Give us this day our daily bread… Matthew 6:11
I don’t know about you, but to me the smell of homemade baked goods in the oven is aromatherapy. It is the smell of comfort, goodness, and joy!
It’s such a shame that so many people have intolerances and allergies to grains. Wheat seems to be the biggest culprit. Years ago we thought that my husband and daughter had an intolerance to wheat. They found that when they avoided wheat, their digestion and respiratory symptoms improved.
Wheat was not the only problem, however. It seemed that just about everything gave my husband heartburn. When I went grocery shopping, I would fill my cart with food and then buy a three-pack of over-the-counter acid reflux medication so my husband could keep his acid indigestion in check. At one point, I decided to eliminate one food after another, in the hopes that I could find out decisively, each and every food-culprit. What I found was that EVERYTHING gave him heartburn. I’m not kidding. The man would get heartburn after drinking a glass of water!
Nevertheless, wheat seemed to be one of the worst offenders and we avoided it for some time. That is until I read Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon, and realized that properly cultivated and properly prepared wheat can be tolerated by most people.
One thing I learned is that grains quickly go rancid after grinding. This is why most flours and commercially prepared baked goods and cereals have synthetic vitamins added in. Compare a bag of non-organic flour to a bag of organic flour. The non-organic flour would seem to be “healthier” because it lists vitamins as a percentage of daily recommendations, whereas the organic flour has no vitamins listed at all. Unfortunately, our bodies were not designed to uptake synthetic vitamins. So the non-organic, synthetically enriched flour is not really the healthier choice.
The best way to get our God-given nutrients is to eat our food in a form that is as close to the way God made it as possible.
We’ve been grinding our own grain with an electric grain grinder for over 20 years.
Grains are seeds and they are full of life and nutrition. This is true as long as the individual grains are not cracked open. Remember the story of Joseph and Pharaoh in the Bible? When preparing for 7 years of famine, Joseph told Pharaoh to store up as much grain as he could. The storehouses full of grain kept Egypt and Israel alive and well during the 7 years of famine, when little if any other food was available. Individual grain seeds are a food storage system, perfectly designed to store life-giving nutrients until they are needed!
Once the outer shell of the grain is broken or exposed to moisture, it ceases to be a sealed-tight storage system and the nutrients become readily available to nourish and strengthen our bodies. Of course, it’s important to begin with organic grains that are not laden with pesticides and herbicides.
Did you know that glyphosate is sprayed on conventional grain crops in the United States as part of the harvesting process? Yep, the same stuff that is used on lawns as a weed-killer! The glyphosate kills the plant, which speeds up the harvesting process. I recently read an excellent book on this topic, co-written by my favorite farmer, Joel Salatin. For more information on the topic of the problems with our food supply, I highly recommend Beyond Labels: A Doctor and a Farmer Conquer Food Confusion One Bite at a Time.
Once we stopped buying rancid pre-packaged baked goods and flours, we discovered that my husband and daughter could tolerate wheat quite well. There was one more principle that I learned from the book Nourishing Traditions that opened my eyes to the problem of the modern diet compared with traditional diets, when it comes to grains. Throughout history, traditional diets maximized nutrients and aided digestion by soaking, sprouting or sour leavening grains to neutralize phytates and enzyme inhibitors which naturally preserve the seeds. Many people who can’t tolerate grains will tolerate them well when they are prepared according to these traditional procedures.
This empanada recipe is my version of the original recipe I learned from Nourishing Traditions. My Picadillo filling is a little different than Sally Fallon's and reflects my husband's Cuban heritage. The original recipe recommends allowing the dough to stand 12 to 24 hours, but I usually mix it up in the morning and let it stand for 4-6 hours before rolling it out and baking. This is truly a family favorite!
- Cream yogurt with butter. Blend in flour and salt. Cover and leave in a warm place for 4-6 hours. When ready to prepare empanadas, start by making Picadillo Filling below. Filling can cool while rolling out the empanada pastry. There are two methods for making the dough circles. I have used them both. Method 1: Roll out dough with a rolling pin, using organic, unbleached flour for dusting to prevent sticking. Cut the dough into 6" rounds using a cookie cutter or large mason jar lid. Method 2: Make a 1" ball of dough and pat into a flat 6" disc by hand. (This method works well for kids helping in the kitchen!) Place flattened discs on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
- Heat in a large skillet over medium heat: 1 tablespoon bacon grease, lard or refined coconut oil, 2 pounds grass-fed ground beef. Break apart ground beef as you saute for 2-3 minutes. Then add:1 medium chopped onion, 2 cloves minced garlic. Cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in: 1 18 ounce jar diced tomatoes, ¼ cup sliced green olives, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, ½ teaspoon sea salt, ½ teaspoon ground black pepper. Cook, covered over medium heat until the beef is no longer pink, abut 10 minutes. Uncover the pan, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook briefly to evaporate any pan juices. Remove from the heat and let cool, while rolling out pastry dough and placing discs on parchment-lined baking pan.
- Place about 1/4 cup of cooled filling in the center of each round. Fold pastry in half and press edges together with the tongs of a fork. Repeat until all of dough or filling has been used.Brush with: 1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon milk. Bake in a preheated 400° oven until nicely browned, about 20 minutes. Serve warm or cooled. We like to top with salsa and sour cream but they are delicious plain as well.
Empanadas can be filled with various other fillings. Dessert empanadas are wonderful filled with guava jelly and cream cheese and sprinkled with sugar.