Doesn’t it seem like a new diet fad pops up every minute? Everyone has a different idea of what’s healthy when it comes to eating, but how can everyone be right when they’re seemingly saying such different things? This is precisely why I try not to buy into dietary trends. Instead, I keep it simple. Lots of produce, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds & simple ingredients. I keep animal products to a minimum, I try my best to moderate my sugar intake and I vary the foods I eat to ensure I’m getting a healthy mix of nutrients.
In short, I keep it clean & plant-forward. Ideally, I cook everything myself from scratch, to be sure what I’m eating is nourishing, high-quality & real. Unfortunately, like most people, I don’t have the time or the energy to make everything from scratch.
I think the “bread arena” is where I struggled the most when I first transitioned to a clean & plant-forward lifestyle. I’m not in the habit of making my own bread, and getting to a local bakery for fresh bread, english muffins and wraps doesn’t always happen. That leaves me with shelf-stable bread products from the market. When I first committed to clean eating, I found that packaged breads and wraps, more often than not, contain excessive levels of sugar, artificial colors/flavors & synthetic preservatives/stabilizers. Some companies try to mask their poor ingredient lists with labels like “whole wheat,” “multi-grain” or “no high fructose corn syrup” but don’t buy into labels like these, because they mean nothing.
The good news is that over the years, I’ve found a variety of packaged bread products that fall under my definition of clean, real & healthy. Even better, I see these brands just about everywhere these days, so you likely won’t have a problem finding them either.
When looking for grocery store bread products that are clean-eating friendly, it’s essential to read all labels. Not just the front of the package, but also the ingredient list. Do you recognize every ingredient on the list? Is every ingredient something you could easily buy? Lastly, make sure sugar (in any form) and salt are toward the end of the ingredient list. Take it a step further and choose organic or non-gmo verified products, which further ensures quality and real-ness.
Favorite Sandwich Bread: Dave’s Killer Bread Organic Good Seed Bread
Favorite English Muffin: Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Whole Grain English Muffins
Favorite Wraps: Angelic Bakehouse Vibrant Beet Sprouted Grain Garden Wraps
Each of these three companies offers a variety of bread products, so I recommend giving their websites a look. Whether you want bagels, burger buns or tortillas, there are options that you can feel good about eating. Also note that some breads, like Food for Life, are found in the freezer section. I actually keep all bread products in the freezer until I’m ready to use them which ensures bread products made without preservatives & flavors will stay fresh & mold-free.
Now, let’s get down to business & start checking some labels for practice. This one’s for Dave’s Killer Good Seed Bread…
The ingredient list for this bread looks almost ideal. Organic whole wheat is the very first ingredient. Good start. We then see water, wheat flour and lots of healthy seeds. While there’s sugar, it’s not the first, second or even third ingredient, which is pretty good. Finally, all the other ingredients are recognizable & pronounceable, and it’s organic. Success!
I try my hardest to limit added-sugar, that means not eating added-sugar every day. So making this bread an every day food would be bending my rules a bit. But in moderation it’s more than acceptable. And because I don’t eat sandwich bread too often, when I do, I’m going to choose the one I like the best, even if there’s a touch of added sugar.
English muffins are a different story. They’re my most used bread product and I always choose the Food For Life english muffins. If you’ve seen my instagram, you’ll know that I love topping them with avocado in the morning. I feel great about eating these guys often, because the ingredient list is stellar, check it out…
Did you notice? No added sugar! There isn’t any flour in these things either. Not that there’s anything horribly wrong with flour, but it’s definitely a very processed form of wheat, so if it can be avoided I’m all for it. You’ll also notice that these english muffins are made from sprouted grains & legumes. What does it mean if something’s sprouted? Glad you asked. Sprouted grains are grains that are allowed to grow a sprout before they are used in cooking. The sprouting process, which occurs under highly controlled conditions such as water temperature, air temperature & sprouting duration, releases enzymes that break down carbs & proteins.
According to studies, sprouted whole grains contain higher nutrient levels than conventional whole grains, including higher levels of fiber, b-vitamins, vitamin-c, antioxidants & folate. Additionally, because the sprouting process requires a breakdown of starches, sprouted grains are easier to digest (since they’re partially digested prior to eating them). Also, the nutrients are easily & immediately absorbed by the body, where as in traditional grain breads, some nutrients aren’t absorbed because the body can’t digest them. Sprouted grains have also been shown to contain less fat, fewer carbs & more protein. Plus they can be considered a low-glycemic food compared to conventional breads.
If you’re looking to follow a plant-forward & clean eating lifestyle, I hope this helps make the transition a bit easier. Clean, plant-forward eating doesn’t mean depriving yourself of the foods you love, it just means making adjustments so that those foods are not only yummy & satisfying, but also nourishing & real.