Botanical Name: Triticum Spelta
This grain dates back some 5.000 years BC to Ancient Mesopotamia. When the Industrial Revolution rolled through in the early 20th century, spelt took a back seat to its more modern and mass-produced cousin, wheat. Although spelt is one of the founders of the wheat family, it has been proven to have a more soluble molecular structure that allows for better assimilation. Now, much less abundant although slowly gaining popularity once more, it is present in Central Europe and Northern Spain.
Spelt looks a lot like wheat, except that its kernel is tightly surrounded by a tough outer husk or hull, which represents 30-35% of the grain’s total weight. Most importantly, the impressive nutritional value of the cereal is found in the inner grain, below this outer husk.
Spelt is not gluten-free, but it represents however an alternative for people intolerant to common wheat, since its different properties and makeup allow for a higher tolerance threshold. Considered a valuable whole-food, it is rich in fibre, protein, iron, magnesium and zinc, as well as the 9 amino-acids considered essential for the human body and large amounts of Vitamin B17 (anti-carcinoma); all higher values than with common wheat. Due to its high water solubility, these essential elements are available through easier digestion than with modern wheat. It also contains special carbohydrates which have been attributed a decisive role in blood clotting and stimulating the body’s immune system.
Spelt flour has a nutty, slightly sweet flavor and can be used in most recipes that call for regular or whole-wheat flour. It’s perfect for baking, an oatmeal alternative and substitute for pasta or rice. For those not interested in using spelt flour, it’s also easy and quick to cook, making it a realistic addition to those more skeptical of including these new types of ingredients to their diets. Cooked spelt also serves as an excellent addition to salads, yogurts and as a side dish.
- Nature’s Legacy: “What is Spelt?”. Accessed Nov. 2014.
- The Kitchn. “Good Grains: What is Spelt?“. Accessed Nov. 2014.
- The Spelt Bakers. “What is Spelt?“. Accessed Nov. 2014.
- About Health. “Spelt- Ancient Healthy Whole Grain“. Updated July, 2014.