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    Archive for the ‘whole wheat’ Category

    You Ask, I Answer: Weeding Out Wheat Ingredients

    ucm161772Can you explain the different types of whole wheat?

    I know you are supposed to look for the word “whole” as the first ingredient in a bread, but what if you have choices like stone ground whole wheat or whole white wheat?

    Which is better?

    — Jill Twist
    (Location Unknown)

    You are absolutely right that the main thing to look for when purchasing breads is “whole wheat” (or a whole non-wheat flour) as the first ingredient.

    As you point out, though, other factors come into play that can confuse you and millions of other consumers.  Let’s run through some common wheat-based ingredients and what they mean from a nutrition standpoint.  Although your question specifically refers to whole wheat varieties, I am going to throw in a little bit of information about “healthy-sounding” non-whole wheat ingredients.

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    Who Said It?: Reveal

    dr-oz-0304-lg-85334211Interviewer: Is all seafood good for you?

    Our subject’s answer: “Nope. Some of the crustaceans have cholesterol — shrimp, crab, lobster.”

    This is what Dr. Oz told Esquire magazine last year.  Granted, the rest of his nutrition-related answers (except for one other, which I discuss below) are accurate.  However, I am extremely surprised that someone who considers himself a nutrition expert is not up to date on dietary cholesterol research.

    When it comes to issues of heart disease, dietary cholesterol is waaay down on the list of troublemakers.  Trans fats, excessive omega-6 intake, insufficient omega-3 intake, high intakes of sugar, and certain saturated fats (mainly those in the meat and milk of corn and grain-fed cattle) are of much more concern.

    Shrimp, crab, and lobster are not “unhealthy” because they contain cholesterol.  Besides, wild salmon contains cholesterol, so why is Dr. Oz singling out crustaceans?

    In an attempt to avoid cholesterol in crustaceans, many people instead opt for red meat which offers lower levels of cholesterol but significantly higher levels of problematic saturated fatty acids (and not a single milligram of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids).

    Another one of Dr. Oz’s misguided tips — he recommends eating “wheat crust” pizza.  This is one of the most aggravating tips, because… well, it isn’t a tip at all!  White flour is made from wheat; ergo, it is wheat crust.  “Wheat” does not mean whole grain.  The real tip is to aim for “100% whole wheat” crust.

    The whole “wheat bread is healthier than white bread” idea needs to be squashed immediately.  Too many times, breads simply labeled as “wheat” are made from white flour with caramel color or molasses thrown in to give it a healthy-looking brown tint.

    It is statements like these (along with others I have pointed out on the blog) that truly make me wonder why Dr. Oz is viewed as a “nutrition” guru.  The two tips mentioned in this post are basic Nutrition 101 information.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Bread Without Added Junk?

    I’ve been thinking about baking my own whole wheat bread instead of buying chemicals at the store.  I was so disappointed to see how much crap is in Sara Lee breads.

    Ideally, is homemade bread better than commercial ones?

    — Jason Kehl
    Via Twitter

    Is homemade bread a healthier or more nutritious option?  It depends on a variety of factors.

    Are you using organic or conventional flour to bake your bread?  Refined or whole grain?  How much salt are you adding?

    While it is true that a lot of commercial breads are the end result of ingredient lists littered with soybean oil, high fructose corn syrup, and added coloring, that is not always the case.

    Here are bread companies I like because of their simple approach.  I have linked to their websites so you can see retail information or order their products online.  Please note that this is not a definitive list.  I am sure there are many small, local bakeries that provide breads with the same characteristics as the ones listed below.

    Also, this list is updated as I find new bread brands worthy of this post!

    • Dave’s Killer Bread (added August 21, 2010): Although the sugar content is a little high, it has many redeeming qualities that still make it a standout.  The spelt variety offers the least amount of sugar, by the way.
    • Food For Life: These breads are made from sprouted grains, which makes their minerals more bioavailable.  Bonus: 0 grams of sugar.
    • Manna Organics: “Manna bread” is a high-fiber, sprouted grain bread free of added sodium, added sugar, and yeast.  I often enjoy a thick slice topped with almond butter in the morning.
    • Silver Hills (added August 21, 2010): Sprouted-grain breads, minimal amounts of added sugar (a mere gram per slice), and wonderful texture.  Wonderful sandwich bread.
    • Vermont Bread Company: Their whole wheat bread has a lovely ingredient list
    • When Pigs Fly: Delicious and mega wholesome!

    If your local supermarkets and food stores do not carry any of these brands, look for breads with the following characteristics.  The more of these bullet points they offer, the better!

    • Whole grain flour to be the first ingredient
    • Whole grain flour to be the only flour throughout the entire ingredient list
    • Whole grain flours that are organic
    • No more than 2 grams of sugar per slice
    • At least 3 grams of fiber per slice
    • No more than 200 milligrams of sodium per slice
    • A simple ingredient list (ie: Whole wheat flour, water, salt, yeast, honey)
    • For maximum mineral absorption, look for sprouted grains

    If you choose to go ahead and make your own bread at home, keep these parameters in mind.

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    Panko Crumbs Power Up

    Next time you’re looking to make a breaded dish (i.e.: tofu, salmon, flounder, chicken, etc.) forget standard breadcrumb products loaded with sodium and void of whole grains

    Instead, reach for Ian’s whole wheat panko crumbs.

    FYI — the link I just provided lets you see what retailers in your state offer Ian’s products.

    Panko (Japanese for “bread crumbs”) provides a crisper, coarser crunch and texture than regular bread crumbs.

    And, the fact that this particular variety is 100% whole wheat is a big plus.

    Consider this. A quarter cup of Progresso bread crumbs contain 220 milligrams of sodium. Ian’s whole wheat panko? A mere 25.

    Remember that you can enjoy delicious, crunchy breaded products without deep frying.

    Let’s assume it’s flounder night at your home.

    Once every piece of fish is appropriately covered in crumbs, place them all on a cookie sheet and lightly spray each one with Pam (or brush with a teaspoon of olive oil).

    Then, simply place the cookie sheet in the oven (heated at 425 degrees) for approximately 20 minutes.

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    Mac and Cheese Grows (And Shapes!) Up

    After years of being labeled an unhealthy kids’ food, mac and cheese is receiving a glamorous, adult-friendly makeover from two fairly new companies — Road’s End Organics and Fiber Gourmet.

    Road’s End Organics offers a delectable vegan and organic whole wheat elbow macaroni “Mac and Chreese” (yes, that is ‘cheese’ with an extra ‘r’) that is also free of soy and nuts.

    The sauce gets most of its flavor from nutritional yeast, a popular vegan alternative to cheese.

    The best part? Each serving (half the box) adds up to:

    340 calories
    0 grams of saturated fat
    400 milligrams of sodium
    8 grams of fiber

    14 grams of protein

    25% of the Vitamin B12 Daily Value (I mention this since we are referring to a vegan product)

    This passed not only my taste test with flying colors, but also those of traditional Mac ‘n Cheese eaters (some of which asked me, “Are you SURE this isn’t real cheese?”)

    That is quite a feat, considering I used unsweetened soymilk as a base for the “cheese” sauce. If you are not of the vegan persuasion, you can certainly use cow’s milk if you so choose — preferably skim or 2%.

    Fiber Gourmet meanwhile, is keeping the dairy in mac and cheese but adding fiber in plentiful amounts.

    One serving (1 cup) of their new kosher-friendly, free-of-artificial-colors Mac and Cheese product contains a whooping 18 grams of fiber!

    A few things worth noting:

    First of all, the fiber comes from — yay! — actual food (modified wheat starch and wheat gluten, to be exact) rather than synthetic dust.

    Secondly, the folks at Fiber Gourmet have done an amazing job of creating a high-fiber pasta with top-notch taste and texture.

    There isn’t the slightest hint of graininess, nor does the pasta quickly congeal into a great big ball of mush like those awful low-carb soy pastas that were the rage for all of eight seconds in 2003. Are we SURE that wasn’t really fussilli shaped cardboard?

    Because the fiber content is so high, I would recommend having half a cup in one sitting (as a tasty side dish that delivers a reasonable 330 milligrams of sodium, more than respectable 9 grams of fiber, and only 90 calories!), especially if your current diet is not very high in fiber (in which case, too much too soon causes an intestinal revolt).

    Also, keep in mind that children’s fiber needs are different from adults. For children ages 3 to 16, fiber needs are determined by taking the child’s age and adding 5 to it.

    Hence, the 18 grams of fiber in each serving is too much for a 9 year old.

    With pre-teens, for instance, I would suggest mixing half a cup of Fiber Gourmet’s mac and cheese with another half cup of a “regular” variety.

    In any case, this is a wonderful way to boost fiber intake in a tasty, low-calorie way.

    Mac and cheese. It’s not just for kids anymore.

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