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Posts Tagged ‘bread’

Whole Grain Bread…The Basics

September 17th, 2012

Half the grain products we eat are supposed to be whole grain. We aren’t there yet, but according to a July study about 55% of us have switched from white bread to whole grain bread.

Whole grains aren’t limited to bread. There are whole grain pastas and brown rice on grocery shelves too. And products made with whole grains such as oats, popcorn, brown and wild rice, buckwheat (or kasha) and cracked wheat (also called bulgur) as the first ingredient carry the “whole-grain” label.

Grains such as quinoa, whole cornmeal (yellow or white), whole barley, whole rye, amaranth, millet, spelt and triticale are less common, but are also whole grains.

breadWhy are we eating more whole grains? Maybe consumers are becoming more aware that whole grains help reduce the risk of bowel disorders, some cancers, heart disease (by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol), stroke and type 2 diabetes. Maybe it is because we like the taste and texture.

Bread is still a staple in our diets. Whole grain bread can cost $3.50 to $4.00 a loaf at the supermarket.  At the day old store I found whole grain bread for $1.00 to $2.00 a loaf. If you have a day-old bread store nearby and have a freezer, it’s worth a trip to stock up.

Check for clues on the label!

Be sure the bread you buy is whole grain and not just brown. Look for the “Whole Grain” stamp or choose foods that name one of the following whole-grain ingredients FIRST on the label’s ingredient list: whole grain stamp

  • brown rice
  • bulgur
  • graham flour
  • oatmeal
  • whole-grain corn
  • whole oats
  • whole rye
  • whole wheat
  • wild rice.

If you see these words listed as the first ingredient, that’s your tip that it is NOT a whole grain product: wheat flour; enriched; multigrain; 100% wheat; stone ground; cracked wheat; seven-grain; bran.

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Mediterranean Diet

June 11th, 2012

The last couple of weeks I have been studying the Mediterranean diet in Crete.  This diet, which is named for the traditional cooking style of countries bordering the Mediterranean sea, is associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease, and higher life expectancy.  The locals brag that almost everyone in Crete has a relative that is over 100 years old  (it seems like the older I get, the more important life expectancy is to me!).

Below are some observations from my days in Crete:

  • I want to incorporate more vegetables in different ways into my diet. Especially recipes with the beets, zucchini, and eggplant we have growing in our garden.
  • Breakfast in Crete was usually plain yogurt that you could spoon a little honey or jam (which they called spoon sweets) over, whole wheat bread, cheese, and hard boiled eggs.  My yogurt and fruit breakfast is pretty similar.
  • Seafood has heart –healthy omega 3 fatty acids. We had snails several times in Crete plus sardines and other seafood.  I do not think fresh snails will be on my weekly menu, but some kind of seafood will be.  This summer will be a great time to experiment with grilled fish.
  • We had many vegetarian meals built around beans, whole grains, and vegetables with some great spices.  I am growing some oregano, basil, and mint on my deck that should add great flavor to my new recipes.
  • The focus of the Mediterranean diet is not on limiting total fat, but rather to discourage saturated fat and hydrogenated fat. I brought two bottles of olive oil home.  I probably will never use as much olive oil in recipes as the Greek cooks did, but I will use it more liberally than I have.   I will probably be more willing to drizzle oil over fresh tomatoes and cucumbers to make a simple salad.   I am also looking for great tasting olives.
  • Bread is eaten plain or dipped in olive oil, not eaten with butter or margarine which have saturated fats or trans fats.  Most of the bread is whole grain.  I will try my bread with olive oil.
  • Dessert in Crete is usually fruit or yogurt drizzled with honey.
  • Exercise is just part of living in Crete.   There are fewer cars, the roads are narrow and the terrain hilly.  Walking and bicycles seemed to be the norm for travel in the villages, with travel by bus or metro in the city, which means treks to and from the bus stops.  I need to work on incorporating more exercise into my daily routine…like a walk at lunch, parking at the far end of the parking lot, etc.

If you would like to learn more about the Mediterranean Diet check out, Oldways, Health Through Heritage.

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The Whole Grain Maze

September 12th, 2011

Bread used to be made from either whole wheat or white flour; although, many times coloring was added to white flour to make it look darker (healthier) .  Now we have “whole white bread” and many claims on the label to wade through such as 5 grams fiber, 20 grams of whole grain and 40% fiber.  How do you know which is the best?  What’s a person to do if we want to make half of your grains whole as recommended?

Bread is made from flour that comes from grain kernels — usually wheat. A grain kernel has three parts: the bran, the endosperm, and the germ.

Whole grains contain all parts of the grain kernel. Refined grains, like the flour used to make white bread, have had the  bran (where most of the fiber is) and the germ (where most of the nutrients are) processed out.  This leaves only the starchy endosperm, which means you miss out on essential fatty acids, vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc.

Many flour and bread manufacturers enrich their bread by adding vitamins back in. But it’s still better to eat whole grains. View the farm to fork journey of bread processing.

The bottom line……..Check the list of ingredients
If the first ingredient listed contains the word “whole” (such as “whole wheat flour” or “whole oats”), it is likely that the product is predominantly whole grain. If there are two grain ingredients and only the second ingredient listed is a whole grain, the product may contain as little as 1% or as much as 49% whole grain (in other words, it could contain a little bit of whole grain, or nearly half).

Whole grain and fiber are not the same
Fiber varies from grain to grain, ranging from 3.5% in rice to over 15% in barley and bulgur. What’s more, high-fiber products sometimes contain bran or other added fiber without actually having much, if any, whole grain. Both fiber and whole grains have been shown to have health benefits. But they are not interchangeable. So checking the fiber on a label is not a very reliable way to guess whether a product is truly whole grain.

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Yes, You CAN Freeze Sandwiches

September 17th, 2009

Last week after a program, I offered to leave some of the sandwich samples for the staff. One of them commented that they had a bunch of other snacks and that the sandwiches might not get eaten. I said, “Well, you can take these home and freeze them for another day.” The look I received was that of total shock. “You can freeze sandwiches?” was the reply. The individual was just sure the bread would be all soggy and the overall quality so bad that you would never want to consider it. But, the quality isn’t diminished. It’s time to use the freezer and save a few dollars…

Sandwiches you make ahead and freeze can save money and time. Just about any sandwich—other than those with a mayonnaise base (such as chopped meat or egg salad)—can be frozen. It’s best to apply condiments such as mayonnaise when ready to use. Some great filling choices include: peanut butter and jelly; deli meat; plain canned tuna; cheese; or cheese along with a meat. Or, you might consider buying a whole roast or chicken, cook it in the slow cooker or oven the day before, and use the meat from that for sandwiches. It will be cheaper than the deli meat and definitely lower in sodium. Dicing these larger meat cuts will make them stretch further. Make the sandwiches and wrap them in plastic wrap or a sandwich bag, put them in a larger freezer-weight plastic bag (being sure to mark the bag with the contents), then pop in the freezer. For more on freezing sandwiches, Nebraska Extension has a great tip sheet.

When you are ready to pack your lunch, just grab one of the sandwiches from the freezer and place in an insulated bag with an ice block. It should be thawed in time for lunch. You could add to this lunch a bag of vegetable sticks (prep several bags and have ready for grabbing from the fridge), fruit, string cheese, and cookie. Fast! Easy! And easily less than $2.00 for lunch.

-Jottings from Jan

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