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Get Real: Breads and Cereals

**This post is part of the Get Real series. Please remember that this is meant as a learning community. We know that many of you are passionate about what you do and we want you to express that, just please do so in a way that will be an encouragement and aid to others making a transition. We want this to be a “safe space” for participants to learn. For that reason, we reserve the right to delete any comments that are not handled in this manner.

I’m so excited to be participating in the Get Real Challenge. A few years ago I started transitioning our family to more of a whole foods lifestyle, and I want to tell you how we ditched the store-bought breads and cereals in favor of more nourishing options.

You see, I grew up with a mother who was health-conscious. She was a crunchy mama before it was cool. She sprouted alfalfa and made yogurt and granola and homemade bread. I learned to love wholesome food at a young age.

But as we got older and my mom went to work, we got away from our super healthy eating habits, and when I went away to college I developed some really BAD eating habits — like living on cafeteria pizza and coke. I KNOW. For years I was addicted to sugar and carbs, and I practiced the binge-and-starve approach to weight management. I was not healthy.

It all came to a head after my 3rd pregnancy. My body pretty much fell apart. After several years of doctor visits and no real diagnosis, I discovered Michael Pollan and Nina Planck and eventually Joel Salatin. And blogs like Kelly the Kitchen Kop and Cheeseslave. I read everything I could get my hands on, and it didn’t take much to convince me that we needed to get the junk out of my house and switch to a more natural, wholesome way of eating. My husband read some of the same information, and he was on board too.

It just made sense to get back to simple, whole foods. Never one to do things halfway, I immediately began purging our kitchen and replacing the processed foods and industrial meats and dairy with fresh, whole foods. I got online and found local sources for produce and meat and dairy. I even started a blog called Eat Local Philly where I could document all the farms and CSAs and farmers’ markets I was discovering in our area. (See, I told you I never do things halfway!)

One of more significant changes we made straight away was to ditch the store-bought bread. Our family eats a lot of bread. I was shocked to see how many ingredients were in a loaf of store-bought bread, and almost every brand contains high fructose corn syrup. I pack sandwiches for lunch every day for my husband and three children, and I wanted to give them something more nourishing.

homemade bread recipe via Musings of a HousewifeAs I mentioned above, my mom used to make homemade bread, and I knew how delicious it is. I started experimenting with recipes to find the perfect sandwich bread that my family could use for their daily sandwiches. It was a fun experiment. My family was in heaven feasting on fresh loaves of homemade bread almost every day. I finally settled on my Homemade Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread. (It’s actually half whole wheat and half white flour, although I vary those proportions at times, depending on what flours I have in the house.)

If you’re looking to make changes in your household and you eat a lot of bread, I highly recommend learning to make your own. It’s an easy change to make because who doesn’t like homemade bread!?? While my family was lamenting the loss of their favorite cereals (more on that in a minute!) and processed food snacks, they were delighted with their new bread. It helped ease the transition.

Making bread is really not scary at all! I like to use my Kitchen Aid mixer, but you can do it by hand, or if you have a bread maker, it’s even easier. If you’ve never made bread, it will take some trial and error, but like I said, it’s a fun process!

If you’re really scared to try it, find a friend who makes bread and have her come over and show you how to make it. You can also watch my Honey Whole Wheat Bread video on YouTube, but it needs updating. That is an old recipe that I don’t use anymore. Still, the basic process is the same.

The other issue with making bread (and cereal, for that matter) is whether or not to soak the grains. If you can grind your own grains and soak them, they will be kinder to your digestive system. I wrote a post about that, actually! I have to fess up and tell you that I skip this step. I’m not much of a planner, and I tend to procrastinate until we are desperate for fresh bread or cereal, so I don’t want to wait overnight for the grains to soak. But I do recommend it, especially if grains bother you. Personally, I eat gluten-free. The bread is for my husband and kids, and they don’t seem to have a problem with it so for now I’m giving myself a free pass on the soaking.

The other big change we made right away was to ditch the store-bought cereals. This was not hard for me (I’ve never liked boxed breakfast cereals; they all taste the same — like chemicals. YUCK.) Read My Beef With Breakfast Cereals to find out why breakfast cereals are not good for you.

Plus the way they are marketed absolutely makes me see red. They are purported to be so healthy when in fact you’re probably better off eating the cardboard box they’re packaged in. They are completely denatured and so highly processed, even the supposed vitamins and minerals they contain are synthetic and worthless. Blech. There are better options!!!

My homemade granola is a family favorite. Another delicious homemade breakfast treat is this baked soaked oatmeal from Kelly the Kitchen Kop. It is truly wonderful. Also try these oatmeal pancakes. While not cereal, they are another delicious way to get healthy grains into your family. And while this month we are focusing on grains, don’t forget about eggs and smoothies for breakfast. Check out my list of healthy breakfast ideas for those who are having a hard time getting off the cereal bandwagon. As a society, we tend to eat way too many grains and carbs. Breakfast is a great time to incorporate more protein and even vegetables into your diet.

I think the biggest challenge in terms of making the switch to healthier grains is finding the time to make them. Most people prefer the taste and texture of homemade bread to store-bought, and homemade granola and pancakes can be delicious. But making your own on a regular basis is a time commitment, I won’t lie to ya.

I fully admit that two-and-a-half years into our real food conversion, I am struggling to keep on keeping on. It can get old, making the same things week after week. But like everything else that’s important to you — you simply have to make it a priority. Schedule it into your week.

I often make our bread and granola on Sunday afternoons because it’s a lazy day in our house and we are usually at home all day (after church). I don’t work on the computer on Sundays, so it’s a good day to do some baking. And with bread, there is a lot of down time, so I can relax and read while it’s rising. (Or, you know, make some granola.) I can definitely say that my kids have adjusted and now get grumpy if I don’t have any homemade bread in the house. They’ve grown to appreciate and even expect healthier grains.

Get Real Blog Partner Bread Recipes:

This is NOT a conclusive list from our blog partners but a sampling of what they do and what works for them. We hope that you find one that you feel will work for you!

February Week 2 Action Item:

Each week we will try to give you some simple action steps to put this journey into practice. It is important that you start this journey by understanding yourself, your goals and perhaps your obstacles.
  1. Yeast Bread – Challenge yourself to make at least 1 loaf of bread. Even if you use store bought all white flour, MAKE THE BREAD! :) I know can be scary but we KNOW you can do it. Those of you that have been making bread, perhaps try a new bread recipe.
  2. Breakfast – Try at least one healthier breakfast option out this week.

February Get Real:

Please take a moment to thank our guest authors and sponsors by clicking over to their sites and/or liking them on Facebook and/or Twitter.

Sponsor: Bread BeckersOne pledged Get Real participant will be winning a grain mill OR a mixer, winners choice!
Guest Author: Jo-Lynne from Musings of a Housewife

 

26 Responses to “Get Real: Breads and Cereals”

  1. Susan says:

    Help! I’m wanting to do the whole foods thing but I have one MAJOR problem: My husband and 3yo are allergic or have a sensitivity to milk. That means no butter and no yogurt either. What can I use instead? I can make yogurt with coconut milk, will it have the same properties in the soaking process? Obviously the butter flavored Crisco and blue bonnet light margarine are out for baking. What should I use?

    • Tricia says:

      Susan, if you can be patient with us one more week we will be addressing some allergy issues next week and I am sure that our dairy free gluten free writer, Angela, can help you out.

    • veggiemom says:

      Susan -
      My daughter is lactose intolerant so I substitute plain almond milk in the bread recipe I use (King Arthur Flour’s classic sandwich bread.) I use oil or a non-dairy butter and non-dairy yogurts when butter and yogurt are called for. It works great for us.

      • Crunchy4Life says:

        You need to research & understand where & why there may not actually dairy allergies bc you’re probably consuming dead milk instead of live, raw milk. Look into Organic Pastures- Mark McAfee, Sally Fallon Morel-Nourishing Traditions & the Weston A Price Foundation. You’ll come to see & understand that any one claiming dairy allergies aren’t consuming the right kind of dairy. Even if you do find you still have an intolerance (your body will go through a cleansing transition for the 1st few days on live dairy), you can try goat diary which is easier to break down & digest.

  2. Rebecca C says:

    ok, I am keeping up with these challenges for the most part. On my own at the beginning of this year I decided to ditch the store bread too. So, I have been able to make a good yeast sandwich bread already at least once a week.

    HERE IS MY PROBLEM!!!:
    I usually buy my yeast in those little brown jars and keep it in the freezer, it works great. I decided to be economical and buy the yeast in the foil bag this time that is vaccum sealed and feels like a brick before it is opened. Instead of the yeast looking like little grains, it actually looks like little balls. I used it as I normally would.

    FAIL!!!

    The bread was concave, oh so dense, yet had huge air cavities.

    So my question, how do I use this yeast? As far as the packaging says it is the same stuff as the brown glass jar, but it looks and behaves differently. Any ideas anyone?

    • Tricia says:

      I have recently bought the brick and had no problems with it. It sounds like your yeast either was older or your liquid was too cool or too hot when you added it to the yeast. As for as age, if you buy the brick you will want to keep it in the refrigerator or freezer until you are ready to use it. I keep mine in the freezer and then break it out when I am ready to use it putting it in smaller plastic containers and freezing most of those and keeping one in the refrigerator. Sounds like you do this too so maybe it was a water temperature issue?

      • Rebecca C says:

        I don’t think it was the water because I am pretty good at doing that. Actually, I did some experimentation. It seems you really have to leave it in the water or stir it around until it dissolves. I think the brown jar yeast soaks the water instantly because the particles are so small. The brick needs time to soak and dissolve. I have since made two loaves and they were good. Thanks for the ideas!

  3. Susan, that is a challenge, but you can definitely do it. Check out some paleo/primal diet blogs (google it) as they dont do any dairy (or grains either, for that matter) but I know there are some things you can use for soaking that won’t bother dairy allergic folks. I’m sure Angela’s info will be super helpful.

  4. [...] series is for those desiring to transition their family to whole foods. Check out my post on Breads and Cereals. About Jo-Lynne ShaneJo-Lynne Shane has written 2861 posts..I'm a transplanted Virginian living in [...]

  5. veggiemom says:

    I love making our bread. I’ve been doing it for a few months now. We usually get by with two loaves a week and that’s how I spend my Sunday mornings. My kids like it so much more than store-bought and I feel better about all of us eating it. Like I said in another comment, I use King Arthur Flour’s classic sandwich bread recipe and I double it so I can make the weeks worth of bread at once.

  6. Camille says:

    I’ve been making my own bread for about 4 years now and my go to recipe has been the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes. But I just made “never fail” bread… and I love it! I’d never seen this type of envelope folding with a bread (usually just with pastries) but it made for a very nice crumb. I thought I’d throw it in to the mix as I think it would be perfect for new bread bakers.
    http://growingupgabel.com/2012/02/never-fail-bread/

  7. Courtney says:

    I laughed out loud at this: “If you’re really scared to try it, find a friend who makes bread and have her come over and show you how to make it.” One of my husband’s co-workers just came over last night and I showed her how to make bread using a simple white bread recipe. We made regular and cinnamon bread. It was a lot of fun, and now there’s another home-made breadbaker in the world! :)

  8. SarahM says:

    Ok, I’m a little behind. I did last weeks challenge last night, I made tortillas! I used them to make Black Bean Burritos. Honestly, I was a little worried they’d get too soggy baking in the sauce but the tortillas held up better (and tasted better!) than the store bought ones I usually purchase. Yay! I’m going to have to try them a few more times before I’m really comfortable making them but I feel so great that I could do it :)
    As far as this weeks challenge goes, I’ll be honest, I’m terrified. I’ve tried several recipes for loaf/sandwich bread over the past couple of years and I’ve failed each time. However, I’m going to push my fears aside and try again. Practice makes perfect, right?

    • Kelly says:

      Great job Sarah!! And yes you can do it!!

    • Tricia says:

      My husband LOVES it when I make the homemade tortillas. And I am confident that a try or two more and you will get bread down too. You can do it!

    • SarahM says:

      Thanks for the encouragement! I need it! My husband was super impressed that I made tortillas. He’s still talking about it :) I’m trying Jo-Lynne’s sandwich bread recipe today. I’m so excited to see how it turns out!

      • SarahM says:

        I DID it! I made sandwich/loaf bread! And it is soooo good! I’m so thrilled!!! After so many failed attempts, I can hardly believe I did it! But I did! Yay!!!! :D Thank you so much OAMM! And a big thank you to Jo-Lynne too! I couldn’t have done it without y’all!

  9. Andrea says:

    I’ve just joined last week but was inspired to try to make bread (an unfortunate fail…I made a bread brick!) and granola, which was a huge success!! I think I’ll try making the “no fail” bread tonight. I am wondering if my house is too cold because I noticed the dough didnt rise as much as I expected.

  10. I made overnight oats for the first time. Couldn’t be easier. Mix one cup rolled oats with one cup of milk. Let sit overnight in the fridge. I added a drop of honey and some slivered almonds. Next time I’ll also add some blueberries. So delicious and EASY.

  11. Kristen says:

    Happy to report that I made my first sandwich bread ever!!! WHole wheat too! I was so “scared” of using yeast as I didn’t think I would be able to handle it, guess what?! I did!!! It was such a success! I will keep this up making 3 loaves every other week…thank you for pushing, err encouraging, me to do such a great thing!

  12. LaRue says:

    I make my own bread several times a week. I have the Wondermill and love it!
    I use very little processed flour.

  13. Erin says:

    I’ve made a couple of different whole wheat breads; however, they all end up very dense. Does anyone have a good recipe for a whole wheat bread that isn’t so dense?

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