheat, hordein in barley, and secalinin in the rye.

These substances can now also be subdivided further: because there is not just one single gliadin in wheat, but many different ones, namely alpha, beta, gamma, and omega gliadin.

And these also have subgroups. For example, the omega-5 gliadin in wheat has been identified as the main trigger for allergic reactions.

There is no omega gliadin in spelling, which can already be an indication of its better tolerability. The gamma-gliadins in spelled are also different from those in wheat.

Overall, wheat also contains more glutelin than spelled. The glutelin content has been increased through breeding (to make it more suitable for industrial processing and to make the dough more dimensionally stable). Spelled, on the other hand, provides more prolamins than wheat.

This different glutelin/prolamine ratio is the next factor that distinguishes spelled gluten from wheat gluten and may be responsible for the better tolerability of spelled.

In addition to breeding influences, cultivation methods also change the protein quality. UrSpelt farmers, for example, let the old (long-straw) spelled varieties mature naturally in the field. The modern short-straw wheat varieties, on the other hand, often receive nitrogen fertilizer in the ear stage so that the wheat ultimately contains sufficient protein.

Although spelled has not yet been changed and influenced so much by breeding, not all spells are created equal!

Because there have long been crossbreeds between spelled and wheat, which are sold as normally spelled, are already very widespread in conventional trade (the varieties are called “Rouquin” and “Hercule”, for example) and which of course also have disadvantages of the bring wheat with them.

Therefore, give preference to pure spelled varieties (ask when buying spelled!) that have not been crossed with wheat. Here are z. B. Varieties such as Schwabenkorn, Holstenkorn, Oberkulmer Rotkorn, Bauländer Spelz, Neuegg Weisskorn, Ebners Rotkorn, Roter Tiroler, Ostro and Altgold.

Spelled as a grain essence

Bach flower essences are on everyone’s lips these days, but have you heard of “cereal essences”?

Grains are said to have been found in the Egyptian pyramids that were still viable after 3,000 years. This testifies to its strong vitality and led to the fact that grain not only became a basic food for humans but was also used as a therapeutic agent at an early stage.

The thought behind the development of grain essences is that plants, which have the power to be a staple of human nutrition in the physical realm, must also have this effect in the subtle realm.

Like the Bach flowers, essences were made from 12 different types of grain, which in turn reflect 12 different basic types and are intended to support people in different life situations.

Despite their close relationship, spelled and wheat also stands for very different areas:

The spelled essence stands for joie de vivre and personality development and should help to develop our innermost being. It supports independent action and gives us the strength and courage to live what we are.

The wheat essence, on the other hand, stands for order. It promotes our analytical and forward-looking actions and helps with tidying up and ordering inside and out.

Here, too, it shows that nothing is just good or bad, but that everything unfolds its potential optimally in different situations and dosages.

However, after all the theory, let’s get down to the practical part, namely how spelled can be turned into delicious treats in the kitchen.

Spelled – Tasty and versatile

In principle, spelled can be used anywhere instead of wheat. When it comes to baked goods, however, you should bear in mind that spelled bread or rolls dry out more quickly. It is therefore always best to only bake small quantities.

But of course, you can’t just bake with spelling. The list of all the possible uses of spelled is extraordinarily long:

  • Of course, spells go well with baked goods and pasta such as e.g. B. in bread, rolls, cakes, waffles, and pasta dough.
  • Spelled also goes well with muesli in the form of fresh grain or spelled flakes.
  • A warm-spelled porridge can also be prepared from the spell.
  • Cooked as a whole grain, spelled can be eaten as a side dish, in salads, in soups, or in the form of spelled rice. Spelled rice is lightly milled spelled, which cooks faster but still contains 6 times the fiber and twice the protein of white rice.
  • Of course, there is also couscous made from spelled.
    Spelled meal, hearty spelled flakes, and green spelled meal can be wonderfully processed into patties or dumplings.
  • Just like oat or rice milk, there is also spelled milk. Simply add 1.5 tablespoons of the spelled milk powder to a glass of water, stir vigorously and you can enjoy the delicious drink. Spelled milk also goes well with muesli. Since high-quality spelled milk powder is enriched with the calcium-rich algae Lithothamnium calcareum, spelled milk provides just as much calcium as cow’s milk.
  • Spelled can also be sprouted. Then you eat the spelled sprouts in a salad or steamed vegetables. Sprouted bread can of course also be made from spelled sprouts. Due to the germination process and the associated enzymatic activities in the grain, the amount of vital substances that can be absorbed from it multiplies, the gluten and phytic acid content decreases, and the base potential increases. It is therefore always very worthwhile to take on the comparatively small effort of making sprouts. If you let the spell grow into the grass, you can use it to make spelled grass juice:
  • Spelled grass juice is highly alkaline, rich in chlorophyll and micronutrients, and supplies the cells with oxygen and vitality. Of course, the grass can also be mixed into green smoothies without juice. For the sake of simplicity, there is also spelled grass powder, so that a spelled grass drink is quickly mixed. And if you mix the powder into a vitamin C-rich juice, vitamin C increases the absorption of iron from the spelled grass.
  • Spelled beer and spelled coffee are available in your organic shop or health food store. Both are a great change from conventional beer and coffee beans.
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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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