An Old Grain:
Spelt is similar to wheat in appearance, but it has a tougher husk, which may help protect the nutrients inside the grain. The official name of is Triticum aestivum var. spelta. It was originally grown in Iran around 5000 to 6000 B.C., but it has been grown in Europe for over 300 years, and in North America for just over 100 years. It's often used as a feed grain for animals; however, it has gained popularity as a dietary grain due to its nutty flavor, high protein and nutrition content.
Some people claim they can eat spelt even though they're sensitive to wheat. That may be true, but it actually has more protein than wheat, and the protein contains gluten, so it's not suitable for a gluten-free diet. If you're sensitive to wheat or other grains, you should speak to your health care provider before eating spelt.
Spelt doesn't always have to be ground into flour. You can also cook the grains and add them to side dishes, salads and cereals.
Nutrition Information for Spelt
One cup of cooked spelt has 246 calories, 11 grams protein, 1.6 grams fat, and 51 grams carbohydrates, and 7.6 grams fiber. Spelt is also a good source of calcium, magnesium, selenium, zinc, iron, and manganese. It has vitamin E and B-complex vitamins too (especially niacin).
Spelt RecipesOnce you've tried spelt bread and spelt pasta, you might want to try spelt in a few more recipes. These spelt recipes from About.com Cooking Guides are delicious and healthy:
Oplinger ES, Oelke EA, Kaminski AR, Kelling KA, Doll JD, Durgan BR, Schuler RT. "Spelt." Alternative Field Crops Manual. University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin. Updated January 2000.