Spelt - The wonder food
Healthier, stronger and more beautiful with spelt! „Spelt is the very best grain ..."
Like none before or after her, Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), described the building stones of life itself including the grain spelt. She wrote the first German book on natural medicine entitled Physica in which she pointed out the natural healing powers found in trees, fruits and grains, spices and herbs, animals, birds, fish, precious stones and metals. Hildegard connected these healing powers to the health of the whole person.
The word diet comes form the Greek word „diaita" which means course of life. Our diet is based on our nutrition. Nutrition is only one part of the 6 age-old rules of life (res non naturales). According to Hildegard health and life style are reflected in the following golden rules of life:
The golden rules of life
1. Your food is the first medicine for a healthy life. There is a curative power found in the right food and drink.
2. To preserve and restore your health use the power of natural medicines. The cosmic energy found in the four elements fire, air, water and earth can heal your body and your soul.
3. Make sure you have a natural sleep in balance with enough movement and exercise. Health can be restored through sleeping and waking.
4. Make sure you have an intelligent balance between work and regeneration following the ancient adage: „Ora et labora" (Pray, read and work)
5. Cleanse your body from its poisons by fasting, blood-letting, cupping, moxibustion, baths and sauna. This is called regeneration through elimination and secretion.
6. Transform your psycho-social weaknesses into generous and loving deeds of spiritual joy, vitality and love for your fellow man.
First chapter of Daniel in the Old Testament:
The first clinical evidence that a diet is related to health, strength, intelligence and vitality is found in the first chapter of Daniel in the Old Testament. 2500 years ago King Nebacadnezer chose ten handsome, intelligent Jewish boys free from physical defects and of royal descent to serve his court. They were to be trained and nourished three years with the king's own diet, meat and wine. Not wishing to defile themselves, Daniel and three other boys refused the king's diet, eating only vegetables and water. After three years the king was more impressed by the health and radiant glow of Daniel and his friends than of the 6 other boys who had received the king's diet. No matter what question they were asked they were 10 times more intelligent than any magician in the whole kingdom. Spelt, a well-known grain in the Old Testament, was certainly a part of their vegetable diet. (Exodus 9:31, 32 Ezekiel 4:9) Today science has increasing evidence, that health is linked to the diet and life style. A report issued a year ago by the U.S. surgeon general and the National Academy of Science concluded that „diseases of dietary excess and imbalance ... now account for more than two-thirds of all deaths in the United States." (Chicago Tribune, July 16, 1989).
The 10 major degenerative diseases of OVER-consumption
associated with the current diet high in refined and processed foods, rich in fats, salt and sugar are:
- Atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease (heart attack) and cerebral disease (stroke)
- Diabetes mellitus (adult onset)
- Cancer of the colon, breast, uterus, prostate, ovary and pancreas
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Alzheimer's disease
- Venous thrombosis
- Kidney disease
- Immune deficiency (virus diseases, influenza, colds, AIDS)
These diseases are related to the UNDER-consumption of foods low in bulk (fiber). The significance of complex carbohydrates and fiber for the diet is obvious!
- Constipation (poor digestion)
- Varicose veins
- Hiatal hernia
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Irritable-bowel sydrome
- Depression and irritability
- Food allergies (adverse effects of food additives, pesticides and insecticides, wheat and soybeans)
- Early aging
You can find spelt in all over the world, even in Australia! Ten years ago a Hildegard friend encouraged farmers to the west of Sydney in Kangaroo Valley to grow spelt and met with great success. Another Hildegard friend and farmer himself grows spelt in West Australia close to Albany. The Hildegard diet of spelt, vegetables and fruit provides an optimal digestion and can prevent and often cure diseases. Hildegard chose remedies in nature for their healing value (a principle called subtility), thus there is no difference between remedies and foods. Everything that is good for the body is also a remedy. As in progressive holistic medicine the organism as a whole is nourished and strengthened. When one is suffering from an illness of the liver, not just the liver but the entire body must be cured. The art of cooking and the art of healing are one and the same in Hildegard's medicine.
The simplicity of the Hildegard diet does not require measuring the complicated data of calorie charts, vitamin tables, fat percentages, or fiber content. This simple diet is totally complete in itself. Supplementation through additional vitamin or mineral pills is not only unnecessary, but is not recommended. Hildegard's frugal diet contains fresh vegetables and fruits in season, preferably grown in the immediate area. Instead of an overabundance of various foods from exotic lands and the cultivation of gourmet tastes, Hildegard advocates a plain diet which can nevertheless be delicious and healthful.
The characteristic, important, and fundamental substance of a food is its essential essence, its subtility. For the Hildegard diet, this is the scale which weighs and selects the foods. On the basis of subtility we can select „good" foods from the various food families for our diet. All things 100-percent „good" have health-promoting, health-sustaining, rejuvenating, and vitalizing qualities as a part of their fundamental nature.
Spelt is the most ancient grain – the very best and can be used for cooking and baking.
Oats are only good for healthy persons; they promote beautiful skin and lead to health and happiness.
Wheat is only good as wholewheat or graham flour and is recommended only for baking.
Rye is only good for healthy persons; it is excellent for those who tend to have heavy fat deposits (hard workers) but detrimental for persons with weak stomachs (gastritis).
Barley injures healthy persons and those with anemia and poor circulation, for barley lacks the values which are found in the other grains.
Fennel however eaten, fennel makes us happy, produces beautiful skin, good digestion, and good body odor.
Celery, Chickpeas, Pumpkin and Squash, Red beets, Watercress, Lettuce and other salads only with salad dressing; it strengthens the brain and provides good digestion.
Chestnuts fill an empty brain and strengthen heart, liver, and stomach.
Beans such as green beans, soy beans, kidney beans and all other beans.
Onions always cooked
Broccoli, Carrots, Corn, Parsnips, Sweet potatoes, Zuchinis,
Apples raw are only for healthy persons; cooked or well baked for sick and healthy; old, wrinkled, raw apples also good for sick.
Quince are especially good for rheumatism and arthritis.
Red and black currants, Grapes, Raspberries, Blackberries
Citrus fruits, Cornel cherries, Melons
Dates in moderation.
Meats and Fish
Fish good for healthy and sick; pike, perch, roach, and grayling.
Good only for healthy: salmon, herring, carp, and trout.
Poultry & Chicken are easy to digest; Hildegard recommends its use all year round; prepare without skin.
Turkey: Though Hildegard is silent on turkey, it is easy to digest and is lowest in cholesterol of all meats. Wild goose, wild duck are only for healthy persons.
Ostrich meat is exellent for obese persons.
Lamb in spring and summer is good for healthy and sick; especially good for varicose veins. Hildegard writes: „Whoever is failing in his whole body and whose veins are withered should often sip the juice of lamb and of the soup in which it was cooked. Also he should eat some of the meat and, when he improves, he can eat even more meat if he wants."
Goat in spring and summer is good for healthy and sick. In Hildegard's words: „If goat meat is eaten often, it heals obstructed and malfunctioning weakened intestines and heals and strengthens the stomach.
Venison in fall and winter is good for healthy and sick. Hildegard says: „Whoever eats of this meat frequently is cleansed of slime and filth. Whoever is plagued by precancerosis (vicht) should eat often from its liver and it will devour the vicht in him.
Dressings and Spices
The standard dressing for Hildegard's salad contains one tablespoon pure wine vinegar (or basalmico), three tablespoons sunflower oil cold- pressed, and a bit of brown sugar to neutralize the sour taste. Lemon juice, as well as yogurt, can also be used.
ABC of Hildegard's Spices:
cinnamon – universal spice for the sinuses
cubeb pepper – clears the intellect
cumin – makes cheese more digestible
fennel – „happy making" spice, good for bad breath
galangal – activates entire organism, especially heart
hyssop – chicken spice; excellent for liver colic and melancholy
mother of thyme – good for skin disorders
pellitory – universal spice; aids digestion of all nutrients
Hildegard recommends drinking in moderation during the meal.
Fennel tea is the best tea and is 100 percent good for your health. You can also use lemon balm or rosehips for tea.
Beer is a beverage especially good for the persons underweight. It is a good muscle builder and provides a healthy skin color.
Wine is also good in moderation – almost a remedy for the sick. But do not forget to add a squirt of water in order to „humanize" the wine. The quenched wine is especially helpful to keep you happy, if you are sad. (A glass of good biological wine is cooked until it begins to boil and then quenched with a small amount of cold water. Drink the warm wine slowly and your sadness will disappear.)
Spelt coffee, a roasted-grain coffee substitute, is recommended for the digestion, especially as a breakfast coffee.
Spring and well water are normally better than mineral water. As a general rule, a good mineral water should contain as few minerals as possible in oder to cleanse the body of waste products. Mineral water is not always good as a main drink, especially if it contains too many minerals.
Orange and lemon juice are good for your health, especially when fever is present.
Vitamin C is not an orange! Calories are not calories! Carbohydrate calories burn more body calories to be digested than fat calories which have been proven to fatten faster than carbohydrate calories. Fat is not fat; there are mono-, poly-unsaturated and saturated fatty acids as well as cholesterol, which all have their function in the body. Butter, in moderation, is better than the partially hydrogenated oils found in margarine.
This is not a „new way of cooking" but it is present-day cooking seen from the previously unknown viewpoint of St. Hildegard's medicine. The nutritional value of the various food sources is important, but their curative properties for mankind are just as important.