I love bread, but it doesn’t love me. I’m sure many of you feel the same way. Bread makes me feel bloated and overly full for hours after I eat it. I’ve cut it (and anything with gluten) out various times over the past few years, and the difference is almost immediate in regards to how I feel. An added bonus to cutting out bread, or gluten in general, is after a few weeks you can tell a difference in my waistline as well.
And this confuses me. Yes, it’s probably true that much of the weight I lose when I’m not eating bread is due more to what I put ON the it (i.e. butter, jelly, peanut butter, mayo, cheese, Nutella, etc…) But the bloating and irritation is obviously caused by the bread itself. However, bread has been a main staple of the human diet for pretty much our entire existence, so why is it that so many of us are just NOW feeling so uncomfortable?
Enter Michael Pollan, food writer extraordinaire. I’ve loved his books for years and was thrilled when I saw Netflix has a 4-part documentary based on his most recent book, Cooked (which I haven’t read, YET!) I’ll let you watch it yourself instead of giving you a full run down here (seriously, do yourself a favor – stop reading this, and start watching Cooked NOW), but the episode dealing with Air, or bread-making, got me thinking that just maybe I could have my bread and eat it too. His theory, in short, is that by decreasing the time it takes to make bread, in order to mass produce it, we’ve been short changing ourselves of the nutritional benefit of real bread. Real bread – that has been given adequate time for the yeast to fully ferment and transform flour and water into dough that can then be baked into a beautiful, edible loaf. This type of bread is one of the most nutritious things you can eat – with protein, fats, good carbs, and essential nutrients. So much has been added to the bread we buy in grocery stores in order to decrease the processing time and increase shelf life, that much of its natural nutritional benefit has been lost (but then nutrients are artificially added back in…).
Pollan suggests trading a long fermentation period for rapid mass production has also made bread much more difficult for our bodies to digest. The gluten hasn’t been allowed time to be fully broken down by the fermentation process (done by yeast – which is magically in the air and all you need to do is mix flour with water and leave it out in the open. The mixture will start fermenting by itself!), and may be why so many of us now claim to experience gluten intolerance.
So, I’ve decided to start making my own bread products and see if my stomach can tolerate them any better than the store bought versions. I’ve seen some no-knead bread recipes that look promising and delicious. Of course, these no knead recipes use quick-starting yeast, which speeds up the fermentation process and cuts down on the nutritional benefit of homemade bread. But, it will be a good way to start practicing my bread making skills until I work up the courage to figure out how to use a real sourdough starter.
(Side note: I did find some bread at Trader Joe’s whose ingredients list contains only organic flour, salt, and water. I’m assuming/hoping this means it’s made using a classic sourdough process? We’ve been buying this for the last few months – it’s delicious and doesn’t negatively affect me or Seth.)
The past three weekends I tried out homemade pizza dough for our Friday pizza nights. Attempt number one was somewhat of a flop, but the second recipe I tried showed promise (see picture below). The third time around I saved half of the dough in the fridge for guests we were hosting the next day. The half I used immediately created super flat, cracker-like crust. The half I kept the fridge for an extra day made practically perfect pizza dough. (Also, the sauce in this recipe is legit, and super easy. I’ll never go store bought again.)
Now, if only I can figure out how to make a chocolate cake that’s good for me and magically gets me in shape for swimsuit season…