Waking up to the smell of freshly baked bread is one of the best ways to start the day. Baking bread yourself means you can have fresh bread whenever you want it and using a bread maker saves times and gives consistent results.
Bread makers are very versatile – did you know that you can make pizza bases, fruit cake and even jam in most? They vary greatly in price and functionality but I just have a basic bread maker with none of the gadgets that does a lovely job of provided a fresh loaf whenever I want one.
When choosing your ingredients for bread (as with all home made foods), go for the best you can afford. Choosing organic flours and using extra virgin olive oil will give your bread an excellent flavour and texture. I find that half organic wholemeal flour and half organic granary flour gives a lovely loaf. Seeds also add texture and extra nutrients to the bread.
Stay away from white flours, or at the very least have half white and half wholegrain. White flour has a lot of the nutrients stripped out of it during the refining process. It also affects your blood sugar levels during digestion, making the blood sugar levels rise too quickly and then lower again causing a sugar craving and making you much more likely to snack. Wholegrain products cause a much slower and gentler increase in blood sugar and a corresponding decrease which does not cause sugar cravings.
Some people have a food intolerance to bread or ingredients in the bread which can manifest itself as bloating, constipation, diarrhoea or stomach pains. If you find yourself suffering with these symptoms, try cutting out bread altogether for 6 – 8 weeks and see if the symptoms go. Then try gradually adding a small amount of bread back into your diet. People tend to love bread and therefore eat lots of it but you should limit your intake if you have an intolerance to it. If the symptoms reoccur it would be worth changing the grain to rye, millet or barley as these do not contain gluten.
Beware if you buy your bread from the supermarket as they can contain a lot of additives and preservatives. Just remember to check the ingredients on the packaging. If the shop has an in store bakery and you buy an unpackaged loaf, don’t be afraid to ask the baker about the quality of the ingredients.