The paleo diet has never appealed to me and for one simple reason: bread. I love it. However, I’m very easily influenced by information around me and if a collective piece of information sounds good to me I like to follow it as advice. It’s not always the best way to go, but sometimes I find myself turning my back on things I genuinely enjoy for the sake of health or because this blog or that blog said it’s not good for you. The truth is, you can spin it any way you want. Celiacs will make bread look like the enemy because they can’t digest the gluten protein. Paleoheads will make any and all grains look evil because they cause inflammation and only contribute to autoimmune disease. In my humble opinion, I think taking health advice from anyone online must be done with a grain of salt.
Now, I’m not discrediting ay blogger out there who goes through all the trouble of gathering their own research and citing sources. In fact, I appreciate that. However, as a reader it’s important not to treat such posts as health dogma and let yourself feel guilty about “doing it wrong” all along. Where am I going with this? Well, my relationship with grains has been up and down lately and I’ve been letting myself feel guilty about eating them, like I’m letting myself down. And by letting Hannah eat them, I’m letting her down. But the truth of the matter is, I don’t have any reason, health related or otherwise, to cut out grains. If I enjoy eating them, why cut a hole in my relationship with food by cutting out something I enjoy? I don’t have a Celiac nor an autoimmune disease (that I know of) that should prevent me from eating grains, so why do it? At the end of the day I don’t really WANT to either. At the end of the day it’s all about moderation anyway. I’m not stuffing my face with grains. I’m eating vegetables and meat and other sources of dairy (another love that keeps me far, far away from the paleo spectrum of health fads), and more recently I’ve been incorporating some more fermented options as well like beet kvass and kombucha. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not slamming those who benefits from eliminating things from their diet in the name of healing or otherwise, I’m just saying it’s not what’s best for ME. And right now I’m more concerned about having a good relationship with food in general NOW than worrying about what might kill me later because of certain habits I may or may not have formed.
I understand that there are certain health detriments that come from consuming refined grains, but I believe it’s all about where those refined grains are coming from. Eating anything that’s been highly processed and packed full of chemicals to make them last on the shelf for years isn’t exactly what I have in mind either when I choose my grain sources. But bread? Bread is (supposed to be) a very simple food that isn’t really processed much at all, unless you want to include the processing of the flour that is used. It’s a few ingredients: flour, yeast, water and salt. Some might call for milk and a little bit of a sugar for a sweeter loaf.
Now I get the point of this post. In light of some basic research I’ve come to realize that making homemade bread is the way to go if I love it so much. In a previous post I listed a whole bunch of nasty chemical ingredients that went into a loaf of store bought sourdough. In a general sense, I don’t think the grains themselves are really the enemy here (because I am NOT opening the whole GMO can of worms right now), but all the other shit supermarket bakeries put in it other than the four basic ingredients I mentioned above. In the long run I think it’s that stuff that will encourage disease. I’ve been letting myself get worked up over the fact that I venture down this road, using sprouted grain flour isn’t very economical. It’s expensive flour, $6.95 per kilo to be exact. I’d use a whole bag per two loaves made, which isn’t that much cheaper than buying a Seven Hills loaf from the store. But, I just managed to convince myself that so long as I’m cutting out all the chemical nasties and using unbleached (and perhaps even organic) flour, I don’t think it really matters if it’s sprouted or not. Sure, sprouted grains have wonderful health benefits loaded with bioavailable nutrients, but considering that I’m also venturing into the world of fermented foods and not solely relying on bread and grains for sustenance I think I’m getting worked up over nothing. You can’t forget about the big picture.
Making homemade bread makes so much sense. I get to choose the recipe, my flour, my yeast and my salt. I haven’t done any math on it, but I’ll bet you it’s cheaper in the long run as well. And there is something very satisfying in making something you and your family can enjoy for a couple of days after. I’ve made bread before a couple of times. The end result was just this side of mediocre once the initial freshness wore off, but like anything else making bread takes practice. You have to knead it just right, and let it rise for the right amount of time. I’d like to invest in a bread maker sooner rather than later. I can picture myself using it pump out a fresh loaf every few days and never buying store bought bread again. It makes me feel so…domestic, but in a good way 🙂 The other great benefit to making homemade bread is that you can add stuff to it like herbs and cheese and garlic to make wonderfully flavoured breads and not with much added expense.