Pane. Pain. Pan. Brot. Panis.
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I love bread. It’s soothing, filling, versatile, inexpensive, and fun to make. Bread is also a big part of human history. We’ve been making and eating it for centuries all over the planet. The preparation methods are as diverse as the people who make them.
Within the last 5-10 years many people have realized that their health is adversely affected by gluten, which is present in wheat bread. I find this so unfortunate, but I also believe this has less to do with just the gluten and more to do with what has been done to our food system as a whole. I’m speaking directly to the rise in pesticide use and widespread unannounced human trials of GMOs. I believe that the pesticides and GE foods have harmed all of our bodies on a cellular level and some of us have a harder time dealing with this damage than others. This is where food allergies come in. Of course, I don’t believe all food allergies are a result of GMOs. But I do believe that the now very common and widespread food allergies/intolerances we are seeing in our culture, especially in our children, are the results of toxins in our food, water, and air.
This is the final week in my Return to Home Cooking series. I’ve really enjoyed sharing this knowledge and recipes with you all and I hope you guys have enjoyed it too!
As I’ve done in previous weeks, I’d like to share a bit about the ingredients in some of the more popular store bought breads and why we should all be reading labels carefully for maximum health.
This is a big one! Even most of the organic brands have a lot of sugar. I used to buy both Rudi’s and Dave’s Killer Bread, and while I knew how much sugar was in each slice (because I’m a label reader), I didn’t think too much about it. Now that I think of sugar in terms of teaspoons instead of grams, I know we were eating way too much sugar in what is a staple food in our house.
Let’s start with Dave’s Killer Bread. I actually love the flavor and texture of this line of breads, but it has way too much sugar in my opinion. Their Whole Wheat loaf has 4 grams of sugar per slice. So for a sandwich we are getting 8 grams of sugar, which works out to be 2 teaspoons. For reference, 1 tablespoon is 3 teaspoons, so we are getting almost a tablespoon of sugar from bread. This is crazy! For a dessert bread this would be appropriate, but not for lunch everyday, and especially not for children.
Remember, when you see those daily values listed on the side of the Nutrition Facts panel, those serving sizes are for adults.
Their Powerseed loaf comes in at 2 grams of sugar per slice which is much better, but the 21 Whole Grains & Seeds comes in at a whopping 5 grams per slice. That was another one of my favorites. What’s good about Dave’s? They’re Non-GMO project verified, organic, and they have a wide variety of loaves to choose from.
Moving on to Rudi’s. Overall this brand uses less sugar in their bread than Dave’s. The two I used to buy regularly were the Colorado Cracked Wheat and Honey Sweet Whole Wheat. Both of these types have 2 grams of sugar per slice, or 1 teaspoon of sugar per sandwich. Not bad at all, but they do have less protein than Dave’s, which if you like to use bread as a protein source, isn’t the best.
Some non-organic lines of bread that are fairly popular like Wonderbread or Sara Lee have a lot more than just sugar to watch out for. Lots of preservatives and GMOs. A good rule of thumb is, if you can’t pronounce what’s on the label, put it back because your body won’t know what to do with it either.
I don’t make all the bread we eat at home, nor do I expect anyone else to do that. I used to make sandwich bread at home pretty regularly when my daughter was still an infant, but now there is no way I would still be doing that. Not only do I not have the time or energy for it, but we eat about 2 loaves of bread per week, which would be a lot of time in the kitchen!
I now buy exclusively organic, sprouted bread. I really love Silver Hills brand. They are a Canadian brand and all of their breads are Non-GMO project verified. The 2 styles I buy are “The Big 16” and “Squirrelly”. Both have just 1 gram of sugar per slice and 6 grams of protein.
The other brand I like, but rarely buy because of price, is One Degree. They have a smaller line of sandwich breads, but the Ancient Whole Wheat and Lentil Grain are both very tasty and very soft. Both of those have only 1 gram of sugar per slice and 5g & 6g of protein, respectively.
As I mentioned in my post on traditional preparation of beans at the beginning of the month, grains contain phytic acid and other anti-nutrients. The phytic acid binds to minerals in the digestive tract making them unavailable for absorption. The other issue with unsoaked/unsprouted/unfermented grains is that they also inhibit enzymes needed for proper digestion such as pepsin, which is used in the stomach to break down protein.
Many articles I have read say that as citizens of a developed country, we shouldn’t be overly concerned with phytic acid content in our food. I disagree. It is in developed nations like the United States that most of the population suffers from mineral deficiencies that come along with consumption of the Standard American Diet. Fast food does not have proper vitamins and minerals. Processed, sugar-laden bread products (including crackers) and cereals do not have proper vitamins and minerals. Gatorade, pasteurized “juice”, and energy drinks do not have vitamins or minerals. I think you see where I’m going with this.
Soaking and sprouting drastically reduces anti-nutrient content in all grains and seeds and unlocks the nutrition within. The vitamins and minerals present in the grain are now available for absorption in our bodies and allows for proper digestion by enzymes in the digestive tract.
Is my homemade bread sprouted? No. I have thought about it, but I currently have my plate full with other things and don’t have the time or energy to invest in experimenting with sprouting wheat berries, drying them, and grinding them for flour. Would I? Absolutely! If you do that now, I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below!
To me, being able to make bread from scratch is an important and satisfying skill. It feels like a connection to my ancestors when I make bread. I also get my daughter involved so we have an activity to do together and I’m hopefully giving her good memories as well as a unique skill set as she ages.
So, why homemade bread? It’s delicious, fun, empowering, and inexpensive. I love dessert breads and savory breads. Rarely do I buy crusty loaves of french bread or Italian loaves as I just make them at home.
All this talk about anti-nutrients and such and I’m encouraging you to make bread at home? Yes. Making bread is a wonderful way to reconnect with your food and get back in the kitchen, cultivating ancient skills. Am I suggesting you make white bread weekly and eat it exclusively? No. Homemade bread is a lovely way to make holidays special and create traditions within your family. There are lots of grain-free bread options too! Remember, I’m just trying to get you back in the kitchen 😉
On Thursday I’ll be sharing with you my Rosemary Garlic Bread recipe. I used to sell this bread on Etsy before we moved to Hawaii. It’s still my husband’s favorite. I’ve also made it without the garlic and it’s equally delicious, so leave it out if you’d like. I’ll be sharing how I make it with my Kitchen Aid, but I’ll also give a brief introduction to kneading by hand. I hope you’ll join me!