Cooking Class: Full of energy

Whole wheat bread (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Whole wheat bread
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Bread has been termed “the staff of life,” the staple diet of mankind for millennia. Humanity throughout the ages has subsisted mostly on grains and their derivatives (bread), supplemented by protein-rich foods such as legumes, meat, eggs, milk, cheese and fish. The affluent enjoyed a higher percentage of protein-rich foods in their diet, while the poorer masses had to make do with the basic diet of bread accompanied by the occasional vegetable and protein.
Although the type of grain varied depending on geographical region, the fundamental principle and dietary patcooking tern remained the same. Humanity has thus managed to survive simply because plant matter (including grains), rich in carbohydrates, is the primary source of energy for the body.
The human digestive system can be likened to a Hollywood production. You have your leading actor/actress, supporting cast, crew, etc. The star of the digestive system is undoubtedly energy production from carbohydrates and fats.
This is the fundamental system without which life would cease instantly. Without energy, nerve impulses cannot flow to and from the brain, the heart cannot pump, the lungs cannot breathe.
All the other major nutrients are supportive to this main system. Proteins are the building blocks of enzymes that facilitate and regulate the energy production by breaking down complex substances into simpler ones (catabolism) or compiling complex substances from simpler ones (anabolism), the combination of which is called metabolism. Vitamins are co-enzymes, helping the enzymes to do their job. Minerals, like sodium, calcium etc., help maintain the electrolyte balance, facilitating absorption and transport of the nutrients to all the cells in the body via the bloodstream.
The immediate energy requirements of the body are provided by carbohydrates.
Any carbohydrates not urgently needed by the body are stored. There are two types of storage: interim storage in the form of glycogen, and more permanent storage in the form of fat. If we eat more carbohydrates than we need, they will be stored as fat, much to our displeasure. If your diet lacks carbohydrates, the body obtains its energy from fat reserves, and your waistline will shrink.
One of the most profound and beautiful things in nature is the symbiosis between the plant world and the animal world. Plants use energy from the sun, combined with the waste products of animal and human metabolism as their fuel. Animals and humans use the waste products from plant metabolism as their fuel. The plant and animal worlds therefore feed each other symbiotically.
When you ponder it, you begin to grasp the infinite wisdom of God’s creation.
Whole grains and, consequently, whole-grain bread, constitute the staff of life because they provide the majority of essential nutrients in the correct proportions for human metabolism. They contain approximately 82% starch, 10% protein, 3% vitamins, minerals and oils and 5% dietary fiber. All that is missing from a diet of whole-grain bread is the occasional protein and vegetable supplement, which complements the missing essential amino acids and vitamins. It is not surprising, then, than mankind has survived for so long on this staple.
If bread today were manufactured using all parts of the grain – the bran, the germ and the endosperm – it would be sufficient to sustain life. Unfortunately, it is not. More than 90% of world commercial bread production uses only white flour, lacking bran or germ. Of the breads produced termed “whole-grain breads,” 90% or more have only bran added, not germ. Less than 2% of world bread production today uses all parts of the grain in their natural proportions, without sifting anything out.
For this reason, bread has lost its once revered status. It is consumed under the misconception that it is still the staff of life, when it is in fact no longer. Those attempting to subsist predominantly on bread as their ancestors did 400 years ago, now suffer multiple nutritional deficiencies and obesity.
The reasons for the denaturing of our staple food are greed and economics.
True whole-grain bread does not look as attractive as white bread and it has a shorter shelf life, which translate into loss of revenue. Public health does not feature on the priority list.
This is perhaps the greatest crime of the 21st century, robbing the human species of its safest source of energy, their staff of life! Whole-Grain Quinoa Bread Most bread grains are deficient in the amino acids lysine and methionine.
These may easily be supplemented by adding quinoa, which is rich in these nutrients.
To replenish the B vitamins and vitamin C lost by the heat of baking, eat it together with a fresh salad containing at least tomatoes and sweet red pepper.
This is one of the most nutritious meals you could have.
✔ 1 cup quinoa, rinsed ✔ 2 cups water Bring quinoa to a boil. Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is soft.
Let cool.
✔ 3 cups whole-grain flour (from health store refrigerator) ✔ 1¹⁄3 cups water ✔ 2 tsp. salt ✔ 1½ tsp. instant powdered yeast ✔ Cooked and cooled quinoa Mix all ingredients in a bowl and knead for 10 minutes. Leave to rise for 20 minutes.
Shape into an oval loaf and place in a loaf pan. Leave to rise for 1 to 1.5 hours. Bake at 250º for 35 minutes.
Master baker Les Saidel is CEO of the Saidel Artisan Baking Institute (www.saidels.
com), which specializes in training and education in the field of organic, healthy, artisan baking.