Low GI bread takes less than five minutes of your time using a basic machine.
Our daily loaf has since the early mists of time been a staple in the diet of human beings and is likely to remain so despite some doubts about just how healthy it is.
Those concerns are centred on two basic concerns. Firstly the way in which it is baked today; it's a totally different product from what our forefathers may have called the staff of life. And secondly it needs to be viewed in the context of the whole meal. Our forefathers weren't obese either and could eat their bread with relish and without the doubts we may today have.
Certainly it's high in carbohydrate and if you have a problem with blood sugar then you may well be concerned with the amount and kind of loaf that you enjoy.
Let's get it over with; white bread and rolls may melt in the mouth and taste divine but they rank amongst the very worst of junk foods that you can eat.
Keep them for high and holy days and when dining with friends whom you don't want to offend with pious remarks of what you do and don't eat. Enjoy them daily and they will make you sick, and obese, without a doubt.
The main concern with bread is how quickly it is turned into sugar in the blood stream; enter some understanding of the term glycemic index. Some foods, which include your favourite loaf, white rice and potato are turned very rapidly into glucose if eaten on their own.
Let me say that again; enjoyed in isolation, many carbohydrates have a very high glycemic index. We need to look at the context of the whole meal rather than one particular food.
Adding fibre, fat and protein when baking your bread radically changes how quickly it is digested and turned into sugar.
Even whole wheat bread from the supermarket has a fairly high glycemic index, due to the refining, but because of its inherent fibrous bran, it is digested more slowly than white bread. Add butter, cheese or a slice of ham, and a leaf of lettuce and you have a quite different kettle of fish.
Since the onset of the low carbohydrate diets for the obese, manufacturers have found to their dismay that their sales have dropped; enter low glycemic index bread.
As a general rule, the glycemic index of a food can be lowered by grinding it less finely, and adding fibre, protein and fat.
Or, to put it differently, remove the fibre, fat and protein from a food, and then grind it very finely, and you've just turned a healthy food into junk that's detrimental to health.
Sugar cane and beets are good for health and have no detrimental effect on the teeth. Extract the the fibre and phytochemicals and you have a junk food.
Remove the bran from flour because the public wants nice fine white loaves; extract the fat because otherwise the wheat germ oil will go rancid.
Extract the the wheat germ because the pig farmers will pay a high price for it; grind it finely and, bingo, you have the worst of crappy foods sold in your local supermarket.
There's a relatively simple solution to all this. Bake your own loaf, using a bread machine. It's cheaper than supermarket low GI, and you can control the ingredients.
The only part that is difficult is that the purist will grind his own healthy flour, because the fatty fraction starts being oxidised the moment you crack the kernel. For the rest it's merely a matter of adding the ingredients, and keeping out the enzymes, emulsifiers and preservatives that the manufacturers utilise to hasten the process and give it a shelf life.
Bake your own low glycemic index bread and you need have none of these concerns, bar how long the flour has been on the shelf. To make the perfect loaf you would also need a wheat grinder but, even without your own freshly ground wheat, you're still streets ahead of any bread sold in the supermarket.
Expressed in different terms, the starch in 100% wholemeal is called 'resistant'; instead of being digested in the small intestine, producing a surge in blood glucose, much passes through to the colon where instead it's fermented by the microbiota.
Read more about resistant starch.
The first step then is to add some protein to your dough. Manufacturers of low glycemic bread would add soy flour. I don't have a problem with that, only I personally don't particularly like soybeans.
So instead, I add a healthy dollop of homemade hummus which I prefer. In truth, both soybeans and chickpeas are legumes, rich in fibre, protein and fat; it's a matter of choice. Chickpeas are cheap, readily available and easy to process.
Secondly, you can add the fat of your choice. Olive oil tops my list and I often add a little butter because on the choice healthy foods we eat, we have quite normal cholesterol; in fact, it's low.
Supermarket low GI bread would have one of the polyunsaturated oils like soyabean oil, or sunflower oil. There's nothing wrong with polyunsaturates, only we already get too much of them, raising the ratio of polys to monos, and that means inflammation in the body; and hence my interest as a chiropractor.
Inflammation means neck and back pain, and polymyalgia and angry linings of the arteries and the alimentary canal.
Rather add olive oil which consists mainly of monounsaturated fatty acids; and a little butter. Remember that heart disease has only been around for about one hundred years. It arrived after the change from high animal fats to margarine. Chances are that your forefathers didn't die of heart disease unless they smoked. Margarines contain toxic hydrogenated fats.
Don't get me wrong; there's something very satisfying about kneading and baking your own bread; and nobody describes it better than Jamie Oliver at his own basic bread recipe page. It's the way I baked bread and rolls for years.
So why don't I build a page with my own basic bread recipe? Because this site is about healthy food made fast; kneading your own dough needs to be done in a leisurely and time consuming way. Something that puts most of us off baking our own bread.
The bread machine is no quicker, or longer; both methods require five hours. But the time you spend is a tenth. Five minutes against an hour, or longer whilst waiting for the dough to prove and rise.
There are two more reasons I like the bread machine. The only washing up is the measuring cylinder and the teaspoon for the honey. There's a skivvy lurking behind Jamie that he doesn't tell you about; cleaning up is a schlepp in my book.
The other is that you don't have to heat a whole oven; your bread machine uses a quarter of the energy, and you can easily run it on your solar generator; it's a green machine. The average oven draws at least two kilowatts.
If you have lots of time to kill, don't mind washing up and have plenty of money for more electricity, then the kneading your own bread is very therapeutic. If not, it's our low GI bread recipe.
Anti inflammatory omega 3 is what keeps arthritis at bay; add freshly ground flax seed for more fibre, lowering the glycemic index yet further.
Then you want to add fibre to your low GI bread. Bakers add smart bran but it adsorbes calcium in your food, reducing absorption; in particularly that's not good for women. Rather I would recommend various seeds and nuts. I make sure one of them is freshly ground flax seeds for its high anti inflammatory omega 3 content.
Each of these has its own merits but in general they are high in fibre, have some protein and the healthy fats; and no trans fatty acids which you are likely to get in your supermarket low GI bread.
I'm not exaggerating. It takes me no more than five minutes to measure out the ingredients for our panera bread menu recipe; flour and water, the yeast, the honey, salt and olive oil. Then to turn it into low GI simply add a dollop of hummus and a lump of butter; crack three pecan nuts and add them together with the seeds.
Butter is back by the way.
Five hours later you have a divine loaf of low GI bread for lunch. It has probably fifty times the nutritional value, hundred times the taste, no chemicals and for half the price of a supermarket loaf of low GI bread; that's a bargain!
Easy sourdough bread recipe is my favourite; this is the one I bake most often now.
It's also a low GI loaf.
A quite different flavour can be obtained by making your own easy sourdough bread recipe. Even gluten intolerant folk tolerate it far better as the lactobacillus breaks down the problem child, proline, a particularly stable amino acid that is not well digested normally leaving unhealthy protein fragments.
Hummus gives the added protein and healthy fat that lower the glycemic index of your low GI bread; make it yourself.
Notes about the added ingredients
Do you have a weight problem? Then eat only low GI bread, and limit even that. Try smearing olive oil instead of butter, but never margarine onto your bread if you're having something like a slice of ham on it.
Alas, it's certainly not. The millers may call it "wholewheat flour" provided it contains at least 60% of the whole grain. That removed of course is the wheat germ, vitamin E and fatty acids that would go rancid, and some of the bran; that's where the choline is found. It's one of the very important B vitamins that the average Western diet has less than 50% of the required daily amount; birth defects is one of the consequences.
But research published in JAMA reveals that adding smart bran to a refined flour diet has little benefit.
Add protein, butter and freshly ground seeds.
The queen was in her parlour ... add cheese and butter to lower the GI; then you can indulge in a teaspoon of raw honey.
Bread and butter, and a healthy salad makes the perfect lunch.