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Spelt

Spelt is a nutty flavored ancient cereal grain that is related to wheat. It is richer in nutrients and water-soluble fiber than most wheat varieties. Spelt can be used in the same way as wheat to make breads, other baked goods and pasta while it does not seem to cause intolerance in people with wheat or gluten sensitivities.

Spelt
The thermal nature is warming.
The flavour is .
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What it is

Spelt is an ancient cereal grass crop with light red kernels and a nutty flavor, the whole grains often being referred to as spelt berries. It is a relative of wheat having its origins in Southeast Asia. It was taken to the Middle East over 9000 years ago and since those times it cultivation has spread throughout Europe. In recent times Spelt has become known for its healing qualities, it is praised in the writings of the 12th century healer St. Hildegard of Bingenjas the grain best tolerated by the body.

Spelt can be used in very similar ways to wheat, with the distinction being that people with wheat allergies often do not have a reaction to it. Although spelt contains gluten, people with gluten intolerance - Coeliac Disease – can often tolerate this grain.

Spelt has a very thick husk that protects the grain from insects and pollutants. It is normally stored with the husk intact, this keeps it fresher. Unlike other grains it is not usually treated with pesticides or other chemicals.


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What is in it

Spelt is rich in nutrients with a broader spectrum that most grains. It is higher in protein, fat and fiber than most wheat varieties. One of its most important factors is its highly water-soluble fiber, which dissolves easily and allows nutrients to be efficiently taken up by the body.

Spelt is an excellent source of manganese and a good source of fiber, phosphorus, Vitamin B3 (niacin), magnesium, protein and copper.


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What it is good for

Spelt is often made into a thin porridge or congee to treat debilitating conditions, 

• Strengthens the spleen-pancreas
• Moistens dryness in the body
• Treats diarrhea and constipation (use whole berries)
• Improves poor digestion
• Treats colitis
• Treats intestinal disorders
• Helps prevent heat disease
• Reduces cholesterol
• Lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes
• Prevents gallstones

Used to treat 
• Chronic conditions of the digestion
•  Chronic infections (herpes, AIDS)
• Nerve and bone disorders – Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis
• Cancer
• Antibiotic side effects


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When you get it

Spelt products can be found in markets all year around


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Which to select

Use only whole grain spelt products as they still have the bran and germ intact. Use the most fresh products possible. Once the grains have been processed they will begin to degrade.

Spelt grains can usually be bought packages or in bulk containers. For the freshest product buy grains that are stored well in sealed airtight containers in markets or shops with good turnover. Be sure that there is no evidence of moisture or mold. 

Buy only organic grains as poisons and toxins seem to concentrate in the grains of cereal grasses.


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Where to store

Store spelt in a well-sealed container away from light and heat. If stored correctly they can keep well for up to 1 year. Once they have been cooked, store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator where they will keep for a few days keep for a few days.

Flour and other ground products should be produces as close as possible to the time it is needed. Spelt flour should be stored in the refrigerator to retain its full nutritional value and so it does not turn rancid.

If stored well, the whole grains should keep for up to one year and the flour or rolled grains for several months.


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How to use

Wash spelt well under running water to remove any dirt and debris as you would for all grains. Soak the grain for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and then add 3 parts water to 1 part spelt berries. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about one hour.

• Serve cooked spelt berries as a substitute for rice or potatoes.
• Cook spelt pasta
• Add spelt flour to all your favorite baking recipes


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Things to watch out for

Spelt is a gluten grain. People with Coeliac Disease should be aware that there is a possibility that they can be intolerant to the gluten in spelt, although they can often tolerate it well. Discuss using spelt with your healthcare practitioner. 


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References

The Journal of Nutrition – The American Society for Nutrition, http://jn.nutrition.org, retrieved 02/2009.

Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spelt,  retrieved 02/2009.

Quality of Spelt Wheat and its Starch, Wilson, Jeff, Bechtel, Donald - RETIRED ARS, Wilson, G W - KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY, Seib, P - KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY, May 10, 2008,  http://www.ars.usda.gov/research/publications/Publications.htm?seq_no_115=205519, retrieved 02/2009.

Prepared by the editors at Harvard Health Publications in consultation with Meir J. Stampfer, M.D., Dr.P.H., Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, Vitamins and Minerals: What you need to know,  Harvard School of Public Health, 2008.

Bratman, Steven, and David Kroll. Natural Health Bible. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1999.

Paul Pitchford. Healing with whole food, North Atlantic Books, 2002.

Goldman L, Ausiello D. Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders, 2004.

Norton Greenberger M.D. and Roanne Weisman, 4 Weeks to Healthy Digestion, Harvard School of Public Health. (2008)


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