“Grains of Truth” by Donna G. Spann

An excerpt from the back cover:

“Grains of Truth is the book for the beginner who knows nothing about whole grains, for the intermediate who’s looking to expand their repertoire of whole grains and for the advanced who needs a breath of fresh air and reminder of the “why’s” and “how’s” of whole grains. As an excellent kitchen reference tool or a home economics test for young ladies, this book will become a much used resource in every healthy kitchen.”

As I read this book, I can honestly say that I agree with the above description of Grains of Truth. If I had to sum up my opinion of this book in one word, I believe I would use “delightful”. You may ask why would I use this word in reference to a book about grains. Donna Spann’s friendly and personal style of writing, interjected with plenty of humor, is seamlessly interwoven within the practical and well laid out information on whole grains and healthy foods. In other words, this book not only is a helpful resource, but it is a pleasure to read! I found it to be a unique and delightful book. I appreciate Mrs. Spann’s dedication to Jesus and the inclusion of a wonderful article by Sue Becker entitled “Do Not Eat the Bread of Idleness”. However, this book is not “preachy” at all, and I believe it would appeal to anyone, no matter what faith they embraced.

Grains of Truth
covers thirteen grains:

  • Amaranth
  • Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Bulgur
  • Corn
  • Flaxseed
  • Kamut
  • Millet
  • Oats
  • Rye
  • Spelt
  • Triticale
  • Wheat

In each of these chapters, the author gives the history of the grain, the nutritional overview, how and where to buy it, how to store it, how much one cup of dry grain yields in milled flour, and how to use it. In some of the chapters, Mrs. Spann also provides growing and harvesting information as well as additional information and recipes using that grain.

I found the information on grains to be very easy to understand and packed full of helpful information, practical tips and instructions which help us to effectively and efficiently use these grains.

Although not a “cookbook” per se, Mrs. Spann includes some recipes for using grains. She includes recipes by women with whom most of us are familiar, such as Sue Gregg, Jill Bond, and Sue Becker, in addition to recipes contributed by her friends. I was excited to see that the recipes in Grains of Truth are “real foods”. Please note, however, that there are minor exceptions which are easily substituted, such as the brown sugar and white sugar to sucanat or Rapadura in the chili recipe and pancake mix recipe below. The term “mega-cooking™” in the chili recipe comes from Jill Bond’s “Dinner’s in the Freezer” cookbook.

Greg’s Mystery Meat Chili

  • 1 lb dried kidney beans
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup bulgur
  • 1 cup hot bouillon (we like veggie)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 can (28 oz) plum tomatoes
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 Tbsp fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried
  • 3 cups frozen corn
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp brown sugar, optional

Soak beans overnight. Drain and rinse. Add water to cover, bring to a boil and simmer gently for at least one hour, until beans are tender. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid.

In another pot, cook onion, garlic, corn and green pepper in 1/2 of the reserved cooking liquid until the vegetables are tender (approx. 10 minutes). Add tomatoes with their juice, breaking them up. Add spices, brown sugar and bulgur while simmering gently. Stir in cooked beans. Simmer on low approx. 3 hours. If chili is not thick enough to your liking, use corn flour mixed in some cold water as a thickener. Serve over rice or pasta or just plain. This chili freezes beautifully and is a great dish for mega-cooking!


  • 1 1/2 cups corn meal, whole grain, yellow
  • 1/2 cup flour – barley, spelt or quinoa
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 large egg or egg substitute
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil

Stir together dry ingredients. Mix together liquid ingredients. Combine all, stirring only until moistened. Pour into an oiled 9 x 9 square pan, or prepared muffin pan. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes (or until done).

Delicious Whole Grain Pancake Mix

  • 4 cups soft wheat flour
  • 2 cups oat flour
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 4 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • (optional: 1/2 cup tofu white, buttermilk powder or dry milk)

Thoroughly mix all ingredients in a very large bowl (a wire whisk is helpful).

To make pancakes: Mix together one egg, 1 Tbsp oil, I cup mix and 1/2 – 3/4 cp water (or substitute buttermilk, milk, soy milk, rice milk or thinned yogurt for water). Cook on medium heat. Makes about 12 medium sized pancakes. Cook a double batch and freeze extras. Reheat frozen pancakes in microwave or toaster oven.

More treats included in Grains of Truth are a resource list, an article by Sue Becker, and Donna Spann’s personal opinions on breadmakers and mills. While I have come to a different conclusion on the mixers comparison (I prefer the Bosch), Donna presents excellent information on all the brands so that consumers can get a good picture of the pros and cons and choose what would work best for them. She even lists her competitors as resources for those consumers who prefer a different machine than she sells herself. What a refreshing offering!

Overall, I think this book is definitely a “must-have” for everyone interested in gently incorporating healthy foods and whole grains into their family’s diet and learning “painless” ways to do that. I heartily recommend this book!

A little bit about the author from the book:

“Donna G. Spann, alias “The Bread Lady” has written a modern day primer on whole grains. In conversational and humorous style, this professional wife and homeschool mom of six daughter shares easy and simple ways to integrate inexpensive whole grains into any family’s diet with life-changing results. “If I can do it, anyone can.” writes Donna, and she means it! This is a gal whose children think the smoke-detector is an oven-timer!”

For more information on Donna G. Spann, or to purchase this book, please contact:

Today’s Family Matters Publications
Cornerstone Services, Inc
9005 Macsvega Court
Lorton, VA 22079

© 1995-2008 Vickilynn Haycraft and Real Food Living. All Rights Reserved. No portion of this review may be copied, stored or transmitted in any medium, for any reason without prior written permission of the author.

About Vickilynn Parnes

A student of health and nutrition for 40+ years, Vickilynn Parnes has over 30 years of actual hands-on experience reviewing and personally using different tools of the homemaking vocation, focusing on the areas of health and nutrition. Vickilynn is a magazine columnist, product reviewer, cookbook author and radio talk show host, as well as being full-time mom to 5 children.