Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread!

Bread is not healthy! 

How often recently have we seen this in newspapers, magazines and health supplements, or heard it on national media.....but answer me this... if bread is so unhealthy, how are the French, who are one of the biggest bread consumers on the planet, how is it that they are so healthy?

Some put it down to the French consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish and other healthy things, but they eat bread at every meal! surely this must be a bad thing? Apparently not!

The thing about the French, is that you will be hard pushed to find a plastic wrapped white loaf even in a supermarket!.......the French love their bread...... they are connoisseurs of the loaf!..... and every little village and hamlet will have a bakery that supplies the community with 'real bread', not just the everyday baguette and croissants, but a mind numbing selection of breads to be consumed at different mealtimes, with different dishes or even in different seasons!......bread heaven to me!

Here in Ireland, we seem to have developed a neurotic fear of this simple, everyday food!

There are many confusing reports floating around in the media and at dinner tables these days such as 'eating bread will make you fat'.......'you will suffer the dreaded bloat'.....'eating bread raises your blood sugar levels and increases your risk of diabetes'.......another one is.....'GLUTEN is bad for you' be afraid, be very afraid!
But you must remember that these magazines, newspapers and TV programmes are there for one sell the 'idea' of a lifestyle or usually some sort of product or advertising air time! else do you think they make their money?........if you want honest healthy eating advice then go to a health practitioner or a nutritionist!......don't buy it!...and a nutritionist will always suggest eating bread!

So let's address some of these issues that cause us concern......"eating bread will make you fat"........of course it will if you eat too much of it..... indulging in large amounts of any highly processed food such as 'white bread' or 'plastic fantastic' as I like to call it, will do you no favours, especially if you combine it with the likes of cheese, butter, jam, sausages, bacon or chips or even crisps! when laid out in front of the TV for hours every night.......ah the old chip butty.....delicious, but should be approached with caution!

Commercially manufactured breads are made using the 'CHORLEY-WOOD' process, you can find all the techno info about it here!  This process may be great for the manufacturer but not so good for the consumer if that's the only bread you eat! The methods involved in making this sort of bread could also be the culprits behind 'bloating' if you unlucky enough to suffer this uncomfortable problem, and to be truthful, such a highly processed product can also have an adverse effect on blood sugar levels..... the highly refined sugars enter the bloodstream faster than the sugars from carbohydrates which are more natural and unrefined!

So that leaves the last 'bugbear'......'GLUTEN'.....what is gluten? why are we so afraid of it?.....and why do people believe it is bad for them?
Gluten is a protein found in flours and grains such as barley......and protein is one of the essential building blocks of's also quite an important component in bread making as it makes the dough stretchy and allows the bread to rise, the gluten also helps the bread to keep its shape during rising and baking, in other words it's a GOOD THING!

The negative issue with gluten is when you are either born with, or develop an intolerance to gluten which is a condition known as 'Coeliac Disease' and I wouldn't wish this painful and inconvenient condition on anyone!
People who suffer from gluten intolerance are prone to excruciating cramps and either chronic constipation or diarrhoea when they have an attack, and many are denied the pleasure of being able to dine out with friends due to the severity of their condition.
Even the simple exercise of storing bags of flour on the same shelf as foods meant for coeliacs, or using the same knives or other equipment to prepare foods for non coeliacs can cause cross contamination, it is one of the highest risks to the sufferer when 'eating out'.

If you are lucky enough to not suffer from any intolerance issues there is no reason why you can't enjoy bread, even if you are aiming for weight loss or weight maintenance. If you want to be able to enjoy bread in a 'healthy' way then go for 'real bread' bought from an artisan baker or bread you have baked yourself.
A home made yeast risen loaf is naturally low in fat and sugar!... yes I'm telling the truth! it's all about the flour folks!

Aim for using wholemeal, rye, buckwheat or spelt flours.....these are flours that are high in fibre, contain good 'complex' carbohydrates, which means the natural sugars are slowly released in the body providing a continuous source of energy rather than a 'sugar rush' that leaves you feeling great one minute and awful 20 minutes after it has worn off!......yes you will have to mix a certain percentage of white flour with these flours or else your bread will be like a brick!..... but go for a good quality stone-ground, non processed white flour......meaning the flour does not have all the goodness stripped out of it!.....we want a flour that has retained its fibre and essentially its flavour.....this is how bread was made for hundreds of years, long before the bakers of Chorley Wood got their hands on it!

A home made loaf of bread is essentially flour, water, a tiny bit of sugar and salt, and yeast....and that's it! added fats, not packed with sugar and NO ADDITIVES! enjoy, moderately of course!
If you're worrying about your waistline then bread should be treated pretty much like every other food....too much of a good thing is bad for you! in other words, anything eaten to excess, in other words don't eat half a loaf to yourself at one sitting!.... will do you and your waistline no favours!

Basic bread is easy to make....and you can find my 'Family Friendly Loaf'' recipe HERE!

To find out some more about the 'REAL BREAD CAMPAIGN' click HERE! you can find a list of artisan producers and bakers in your area who are doing it for real!