Grief’s Unseen Grip: A Personal Story of Loss & Reconnection

The Weight of Loss: When Grief Feels Numb

Family. It’s a word that’s always felt a bit tangled for me. Most of those I call family aren’t bound by blood. I often joke about getting older, how the kids are growing up faster than me. But the truth is, it’s not just the kids who change. It’s everyone around us, including ourselves.

For reasons I’ve opened up about before, grief and I have never been on good terms. In many ways, I’ve felt oddly numb to death, even when those I loved deeply slipped away. I’ve often wondered, “What’s wrong with me? Why don’t I feel the way I’m supposed to?” I made a strange sort of deal with death: if it kept knocking at my door, I wouldn’t give it the satisfaction of my tears. Maybe, if I starved it of my sorrow, it would just give up.

But instead, it was me who withered away. My compassion evaporated like morning dew, understanding became a maze I couldn’t navigate, and empathy? Well, let’s just say it took a back seat.

Shortly after I moved to Ohio, a death that should have shaken me to my core barely registered. Now, don’t get me wrong—I was hurt, but I didn’t know how to show it. I dove headfirst into supporting others, but when I came home, I felt… hollow.

Untangling the Threads of My Grief:

  1. Pushing It Down: I wasn’t processing grief, I was burying it under a mountain of other messy emotions.
  2. Death’s Familiar Face: Death has been a shadow in my life since I was just a baby. It became so commonplace that each loss felt less like a gut punch and more like a dull ache—painful, yes, but fleeting.
  3. The Grief Stopwatch: I put a time limit on my sadness, convincing myself that those who were gone wouldn’t want me to mourn. Maybe that’s true, but what they truly wanted was for me to be healthy, and this certainly wasn’t it.

When Everything Unraveled:

During the COVID-19 lockdowns, my carefully constructed wall of indifference finally crumbled. Trinity, my beloved cat, passed away. She was more than just a pet; she was a lifeline. Whenever I felt myself slipping, the thought of her would pull me back from the edge.

When she died, everything fractured. I grieved not only for her, but for every loss I could dredge up from my memory. Fear also crept in—if Trinity couldn’t stay, how was I supposed to?

It became clear: I had to learn how to live for myself. It wasn’t easy then, and it’s still a work in progress.

Now, some of my childhood friends are facing the unimaginable pain of losing their parents. It’s a heartache I wouldn’t wish on anyone. We all know it’s coming, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less.

Finding My Way Through the Grief

Outside of talking to my therapist weekly (which I highly recommend!), I have a few things I do now to help me move through grief.

  1. Acceptance: Whatever the circumstances were with the person I lost, I had to come to terms with them. I can’t beat myself up for things I can no longer change or dwell on unsettled business. If I never said or heard “I’m sorry” or “I love you,” it’s too late for that face-to-face exchange. But I’ve found that talking out loud as if I were talking to them helps, or writing a letter. Another part of acceptance, especially with complicated relationships, is realizing that my feelings are valid and have always been mine to understand. I can’t control how I feel, but I can control how those feelings influence my actions.
  2. Zigzagging Through It: Healing the heart isn’t like healing the body. There will be days when the pain is so heavy you can barely stand, and other days when you may not think about it at all. Grief doesn’t follow a set path; you can bounce around the stages. It’s not linear.
  3. Express Yourself: Cry. Scream. Meditate. Bake. Find a way to express your grief that feels right for you and doesn’t harm anyone else. Make or get their favorite food or meal. Watch a movie they loved.
  4. Remember: Memories can be painful, but they can also remind us of all the love that was shared. What if you don’t have good memories? Coming from an abusive past, I know it’s hard to grieve someone who hurt me deeply. In those cases, I try to lean into understanding. While that knowledge doesn’t erase anything they’ve done, it helps me reconcile their death in my mind.

If you’re hurting, please know this:

You are not alone. I am here. I see your pain, and I will grieve with you.

Resources for Grief and Healing:

  • The Dougy Center: (https://www.dougy.org/) A national organization that provides support and resources for grieving children, teens, young adults, and their families.
  • GriefShare: (https://www.griefshare.org/) An online grief support program with videos, discussion groups, and personal study exercises.
  • What’s Your Grief?: (https://whatsyourgrief.com/) A website with articles, resources, and a supportive community for people experiencing all types of grief.
  • The Grief Recovery Method: (https://www.griefrecoverymethod.com/) A program that provides a structured approach to healing from loss.
  • Hospice organizations: Many hospices offer grief support groups and counseling services to the community.
  • Community centers: Some community centers offer grief support groups or workshops.
  • Therapists and counselors: Individual therapy with a mental health professional can be immensely helpful for processing grief.
  • Support groups: Connecting with others who are grieving can provide comfort and validation. You can find grief support groups through hospitals, hospices, community centers, or online platforms.

Remember, healing takes time and there’s no right or wrong way to grieve. Seek out support, be kind to yourself, and allow yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling.

Grief: Anniversaries of Loss

An African American woman in her 40s sits in contemplative grief, marking a death anniversary. She gazes out a window at a serene, rainy scene, reflecting on her healing journey. A cozy setting with a cup of tea and a soft blanket adds to the atmosphere of reflection and peace.

This year, on my mom’s death anniversary, the mask is off. I’m sitting here, the calendar glaring at me, a digital tombstone marking a day that usually triggers a deep dive into grief. But today, the emotions are raw and overwhelming. I’m not okay, and for the first time in years, I’m not trying to pretend I am. As I embark on this healing journey, I’m learning to embrace the complexities of grief and to find solace in honoring my authentic feelings.

I know our relationship wasn’t the Hallmark kind. It was complicated, filled with more thorns than roses. But grief isn’t logical, is it? It’s a messy, primal thing that tears down the walls we carefully build around our hearts

The Cloak of Sadness: Navigating the Seasons of Grief

Every year, as spring turns to summer, from now until around July 4th, a cloak of sadness descends on me. The dates themselves slip by almost unnoticed, but their weight presses heavily on my heart. I’m embracing the raw truth of my grief journey.

The season of grief starts early for me, with anniversaries of loss and post-life birthdays beginning in early March. This year, I’ve committed to allowing myself to grieve, and it’s been brutal. The emotions hit me like a tidal wave, knocking me off my feet and leaving me breathless and raw. It’s like my heart is a battlefield, and the war is far from over.

A brief respite comes around my birthday, only to be followed by another wave of sorrow as the holiday season approaches. Thanksgiving is bittersweet; I yearn for the lively celebrations with loved ones, but they are always tinged with sadness. And Christmas? I downright hate it.

Shedding the Mask: Embracing Vulnerability for Healing

It’s all so strange to me. I understand that this is part of my healing journey, but I miss the old me, the one who could slap on a smile and fool everyone, including myself, into thinking I was okay. I miss the mask I wore so well, the one that shielded me from the depths of my sorrow.

But the mask is off now, and there’s no going back. As I navigate this path, I realize that shedding that mask is a crucial step toward genuine healing. It’s uncomfortable, it’s painful, but it’s necessary. And in these moments of vulnerability, I am learning to be kinder to myself, to embrace my grief, and to honor the complexity of my emotions.

A Mother’s Day Short Essay

Sunlight streamed through the window today, a familiar warmth washing over me as I opened the blinds and curtains. It was Mom’s ritual, a simple act that always welcomed the morning light. It felt comforting, yet bittersweet.

Mother’s Day always brings a mix of emotions. There’s love, of course, but also pain and questions that linger. The more I learn about myself, the more I understand her, even the parts that hurt. It doesn’t excuse anything but opens a path toward healing – a path I’m slowly finding my way on.

Today, with the sunlight flooding in, I chose to open the blinds as a promise to myself—a promise to open my heart a little wider and embrace the messy, complicated truth of our story. Forgiveness may not be within reach, but healing, understanding, and empathy still are. And maybe, just maybe, that’s enough for today.

31 Days of Women 2024

Hey everyone! I’m so excited to share the video of my keynote speech from Sinclair College’s 31 Days of Women celebration. It’s called “Unveiling Your Inner Quintessence,” and it’s all about those amazing qualities that make us who we are.

This speech is super close to my heart because I opened up about my own journey, the struggles I’ve had with always trying to be perfect, and how taking care of myself has truly changed my life. Plus, it’s a chance to celebrate all the incredible women who were honored at the event!

I hope this video inspires you to embrace those little quirks that make you unique and to recognize the strength and beauty that lies within each of us.

Take a few minutes to watch it, and let me know what you think!

A Culinary Legacy: Learning from My Mom’s Kitchen

My mom, actually my grandmother who raised me, was an excellent cook and a true food lover. Her kitchen was typically filled with the delicious aromas of classic Louisiana cooking, but when it came to her personal tastes, she craved anything but the usual Southern fare.

Most Saturdays, you’d find us parked in front of the TV, watching PBS cooking shows and, eventually, the Food Network. She was always fascinated by new and exotic dishes. As I grew older and started learning how to cook, she encouraged me to focus on the diverse recipes we saw on TV. She often said she could teach me her style of cooking anytime, but unfortunately, that day never came. I’ve had to figure things out for myself.

She was the queen of blending scratch-made and doctored dishes. I don’t think I ever saw her make a pie crust or biscuits from scratch—not that I blame her for it. She was busy, tired, and often ill. It just goes to show how she didn’t always follow the expected path.

I wish I had learned how to make her gumbo, but I’m proud of my version. While she didn’t pass down her recipes, she did instill in me a deep passion for cooking and food. She was far more adventurous than I am, but that adventurous spirit is something I cherish and strive to embody in my own kitchen.

Taysty Tips: Grain, Nut and Seed Meal | Flour Series

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Meals: A Delicious and Nutritious Staple in Many Cuisines

Welcome to the beautiful world of grain, nut, and seed meals! This is part 8 and our final part of the flour series. If you’re looking to add some variety and nutrition to your meals, then you’re in the right place. These versatile meal options are not only delicious but also offer a range of health benefits that are sure to impress. Whether you’re looking for gluten-free baking alternatives or simply want to explore the wide world of nuts and seeds, we’ve got you covered. So, grab a cup of coffee and get ready to learn about the history of these fantastic meal options, their common uses, and their nutritional benefits.

TBPK Flours Blog Part 8

Types of Meals

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Flax Seed

Flaxseed meal, also known as ground flaxseed, is a nutritious and versatile ingredient that is becoming increasingly popular in health-conscious diets. It is made by grinding flaxseeds into a fine powder and is packed with nutrients that can provide a range of health benefits.

Types

There are two types of flaxseed meal: golden and brown. Golden flaxseed meal is made from golden flaxseeds, while brown flaxseed meal is made from brown flaxseeds. Both types are equally nutritious and can be used interchangeably in recipes.

History

Flaxseed has been cultivated for thousands of years for both food and fiber. Ancient Egyptians used flaxseed to make linen, while early European settlers used it to make linseed oil. Flaxseed meal is a relatively recent development, but it has quickly gained popularity due to its nutritional value and versatility in cooking.

Common Uses

Flaxseed meal can be used in a variety of ways in cooking and baking. It is commonly used as a substitute for eggs in vegan baking, as it has a binding effect similar to that of eggs. It is also used as a healthy addition to smoothies, oatmeal, and yogurt.

Flaxseed meal can be added to bread and muffin recipes to provide a nutty flavor and a boost of nutrients. It can also be used as a healthy substitute for breadcrumbs in recipes such as meatloaf and meatballs.

Nutrition

Flaxseed meal is an excellent source of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and lignans, which are antioxidants that have been shown to have anti-cancer properties. It is also high in protein, magnesium, and phosphorus.

In addition to its nutritional value, flaxseed meal has been shown to have a range of health benefits, including lowering cholesterol levels, reducing inflammation, and improving digestion.

Cornmeal

Cornmeal is from ground corn that is commonly used in Southern and Mexican cuisine. It is a versatile and delicious ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes, from cornbread to tamales.

History 

Corn has been a staple food in the Americas for thousands of years. Native Americans were the first to cultivate corn, and it has since become a staple food in many cultures. Cornmeal was first used by Native Americans to make flatbreads and porridge, and it has since become a staple ingredient in Southern and Mexican cuisine.

Types 

There are several types of cornmeal, including:

Fine-grind cornmeal: This is the most commonly used type of cornmeal and is perfect for making cornbread, muffins, and other baked goods.

Coarse-grind cornmeal: This type of cornmeal has a grainy texture and is commonly used in Southern cuisine to make dishes such as grits and corn pudding.

Blue cornmeal: Blue cornmeal is made from blue corn and has a slightly sweeter and nuttier flavor than other types of cornmeal.

Common Uses

Cornmeal is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. In Southern cuisine, it is commonly used to make cornbread, biscuits, and fried foods such as hushpuppies and fried chicken. In Mexican cuisine, it is used to make tamales, tortillas, and other traditional dishes.

Cornmeal can also be used as a coating for fried foods, such as fish or chicken, to provide a crispy and flavorful crust. It can also be used in baking to provide a nutty and slightly sweet flavor to breads and muffins.

Nutrition

Cornmeal is a good source of fiber, protein, and several important vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B6, iron, and magnesium. However, it is also high in carbohydrates and should be consumed in moderation as part of a healthy diet.

Nut Meals

Nut meals, also known as nut flours, are made by grinding nuts into a coarse powder. They are a delicious and nutritious addition to your diet, providing a range of health benefits and adding a nutty flavor to a variety of dishes.

Types 

There are many nut meals, including almond, pecan, hazelnut, and walnut. Each type of nut meal has its unique flavor and can be used in various dishes, from baking to cooking.

History

Nuts have been a staple food in many cultures for thousands of years. Ancient Greeks and Romans used nuts in their cooking, and nuts have since become a popular ingredient in many cuisines worldwide. Nut meals are a relatively recent development, but they have quickly gained popularity due to their versatility and health benefits.

Common Uses

Nut meals can be used in a variety of ways in cooking and baking. They can be used as a substitute for wheat flour in gluten-free baking, as they provide a nutty flavor and a boost of nutrients. They can also be added to smoothies, oatmeal, and yogurt for a healthy and delicious breakfast.

Nut meals can be used in baking to provide a nutty flavor and a boost of nutrients. They can be used to make a variety of baked goods, from cookies and muffins to cakes and breads. They can also be used as a healthy substitute for breadcrumbs in recipes such as meatloaf and meatballs.

Nutrition

Nut meals are an excellent source of healthy fats, protein, and fiber, as well as several important vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, magnesium, and iron. They are also high in antioxidants, which can help protect against chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.

In addition to their nutritional value, nut meals have been shown to have a range of health benefits, including improving heart health, reducing inflammation, and promoting weight loss.

Chia Seed Meal

Chia meal is a fine powder made from ground chia seeds, which are a highly nutritious superfood. Chia meal is packed with a range of essential nutrients and can be used in a variety of ways to boost the nutritional value of your diet.

History 

Chia seeds have been used as a food source for thousands of years, dating back to the Aztecs and Mayans in Central and South America. They were used by these ancient civilizations as a source of energy for warriors and hunters. Chia seeds have since gained popularity as a superfood due to their high nutritional value and versatility.

Common

Chia meal can be used in a variety of ways to boost the nutritional value of your diet. It can be added to smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, and baked goods to provide a boost of nutrients and a nutty flavor. It can also be used as a healthy substitute for breadcrumbs in recipes such as meatballs and meatloaf.

Chia meal is a great source of fiber, protein, and healthy fats, making it an ideal ingredient for those looking to improve their overall health and wellbeing. It is also an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, including calcium, iron, and magnesium.

Nutrition

Chia meal is an incredibly nutritious superfood that is packed with a range of essential nutrients. It is a great source of fiber, providing over 10 grams per ounce, which can help promote digestive health and keep you feeling full for longer. Chia meal is also high in healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids, which can help improve heart health and reduce inflammation.

Chia meal is also a good source of protein, providing around 5 grams per ounce. This makes it an excellent ingredient for vegetarians and vegans who are looking for alternative sources of protein.

Let me know if you have tried any of these in your cooking! Use the hashtags #taysbpkitchen and #flourseries

Taysty Tips: Culinary Starch | Flour Series

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Tender and delicious whole poached chicken is versatile, and you can use it in unlimited ways.

The Versatile Power of Culinary Starch

Welcome to part 7 of our flour series.  We are discussing culinary starch, an ingredient that is often overlooked but is essential in many of our favorite recipes. From thickening soups and sauces to providing structure in baked goods, culinary starches are the secret ingredient to achieving the perfect texture in your dishes. This article will explore the different types of culinary starches, their common uses, and some fun facts about their history.

What is Culinary Starch?

TBPK Flours Blog Part 7

Culinary starch is a carbohydrate derived from various plant sources, commonly used in cooking and baking as a thickening agent or to add texture to recipes. There are many types of culinary starches, including cornstarch, potato starch, tapioca starch, arrowroot starch, and rice flour.

Culinary starches are primarily used in liquid-based soups, stews, sauces, and gravies to thicken the consistency. They work by absorbing liquid and swelling, which helps to create a smooth, consistent texture. Starches are also used in baking to add structure and texture to baked goods such as bread, cakes, and cookies.

Some culinary starches are naturally gluten-free, making them a popular substitute for wheat flour in gluten-free recipes. Starches can also be used in low-carb and keto baking to add texture and structure while keeping the carbohydrate content low.

They are a versatile ingredient in cooking and baking that can be used to add texture, structure, and thickness to a wide variety of recipes.

Culinary Starch vs. Flour

Culinary starch and flour are both common ingredients in cooking and baking, but they have distinct differences in terms of their properties and uses.

Culinary starches, such as cornstarch, potato starch, and tapioca starch, are primarily used as thickening agents in recipes. They are fine white powders made from the carbohydrate component of plants, and are added to liquid-based recipes such as soups, sauces, and gravies to thicken the consistency. Starch is typically added at the end of the cooking process, and it requires heat to activate its thickening properties.

Flour, on the other hand, is made from ground grains such as wheat, corn, or rice. Flour is primarily used as a structural ingredient in baking. It adds texture, flavor, and structure to baked goods such as bread, cakes, and cookies. Flour can also be used as a thickening agent in recipes like roux, which is made by mixing flour and fat to create a paste that thickens a sauce or soup. Unlike starch, flour does not require heat to activate its properties, and is typically added at the beginning of the cooking process.

Another key difference between starch and flour is their nutritional profile. Flour is a good source of carbohydrates, fiber, and some vitamins and minerals, depending on the type of flour. Starch, on the other hand, is a pure source of carbohydrates, and does not provide much in the way of vitamins and minerals.

In summary, culinary starch and flour have different properties and uses in cooking and baking. Starch is primarily used as a thickening agent, while flour is primarily used as a structural ingredient. Understanding the differences between these two ingredients can help you use them more effectively in your cooking and baking, as well as make informed decisions about their nutritional value.

Common Types

Cornstarch

Cornstarch is the most commonly used culinary starch. It is made from the endosperm of corn kernels and is a fine white powder. Cornstarch has a neutral taste and is often used to thicken sauces, soups, and gravies. It is also a common ingredient in baked goods, such as cakes and cookies.

Cornstarch was first patented in the United States in 1844, and since then it has become a staple in kitchens worldwide.

 

Potato Starch

Potato starch is a fine white powder made from the root of the potato plant. It is used to thicken soups and sauces, and it is also a common ingredient in gluten-free baking. Potato starch has a neutral taste and is an excellent thickener for cold liquids.

Potato starch has been used in cooking for centuries. The Incas and the Spanish both used potatoes as a source of starch in their cooking.

Arrowroot

Arrowroot is a fine white powder made from the root of the arrowroot plant. It is a popular thickener for sauces, puddings, and pie fillings. Arrowroot has a neutral taste and is also used as a gluten-free substitute for flour in baking.

Arrowroot has been used in cooking for over 7,000 years, dating back to the Arawak people of South America.

 

Tapioca

Tapioca is a fine white powder made from the cassava root. It is often used to thicken puddings and pie fillings, as well as in gluten-free baking. Tapioca has a neutral taste and is often used as a thickener for fruit fillings.

Tapioca has been used in cooking for centuries in South America, Africa, and Asia.

Rice Starch

Rice starch is made from rice flour and is often used in gluten-free baking as a substitute for wheat flour. It is also a common ingredient in Asian cooking as a thickener for sauces and soups.

Rice starch has been used in cooking for centuries in many Asian countries, where rice is a staple food.

Wheat Starch

Wheat starch is made from the endosperm of wheat kernels and is used in many baked goods as a binding agent. It is also used in Asian cooking as a thickener for sauces and soups.

Wheat starch has been used in cooking for centuries, dating back to ancient civilizations in the Middle East.

In conclusion, culinary starches play an important role in the kitchen. They are used to thicken sauces, bind ingredients, and create crispy coatings on fried foods. Each type of starch has its own unique properties and uses, and they all have a rich back history. From cornstarch to wheat starch, culinary starches are an essential ingredient in many dishes and have been used in cooking for centuries.

Taysty Tips: Specialty Flour | Flour Series

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Discover the Diverse World of Specialty Flours: Beyond All-Purpose

 Whether you’re a seasoned baker or a curious cook, this guide will introduce you to the different types of specialty flours and their uses, so you can start experimenting in the kitchen and discovering a whole new world of flavor.

specialty flour

Specialty Flours

Welcome to the final part of my six-part series on flour.  We have dipped into common, nut, rice, and alternative.  We are capping it off with the world of specialty flours!

Specialty flours are often used for specific baking purposes, giving a unique texture, flavor, and color to baked goods. Let’s dive into some of these special flours and see what sets them apart.

High Gluten

High gluten flour is a type of wheat flour that is made from hard spring wheat, which has a higher protein content compared to other types of wheat flour. This type of flour is specially formulated to have a high gluten content, which means it contains more gluten-forming proteins like glutenin and gliadin. The result is a flour that is ideal for making bread, as it provides the structure and elasticity necessary to form a strong, airy loaf with a chewy texture.

The high protein content in high gluten flour also makes it a great choice for pizza crust, as it allows the dough to rise and maintain its shape without becoming too dense. It can also be used in artisan breads, bagels, and other baked goods that require a lot of structure.

To use high gluten flour as a substitute for regular flour, it’s best to start by using it in combination with another flour. This will help to balance out the extra protein and create a more manageable dough. As a general rule, start by using 25-50% high gluten flour in your recipe, and adjust as needed based on the results you’re seeing.

Rye

Rye flour is flour made from the grinding of rye grains. The history of rye flour dates back to the Middle Ages in Eastern Europe, where it was widely cultivated and used as a staple grain. Rye flour was particularly popular in countries with harsh climates, such as Germany, Poland, and Russia, due to its ability to grow in poor soil conditions and withstand harsh weather. In the 16th century, rye flour made its way to America, where it became a popular ingredient in baked goods, particularly in the form of hearty, dark rye loaves of bread. Today, rye flour is still widely used in many parts of the world for making bread, crackers, and other baked goods and continues to be a staple ingredient in many traditional cuisines.

There are several types of rye flour, each with its unique flavor, texture, and nutritional profile. Here is a brief overview of some of the most common types of rye flour, along with their histories, common uses, and nutritional information:

  • Dark Rye Flour: This flour is made from whole rye kernels and has a deep, robust flavor that is perfect for hearty bread, crackers, and other baked goods. Dark rye flour is rich in fiber, protein, and vitamins B and E, making it a nutritious choice for those looking to boost their overall health.
  • White Rye Flour: White rye flour is lighter in color and flavor than dark rye flour and is typically made from a blend of whole rye kernels and refined rye flour. This flour is often used in light, fluffy baked goods like white bread, bagels, and pastries. White rye flour is lower in fiber and other nutrients than dark rye flour but still contains a good amount of protein.
  • Pumpernickel Flour: Pumpernickel flour is made from dark rye kernels and has a distinctive, rich flavor that is often used in traditional European-style bread. This flour is exceptionally high in fiber, making it a great choice for those looking to improve their digestive health. Made from whole grain rye, this flour is used to make traditional German Pumpernickel bread. It has a slightly sour and nutty flavor and gives bread a dense texture and dark color.
  • Irish Style Flour: Irish style flour is a unique blend of rye flour and wheat flour used to make traditional Irish soda bread and other baked goods. This flour has a lighter flavor and texture than dark rye flour, making it a good choice for those who want to enjoy the taste of rye without the heavy, dense texture.

Each type of rye flour has its unique flavor, texture, and nutritional profile, making them ideal for different uses and dietary needs. Whether you want to add a touch of flavor to your baked goods, boost your fiber and protein intake, or enjoy the health benefits of rye, rye flour is right for you.

Masa Harina

Masa harina is a corn flour made from dried masa, a dough made from hominy, a type of corn that has been treated with an alkali to remove the rigid outer hull and germ. “Masa” means “dough” in Spanish, and masa harina is used to make traditional Mexican dishes like tortillas and tamales.

The history of masa harina can be traced back to the ancient civilizations of Mesoamerica, who used hominy and masa dough for various food preparations, including the famous tortillas. Today, masa harina is widely available and is used by many households and restaurants in Mexican cuisine.

. It is used to make tortillas, tamales, and other traditional dishes.

Corn

Corn flour is a type of flour made from finely ground cornmeal. It is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes such as cakes, sauces, soups, and breads. Corn flour has a mild, sweet, and slightly nutty flavor and is usually light yellow in color. It is a good source of carbohydrates and provides a small amount of protein, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals. Corn flour can be found in most grocery stores and can be substituted for other types of flour in many recipes. However, it is important to note that corn flour is not the same as cornstarch, which is used as a thickener in cooking and baking.

Corn Flour vs. Cornmeal vs. Masa Harina

Corn flour, masa harina, and cornmeal are all derived from corn, but they have distinct differences in texture, flavor, and uses.

Corn flour is a finely ground corn product that is similar to wheat flour in texture and color. It is used as a thickener in soups and sauces and as a coating for fried foods.

Masa harina, on the other hand, is made from hominy, which is corn that has been treated with an alkali to remove the tough outer skin and germ. Masa harina is used in traditional Mexican dishes such as tortillas and tamales. It has a coarser texture and a slightly sweet and nutty flavor compared to corn flour.

Cornmeal is also made from ground corn, but it has a coarser texture and a distinct corn flavor. It is commonly used in baking and as a coating for fried foods. Cornmeal can range from fine to coarse grind, but it is not as fine as corn flour or masa harina.

 When substituting between the three, it’s important to consider the desired texture and flavor outcome of the dish.

Italian Style

A type of bread flour, Italian style flour is made from a blend of hard and soft wheats that is used to make a variety of baked goods, including focaccia, ciabatta, and panettone. This type of flour has a light, airy texture and a mild, slightly sweet flavor, making it a popular choice for those who want to enjoy the taste of rye in a lighter form

“00”

“00” flour is a type of Italian flour that is commonly used in pizza and pasta making. Its name refers to the texture of the flour, which is finely ground to create a powdery, silky consistency.

The history of “00” flour can be traced back to Italy, where it has been used for centuries in traditional Italian cuisine. It was originally developed for making Neapolitan-style pizza and has since become popular for a variety of baked goods.

In terms of protein content, “00” flour is lower in protein compared to other types of wheat flour. This makes it ideal for creating a light and tender texture in baked goods like pizza crusts and pasta. The low protein content also helps to create a softer dough that is easier to roll and shape.

In terms of nutrition, “00” flour is a refined flour, meaning that it has been stripped of its bran and germ. This means that it is lower in fiber and nutrients compared to whole grain flours. However, it is still a source of carbohydrates and can be used in a variety of baked goods and dishes.

Common uses for “00” flour include pizza crusts, pasta, bread, and other baked goods. It is particularly valued for its ability to create a light, tender texture and a delicate crumb structure.

“00” vs Italian Style

00 flour and Italian-style flour are two different types of wheat flour used in Italian cuisine.  Their histories are intertwined with Italian cuisine’s history and wheat cultivation’s evolution in Italy. “00” flour, also known as doppio zero flour, is a highly refined, soft wheat flour often used to make pasta and pizza. It got its name from the grading system used in Italy, where the number 0 indicates the finest and whitest flour, and the double zero (00) means the flour is the finest of the fine. 00 flour has a low protein content (usually around 9-11%). It is characterized by a soft, powdery texture that makes it ideal for creating tender, delicate doughs.

Italian-style flour, on the other hand, refers to a type of flour that is typically used for Italian-style bread baking. It has a slightly higher protein content than “00” flour and is considered an all-purpose flour. Italian-style flour is often made from wheat flour, durum flour, and malted barley flour, which gives it a slightly different taste and texture than other all-purpose flours. A protein content ranging from 11-13% Italian-style flour and a somewhat stronger gluten structure make it ideal for bread, pastries, and other baked goods that require a bit more structure.

Both “00” flour and Italian-style flour have been used in Italian cuisine for hundreds of years, but as wheat cultivation and milling techniques have evolved, so have the flours. Today, “00” and Italian-style flour are widely available in many countries. They are used by both professional and home bakers to create a wide range of delicious Italian-style baked goods.

In terms of differences, 00 flour is finer and has a lower protein content, making it ideal for tender, delicate doughs like pizza and pasta. Italian-style flour is a bit stronger and has a higher protein content, making it more suitable for bread and pastries. The choice between these two flours will depend on the recipe and the desired result.

 

 

Durum

Durum flour is a type of wheat flour that is commonly used in pasta and bread-making. It is made from the Durum wheat variety, which is a hard and high-protein type of wheat. The Durum wheat plant is thought to have originated in the Middle East and was brought to Europe by traders and conquerors. Today, Durum flour is popular in Italy and other Mediterranean countries, where it is traditionally used to make pasta dishes like spaghetti, penne, and fettuccine. It has a yellowish color, a nutty flavor, and a high gluten content, which makes it ideal for pasta-making. In addition to its use in pasta, Durum flour is also commonly used in some types of bread, crackers, and other baked goods. From a nutritional standpoint, Durum flour is a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, including iron, zinc, and B vitamins.

Semolina

Semolina flour is a coarse, yellow flour that is made from durum wheat. It is commonly used in Italian and Middle Eastern cuisine to make pasta, bread, and pastries. It is high in protein and gluten, which gives it a distinct texture and flavor. It is also rich in vitamins and minerals such as iron, potassium, and vitamin B.

In pasta making, semolina flour is often combined with wheat flour to create a firm, chewy texture that holds up well when cooked. It is also used to make bread and pastries, as the high protein content gives these baked goods a hearty texture and a slightly nutty flavor.

Semolina flour can also be used as a coating for fish and meat before frying, as it provides a crispy, golden crust.

Durum vs. Semolina

Semolina flour and durum flour are both made from the same type of wheat, durum wheat. However, there are some key differences between the two.

Semolina flour is a coarsely ground flour that is made by milling the endosperm of durum wheat. It has a distinct, yellow color and a grainy texture. Semolina flour is commonly used in pasta making, bread baking, and as a coating for fried foods.

Durum flour, on the other hand, is a finer flour that is made by milling the whole kernel of durum wheat. It has a cream-colored appearance and a soft texture. Durum flour is commonly used in the production of fresh pasta, such as lasagna and ravioli.

Graham

Graham flour is a type of whole wheat flour that is made from the whole wheat kernel, including the bran, germ, and endosperm. It was first developed in the early 19th century by American dietary reformer and preacher Sylvester Graham, who believed in a healthy, natural diet and rejected the refined flours and white breads of the day.

Graham flour has a hearty, nutty flavor and a coarser texture than regular whole wheat flour. It is often used in whole grain breads, crackers, and baked goods, and is known for its wholesome and nutritious qualities. In addition to being a good source of fiber and complex carbohydrates, graham flour is also rich in minerals like iron, magnesium, and potassium, as well as vitamins B and E.

Today, graham flour is widely available in natural food stores and specialty baking shops, and is a popular ingredient for those who are looking for a healthy and natural alternative to refined flours. Whether you’re baking a loaf of whole grain bread or making a batch of graham crackers, this versatile flour is a great choice for adding wholesome nutrition to your favorite recipes.

When substituting these specialty flours for all-purpose flour, it is important to keep in mind their unique properties and adjust the recipe accordingly. It’s also helpful to note that these flours often have different nutritional profiles, including different levels of protein, fiber, and minerals. So, whether you’re a professional baker or a home cook, exploring these specialty flours can be a fun and delicious way to add a new twist to your baked goods.

Let me know if you have tried any of these in your cooking! Use the hashtags #taysbpkitchen and #flourseries

Taysty Tips: Ancient Grain Flour | Flour Series

taysty tips

Exploring the Nutritional Benefits and Unique Characteristics of Flours Made from Ancient Grains

Welcome to part five of my six-part series on flour.  We will dip into common, nut, rice, alternative, and specialty flour.  However, right now, we’re talking about flour made from ancient grains!

Whether you’re looking to create wholesome loaves of bread, hearty pasta, or nutritious baked goods, incorporating ancient grain flour into your cooking can add an extra level of richness and depth to your recipes.

ANCIENT GRAINS, Flour, Taysty Tips

If you’re looking to add some diversity to your baking ingredients, consider exploring the world of ancient grain flour. These flours are made from grains that have been around for thousands of years and offer unique flavors, textures, and nutritional benefits compared to more modern varieties. From Einkorn flour to Kamut flour, each ancient grain has unique characteristics and uses in the kitchen.

Amaranth Flour

This type of flour is made from ground amaranth and is a gluten-free alternative to wheat flour. Amaranth flour has a slightly sweet and nutty flavor and is commonly used in gluten-free baked goods, such as cakes, cookies, and breads. It can be used in place of all-purpose flour in some gluten-free recipes, although it will result in a denser and heavier finished product.

Amaranth is an ancient grain that has been cultivated for over 8,000 years and was a staple food of the Aztecs in Mexico. The grain was so valuable to the Aztecs that they even used it as currency and offerings in religious ceremonies. The cultivation of amaranth declined after the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, who sought to stamp out indigenous religions and foods.

However, amaranth was rediscovered in the 20th century and has since become a popular gluten-free alternative to traditional wheat flours. Today, amaranth flour is used in a variety of baked goods and can be easily found in many health food stores and online.

Buckwheat

Made from the seeds of the buckwheat plant, this flour has a nutty and earthy flavor. It is gluten-free, making it an excellent alternative for people with gluten sensitivities.

Buckwheat flour has a long history, with its origins tracing back to ancient civilizations in Southeast Asia. It was later introduced to Europe and has been used in traditional dishes such as buckwheat pancakes and soba noodles. Today, buckwheat flour is widely used in gluten-free and alternative baking due to its nutty flavor and versatility.

Millet

Next, we have Millet Flour. Millet flour is made from ground millet grain and is gluten-free. It has a slightly sweet, nutty flavor and is high in antioxidants and minerals such as magnesium and potassium. This flour is commonly used in baked goods, porridge, and other dishes.

Millet is one of the oldest cultivated grains, dating back over 5000 years to ancient civilizations in China and Africa. It was a staple food for many cultures, and today it is still used in many traditional dishes, such as porridge and flatbread. Millet flour is gaining popularity in modern times as a gluten-free alternative for its nutritional properties.

Sorghum

Sorghum Flour is another gluten-free option made from ground sorghum grain. It has a mild, sweet flavor and is high in fiber and antioxidants. Sorghum flour is commonly used in baked goods, bread, and other dishes.

Sorghum is another ancient grain with a rich history, originating in Africa and later spreading to other parts of the world. It was used as a staple food and in traditional brewing. Sorghum flour is now gaining recognition as a gluten-free alternative and for its high fiber content.

Teff

Teff Flour is a gluten-free flour made from ground teff grain. It has a slightly nutty, sweet flavor and is high in fiber, protein, and minerals such as iron and calcium. Teff flour is commonly used in injera, a traditional Ethiopian flatbread, as well as in baked goods.

Teff is an ancient grain that has been grown in Ethiopia for thousands of years. It was used as a staple food and in traditional baking, and today it is gaining recognition as a nutritious and gluten-free alternative to traditional flour. Teff flour is also prized for its unique nutty flavor and versatility in baking.

Quinoa Flour

This type of flour is made from ground quinoa and is a gluten-free alternative to wheat flour. Quinoa flour has a nutty flavor and is commonly used in gluten-free baked goods, such as cakes, cookies, and breads. It can be used in place of all-purpose flour in some gluten-free recipes, although it will result in a denser and heavier finished product.

Quinoa flour is made from the ancient grain, quinoa, which is native to South America and was domesticated by the Incas over 5,000 years ago. Quinoa was referred to as the “mother grain” and was a staple in the Inca diet. After the fall of the Inca Empire, quinoa became less popular, but in recent decades, there has been a resurgence of interest in the grain and its flour. The grain was rediscovered in the 1980s and has since been grown in other parts of the world, including North America, Europe, and Australia. Quinoa flour is a gluten-free alternative to wheat flour and is a good source of protein, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals. It has a light, nutty flavor and can be used in a variety of baked goods, as well as in savory dishes like soups and sauces.

Spelt

Spelt flour is an ancient grain flour that is high in fiber and often used in bread and pastries. High-gluten flour is a high-protein flour commonly used in bread making, while pumpernickel flour is used for making traditional German pumpernickel bread.

Spelt is an ancient type of wheat that has been grown and used for thousands of years. It was a staple grain in ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians and was also a popular grain in medieval Europe. Today, spelt flour is making a comeback as people seek out alternative, whole grain flours that are easy on the digestive system.

Einkorn

Einkorn flour is made from the ancient grain of einkorn wheat, which is considered to be one of the oldest cultivated grains in the world. Einkorn has a lower gluten content than modern wheat, making it easier for some people with gluten sensitivities to digest. Einkorn flour is commonly used in baked goods such as bread, pizza crust, and pastries. It has a sweet, nutty flavor that makes it a great addition to any baking recipe.

Einkorn is one of the oldest known varieties of wheat, and it is thought to have been cultivated for thousands of years. This type of wheat was widely grown in the Near East and the Mediterranean, and it was considered to be a staple food in ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians and the Romans. Einkorn is still grown today, primarily in Europe, and its flour is used to make traditional dishes such as bread, pasta, and baked goods.

Barley

Barley flour is made from ground barley grain. It has a nutty, slightly sweet flavor and is commonly used in baking. Barley flour is high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, making it a nutritious addition to baked goods. Barley flour is often used in bread, cakes, and cookies but can also be used to make pancakes and waffles.

Barley has been a staple grain for thousands of years, and it was one of the first grains to be domesticated in the Near East. Barley was a staple food in ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians, the Babylonians, and the Romans, and it was also widely used in medieval Europe. Today, barley flour is still used in various baked goods and traditional dishes, and it is also a popular ingredient in health food and whole grain products.

Kamut

Kamut flour is made from the Kamut grain, which is an ancient relative of modern wheat. Kamut flour is high in protein, fiber, and vitamins, making it a nutritious addition to baked goods. Kamut flour has a sweet, nutty flavor and is commonly used in bread, crackers, and pastries.

Kamut is an ancient type of wheat that was first cultivated in the Near East thousands of years ago. This type of wheat was popular in ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians, and it was also widely used in medieval Europe. Kamut was nearly lost to history, but it was rediscovered in the 20th century and is now grown and used as a specialty grain. Kamut flour is prized for its nutty, buttery flavor and its high nutritional content, and it is used in a variety of baked goods and traditional dishes.

In conclusion, these gluten-free and low-carb flours are a great option for those with dietary restrictions and offer a variety of flavors and textures. Give them a try and add some diversity to your baking game!

Let me know if you have tried any of these in your cooking! Use the hashtags #taysbpkitchen and #flourseries