For many people, using the perfect stuffing recipe that appeals to all the guests is critical to the success and full enjoyment of a holiday meal. The challenge is making it in a manner that is easily digestible and/or gluten free for any guests that might have an intolerance to this hard to digest plant protein.
If you choose to prepare a grain based stuffing, the most digestible choice is a whole grain bread that has been prepared traditionally either via sour leavening, sprouting or soaking.
Unfortunately, the emphasis of conventional nutritionists to consume whole grains is without caveat, but this is neither complete nor optimal advice. Traditional societies never prepared their whole grains in modern fashion as quick rise yeasted breads, granolas, pasta and other rapidly cooked grain dishes nor did they consume grain based foods in the large quantities of today.
Traditional cuisines and pre-industrialized peoples from around the world took great care to soak, sprout and/or ferment their grains before consuming them. Prior to the introduction of commercial yeast, used to make bread rise quickly, Americans and Europeans alike made slow rise breads from fermented dough starters, commonly known as sourdough.
Science has demonstrated the wisdom of these careful preparation methods as all grains and legumes contain phytic acid, an organic acid that blocks mineral absorption in the intestinal tract. Phytic acid is neutralized in as little as 7 hours of soaking in water with small amounts of an acidic medium such as lemon juice or cider vinegar. Soaking also neutralizes enzyme inhibitors present in the hulls of all seeds and adds beneficial enzymes which increase the amount of nutrients present – especially the B vitamins.
For those with gluten intolerance, soaking or fermenting gluten-based grains breaks down this difficult-to-digest plant protein in some cases permitting their consumption without the triggering of autoimmune symptoms.
Which Traditional Preparation Technique Works Best for a Stuffing Recipe?
When choosing the traditional preparation technique where the bread will be used for stuffing, I have found that sprouted breads produce the best results followed by sourdough.
My husband makes the stuffing and the gravy for our holiday meals, and he does a spectacular job every time. I thought I would share his recipe in case sprouted stuffing is something you would like to try to improve the digestibility and nutrient density of your holiday meal.
Sprouted Grain Stuffing Recipe
1 loaf (or equivalent in crusts) traditionally prepared bread of choice (here’s one we buy)
1/2 lb (225 grams) of grassfed butter
1 medium yellow onion – finely chopped
1 clove garlic – pressed
6 sticks organic celery – finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
6 bay leaves
1/8 teaspoon thyme
1/8 teaspoon ground sage
1/8 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon sweet basil
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
Melt butter in small saucepan at low heat. Crumble bread into crumbs or use food processor (this is the one I have). Mix all dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Thoroughly mix in onion, garlic, celery. Add melted butter and mix to completely distribute butter throughout.
You may use this mixture either as stuffing (inside the turkey) or as dressing (in a pan cooked separately).
Stuffing: Firmly pack handfuls of the mixture into turkey cavity and enclose and cook inside turkey until turkey is done. While turkey is resting after roasting, remove stuffing from cavity and place on serving dish.
Dressing: Fill bread pan with mixture and press down firmly with hands to create an inch or two of a gap between top of dressing and top of bread pan. Bake with or without turkey for 60 minutes (preferably at 325F/160C) and remove. It should be golden brown on top and moist but not wet inside.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
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