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How To Choose Healthy Bread

By: Ron Lagerquist

"When I go to my local supermarket, its feels like a treasure hunt, clawing through piles of pillow-soft bread to finally find the real deal."

How To Choose Healthy BreadMost North Americans have a feel-good relationship with the wrong carbohydrates. My dysfunctional love affair with soft, white Wonder Bread was the toughest for me to break away from. The hardest adjustment I had to make was that all this health food was so blasted chewy and heavy. While gnawing on a hunk of “rye-hide”, dreams of light, silk-in-your-mouth breads and pastries dance in my head. Chocolate, ice cream, and potato chips were obvious no-nos, but bread! Man, I love bread; I lived on peanut butter and banana “sammies” since I could talk. Craved that velvety texture, an obsession sealed by a sleepy, serotonin addiction. It took six years to overthrow my “Wonder Bread” dependence. The good news is that I have grown a new love affair with heavy, chewy breads, a demonstration that decisions can shape who we become more than environmental conditioning.

It can be a real effort just trying to find healthy bread. You would think that with all those shelves piled with multi-shaped, multi-colored breads, it would be easy to find a good selection of natural breads. You would think! When I go to my local supermarket, its feels like a treasure hunt, clawing through piles of pillow-soft bread to finally find the real deal. I think the store workers change the location of my bread just to annoy us health nuts. Most often, my favorite brick of Dimpflmeier Pumpernickel is buried in the back bottom corner. Maybe they are afraid that its dense weight will squish the fat and phony pretend-pumpernickel which is no less than white flour with a pinch of rye and a ton of color. When I am lucky to find my bread, it is often out of date, but I buy it anyway. Beggars can’t be choosers.

It took me a long time to find this Old World treasure. Here are the ingredients: natural spring water, coarse rye meal, rye flour, wheat flour, sour dough (rye flour, natural spring water, bacterial culture), rye grain, wheat kernels, salt, yeast, caramel color, cultured whey powder (whey and bacterial culture). Wheat flour is white flour used to hold the other course ingredients together, but it is low on the list so I can live with that. This brick of thinly sliced Pumpernickel is a hearty, chewy bread. I love it toasted until crispy with tomato and cucumber, or for a real treat, natural peanut butter and raw honey.  

There are some excellent, high-quality breads on the market today. Our first recommendation is manna bread, a sprouted grain bread that has been slowly baked at a low temperature. It is absolutely fabulous in flavor, with a cake-like taste and texture. Its natural sweetness comes from the breaking down of complex carbohydrates and gluten into simple sugars. Stone-ground rye breads such as pumpernickel are also excellent. Amaranth, millet and more uncommon grain breads can be found at your local health food store and are finally starting to show up in supermarkets. Milling your own flours in small batches and baking fresh bread is the best way, but it’s all about time.

Related Article: High Gluten Diet

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