Bread can be a pretty contentious topic these days. In our article, There’s Nothing Wrong with Bread, the author explains why certain breads are definitely not good for you, and why others, made in traditional ways with quality ingredients, can be a healthy part of almost anyone’s diet. If eliminating bread is no great loss for you, and you want to do it, then go for it, ditch bread. No one is suggesting you have to eat it. There are plenty of other sources for healthy carbs which are essential, especially when you’re training. But, if you’re like me, and a crusty hunk of quality bread brings you joy and causes no digestive complaints whatsoever, then artisan whole grain bread deserves a place in your diet. But what is artisan whole grain bread, and where can you find it?
The artisan method of baking bread is regaining popularity as people reject the pillowy, processed white flour bread products that fill grocery store shelves. Artisan bread is made with quality ingredients using a traditional fermentation process instead of quick-rise yeast. If you’re lucky enough to have a baker near you who puts care into sourcing milled whole grains and seeds, and uses a fermented mother dough, then you’re in luck (and you are likely surrounded by hipsters). This is perfect bread, and a good source of nutrition (read why here). Many bakeries use a mixture of refined flour mixed and whole grain flour, so be sure to ask before you buy. I live in Los Angeles, and have my pick of craft bakers, with new shops opening all the time. I know most of the country does not have such a ready supply of amazing bread to choose from.
If artisan bread has not yet reached your city, you can learn to craft your own. It’s not as daunting a task as you may think and few culinary feats are as rewarding! I like this recipe from Nourished Kitchen, that also explains how to make a sourdough starter. Bread dough can be kept in the refrigerator for weeks to make sourdough, or it can be frozen, and baked fresh when you need it. Experiment with flours, and combinations of flours to find one you like, avoiding bread flour, basic all-purpose flour, and wheat flour. Here are some flours that make the grade:
Bob’s Red Mill Whole Grain Spelt Flour
Bob’s Red Mill Organic Whole Grain Kamut Stone Ground Flour
King Arthur Organic Sprouted Whole Wheat Flour
Jovial Foods Einkorn All Purpose Flour
Arrowhead Mills Organic Rye Flour
If you balk at baking your own bread, there are healthy breads available at grocers, you just have to search past the hundreds of unhealthy choices to find them. Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Bread is the best, widely-available choice, as it is made entirely from sprouted organic whole grains with no added sugars or refined flour. “Sprouting” refers to the process of letting the grains and seeds germinate (or start to grow) before baking, causing certain minerals like zinc and iron to be more bioavailable, and making the bread easier to digest. Also look for dark German rye breads made with seeds. Read labels carefully, many whole grain breads, like Rudi’s and Dave’s Killer Bread, contain added sugar. We won’t recommend those, but if it’s the best you can find, choose a bread with natural sugar like honey or molasses.