Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Snack Series: Spelt English Muffins, Peanut Butter, Bananas

This is by far one of my favorite breakfasts or snacks: bread, bananas, peanut butter. Can you tell that breakfast is my favorite meal of the day? All of my snack series is quite breakfast-y. I often refer to my mid-morning snack as my second breakfast.

What is spelt? Have you heard of it? It is a distant cousin of wheat, older than our current hybrid of wheat, and was cultivated moderately in the US until farmers focused more on wheat in the 20th century. Spelt is back on the rise, thanks to a recognition of the health benefits of whole grains, and can be found in health stores, Whole Foods, and some grocery stores (look for Bob's Red Mill products). I found these spelt English muffins at Whole Foods, and I love them! They have a nice tangy-ness that I don't taste in wheat.

Spelt, like other whole grains, are very good for you. I found this mega article that spells out all of the wonderful things spelt does, but the short story is that it helps against atherosclerosis (a condition in which fatty deposits in the arteries slow blood flow and, over time, can cause heart attacks), helps prevent heart disease, lowers the risk of Type II Diabetes, and has fiber that can help prevent gallstones and breast cancer.

According to this article, spelt offers a broader spectrum of nutrients than wheat, which has been inbred and adapted to be easy to grow and harvest. Spelt contains gluten, so it's not a good substitute to use for people with gluten sensitivities or intolerance, but the gluten in spelt is easier to digest, which makes it a favorite among people with wheat sensitivities. One theory is that when the gluten in wheat is mixed, it becomes stronger, which makes it more difficult to digest. When the gluten in spelt is mixed, it becomes weaker, and is more easily digested.

What comes to mind when you think of whole grains? Do you think, "Mmmm, delicious and filling," or is it more along the lines of, "Dense. Chewy. Dry." If it's the latter, you've been missing out. Whole grains can be prepared in such delicious ways. Here is a great resource for trying out recipes that incorporate whole grains.

I talked a bit about peanut butter in this previous post and linked it to this fascinating article about its nutritional benefits. Peanut butter, when combined with whole grains, forms a complete protein.

Bananas are my all around favorite fruit. Not my favorite favorite; I don't know if I could choose. But in terms of versatility, portability, and pleasing flavor, bananas win. I'm happy that the local food store near my house has just started to carry fair trade bananas! They're a bit more expensive, but they're still so cheap compared to some other fruits.

This article has a treasure trove of information about bananas. There are nine major health benefits associated with eating bananas. I wanted to highlight a few of my favorites. Bananas have "phynolic phytochemicals" that help prevent neurodegenerative diseases because they protect neuron cells. Bananas are a great energy source because they have three different types of natural sugars (think sustained energy, not a spike of energy) and they also have fiber. The potassium in bananas helps muscles function well and prevents cramps.

No wonder this combination of whole grains, peanut butter, and bananas is one of my favorite! It's so delicious, and so good for my body.

Other posts you may like:

Banana Peanut Butter Oatmeal

Peanut Butter Bran Muffins

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