In my early days of being a vegetarian I tended to eat bread at every meal. I would eat some form of bread, whether it was a bagel, a roll, or slices at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It was the perfect delivery mechanism for my rudimentary veggie dishes. On any given day, bread could end up accounting for nearly a third of my total caloric intake. This is an awful lot of calories for a food that was not really adding anything to my meals, it was just helping me get the other food down. Fortunately, another one of my main motivations for becoming a vegetarian helped me cut this crazy intake down to a healthy level. I started reading the ingredients on the backs of packages.
Knowing What You are Eating
How many ingredients do you think are in the loaf of bread sitting in your breadbox or pantry? Without even knowing the brand or type of bread it is, I can tell you right now it is probably way too many. The basic ingredients for a loaf of bread is as follows.
Why then do most breads come loaded with a list of chemicals that you cannot even pronounce? The easy answer is so the bread will have a longer shelf life. Not a longer life in your pantry, but a longer time sitting on shelves in grocery stores. This makes sense from a business perspective, but not from a healthy, whole foods side. A quick way to cut down on consuming these preservatives and strange sounding chemicals is to make your own bread.
Making bread at home is easy and you can do it without any fancy equipment. The equipment makes preparation easy, but does not affect the outcome. This week alone, I made fresh bread for three different meals – pizza, baguette, and rolls for sandwiches. The dough was prepared on Monday and then refrigerated for use throughout the rest of the week. This recipe is very basic and comes from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes. I have purchased their healthy bread book and am really excited to try their other breads.
- 1 1/2 tbs yeast
- 1 1/2 tbs salt
- 6 1/2 cups unbleached, non-enriched flour
- 3 cups warm water
- In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees).
- The yeast should begin reacting with the water within minutes. If you do not see any bubbles or foaming, you should start over with fresh yeast.
- You can use an electric stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. If you have one, use it as your arm can only take so much.
- I do not have a pizza peel so I used a floured cutting board and a spatula to transfer the dough.
- If not using stone, stretch rounded dough into oval and place in a greased, nonstick loaf pan.
I unfortunately did not take any pictures of the bread before I used it with each meal. Mary and I both think that it was fantastic and will not be buying bread from the store anytime soon.