This post contains affiliate links - thanks again for your support! If you read my initial post on sourdough, you'll know that I was actively questioning whether or not to try gluten again. After watching "Cooked" on Netflix, I was convinced to give it a go after almost 4 years of abstention. The thought of being able to consume real bread again, without consequence, was very enticing! When choosing a flour to start with, I wanted to go with something that is as far from modern wheat as possible, and it seemed like einkorn fit the bill perfectly. Einkorn is much less adulterated than modern wheat. It's genetics are much more simple, and it's lower in the gluten protein. That's good news for someone like me - as I was hopeful that sourdough fermentation would break down most, if not all, of the gluten in the flour. After doing some brand research, I decided that Jovial Foods einkorn flour was probably one of the best sources I could procure. As far as instructions go, you'll need a starter recipe which explains how to cultivate natural yeast. You'll also need a bread recipe -  I chose this one from Beets N Bones. It was very easy to follow, plus, it helps that her bread looks absolutely gorgeous. I had high hopes for mine! You'll also need some basic equipment. A digital scale (this one is inexpensive and works great), a large bowl, and a locking glass storage container. I followed the Jovial starter recipe for 5 days. You basically just combine warm water and flour in different proportions and let the mixture sit in your pantry. After a couple of days, I had bubbles! The fifth day is the first day that you are able to use the starter for bread. sourdough Now, I'm going to warn you - the bread baking process is long and tedious. On day 5, I took 1-2 tablespoons of the starter and mixed it with fresh flour and water. You need to let this mixture sit for 4-6 hours. This is called creating the "leaven." I wrapped the bowl in plastic wrap & a towel, and let it sit on the counter. IMG_2791 Meanwhile, my twins were doing this: IMG_2792 IMG_2793 After 4-6 hours have passed, you should see bubbles in the bowl. Then, you add 550 g of water to the leaven, and mix in 750 g of flour. Let it sit for 3 more hours. IMG_2807 Lastly, you add 15 g of salt and the remaining 25 g of water  - to create a very wet, sticky dough. IMG_2811 IMG_2813 This is the fun part. You get to turn the bowl and fold the dough over itself several times every 30 minutes for about 3 hours. The dough is supposed to increase in size by about 20-30%. It is incredibly sticky since Einkorn doesn't have a ton of gluten in it. Therefore, it really isn't going to knead like an all-purpose flour loaf. After this phase, I let it rise in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, I set it out for an hour to lose its chill. I followed the recipe and preheated a dutch oven for 20 minutes at 475, then baked for 15 minutes lid on, and about 20-25 minutes with the lid off. I didn't score my loaf - because I'm a straight up amateur. I'm really mad that I didn't, because it would have looked so much better. IMG_2820 As you can see, it came out very dense. I knew that I was using an immature starter and that my first loaf would probably be terrible. The good thing is - it tasted pretty fantastic. It was everything I ever wanted in experiencing gluten again. It was very sour and dense, but had a great, crispy exterior.  I did try to moderate how much I ate because I didn't know what after effects it might cause. Unfortunately, after a day or so, my loaf completely fell and any air pockets were lost. I know that future attempts will probably be better if I use a more mature starter. Will I make sourdough again? Normally, if I get "glutened," I feel bloated, nauseous, and experience serious tummy troubles. I did not react to the sourdough in that way at all. I did, however, experience something that I had not felt in a long time. Since watching my carb intake and going gluten-free four years ago, I very rarely feel my blood sugar go through the roof. After eating this bread - I could almost immediately feel it - it's a high from the carbohydrate, and then a subsequent crash. It reminded me of how I felt when I used to eat a standard American diet. There is also that sense of wanting to binge on freshly baked bread. It's certainly a gateway food for me where I lose self-control. I do not feel this way when I eat quinoa, GF bread, or rice. I think I would make sourdough again, but not for everyday. Maybe once in a blue moon, if I'm hosting a gathering or something where homemade bread would be a great addition to the menu (or if I just want to impress people ;-). The thing is, maintaining a sourdough starter is a lot of work if you only plan on making bread once or twice a year. You'd have to refrigerate it and diligently refresh it once per week just to have it on hand. You could create a new starter every time, but that requires A LOT of expensive flour and a huge amount of preparation time. Not to mention, if I keep making new starters and baking bread on the 5th day, my starter will never improve and neither will my bread's quality and texture. It's almost as if you have to go all in on sourdough bread. Commit to the effort and get results, or pretty much don't do it at all. This is one of the points in "Cooked" that spoke to me so much. After going through the process of baking bread by hand, without commercial yeasts, etc., I understand that it's definitely a labor intensive commodity. One of the men featured in the series implores you to eat whatever you want - so long as you make it yourself from scratch. Think about if you had to make ice cream from scratch before you could eat it. You'd probably never eat ice cream, save for maybe a very special occasion. We are not eating foods in quantities that match the effort to take to produce them, and it's making us sick. Every night, I find it very easy to make meat and vegetables for dinner. But, bread, cookies, cakes, pies - I can't have those on the table by 5 pm every day if I'm honoring the authentic means of production. Eating simply is eating naturally; unadulterated is easiest and usually best. Treats always have a place, but only on occasions when the effort, time, and cost are worthwhile endeavors. I have to say, being gluten free for so many years, I'm pretty happy where I am. Putting so much effort into something that I don't even regularly eat is probably not worthwhile for me. Perhaps as my kids get older, it might be a great project for homeschooling because there's a ton of science and exactitude involved. I'm glad I was inspired to try it and look forward to potentially enjoying it again as a rare treat. I'd love to read your thoughts!  Have you ever made homemade bread? Do you think it was worth the effort? Are there other foods that you like to make homemade occasionally?

I haven't consumed gluten in almost 4 years. If you've read my story, you know that I was not the healthiest a few years ago. I followed a very Standard American Diet - lots of processed grain products and sugar that wreaked havoc on my body. I had, what I thought was, adult-onset lactose intolerance. After eliminating grains from my diet (especially gluten), I experienced vast improvement in my health. My gut was healed, and after a few months, I was able to tolerate dairy again without issue. Since then, I've avoided gluten like the plague. I cook at home everyday and we generally eat out less than once per month. On those infrequent occasions that we do eat out - I'm careful. When something I don't agree with is somehow mixed in - I notice. The effects have sometimes lasted over a week. I enjoy doing things myself, and I think most food tastes best when I make it. I'm really not strict paleo or primal, and I don't like labels anymore. I feel great eating as balanced as possible, and sometimes that does include gluten-free grains. If I had to label myself, I'd just say I like the "real deal" -  home prepared meals that have been touched by my hands, whose wholesome beginnings originated in my mind. So why would I ever entertain eating gluten again? Well, I've recently started watching Michael Pollan's series on Netflix, titled "Cooked." If you have any interest in food - you cannot miss this. The first couple of episodes focused a lot on sourcing meats and our obsession with convenience foods - two subjects that I already had a fair amount of previous knowledge on. One of the most intriguing episodes, for me, focused on bread. gluten Much of the show follows people in other countries who painstakingly harvest wheat, grind it on a centuries-old millstone, and expertly shape perfectly, imperfect loaves of bread for their families to enjoy daily. The lengths that these people go to, in order to consume something that I so ardently avoid, is awe-inspiring. Pollan argues that over the past 6,000 years wheat has been a staple of our diet and our actual "bread of life" - how could we just now decide to demonize it? I often asked this question related to dairy - as my European ethnicity usually lends itself to dairy tolerance. As it turns out, I am very tolerant of dairy when my gut is healthy and at full digestive capability. Could the same be said for gluten? After watching the show, I can't disagree with any of the points he makes. And honestly, I haven't missed bread very much at all, until now. Perhaps we've gotten this gluten thing all wrong. As a person who doesn't have diagnosed celiac disease, I absolutely hate to hear people minimizing my issues with consuming gluten. If it were any other protein or ingredient, people probably wouldn't bat an eyelash on me avoiding  something because it didn't make me feel well.  The show does not minimize the struggle of those who experience distress when consuming gluten - it actually tries to explore why it's happening. Instead of feeling insulted, I'm opening my mind to the possibility that I'm not the problem, and neither is gluten. The problem is more deeply rooted in our industrial food system that works against the grain of nature. gluten I'm not sure that I've ever had properly prepared bread in my entire life. Properly prepared bread, according to Pollan, is what we consider "sourdough bread" that only has three ingredients: flour, water, and salt. These ingredients combine with the unique microbiome of your kitchen - to bubble, rise, and bake to crusty, sourdough perfection. It's a process that takes days to complete and is very energetically expensive for the baker. This study even found that properly fermented bread contained <20 ppm of gluten, enough to be technically considered "gluten free." What about the bread that I've consumed in my life? The bread that makes me feel sick? Well, first of all, it's not fermented. Second of all, it contains so many superfluous ingredients, including but not limited to: dough conditioners, commercial yeasts, gums, fibers, industrial oils, lecithins, corn derivatives, and more. As explained in the series - these additives are part of our convenience culture of wanting to make bread easy, quick, and accessible. Well, the process of making real bread is none of those things. Real bread involves a painstaking process that we are opting out of - at the expense of our health. Choosing to eschew the traditional methods changes the composition of this food entirely. Lastly, the wheat we primarily use today is completely different from the wheat of the past. We've bred it and engineered it to be mass-produced and make millions of loaves of chemically laden Wonder Bread. The wheat is not harvested the same, it's not dried the same, it's not ground the same - and it's certainly not "thrashed" or sprouted. One of my favorite people to listen to, Joel Salatin, has an awesome interview on this very topic here. I'm interested in learning more about this idea of "real bread" - and learning more about myself. It took some pretty drastic n=1 experimentation 4 years ago to get to a point where I felt and looked healthy, and the experiment is still ongoing. If the fermentation process (that we are completely missing out on from the time the grains are harvested to the time they enter our kitchen in a bag of Gold Medal), could break down the gluten and make bread digestible to me - would I try it? Maybe. Would I trust someone else to do it for me? Absolutely not. First of all, I'm too much of a control freak for that. Second, if this is a true experiment, I need to be completely sure of the methods. If I can tolerate this bread, will I start feeding myself and my family gluten ad libitum? Absolutely not. I know I will never (knowingly) consume commercially prepared products containing gluten ever again. And as for my children, that's a decision they can make when they're old enough to make it. I also know that, for me, any grain products will never trump good quality meats, vegetables, and dairy products. But, if I was open minded enough to succeed with grain elimination, it's feasible that I could give this a try. Check for updates on this experiment, I'll keep you posted. I'd love to hear your input on this. Have you watched the show? Would you try "real" bread after years of avoiding it? Want to subscribe to get email updates when I post something new? Click here!