Baking Healthy Breads

by in Healthy Recipes, April 23, 2009

whole-grain bread
Baking your own bread isn’t as hard as you think, and despite what low-carb zealots might say, it can be part of a healthy diet. Leave the croissants and baguettes to the pros (those can get a bit complicated), and try these simple and delicious recipes.

The Carb Question
There’s no need to fear bread — especially the whole-grain varieties. Whole-grain breads are full B vitamins, iron and hunger-fighting protein and fiber. Often carbohydrates such as bread are the first to go on low-carb diets, but this puts dieters at a serious disadvantage because carbs are the body’s primary source of energy. And just so you know, bread has about 80-100 calories per slice. Just like other foods, it’s all about moderation.

Experiment with Ingredients
No matter what kind of bread you’re making, flour is most likely on your ingredient list.
Increase fiber and protein by using a combination of whole-wheat and all-purpose flours. Often using all whole-wheat flour makes breads tough, so the combo is key. Experiment with other types of flour and whole grains such as spelt flour (also made from wheat), brown rice flour and corn meal (corn is a whole grain too, ya know). Nuts and seeds add great texture and flavor to healthy bread recipes. Just use a little (about 1/4 cup for the recipe) to avoid adding too many extra calories — save those for spreads, dips and sandwich toppers.

An added bonus to making your own bread is there are no preservatives. Ever notice how a bakery-fresh baguette goes stale in a day, but a loaf of grocery store sandwich bread lasts for weeks? There’s nothing wrong with a loaf of whole-wheat bread for weekly lunches, but store-bought breads always contain some preservatives. So when you’re in the mood to bake, utilize the freezer. You’ll get more mileage out of the recipe, and this will also help stop you from eating everything you made that day. Store baked breads (wrapped tightly) in the freezer for up to 6 months. If you’re planning on using the bread within a few days, you can just refrigerate it. Give it a quick toast, and it will be good as new.

Quick Breads
Quick breads are convenient and time saving. Since they typically don’t contain yeast, you don’t have to wait for the dough to rise. Their consistency is often more cake-like but delicious nonetheless. Make a batch of corn bread or corn muffins to serve with a chili, barbecue fare or a brunch spread. Try baking bread with beer to serve with a soup or stew.

Pizza
In my humble opinion, there’s something so rewarding about making your own pizza dough. Here’s a no-fail, thin-crust recipe I use all the time. If you’re in the mood for something more deep-dish style, try a light and airy foccacia. You can keep the calories under control by using fresh veggies for toppings and a light sprinkling of cheese. Watch the portions, too — serve small slices of pizza or foccacia along with a large salad for a healthy and complete meal.

Rolls and Loaves
If you’re in the mood for some traditional whole wheat rolls, try this recipe for soft whole wheat rolls — they’re great for sandwiches, burgers, tuna melts or for dunking into soup. Thin slices of toasted bread are good for bruschetta or grilled cheese. Try a whole wheat Irish soda bread to get the effect.

Think Outside the Bread Box
Get creative! Honey whole wheat pretzel sticks make a great snack and scallion flat breads (made on the stove top) will work for wraps, soft tacos and fajitas.

Your Equipment
Bread machines can help make baking a breeze — they are especially good for loaves of basic sandwich breads. For bread dough that requires a lot of kneading, make sure you have a flat work surface that you can flour well to prevent sticking. Bowl scrapers and bench scrappers can also come in handy when transferring dough from work surface to baking vessel. A good serrated knife is also a must-have for easy slicing.

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Comments (58)

  1. Iris says:

    Can I grind oatmeal or brown rice into flour to increase the fiber in adition to whole wheat flour replacing white flour? Would I then measure cup for cup?

  2. Dana White says:

    Hi Iris – Brown rice and oatmeal will add flavor, texture and protein. Brown rice and oat flours are available at many supermarkets. You could also leave the oats whole for even more texture. As for the measurements, you might have to experiment with the specific recipe a little before you find the perfect combination.

  3. Bev says:

    Wow, you’ve inspired me to get out that bread machine. I honestly did not trust that I could create a “point” friendly bread now! Thanks!

  4. Maria says:

    I am trying to loose weight,and I came up with this recipe harvest whole wheat muffins they contain whole wheat,oatmeal,half the sugar of regular muffins,raisins,walnuts,coconut. they are very filling.
    I have one for lunch and one for snack. I lost 8 lbs.in a month and I can waith to try your recipes

  5. DOROTHY OLIVER says:

    where do I get a recipe for sour dough bread?

  6. Audrey Fusek says:

    After many years of making all kinds of breads in my bread machine (mostly), we now find my husband needs to be glutten free. Any ideas on recipes? I’ve found rice flour, and I did find a really good recipe for corn bread that doesn’t use any flour (or sugar, which is great because I am a diabetic). Any ideas for glutten free would be appreciated.

  7. Terry says:

    About using oats – I have used oat flour in baking for years. All you need to do is whirl old fashioned or quick oats in your blender ( I use a Magic Bullet) until it is ground up. I substitute oat flour for half of the all purpose flour in most of my recipes. It is especially good in banana bread and pancakes. I do also add just a little extra baking powder and liquid. Very nutritious and yummy!

  8. Robert says:

    What is the bread shown in the picture above – that looks really good and is there recipe for it?
    Thanks, Robert please email: robken16@gmail.com

  9. Diana says:

    I too would like the recipe for the bread featured in the photo/artilce. Mail to dddeutsch@hotmail.com.

  10. Simply wish to say your article is as surprising. The clarity in your post is simply nice and i can assume you’re an expert on this subject. Fine with your permission allow me to grab your feed to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the gratifying work.

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