Thus far, I have refrained from using whole grain flour to make cookies because I know that whole grain flour needs to be fermented properly using a souring agent such as whey, a live vinegar culture, or sourdough. The purpose of fermentation is to break down the phytic acid that is present in grains and prevents absorption of minerals during digestion. Too much phytic acid can actually lead to demineralization of the body. (See Our Bread.) Lately, there has been a lot of emphasis on using more whole grains in our diet and there have been several new cookies on the market promoting the use of whole grain flour.
Another way to neutralize phytic acid in whole grains is by sprouting the grain first and then using it as a flour. I located a mill in Pennsylvania that claimed to produce high quality sprouted spelt flour so we decided to take a drive down and learn more. Based on all we read and learned at the mill, we decided this was a perfect flour to work with for our cookies. Sprouting a grain actually changes its composition from a starch to a vegetable. When the grains are sprouted, they are converted into a living food allowing more vital nutrients to be absorbed by the body. Sprouting also produces Vitamin C, increases Vitamin B and carotene, and helps with absorption of magnesium, iron, copper and zinc, as reported by the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation. In addition, during the sprouting process enzymes are created that aid digestion, complex sugars are broken down which can eliminate painful intestinal gas and potent carcinogens and enzyme inhibitors are neutralized. Spelt is an ancient grain closely related to common wheat and is not suitable for people with celiac disease. It is possible that spelt is suitable for people with a wheat allergy or intolerance and, if this is the case, spelt can be a good substitute for common wheat. So now we had a wholesome, healthy flour chosen for the new cookies.
Next, we explored alternative options to refined sugar and butter or trans-fat based shortenings. Sucanat (DEHYDRATED cane juice) is produced from a pure cane juice, which naturally contains 13% molasses and 87% sugar. Through dehydration and aeration (hand-paddling, actually), a granular, dry, free-flowing brown sugar is produced which contains all of the molasses inherent in cane juice. It is an excellent source of iron, calcium, potassium, B vitamins and chromium, which helps balance blood sugar.
For our shortening, we decided upon trans-fat free palmfruit. In addition to its versatility in cooking, organic palm oil is also rich in antioxidants, such as beta carotene and vitamin E. Palm oil is not palm kernel oil. Because of its association with tropical oils, palm oil has received a lot of negative press in recent years as being a completely saturated/bad fat. But unlike palm kernel oil, which is derived from the palm seed and is highly saturated, palm oil comes from the palm fruit and contains a balance of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated fatty acid and essential substances such as linoleic acid, tocopherols an tocotrienols, which act as natural anti-oxidants against damaging free radicals.
It is with pride that we invite you to join us in this exciting journey towards health and great taste. Our Sprouted Grain Ginger Molasses cookie has candied ginger pulp, blackstrap molasses and a variety of ground spices.
I have been baking for 30 years fully committed to bringing better food to the world by using techniques and ingredients that promote sustainability and well-being. It is important to educate ourselves and share our knowledge in the hopes that we will all collectively benefit from that effort. The empty-calorie business is big. However, cookies can taste good and be wholesome too!