Spelt, an ancient grain related to wheat, is a food beginning with the letter "S." It has a chewy texture and a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. Spelt can be used in any recipe calling for wheat flour or wheat berries.
One cup of cooked spelt contains 246 calories, 11 grams protein, 1.6 grams fat, 51 grams carbohydrates and 7.6 grams fiber. The grain is a rich source of calcium, magnesium, selenium, zinc, iron and manganese. It also contains vitamin E and niacin, a B vitamin. Spelt is lower in gluten compared to wheat and can often be tolerated by those with sensitivity to either wheat or gluten; however, those with celiac disease should avoid the grain since it isn't gluten free.
Spelt grains can be used whole, milled into flakes similar to oats or ground into flour. When used whole, it cooks up like barley and has a similar taste. Breads made with spelt flour don't rise as high compared to breads made with wheat. Spelt breads also require less water in the dough, as the spelt is more water soluble.
Spelt was cultivated in Iran 5,000 to 6,000 years ago before spreading to Europe. It was fully entrenched throughout Europe by the Middle Ages, and it was introduced to the United States only in the 1890s. It was initially used as animal feed, but it became an important food source.