rains are the base for almost every type of diet on planet earth.  Even the diets based on animal foods are, by extension, based on grains, for the domestic animals we use for food products are largely fed on grains and grasses—we just get some of the nutrition second hand when we eat the animal product, or the animal itself.  When we eat the grains unrefined, we get the benefit of all the good nutrients that are packed into these valuable foods.  Because of it’s importance and the fact that rice is not a common food item in Ireland, we’ve discussed that grain on a page of its own.

Ireland is blessed with a heritage of using wholesome grain products.  The many wholemeal breads are always a good addition to the diet.  Oat porridge, a traditional Irish food, is a good high energy food.  The more we use wholemeal products instead of the refined white products, the better it is for our health.

We are blessed to be able to purchase many kinds of wholemeal bread in most of our stores, but home baked is still the best!  In our home fresh bread, made with love and good ingredients, was one of the important parts of life as our children were growing.  There are many different recipes and methods, so we won’t spend time here talking about that aspect, but will take a few minutes to think about using grains in other ways in cooking.

Before we leave the subject of breads, one fun way to cook bread dough is as pita, or pocket breads.  This just takes regular yeast rising bread dough and a rolling pin:  Form the dough into small lumps, as you would for something like muffins.  Roll the dough lumps into round, flat, pieces, rolling from the centre toward the edges.  Let raise for about twenty minutes.

The oven needs to be heated up to at least 205 degrees (Celsius), as high as your oven will go.  Put your cookie sheets in the oven to bring them up to temperature.  When the dough is finished raising, take the hot sheets from the oven and place the round breads on the sheets, turning them upside down, so the top of the bread is down on the cookie sheet.  This is very important, and the key to success.  The gases in the bread need to be driven up quickly to cause the bread to pocket when it is put into the oven.  Put the sheets into the oven quickly, before they cool down, and watch closely.  It shouldn’t take more than about ten minutes to cook, they burn rapidly if left in too long.  These are delicious stuffed with many different things, our children enjoyed filling them with peanut butter and apples, both fresh and cooked into sauce, or peanut butter and banana smashed together to make a filling.

One of the big industries in our industrialized world is the breakfast foods industry.  While there are several whole meal products on the shelves, many of the products are made with refined grain flours and sugars, not the best food in several dimensions. Using a mixture of porridge oats, chopped nuts, seeds like sunflower, sesame, or flax (linseed), honey, peanut butter or some vegetable oil, chopped dates and resins, mixed together and then baked at a low temperature until a toasty brown makes a great, whole grain breakfast granola.  Again, there are many recipes for this type of preparation, using various food products in various quantities.  The trick is using what is available to you in a good tasting way to make nutritious foods for your family.  Type two diabetes is occurring in epidemic proportions in Ireland today, and the high fat, high sugar diet is fuelling this, along with obesity.  When we eat more unrefined grains, we are not only getting the nutrients that are taken out through the processing, but we are also getting the vital fibre that is extremely important to good, long term, health. The important B complex vitamins that are abundant in the unrefined grains are also important for proper growth, a healthy nervous system and sense of well being. 

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