When we were on our honeymoon in Paris, Phil and I tried as many baguettes as possible. Hey, don’t judge and send the carb police after us! It was our honeymoon, and when in Rome…err….Paris….right? Anyway, the freshly-baked, warm, crusty baguettes that made a crunchy sound when squeezed were the best we’ve ever eaten. Mix that with some wine and cheese and you have the makings of a beautiful honeymoon. Okay, I’m getting too personal now… 🙂 But really, the bread was so fresh and so delicious because it was made with actual ingredients, the ones that are supposed to be in bread. It launched Phil into a constant hunt for the best baguette state-side but also turned us into quasi-snobs when it comes to the bread we eat. So, if you haven’t guessed by now, and the title didn’t give it away, today’s post is about bread.
To begin, let’s delve into what mostly makes up bread: flour. There are two types, whole-wheat and refined flour. Whole-wheat/whole-grain flour is made from the entire wheat kernel. That means it contains:
- bran, the protective coating, which, as we know, is a great source of fiber;
- endosperm (haha, let’s all laugh… ;)) which contains starch and proteins; and
- germ which is the seed that grows into the wheat plant and contains vitamins and minerals.
Now that we have the main component of bread squared away, let’s explore the other ingredients. Besides flour, a basic, simple bread is made with water, salt and yeast.
Before we continue, a few questions:
- When you buy bread do you check the ingredients list?
- Do you buy your bread based on what ingredients may or may not be included?
- Do you even know what is in your bread? (If you don’t know, go and check. Don’t worry this post won’t self-destruct while you’re away.)
When looking at the ingredients list on a loaf of bread, the ingredients are listed in order of greatest to least. Obviously the flour should come first. One good thing to know is that a loaf of bread contains about a teaspoon of salt. If there are ingredients listed after the salt, their amount is less than a teaspoon.
Here’s a list of ingredients in a store-bought loaf of bread that claims to be multi-fiber and low carb:
- unbleached enriched wheat flour
- wheat gluten
- soybean oil
- cracked wheat
- natural flavor preservatives
- monocalcium phosphate
- brown rice
Notice where the salt is located and what ingredients follow. Notice that there are many more ingredients included other than simply flour, water, salt and yeast. Bread doesn’t have to be this complicated, and I even picked the one with the shortest ingredient list. Not to mention, how can bread be low carb anyway? The trick, many times, is that the bread is sliced thin so you’re getting half the carbohydrates.
Next time you go to the grocery store, compare the ingredients in different loaves of bread. Take into account the kind of flour being used and the amount of ingredients. If you can, make an effort to buy whole-grain bread with the least amount of added ingredients. The ingredients in bread, like in all food, should be nutritious and nourishing for your body. Choose your loaf wisely. There is beauty and deliciousness in the simplicity of bread. A fresh, French baguette is proof.
( I really like Bread Alone Bakery bread. The bread is made with organic flour, water, sea salt and yeast and is delicious. Bread Alone Bakery is gaining popularity and is a New York based company. We first discovered them at our local Greenmarket but they have just recently started to sell their bread in our grocery store too. If you’re not in the New York area, you can shop on their website, so check them out some time.)