Our daily bread!
Bread is a food that comes in and out of ‘fashion and most people have got stories about their relationship with it. I meet people all the time who say “oh I don’t eat bread, I’m off wheat, it bloats me” and then there are others who swear by their daily slice or two, and use a bread maker everyday without fail. So what it is about bread?
Bread is normally the first food to go when someone is on a weight loss diet, yet it is also the food we dive for first when we are feeling ravenous. So we either like it or hate it, but what is important to understand is that we absolutely need it in our diet whether we like the idea or not!
And moreover, your children need bread in their diet – but only high-quality bread, honest bread, the bread that has been made using only the bare essential ingredients; flour (whole-wheat) salt, water and yeast.
Here in the UK, nine million loaves of bread are sold every day and 95% of them are made using a process called the Chorleywood process (invented in 1961). This process has replaced traditional slow baked wholesome bread for a bread that contains low-grade wheat flour, fats, improvers, emulsifiers and conditioners, E472e, E471, and ascorbic acid which only stands to prolong its shelf life. The salt added to this type of bread is also high. One slice of bread can contain 0.5g of salt which is relatively high when you consider that children under four should not eat more than 2g of salt a day according to their recommended daily intake. This mass production makes the bread cheaper to produce and cheaper for you to purchase, but it does not contain good quality nutrients. The added chemical agents are probably why people feel bloated and uncomfortable after eating bread.
Bread is a staple in every country and a good quality loaf of bread is very nutritious, as it gives you carbohydrate for energy and a good source of protein from the hard wheat. Whole grains are a good source of thiamine, and their germ is rich in vitamin E, as well as containing significant amounts of potassium, phosphorus, iron and zinc. More importantly, constipation amongst children is much more prevalent than we know because children do not often discuss this, and a good whole-wheat bread will help keep your child’s bowels open. Whole-wheat flour not only contains important nutrients, but 250% more fibre than white bread and 50% more fibre than brown bread. Also, whole grains will slow down the absorption and stop you feeling hungry.
Wheat flour has three main ingredients; the germ at the bottom where the most of the nutrients are stored, the endosperm which is the starch, and the outer covering which is the bran and contains good nutrients. I have compiled a list of some of the more common types of flour to help you understand what actually goes into your loaf of bread. These were all seen in a local supermarket so unless you shop at a true bakery, here are some you will find:
Wholemeal flour the best of the bunch is 100% of grain with nothing added and nothing taken away. By the way, there is no difference between Whole-wheat and Wholemeal flour.
Brown flour is basically white flour with added bran or wholemeal with some bran removed. Some brown flour is really white, but coloured with caramel and bran added. In the UK, the law requires iron, thiamine and niacin to be added to brown and white flour to compensate for losses during the milling process. Calcium is also added to some flour.
White flour constitutes around 75% of the grain and mostly made up of the starchy endosperm. It is missing the most nutritious parts of the fibre rich seed, the outside bran layer and the germ. It is highly processed, chemically bleached and can create health problems if eaten to excess over years.
Whole white flour is a recent addition to the flour choices and is white flour with a third wholemeal flour added.
White and brown flour have no advantages really except for the fact that they have been fortified with vitamins which may be important to certain individuals.
More confusion for the consumer then, but what is the answer?
Either find a really good bakery and purchase freshly baked wholemeal bread, which can sometimes be a little more expensive than the supermarket bread, or think about baking your own! Most people think it is difficult but in fact it could not be easier than with a Bread maker.
I have researched the bread maker market and have come up with the Panasonic SD255, which is very easy to use. Just pop the ingredients into the top, push down the lid, set the timer and wait. You can even set the timer so that you wake up with the smell of fresh bread running through the house. The initial outlay for the machine comes back to you ten fold in cheaper, more nutritious and delicious bread which is far healthier for you and your children. In fact, I have stopped buying bread from the supermarket since I bought my bread maker. The bread maker comes with a recipe book showing the most basic breads to some really tasty interesting breads.
As it relates to your children getting involved, they can make a loaf of bread with you and eventually learn the art of truly appetizing food. What better way of giving your children nutritious food and also teaching them the long term lesson in how to achieve it?