In disguise

Bread baking offers enormous opportunities to the health-conscious parent.

Bread baking offers enormous opportunities to the health-conscious parent (photo credit: MCT)
Bread baking offers enormous opportunities to the health-conscious parent
(photo credit: MCT)
More often than not families have one or more “fussy eaters,” small children, moody teenagers or even a stubborn spouse. They have been influenced by advertising propaganda, by peer pressure and by years of sheer habit, making it difficult to change their eating preferences. For these fussy eaters, even the simple mention of the word “healthy” is sufficient to disqualify the food.
Bread is ubiquitous; most families eat bread regularly in some form or another, especially children – pita, sandwiches, etc.
This makes it a perfect medium to use for what I call “undercover baking.”
Bread is an ideal “camouflage” mechanism – it is easy to add all kinds of things in the bread that are not even noticed by the eater. Commercial bread producers use this to their advantage, piling in different additives – emulsifiers, dough improvers, preservatives, etc. to the breads we eat, to improve texture, appearance and shelf life.
Unfortunately not all these additives are health building. We will use the same tactic to include healthful components.
The easiest way we can increase bread’s nutritional value is to include whole-grain flour in the dough. Authentic, organic, whole-grain flour adds dietary fiber, vitamins, oils and minerals to the bread that are important for the health and regulation of the digestive system and metabolism.
Unfortunately fussy eaters can usually spot whole-grain bread a mile away, both in the darker color and in the small “bits” of bran in the bread. Thus switching from white flour to whole-grain flour may meet with little success. If, however, a small proportion of the white flour were replaced with finely ground whole-grain flour, nobody but a baking expert will notice its presence. In my experience 10 percent is a good starting point. Using 10% whole grain flour and 90% white flour is indistinguishable from 100% white flour bread.
Granted, 10% whole-grain flour is not 100%, but it is better than 0% and it is only a starting point. If you gradually and incrementally increase this proportion over time, you will discover your own family’s point of resistance.
If your fussy eaters do not eat enough fruit, vegetables, milk products, etc., they are probably deficient in many nutrients which may easily be added to bread in the form of supplements. After a visit to a dietitian to determine the level of deficiency and recommended supplement dosage, these may be added in powdered form to bread dough. Many vitamins and most minerals are resistant to the heat of baking and may be crushed with a mortar and pestle (or a coffee grinder) into powdered form to add to the dough while mixing.
The taste in the final bread is undetectable.
Other healthful things to add to bread dough are ground flax seeds rich in omega- 3 and omega-6, nutrient-rich ground almond meal, olive oil and other, similar nutrient-rich foods.
Some may say that this “deceptive” method runs counter to encouraging healthful eating habits. It is not ideal, but it is a practical method to ensure that while educating family members in the correct proportions of diet and correct habits, they are meanwhile getting all the nutrients they require.
A population that this method can be of specific assistance to are special needs children, who will not accept certain types of food and thus become nutrient deficient without some kind of backup plan.
In an ideal world these methods would not be needed or recommended; however, we live in a far from ideal world, bombarded by constant pressures from our hectic lifestyles and by incessant media advertising for junk food. Having a game plan to fight back is always a good thing.
✔ 2¾ cups white flour
✔ 1⁄3 cup finely ground whole-grain flour
✔ 2 tsp. salt
✔ 2 tsp. instant powdered yeast
✔ ½ cup ground flax seeds
✔ 1⁄3 cup olive oil
✔ 1 cup water
Mix dry ingredients in bowl. Add oil and water and mix until incorporated. Knead for 10 minutes by hand. Leave to rise for 45 minutes. Shape into oval loaf and place in pan to rise for 1½ hours. Bake at 200° for 25- 30 minutes until brown.

Master baker Les Saidel is CEO of the Saidel Artisan Baking Institute, specializing in training and education in the field of organic, healthy, artisan baking and the inventor of Rambam Bread.