In my kitchen, I have one rule about the foods I cook: there are no rules. Point being, I love food. All kinds of food. As long as it’s delicious and made from scratch, that is.
Every day, I wake up and cook based on what I feel. Today, I craved French Toast. Well, since I bake our bread at home, I’m going to have to put my breakfast feast off until tomorrow so that I can bake bread today.
One of the greatest things about speaking food [the 6th love language] fluently is being able to control what we consume. And because I’m the most competitive person I know, I compare everything I cook to what’s available in grocery stores. Today, I’m comparing the most popular bread purchased in America with my own.
The first mention of bread comes directly from God himself in Genesis 3:19. The Hebrew word for bread is lechem. After the fall, God told Adam, “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Fast forward about six thousand years and the first sliced bread hit supermarket shelves in 1928. Since then, we love its shelf life, but have largely ignored the long-term impact the preservatives in it have on our bodies.
Sara Lee Honey Bread
Take a look at this ingredients list, straight from the package: ENRICHED WHEAT FLOUR [FLOUR, MALTED BARLEY FLOUR, REDUCED IRON, NIACIN, THIAMIN MONONITRATE (VITAMIN B1), RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2), FOLIC ACID], WATER, HONEY, WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, YEAST, WHEAT GLUTEN, SUGAR, VEGETABLE OIL (SOYBEAN), WHEAT BRAN, SALT, PRESERVATIVES (CALCIUM PROPIONATE, SORBIC ACID), DATEM, MONOGLYCERIDES, CELLULOSE GUM, NATURAL FLAVORS, MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE, SOY LECITHIN, CITRIC ACID, GRAIN VINEGAR, SESAME SEEDS.
According to the 1Environmental Working Group’s watchdog website, “This product contains ingredients that may be genetically engineered or derived from GE crops.” What kind of genetic engineering? We don’t know. In the United States, industrialized food corporations are protected from having to reveal what they’re doing to our food before it’s used as ingredients. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I might wonder exactly what’s going into our food and why it’s allowed to happen behind closed doors…particularly given the vaccine nightmare we’re still living through.
Dr. Vanessa Kimbell, founder of the Sourdough School in the UK, writes extensively on the nutrition and digestibility of bread. As such, she openly 2compares bread to the nicotine in cigarettes, calling for a total ban on this popular staple. Like nicotine, preserved sliced white bread is addictive, lacks dietary fiber, and has been linked to heart disease. Plus, the preservatives induce inflammation, so people with joint pain or arthritis who eat preserved sliced bread are increasing their own pain levels and ensuring chronic illness will follow them for the rest of their lives.
Perhaps the biggest question mark for me has to do with genetically modified ingredients. What we don’t know absolutely can harm us.
And if that’s not reason enough to reconsider grabbing that loaf of bread off the grocery store shelf, consider the financial comparative. A loaf of Sara Lee bread is $3.99. Making two loaves homemade costs $1.04. When you compare the number of slices between a Sara Lee loaf of bread and the loaves made in my kitchen, my bread recipe makes 50% more. So, for about 25% of the cost, you get a loaf and a half of freshly made bread. You control the quality of the ingredients. Truly, the peace of mind gained by knowing that you and those you love are enjoying food that won’t kill anyone slowly and painfully is priceless.
Renee’s Honey Bread
In the bowl of a KitchenAid mixer, pour 2 cups of warm water, 1 tablespoon of active dry yeast, and ¼ cup of organic, locally grown, raw honey. Gently stir and then let sit for 5-10 minutes to activate the yeast. (If you don’t see the yeast bubbling up, either you’ve used water that’s too hot or your yeast is bad.)
After the yeast has proofed, add 2 teaspoons of salt, two tablespoons of *real butter, and 3 cups of **flour. Mix together, adding two additional cups of flour, one at a time. Mix for about 5-8 minutes.
Cover the bowl with a tea towel (or one that doesn’t shed) and set in a warm area. Let the dough double in size, which takes approximately 30 minutes. Punch the dough down and separate into two pieces. Then, sprinkle some flour on the counter and, one at a time, form the dough into the shape of a small loaf. Butter the sides and bottom of two bread pans and place the dough seam side down in each pan. Cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise.
Once the dough has crested the top of your bread pan, preheat the oven to 350°. When the dough has risen to the height you prefer, bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top is golden.
Congratulations! You’ve just taken a rather significant step toward independence. By choosing to control what you’re eating, you’ve decided that you deserve better. And you’d be 100% correct.
“And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” ~ John 6:35
*Real butter is not the same as margarine. In fact, margarine is filled with the same substances used to make plastic! Avoid it at all costs. And, all real butter isn’t created equal. Recently, I discovered that real butter made in America has almost as much water in it as cream. So, I’ve switched completely to Kerrygold Pure Irish butter, or if it’s available, Amish butter. I prefer salted butter to unsalted, but either will work.
**Definitely use bread flour for bread. I almost exclusively use bread flour because it’s got the highest protein content, and all of my baked goods turn out so much better using it instead of AP flour. There’s a trick to measuring flour that most people don’t know. Instead of scooping your measuring cup into the flour, use a tablespoon to spoon flour into the cup. Then, gently run the back of a butter knife over the cup to level it off. That way, you’re not over-flouring your food, making it dense and heavy.
Environmental Working Group (2023): https://www.ewg.org/foodscores/products/072945601369-SaraLeeHoneyWheatBread/
Kimbell, V. (2022): https://www.sourdough.co.uk/could-eating-sliced-white-bread-be-as-dangerous-for-your-health-as-smoking/