When my girls were little I baked bread on a regular basis. The ingredients are simple – basically flour, yeast and salt and water. The process of kneading these ingredients into smooth dough I found to be therapeutic and satisfying. The kitchen would fill with a warm yeasty aroma as the loaves rose from their pale pasty beginnings to a splendid sized loaf sporting a lovely browned crust.
The handiness of picking up a loaf at the grocery store is obvious. But the long ingredient list points to the compromise we make for this preserved, shelf stable, softened and often flavor lacking convenience. Sorting through the copious bread options and marketing messages on today’s grocery store breads can be challenging. At the grocery store the other day, I randomly selected a few soft 100% whole wheat loaves. The ingredient list included the same simple familiar ingredients – plus a whole lot more…
Whole wheat flour, water, sugar, wheat gluten, soybean oil, yeast, wheat bran, salt, calcium sulfate, vitamin E acetate, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D3, monoglycerides, calcium propionate, datem, soy lecithin, citric acid, grain vinegar, potassium iodate, ehtoxylated mono-and diglycerides, calcium phosphate.
My preference is to buy bread that is made with just the ingredients as in my homemade bread – 100% whole wheat flour, water, yeast and salt. These types of bread are available at bakeries and artisanal bread shops — not typically in the plastic wrapped loaves in the bread aisle.
With grocery store breads like so many foods, the slices have gotten bigger. Each slice of the breads I reviewed was around 1.5 oz. and 110 calories. According to the American Diabetes Association Exchange Lists and the new My Plate guidelines, a slice of bread is 1 oz. (28 grams) and provides about 80 calories. Therefore, the breads I looked at equaled 1 1/3 servings. A sandwich with two slices would be equivalent to almost three slice of bread.
So this week when you reach for a loaf of bread, take a second look:
- Is the ingredient list simple – can you pronounce everything on the label?
- Would you use those same ingredients at home to make bread?
- Is the flour used 100% whole grain or whole wheat?
- Is the size of the slice equal to one serving (1 oz.) or > 80 /slice?