Cooking with Karina: The Best of Bread
Karina Arnold is a junior at the University of Oklahoma who’s passionate about healthy cooking. She provides creative, healthy recipes and tips on clean eating.
Nothing warms a home and a heart like the smell of fresh bread. All cultures use bread in various shapes and sizes as a dietary staple. Unleavened, or pita bread, was first discovered in the Fertile Crescent during the Stone Age. It wasn’t until the Egyptians 4,000 years ago did the world taste “leavened,” or yeast risen bread. The emergence of the bread-baking cumulated over time with the trade along the Silk Road, advances in technology in the Industrial Revolution, and today’s globalization. Classical bread baking has become a representational art of a culture’s traditions and flavors.
Bread has a rich and diverse history. For me, my childhood best friends and neighbors were Arabic and during their grandmother’s annual visit, she would knead and bake traditional pita bread. As a result, us kids would impatiently linger in the kitchen, mouths watering. During my high school’s cross-country practices, we would run past a Hispanic neighborhood and through the scent of hot, fresh tortillas. When my mom toasts her English bread in the mornings, I am woken up by an aroma of warm cinnamon. Bread is the bomb. However, bread has changed and not for the better. Bread-makers past and present would be horrified with the majority of bread that sits on our grocery store shelves.
In the mini-documentary series Your Food’s Roots, you learn that a majority of bread mass-produced today, specifically white bread, only uses part of the grain and all-purpose flour rather than the entire grain pod, or whole-grain flour. The problem with all-purpose flour is it often uses chemical additives for longer shelf-life. Furthermore, the all-purpose flour found in white bread only uses the starchy endosperm rather than the endosperm, germ and bran. As a result, the starch is quickly absorbed into the blood stream as sugar since there is no germ or bran shell slowing down the absorption process. Eating sugar without the fiber shell can cause blood-sugar spikes and won’t keep you satiated for long.
White bread is essentially a sugar bread. Unfortunately, it is often used in pre-packaged waffles, tacos and pizza. As mentioned in my Healthy Food Swaps article, you don’t need to give up your favorite foods to stay healthy. Substitute your traditional all-purpose flour waffles with whole wheat flour, which can be found in brands like Kodak Cakes. For tacos, try using corn or whole-wheat tortillas. Furthermore, rather than buying a frozen pizza, make this quick, tasty, single-serving Pizza Wrap, perfect for a lunch on the go. I made this recipe vegan using vegan cheese and opted for a whole wheat “pizza” crust or tortilla to make my open-faced pizza.
Historically, bread has been a dietary staple, cultural tradition and means of trade. Breaking bread brings people together, however our ancestors would not recognize the sugar we call bread today. Let’s go back to our roots and use whole ingredients which is not only tastes better but is better for you. Do you have a traditional bread recipe? Share below!
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