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The Best Whole Wheat Bread, Part Two

The Best Whole Wheat Bread, Part Two

by macdaddy on March 7, 2008 · 17 comments

After sharing my bread research on Monday, several readers encouraged me not to be so dismissive of Trader Joe’s. Heeding their advice, I made a trip to the nearest store (a 20-minute drive) to check out their bread selection. You folks were right. Trader Joe’s does have good prices.

I found my favorite bread — Milton’s Whole Grain Plus — for $3.29 at TJ’s, which is 50 cents less than it cost at Safeway. Even better, there were about a dozen other breads that were similarly priced or less expensive, and all of them looked to be on a par with the average breads from my previous post.

A few of the breads were even better. Following Lauren Muney’s recommendation, I picked up two loaves produced by Rainier Organic Bakery. Though they’re more expensive than cheap-o bread at the regular grocery store, they cost less than most major “healthy” breads. And they’re much more nutritious. Here are the stats on the two loaves I purchased:

Rainier Organic Sasquatch Grain & Seed Bread (680g listed, 794g actual)

$2.39 for 18 slices (13.28 cents per slice, $3.52 per kilogram)

per 38g slice: 110 calories, 2.0g fat, 110mg sodium, 18g carbs (6g fiber, 1g sugars)

Eating this is like eating a field of wheat. I’m not joking. This bread contains no artificial anything. It’s made from 16 whole grains and a couple of types of seeds, a little water, a little yeast, and some salt. There’s no flour and there’s no sugar. It’s dense. I like it. After eating this with some fresh chicken or turkey, I’m full.

Rainier Organic Ezekiel 4:9 Bread (680g listed, 764g actual)

$2.69 for 18 slices (14.95 cents per slice, $3.96 per kilogram)

per 38g slice: 90 calories, 0.5g fat, 105mg sodium, 16g carbs (6g fiber, 0g sugars)

While the ingredient list for this bread isn’t quite as impressive as the Sasquatch bread — there aren’t as many types of grains, and there’s a little molasses — it’s still outstanding.

Taste, however, is another matter. The Sasquatch bread is dry, but it has some texture to make it interesting. There’s no texture to this stuff. It’s just like eating sawdust. Flavor is okay, but if I’m going to choose between the two, I’m going to pick the Sasquatch bread. (And a tall glass of water.)

I didn’t recruit any additional testers for these two breads, so I can’t offer you any other opinions.

After spending the time (and money) to do these tests, though, I’ve decided to include only two breads in my diet. I’ll eat the Sasquatch bread whenever possible. If aren’t able to get up to Trader Joe’s, I’ll supplement with the Milton’s Whole Grain Plus. The latter is the best of the mass-produced stuff.

Oh yeah — I’m also going to try Mark Bittman’s No-Knead Bread, as recommended by Brad (and about a zillion others) on Monday. If this works as well as I think, I’ll be writing about it on Get Rich Slowly in the next few weeks. (You folks who have used the recipe, can you jazz it up with garlic, etc.? Or is it best to just follow it as stated?)

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 grimsaburger March 7, 2008 at 7:41 am

I don’t jazz up the No-Knead bread dough at all, but I have seen people complain that it’s not salty enough.

I find it to be just about the perfect bread for bruschetta, and I often drizzle some olive oil over slices and broil or grill it. I imagine scraping raw garlic cloves on it, or better yet, spreading roasted garlic on it would kill me with happiness on the spot.

Again, let me warn you that it’s incredibly addictive, and even though it’s homemade, it’s still white flour. Make sure you have people to share it with!

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2 J.D. March 7, 2008 at 7:56 am

Does it have to be white flour? What if I go to the natural food store and get some whole grain flour? Will that ruin the recipe?

I should really ask my wife. She’s both a chemist and a baker. She knows this stuff inside and out… :)

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3 Lauren Muney, wellness + facilitation coach March 7, 2008 at 8:30 am

Shhh, here’s a secret recipe from a friend who performs on cruise ships. He created this from tasting stuff on the ships:

1/3c olive oil

1-2 pats of real butter (try Irish butter: no artificial anything)

3/4 “flower” of garlic, peeled of the outside paper, and all cloves smashed

Put all in a dish in microwave at 50% (medium?) watching carefully for 2-3 minutes. Don’t boil, just heat.

Dip bread into bowl of oil… occasionally eating with garlic, and also eating the garlic alone – which is now sweet, not garlic-y.

Go read up on the health benefits of garlic and olive oil. Just don’t eat too much… maybe 5 small hunks of bread (one handful’s worth).

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4 Wendy March 7, 2008 at 8:44 am

After your last post on bread, I followed Brad’s advice and made Bitman’s bread. It calls for 3 cups flour. I used 2 cups white and 1 cup whole wheat–it came out great. I think that I could have used more whole wheat and not sacrifice taste and texture. I figure that I will make it again in a few days and use 1/2 ww and 1/2 white flour. I might also run by the natural grocers and pick up some ww pastry flour–it has a smoother texture. Also the recipe was VERY easy and the bread is good (though it could use some jazzing up).

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5 grimsaburger March 7, 2008 at 9:05 am

The whole grain/whole wheat flour will result in a much denser, less lofty and bubbly bread. Which is fine if you like that kind of thing.

For sandwiches and morning toast&jam, I do a bread similar to your Rainier seed&grain one above. But for bread to eat with soup or salad (or on its own), I’m partial to a Tuscan-style white bread, one with plenty of big bubbles inside, a chewy texture, and thick crust. Bittman’s is the only recipe I’ve ever found that gives me that kind of bread without fail, and I’ve just about tried them all (except for the ones that require making your own yeast from fermenting grapes).

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6 brad March 7, 2008 at 9:09 am

I follow the no-knead receipe except that I use the same combination as Wendy: 2 cups white and 1 cup whole wheat. I’ve also made it 50:50 and it’s good but the texture’s not as wonderful. You have to remember that Bittman experimented with dozens of variations on the recipe before settling on the one he published (which is true with most of his recipes) so in general I always follow his recipes exactly the first time to see what it’s supposed to be like, and then if I want to I can make changes the next time I make it. But I rarely see any need to alter ingredients or proportions in any of Bittman’s recipes, and this bread doesn’t need anything else. It’s delicious all on its own, even without butter.

I have to say I’m surprised at the bread prices you’re quoting here: my local artisanal bakery sells whole wheat loaves for $2.50 that are better than the more expensive commercial bread you find in supermarkets. My bakery’s loaves are plain whole wheat, no seeds or nuts or wild mixes of flour, but it’s delicious stuff.

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7 grimsaburger March 7, 2008 at 9:13 am

After extolling the virtues of this bread vis-a-vis soup, I’m now kicking myself for not having started some dough yesterday…

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8 Amelia March 7, 2008 at 12:13 pm

Does anyone know any approximate calorie stats for Brittman’s bread? Could I just go with about 100 calories for a one oz piece?

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9 greenman2001 March 7, 2008 at 7:36 pm

I’m amazed at how many comments the first bread post generated, arenÂ’t you? I think it’s a record for this site.

But I’m very curious that neither you, JD, nor anyone else has addressed Lauren’s observation, which is that you started out by noting: “I eat too much bread,” and then go on a quest for better bread. It’s a little bit like smokers who say, “enough with all the toxins in cigarettes, I’m going to roll my own from natural tobacco from here on out.” And all the blog readers say, “Good for you! Throw off the yoke of the corporatation, dude! Here’s MY favorite brand of natural tobacco!”

I suspect that if you did something radical — like giving up bread for a month — you’d discover the true place it has in your life: a fast, convenient way of getting calories and transporting other fast calories — peanut butter, jelly — that you love into your belly. What may be important to you about bread is its convenience and speed, which enables you to eat in the car, spend more hours blogging, spend less time cooking whole foods from recipes you find in books — and now, as Chapter Two begins, spend more time exercising. In these contexts, it’s an extremely important part of your lifestyle, not just your diet — in fact, without it, it may not be possible to continue living as you’ve been accustomed to living up until now. So the fact that you eat “too much” bread may really be a statement about how important your lifestyle is to you. A lifestyle is even harder to give up than bread.

But examining habits in this way is a good way to start to change them. If the real issue is time and not your love of bread per se, you can start to shift resources toward providing fast, healthy calories for yourself. Maybe each Sunday you make two or three gallons of soup or stew for yourself, portions of which you can then heat up, throughout the week, in 30 seconds in the microwave and consume before the first thought of sliced processed bread passes through your mind. This may require less time scrutinizing processed food labels and more time reading cookbooks. That’s a lifestyle change that’s small — tiny really — but with enormous implications and effects.

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10 monica March 8, 2008 at 11:37 am

Hi JD, I make a whole wheat version of the no knead bread with great results (baked one today as a matter of fact, with a bonus 1/4 cup of flax and sunflower seeds!). Here is the recipe:

http://www.spacekadet.org/archives/2007/05/whole_wheat_no_1.html

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11 Marcia March 9, 2008 at 5:43 am

I used to bake bread – and my best investment was a grain grinder. I use kamut or spelt rather than wheat and I like that better. If you are going to use flax seeds, grind them up first – but don’t go crazy with them or your bread will be more like a brick. Sunflower and pumpkin seeds are nice too, but don’t grind them at all! The voice of experience… I think I will try monica’s recipe later!

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12 monica March 9, 2008 at 7:25 am

Ok, I just made what has to be the best batch of no knead bread I’ve ever baked. It’s got sunflower, flax sesame seeds, and whole wheat flour (it’s not 100% whole wheat but feel free to experiment). I posted it here:

http://smarterfitter.com/blog/2008/03/09/seeded-whole-wheat-no-knead-bread/

Let us know how your baking goes. The instructions may seem kind of long but it’s actually really quick to make bread. And soooo much better than the stuff you buy in the package (even that Ezekial bread, which is quite delicious!).

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13 mark @ fatboychronicles March 10, 2008 at 9:26 am

Greetings – great information about the bread, although, we typically make ours at home.

If you want to read something even scarier you should read about what’s in a Twinkee:

http://fatboychronicles.com/2008/03/10/weekly-weigh-in-whats-in-a-twinkie/

All the best to everyone who is trying to stay healthy!

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14 Flood March 13, 2008 at 11:26 am

Quinoa is a great addition to the no-knead bread. I replace about a 1/4 cup of flour with the raw seeds. They add a great little pop and good flavor, not to mention protein.

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15 140&Fit March 19, 2008 at 2:49 pm

Hey JD, I’m in PDX too and they have Miltons at Costco. Two loaves for … uh, I forget but next time I’m there I’ll check it out for ya’.

Costco is a five minute drive, 22 min. walk from my house so going there for staples for me makes sense. Especially when I combine lower bulk prices with an hour+ workout walking there and walking back with enough groceries to make me wish I’d taken the car. (And that doesn’t take much!) :D

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16 140&Fit March 24, 2008 at 2:00 pm

Reporting back – Costco has two loaves of Milton’s for 4.99

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17 Sue DeMarco January 4, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Hello and Happy 2010 Folks!
I am the NW regional sales manager for Rainier Organic and happy to read the comments on our delicious breads. FYI-We now have bagels in Fred Meyer Nutrition Departments…ask the NC mgr. manager to find it! They are knock your socks off good tasting and full of fabulous fiber! Sorry about the commercial and all that…just thought you would like to know~Please write me at: sue.demarco@rainierorganinc bakery.com should you have any questions or comments on other Rainier Organic items! I love hearing from our customers….

To Health!

Sue

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