Spelt is a type of grain that is a member of the wheat family. It has been cultivated for centuries and is thought to have first appeared as a unique plant over 8,000 years ago. This nutritious grain can be used in much the same way as more familiar types of wheat and grain. When rolled into flattened spelt flakes, it can be made into a filling and nutritious hot cereal similar to oatmeal.
This grain is commonly grown in many parts of Europe. In the United States, it is far less common, usually found only in health food and specialty stores. This is a type of wheat that can sometimes be more easily digested when used as a substitution for other varieties, though it does contain gluten. Those suffering from celiac disease or similar conditions may have a difficult time digesting the grain due to the gluten content.
Individual grains are called spelt berries, which are flattened to create spelt flakes. Typically, the grain is lightly toasted and then rolled in a press that flattens the grains, turning them into flakes that are easily used in foods and recipes. This process may be performed either with a hot roller that uses steam to soften the grain as it is rolled, or a cold press that avoids extra heat in order to preserve the nutritional content and qualities of the grain.
Spelt flakes have become a popular food in many countries. One reason for this popularity is their excellent nutritional value. They contain a high fiber content considered critical to maintaining a healthy diet, and are lower in calories than oatmeal. A single serving of cooked flakes contains about 1.4 mg of iron, 3 g of fiber and less than 1.5 g of fat. Adding fruit to the flakes makes a porridge that is enjoyed by many who prefer the nutty flavor of spelt flakes to some of the more common breakfast cereals.
Typically, any recipe that calls for oatmeal can use spelt flakes as an easy substitution. Spelt flakes can give familiar foods a new flavor when substituted in cookie and bread recipes as well. While cooking, some people choose to use this grain to get more variety in the foods they commonly eat. When substituting spelt flakes in recipes, they can be measured cup for cup the same as rolled oats, an easy recipe conversion.