18 January 2010

Josie's Bread

The night before Josie was born

When I was pregnant with Josie, I switched from an OB to a midwife with only three months to go.  My husband and I saw the documentary "The Business of Being Born," and it made me change my mind about everything I thought I wanted as far as the birthing process was concerned.  My family is very traditional in terms of doctors and medicine.  I didn't know that there were so many options available for having babies until my lamaze instructor clued me in.  (On a side note, I have remained very close with said lamaze instructor and because of my experience, Lamaze International has asked me to be a spokes person for them.  I have to do a video bit and tell my story...how cool!)

It took me a week of constant calls to find a midwife who would take me on at six months pregnant.  Finally I found Barbara Charles in Long Island.  She delivers babies in a birthing center operated out of a hospital.  It was exactly what I wanted.  Barbara is a little wacko in a good way.  If there was a Saturday Night Live sketch or a sitcom portraying a midwife, she would be the one for the job.  She's a little hippie, a little granny and a lot of love.

When Barbara told me I had to drastically change my diet because I had gained too much weight, I was sad.  When she told me I couldn't eat any more bread, I was devistated.  I'm a baker; how can I give up bread?  Not even whole wheat or multi-grain, I asked.  She said she'd allow one slice of toast a week.  Yikes!  What was on my plate?  Mostly veggies, no fruit (too sugary), some meats were included on the list.  It was impossible.  There were some things she mentioned that sparked my interest.  Nettle is good for milk production and quinoa supposedly helps fortify the breast milk.  Hemp seeds are high in omegas (brain power) and flax seeds contain B-vitamins.

I decided to create an homage to Barbara and to the my unborn baby in the form of a loaf.  I would create a bread I could eat.  Grains, in general, are hard for your body to process.  They have to be denatured in order to be processed at all.  Denaturing can be accomplished by soaking, cooking, grinding, etc.  A lot of times this is done without being realized.  Think about preparing rice or baking with whole wheat flour.  I decided to sprout the grains for the bread.  Sprouting is just what it sounds like.  I give the grains just enough water for them to sprout.  It's like starting a garden.   By sprouting the grains before grinding them into a paste, enzymes are released and the grains are sort of predigested and changed from carbohydrate to protein.  All this means is the body can easily absorb ALL the vitamins and minerals contained in the grain and the calorie and carb content is drastically decreased.  This is the basic idea behind the raw food diet craze.

I played with a lot of different techniques in terms of sprouting and baking.  For instance, when flax seeds are hydrated, they release a gooey substance, in much the same way okra does when it's cooked.  This stuff prevents the other grains from sprouting if they are all sprouted together.  In the end, it took almost a year to come up with an optimal product.  Obviously, Josie was part of the family and Keegan was on his way but without Josie, this bread wouldn't be.

The Final Product

Josie's bread is made from sprouted wheat berries and quinoa.  Wheat berries are the grain that is ground to make wheat and white flour.  Using the whole berry instead of just the milled portion is packing in the nutrients.  Quinoa is a 'super food'.  It is the only grain to form a complete protein by itself.  Normally, grains have to be combined with legumes to form a protein, beans and ricefor example.  Three days prior to baking, I start sprouting the grains.  Once they all have shoots coming from them, I grind them into a paste.  On the day of the bake, I mix the paste with rye flour, spelt flour, whole wheat flour, local honey (which helps ward off allergies to local pollen), dried nettle leaf, whole flax seeds, hulled hemp seeds, oats, water, yeast and salt.  This unconventional dough is shaped into loaves and allowed to rise.  It is then baked yeilding a dense product akin to a german black rye.  The flavors are very earthy.  It smells almost like a fresh cut lawn and tastes of the complex blend of seeds and grains.

The benefits of this bread stretch beyond pregnancy.  Diabetics have found it has a low glycemic index on account of the reduced carbs.  Customers with a gluten intolerance have been able to partake in a loaf because rye and spelt flour contain little to no gluten.  The bread is also fiber rich thus stimulating digestion.  I'm trying not to say 'it keeps you regular' but it keeps you regular.  It stores remarkably well both at room temperature and frozen.  Also, it is yummy... the best byproduct of all!

Send me an email, crampsey@gmail.com,  if you're interested in ordering a loaf of Josie's Bread.  Due to it's natural ability to last a long time, it ships well too.  That being said, I bet it won't last a long time once you try a slice!

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