The Healthiest Breads

The Healthiest Breads: European Style, Wheat, Whole Grain, Sprouted or Gluten-free?

A staple of many of our diets, finding a healthy bread is an important factor in making healthy nutrition choices. On the shelves and bread aisle, there are a wide variety of breads to choose from. Below is our Paradise Foods Nutritionist’s guide to choosing a healthy bread for you and your family.

European Style – Prepared In-house & from Local Bakeries
Fresh baked bread once was nothing more than flour, yeast, water and salt. Today it is produced on a mass scale commonly with chemical or natural additives to improve the flavor, consistency and appearance. Chemical and natural preservatives are often added to extend the shelf life. Many local bakers tend to shy away from the use of chemical additives and preservatives. Grace Baking, Acme, Artisan Bakers, Metropolis, Semifreddi’s, Judy’s Breadsticks, Alvarado Street Bakery, Vital Vittles and La Boulange may use natural preservatives such as sourdough. Fresh local breads are available as both table breads and sandwich loafs.

Whole Wheat & Multi-grain Vitamins, Minerals & Fiber make Healthy Bread
100% whole wheat bread contains the whole wheat kernel (the bran, the germ and the endosperm). The vitamins, minerals and fiber from the whole kernel make this a nutritiously superior bread to that of white and brown or wheat bread. Multi-grain bread may use flour that has been refined, similar to that of white or brown and wheat, losing much of the nutritional value. 100% multi-grain bread is not refined and contains the vitamins, minerals and fiber from the whole grain kernel, similar to 100% whole wheat bread. 100% multi-grain bread with a combination of spelt, kamut, barley, rye, oats and buckwheat tend to be dense. They have been found to slow digestion, leaving a feeling of fullness and satiety shortly after eaten.

White & Brown or Wheat Nutritionally Inferior to 100% Whole Wheat or 100% Whole Grain
White bread uses flour with the bran removed. Brown bread, also referred to as wheat bread, uses flour with most of the bran removed, leaving enough for color. Depending on the baker, often coloring is added back in to create darker bread in color. The bran is where the many of the vitamins, minerals and fiber are stored. When these nutrients are removed many white and wheat breads are enriched with B-vitamins and iron in an effort to add some of the nutrition lost in the extraction process. Some brands may also add in the form of an isolated fiber such as oat or soy fiber. Isolated fibers may not have the same health benefits as intact fibers that are in the bran. Without intact fiber the body processes this refined form of flour quite quickly, similar to how the body processes sugar.

Sprouted Similar Nutrition to Whole Wheat and Multi-grain
Sprouted 100% whole wheat or whole grain may be easier for some to digest because the whole grain kernel is soaked in water which may activate digestive enzymes. This may improve the absorption and utilization of the nutrients, but the sprouted bread in of itself does not provide a greater source of nutrition.

Gluten-Free – Whole Grain Gluten Free is a Good Alternative
Gluten-free breads are increasing in popularity as many people are living with celiac disease, wheat allergy or gluten sensitivity.  Brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa, millet, corn, potato, amaranth, sorghum and teff are gluten-free whole grain flours often used in baking. Nut, seed and legume flours are used as well, such as almond and garbanzo. Nutrient-for-nutrient gluten-free breads tend to contain less overall nutrients than 100% whole wheat and whole grain breads; however they do contain essential nutrients for those who cannot tolerate gluten.

Jen Martin

Jen’s Picks
Jen’s preference is for whole grain European style bread with sourdough to naturally preserve the freshness. She enjoys the nutrient-rich lovesticks by Judy’s Breadsticks. These breadsticks are whole grain, vegan and have added nutrients from sesame and sunflower seeds. Her sandwich bread of choice is Alvarado Street Bakery Ultimate Kids Bread. It’s 100% whole grain with sprouted wheat berries and molasses, a great source of iron. Jen recommends Canyon Bakehouse Mountain White Bread as an excellent gluten-free option that is 100% whole grain and seems to please even the pickiest of palettes.

For Customers of Paradise Foods by Jen Martin, RHN, Registered Holistic Nutritionist & Nutrition Consultant

Understanding Healthy Bread Claims

Low Sodium – A single slice of most bread contains no more than 250 mg of sodium, but when consumed regularly or in large quantities, the sodium level is something to consider. Lower sodium is of increased importance for a diet that is moderate-to-high in processed or packaged foods, increased blood pressure or at risk for heart disease and stroke. Labels displaying “low sodium” claim the product contains 140 milligrams or less of sodium per serving.

Low Glycemic – The glycemic index (GI) measures the amount of blood glucose that is produced by the consumption of carbohydrates. The more glucose produced, the higher the GI. A GI of 55 or less is considered low. Whole wheat and whole grain bread has a naturally lower GI than white, brown or wheat bread. Sourdough bread has also shown lower GI due to the fermentation. 100% whole grain flour-less, or sprouted breads, containing no added sugar are the most nutritious of the low GI choices.

Light – Breads that indicate they are light commonly have about 50 fewer calories per slice. The whole grain versions tend to be smaller and airier.

High Fiber – Wheat breads that offer more fiber should be examined to see if the added fiber is in the form of bran or an isolated fiber such as oat or soy fiber. Isolated fibers may not have the same health benefits as intact fibers that are in whole grain.

All Natural & 100% Natural – While this may be true, read the ingredient label to know what the bread does contain. Natural does not mean whole grain and may have ingredients such as natural sugars that are not necessarily healthy.

Whole Grain – Many bread packages are marketed as “Whole Grain”, “Good Source of Whole Grain” or “Made with Whole Grain” – Be certain to read the ingredient label as these may contain only a small amount of whole grain.

No High Fructose Corn Syrup – There is a lot of controversy over whether or not high fructose corn syrup has a worse effect on the body than other forms of sugar. In addition to high fructose corn syrup, also look for other sources of sugar including dextrose, sugar cane, sugar beets, maple syrup, dates, agave and honey.

Additives and Preservatives

  1. Potassium Bromate – Strengthens the dough but may be remnant if the bread has not been baked long enough or under the appropriate conditions. It is classified as a potential carcinogen.
  2. Sodium Stearoyl Lactate – Gives the bread a lighter consistency. Those who have a difficulty digesting lactose may have harder time digesting bread with this additive.
  3. Partially Hydrogenated Oils – Read the ingredient label to be sure it does not contain any type of partially hydrogenated oil or fractionated oil as these are Trans fats. These fats may increase the risk of high cholesterol and heart disease, amongst other health problems.
  4. Calcium Propionate – Increases the shelf life. This preservative has been associated with sleep irregularity and hyperactivity in children.
  5. Food Coloring – Changes the appearance. Chemical food dye has been associated with hyperactivity in children.
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How to Pick the Best Yogurt For You & Your Family

Step 1: Pick the Milk Source – Cow, Sheep, Goat, Coconut, Almond or Soy Boy eating yogurt

The healthy bacteria added in the fermentation of milk may aide digestion assisting in the utilization of nutrients from other foods. Often people who have difficulty digesting lactose are able to comfortably digest dairy yogurt as much of the lactose has been turned into lactic acid as a natural occurrence of the healthy bacteria. Sheep and goat’s milk yogurt are reported to be even easier for some. Dairy yogurt is naturally high in protein, calcium, B vitamins and vitamin D and sheep and goat’s milk yogurt contain even greater levels of some nutrients than cow’s milk yogurt.

Plant-based yogurts such as coconut, almond and soy, are also highly nutritious yet dairy-free. Coconut milk contains fiber but is higher in fat than dairy yogurts. Almond and soy milk yogurts contain fiber but are lower in protein and calcium than dairy yogurts.

Step 2: Pick the Style – Traditional, Cream-top, Greek, Icelandic, Russian, French or Kefir

  • Traditional – Thin with a naturally sour taste
  • Cream-top – Made with un-homogenized milk and a layer rises forming a rich yogurt cream on top
  • Greek – Removes the whey through straining and leaves a thick consistency and a tangy taste with a higher protein content than other styles (be cautious as some marketed Greek style yogurts have added thickeners)
  • Icelandic – Similar to Greek style, the whey is removed through straining leaving a thick consistency and tangy taste with less sugar
  • Russian – Has a mild taste and gentle consistency while being a bit creamier and thicker than traditional yogurt
  • French – The ratios of the healthy bacteria are different than traditional yogurt leaving a milder yogurt flavor
  • Kefir – Contains more liquid and is a consumed as a drink

Step 3: Pick your Punch – Plain, Fruit, Flavored, “Smoothie” or Tube

Yogurt is a healthy food that is naturally high in sugar but does not taste sweet. The lactose that is fermented is actually a sugar represented on the nutrition label. On average, plain yogurt that has no added sugar has about 12 grams of naturally-occurring sugar in the form of lactose for every 6 ounce serving.  Adding sugar in the form of fruit, fruit juice or sugar can make this otherwise healthy choice a treat. Yogurt smoothies and tubes often contain fruit or flavored yogurt plus added sugar. When selecting yogurt know that fruit, flavored, smoothies and tube yogurt contain an average of 26 grams of sugar in every 6 ounce serving, approximately two tablespoons of added sugar.

Step 4: Pick Local – St. Benoit, Redwood Hill Farms, Bellwether Farms, Wallaby Organics, Clover Stornetta, Straus Family Creamery and Pavel’s

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For Customers of Paradise Market by Jen Martin, RHN
Registered Holistic Nutritionist & Nutrition Consultant

Jen’s Picks – Plain Icelandic yogurt because it is high protein, low in sugar and has a thick and creamy consistency that tastes great with fresh fruit.  She also regularly uses plain Kefir from Green Valley Organics in smoothies and Greek Yogurt from Straus with raw pistachios and honey for dessert.

What to do with Plain Yogurt

Dressings: Yogurt adds flavor and creaminess to a dressing. Use it in place of buttermilk in your favorite recipes.  Choose a traditional or Russian style yogurt for thinner dressing.

Dips: Mix with any flavors, herbs or spices to create a delicious dip for vegetables, fruits and other party platters. Choose Greek or Icelandic style for a thicker consistency.

Trying to get your kids to eat more veggies? Try mixing plain Greek or Icelandic yogurt with a packet of Simply Organics Ranch dip. Even if they use the vegetable stick as a spoon for the dip you can feel confident that the snack is still a healthy choice!

Marinades: The acid in yogurt can tenderize meat making it a good ingredient for marinades. Traditional style and Russian style yogurt are thin and well suited. Depending on your recipe, kefir may be another good choice as it is contains the most liquid.

Blended: All styles of plain yogurt are great for blending. When making a fruit or savory smoothie, kefir is a good choice as additional liquid may not be needed. You can also make yogurt based freezer desserts using plain Greek or Icelandic yogurt.

To make yogurt popsicles, add 1 C plain yogurt with 1 C chopped fresh fruit to a blender and puree. Fill an ice cube tray with the mixture. Freeze for 5 minutes, remove and add the sticks, then freeze again for about an hour and serve.

Soups: Plain yogurt is an excellent alternative to other forms of dairy in many soup recipes. Substituting yogurt can often reduce the fat and calories and increase the protein while improving digestion, all without sacrificing the creamy texture and taste.

Baked: Muffins, cakes and breads bake well with a little added yogurt as it tends to add moisture to the mix.

Banana Berry Cupcakes

Ingredients: 2 C whole grain flour, 2 bananas, 1 C berries, 1 egg, ½ C honey, ½ C plain yogurt, 2 Tbsp avocado, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla extract.

Instructions: Preheat oven to 325. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon in a large bowl. In a food processor puree the bananas, egg, avocado, vanilla, honey and yogurt. Mix in the puree with the flour and fold in the berries. Pour batter into a cupcake pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Snacks: Add a little plain yogurt to a bowl of fresh fruit with nuts and a natural sweetener such as honey, or sprinkle a bit of fresh granola on top to make a protein packed snack.

Desserts: Add a dollop of yogurt to a fresh fruit crisp or favorite baked treat to add a bit of creaminess.

Kale is the new green

Marin Mama Cooks

Hi everyone! I’m Jackie of Marin Mama Cooks, and I’m here to share some nutritional facts on kale as well as some delicious kale recipes that will not only get you eating kale, but also get you to love kale.  Paradise Foods is helping you out this week by offering organic curly green kale on special this week for only $1.99 a bunch.  That is one great deal folks, so make sure you take advantage of it as it will not only benefit your wallet but your health as well 🙂

We all know dark and leafy greens & vegetables are nutritious, but kale stands a head above the rest. It’s one of the best sources of beta-carotene, which is one of the antioxidants believed to be a major player in the battle against cancer, heart disease and certain age-related chronic diseases.  One cup of kale has only 36 calories and zero grams of fat, which makes it a great diet aid and that one little cup also provides a whopping dose of vitamins A, C and K.

Kale is also an incredible source of well-absorbed calcium.  Eating kale is a great and easy way for women to get their calcium in, especially if they are not big fans of dairy.  There are so many different varieties of kale out there so you have lots to choose from.  Below are the two types I eat the most, lacinato/dinosaur kale and curly kale (the one that is on special this week).

Kale is high in protein, which is probably why I can sometimes eat one to two bunches of kale and call it dinner.  It’s also high in fiber so it helps create the bulk you need to fill you up and keep you full for a good amount of time.

Kale has so many other nutritional benefits that I could go on and on, but I’m not a nutritionist.  So, lets just end this nutritional post by saying that kale is “king” among the vegetables and call it day.  Sound good?

The Marin IJ, recently interviewed me for my blog, and the first question that the interviewer asked me was, “what’s your obsession with kale?”  I laughed, (you know that kind of snicker laugh that John Travolta does in the movie Grease) because I honestly didn’t think I was obsessed with kale.  I mean, I have a few kale recipes posted, but nothing to over the top.  Do six recipes equate a kale obsession?  Maybe they do, but I don’t care.  I would rather be obsessed with kale than obsessed with chocolate, (well, I am a bit obsessed with that as well, but that’s another post).  I thought I would share with you some of my favorite kale recipes!  All you have to do to view the recipes is click on the link below the picture and it will take you directly to the recipe on my website.

green smoothies

lacinato kale salad

vegan kale, cranberry, apple & toasted almond salad

kale salad with tahini & lemon dressing

I hope that these recipes inspire you to give kale a try.  If you do try one of these recipes, please comment below or at my blog and let me know how you liked them.

Don’t have time to make one of these delicious kale salads or smoothies?  No worries, Paradise has you covered as they have a delicious freshly prepared kale salad in their deli case.  Want to make your dinner plans even easier?  Paradise has opened their outdoor grill for the season so you can grab some grilled chicken, ribs or steak to go along with that salad.  Now, how easy is that?

Marin Mama signing off by saying cheers to you and your health!

Nutrition Blog Post – Minerals

Along with being a major structural component of our bones, teeth, skin, hair & nails, minerals play an important role in many metabolic functions in the body – essential for the functioning of enzymes, fluid balance, energy production and more.

Paradise Foods ProduceMy first choice for nutrition is always from the foods we eat.  No pill or tincture can replace the vitality of vegetables and natural, unprocessed foods.  I am convinced that the myriad of nutritional components, not yet isolated or named by scientists, still provide untold benefits.  Equally important is not consuming negative nutrition foods: the stripped-down, processed foods that actually leave a deficit of nutrients in our bodies.  That being said, there are situations where we may feel that our food sources are not able to provide the full amount of nutrition for optimal health, and this is where carefully chosen, high-quality supplements can be helpful.

Another factor to consider is that many of our foods are said to not contain the same levels of nutrition as they once did. The reasons for this are not entirely understood, but it is generally known that in the last several decades, levels of vitamins and minerals in our produce and meats have dropped significantly.   This is yet another reason for me to choose organic over conventional (more on that later), as the soils are richer in nutrients from the lack of chemicals and natural farming methods.

ConcenTrace Minerals Drops

Trace Minerals Drops - available at Paradise Foods

My recent discovery involves trace minerals, the micro-minerals we need in very small (trace) amounts.  These minerals are stripped from our water supply when we go through the trouble of purifying our drinking water.  Like antibiotics, the process of reverse osmosis filters the water of both good and bad components.  Along with chlorine and most of the fluoride (which I’m happy to do without), I’m told that 90% or more of the minerals are removed.  I have been drinking reverse osmosis for years, and do so primarily because of the purity of the water, as well as the superior taste.

Although we do take in most of our minerals from foods, the quality of our drinking water is, or should be, an important  consideration.  My solution to ensure that I’m not short-changing my bones & teeth, and all the other important functions in which minerals play a role, is to continue to filter with reverse osmosis, then add the liquid concentrated drops of trace minerals from Trace Mineral Research.  Our Paradise Foods locations now carry the liquid drops, which are easy to add to your drinking water (I have started with 20 drops / gallon –that’s just 1 ¼ drops per cup).  This is a new regime for me, so I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

Tama Weidner

Tama Weidner, Store Director