Bread is among the most consumed foods in the Western world thanks not only to its goodness but also to its versatility, making it suitable for any meal of the day. Abolishing carbohydrates is a counterproductive strategy when confronted with weight-loss issues. Often the first thing we tend to eliminate from our diet is carbohydrates, mainly bread and pasta. The strategy may have positive effects in the short term, but abolishing carbs in totality is counterproductive. It may force the body to lose muscle mass to create the sugars it needs.
A weight-loss diet without bread and pasta is not guaranteed to be more effective than not having any. Still, it will be challenging to carry on due to too many deprivations while running the risk of causing nutritional imbalances and deficiencies. It is essential to remember that the LARN (Recommended nutrient intake levels) suggest the consumption of carbohydrates (mainly complex types, such as pasta and bread) equal to 45-60% of the daily calorie intake.
Bread can and must, therefore, find inclusion in the daily diet. The important thing is to know how to choose and eat it in quantities appropriate to your needs. It is also essential to avoid consuming it at the same time as other carbohydrate sources such as pasta, potatoes, or rice. It is also vital to combine it with a source of protein, good fats, and fiber.
Choose the bread
Knowing how to choose bread means consuming the one that best reflects personal needs. For example, in the case of constipation or diabetes, the consumption of bread made with unrefined flours can be useful. In the case of hypertension, it is better to choose low sodium bread.
In general, it is better to avoid bread that is already seasoned, canned, or preserved, in which there are often too many ingredients used as stabilizers. Better then to consume a bread made with mother yeast, which guarantees higher digestibility. It’s just a matter of finding the right bakery. The secret of eating bread is choosing the one with a low glycemic index, which slightly raises the blood sugar level, especially in low sugar diets.
I opt for wholewheat bread whose dough offers the uniform dark texture while rejecting white bread made with added refined-bran added flour. The rule is simple: more fibers, less impact on the waistline.
One suggestion is not to discard day-old bread; just keep it in a plastic bag and use it as needed. Yesterday’s bread loses moisture, which changes the structure of the starch, and it is assimilated more slowly into the bloodstream.
One evidence is the Apulian bread named freselle. Made with barley, dries in the oven after cooking, and used soaked in water and vinegar, topped with all kinds of vegetables and olive oil. Its composition is such that it releases the starch in a much slower process benefiting the glucose.
For the ideal bread, I suggest a product made with mother’s yeast, possibly without fat, a little salt, from a local bakery and organic if possible. Seek fresh bread at all times, and stay away from the “processed or long-lasting” labels.
How much bread to eat
Ultimately, considering that, on average, 4 ounces of bread provides about 250 kcal, a couple of portions of bread per day generally recommended, corresponding to about 40-60 g per meal, in the absence of other sources of carbohydrates.
Considering its nutritional value, we can, therefore, say that consuming wholemeal bread is an excellent choice for our health. It is, in fact, one of the foods that we find at the base of the food pyramid: it should represent an essential part of the daily diet and don’t be intimidated.
Lievito Madre – Natural Yeast
Very often, we read recipes, especially in bread-making calling for mother’s yeast. I will try to explain and give you a basic formula if you intend to use it. Most artisans use the mother’s yeast for making rustic bread, in tune with past preparations before automatization occurred. Yeast is a single-celled fungus that breaks down carbohydrates while multiplying. Carbon dioxide creates, allowing the dough to rise. In my kitchen, I use a starter called “lievito madre,” mother’ yeast, because it starts the process, just like a mom.
Here the ingredients for one single batch to try.
Eight ounces of all-purpose flour
Five ounces of lukewarm water water
One teaspoon of pure honey
Combine the flour with lukewarm water in a large bowl. Add honey. Mix well. Place mixture in a glass jar with the lid resting on top but NOT hermetically sealed. You need air to penetrate the pot. Store in a ventilated area with temperature not exceeding 70 F. After two to three days, you will see a slight fermentation combined with a scent reminiscing of beer. Wait three more days, and discard about 50% of the mixture, while maintaining the crust formed on top. Place crust in a new bowl, add 5 ounces of water and eight ounces of flour, then mix well until it reaches a smooth consistency; use a food processor if necessary, and store it again this time with the lid fastened further two days. Discard half and feed as before, leave the mix for one more day, and your lievito madre will be ready to use. You can store it in the fridge with the lid on as long as you remember to keep discarding and feeding it at least once a week. After reading this, you may be discouraged by the time commitment. While that’s true, there are no substitutions for good quality, healthy, and the comfort of home-made bread, just like a mom.