How to Choose the healthiest bread

by Stephanie Margolis, R.D.

Last week on my Instagram Stories I was sharing my home-baked breads. You see, about a year ago I realized I didn't want to pump my kids full of Cinnamon Swirl bread and grilled cheese made from 2 slices of who-knows-the-ingredients type bread. But I also didn't want to delete bread from their diet. It comes with it's own essential nutrients my picky eaters otherwise wouldn't get.

I also don't have to give up bread!  You don't have to give up bread. I bought a bread machine for $45 off Amazon and asked our R.D. to give us her take on buying bread.

Should I be baking it?

Should I be buying it fresh?

Should I buy organic at Whole Foods?

Who should use gluten free bread?

What about Ezekial (I tried it and couldn’t swallow it)?

Should we be staying away from Wonder bread?

The FIRST thing you have to do is flip that bread around and look at the label. It can say on the front “made with whole grains” “or even “whole wheat” but until you look on the back to see the ingredients you don’t know. The first ingredient should be whole wheat flour (don’t be tricked because some will say “wheat flour” and it is not the same as whole wheat). To avoid flipping every bread bag around, you can start with breads that say “100% whole wheat” or “100% whole grain” on the front.  You should still look at the ingredients but this is a good starting place.

While looking at the label you also want to check out the fiber. A high fiber food is any food with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. In bread this can be hard to find, so search for one with at least 4 grams.

Ezekiel bread gets a lot of attention because it is made would sprouted grains, is a complete protein (good for those vegetarians out there) and has more vitamins than your normal bread. While they have these benefits, most types of Ezekiel bread only have 3-4 grams of fiber per serving. These breads are also made with no GMOs, no preservative, or refined sugars. One of the drawbacks is its palatability – it can be literally and figuratively hard to swallow. There are several products out there, Ezekiel is a brand so you may find other sprouted grain breads that you prefer.

Gluten free can be beneficial for those who have celiac disease or find themselves sensitive to gluten. The good news is that gluten-free breads have come a long way in the past few years – Udi’s is a pretty popular bread. Clinically speaking, unless you have a gluten intolerance you do not need a gluten free bread, but if you are just trying to reduce gluten there are some tasty options, just be sure you are also picking ones that have adequate fiber.

Making your own bread – it can take some practice, especially with whole wheat breads as they create a more dense loaf. The benefit is you can know exactly what is going into your bread. However, don’t feel like that is the only way to get a good bread – there are plenty of good options in grocery stores and even local bakeries (at your local places be sure to ask questions because their foods may not always be labeled clearly).

Here are two of my favorite Bread-Maker Recipes

Applesauce Bread 2 lb. loaf

1 3/4 CUP APPLESAUCE (UNSWEETENED)

3 TBSP BUTTER

2 TBSP SUGAR

1 1/2 TSP SALT

1 1/2 TSP CINNAMON

1  1/4 CUP WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR

2 1/2 CUP BREAD FLOUR

2 1/2 TSP YEAST

Place in bread machine as listed.  Hit the button and bake!

I also use this recipe to create Cinnamon Swirl bread.  Instead of baking the bread in the machine I set it to dough setting.  Let dough rest 10 minutes after the machine did it's work.  Split into two balls.  Roll out with rolling pin, using a lil' flour.  Spread 2 TBSP applesauce mixed with 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1 TBSP cinnamon between the two pieces of rolled dough.  Roll dough starting from short ends and pinch seams closed.  Cover and let rise overnight.  Bake in 2 greased loaf pans for about 30 minutes at 350.

Whole Wheat Bread 1.5 lb. loaf

I follow my bread machine's recipe booklet.  Instead of 3 cups bread flour, I use 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 cups bread flour.

1 CUP + 2 TBSP WARM WATER

1 TBSP BUTTER

2 TBSP SUGAR

1 TBSP NON-FAT DRY MILK POWDER

1 1/2 TSP SALT

1 1/2 CUP WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR

1 1/2 CUP BREAD FLOUR

2 1/2 TSP YEAST

Gluten Free Bread

This King Arthur recipe has been recommended to me.

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