Why is healthy wheat so hard to get? You may have heard of the words “frankenwheat” or “frankenfoods,” which have been imposed on the public by agricultural geneticists due to the scientific engineering of wheat and wheat food products. This has created a movement away from wheat products due to the damaging effects they may have, in particular the issues people have consuming foods with gluten. This is where einkorn flour comes in. Dr. Mark Hyman, a collaborator and friend, notes that each American now consumes about 55 pounds of wheat flour every year. It isn’t just the amount of wheat consumed that’s of concern, but also the hidden components found within wheat that can cause weight gain and disease. This is why wheat gives you a belly.
While this is not the wheat your great-grandmother used, there are some ancient grains, such as einkorn, available today that healthier, easier to digest and, frankly, a superior alternative. So what is einkorn flour? Like two other ancient wheats, emmer (farro) and spelt flour, einkorn is a covered wheat — however, these ancient grains have less gluten and more nutrition than traditional whole wheat. That’s why einkorn flour offers health benefits whole wheat simply can’t. What are they? It’s a good source of protein, iron, dietary fiber, thiamine and several other B Vitamins. It also contains a significant amount of the powerful antioxidant lutein with higher antioxidant levels than durum and bread wheat. There is a much lower percentage of nutrient loss during processing of einkorn, and it can be substituted for whole wheat flour in most recipes, though it may result in a different texture. Regardless, the results are worth exploring, especially since the nutritional benefits likely outweigh other options.
Einkorn is an ancient wheat variety and one of the first cultivated cereal grains in history. It was cultivated as far back as the early Bronze Age — however, einkorn and other ancient wheats faded as modern hybrid wheats became a big part of wheat production.
Today, einkorn is grown mostly in Europe, but due to the high protein content and nutritional value it provides, it’s different than our modern wheat. When modern wheat breads were compared to breads made from einkorn in France, the einkorn breads had a light, rich taste, leaving the modern bread wheat products nearly tasteless and less desired. Einkorn grains, berries and flour are used in various food dishes, such as soups, salads, casseroles, sauces, breads, pastries, pancakes and waffles, and einkorn flour may be safer to eat than modern wheats for those that are gluten-sensitive. This wheat is thought to have originated in the upper area of the fertile crescent of the Near East. Through its wide distribution throughout the Near East, Transcaucasia, the Mediterranean region, southwestern Europe and the Balkans, einkorn was one of the first cereals cultivated for food.