Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Gratuitous gluten destruction on The Bachelor

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Who else watches The Bachelor? I’m not ashamed to admit (okay, I’m totally ashamed to admit that I do). It’s a guilty pleasure. Unlike bread which is a pleasure without guilt. Which brings me to the short-lived contestant Breanne.

When I saw this girl walking up to Ben with a basket of bread I thought “ooh, maybe this one’s a baker”. Sadly, no. She proceeded to tell him that gluten is Satan and she brought the bread for the express purpose of them smashing it on some rocks together!! My horrified boyfriend couldn’t have put it better. He groaned, “THAT WAS PERFECTLY GOOD BAGUETTE”.

Does this mean that gluten-free has finally jumped the shark? It’s got to, doesn’t it? For someone to use the destruction of bread as an intro on The Bachelor it’s got to be near an end. Kudos to Ben for not keeping her around. Honestly, if I was him I would have just sent her packing then and there. I would not tolerate the gratuitous abuse of gluten by a would-be suitor.

I would also like to take this moment to remind you that a “nutritional therapist” is not a registered dietitian. Pretty much any hack with a hate for gluten and a love for kale (sorry kale, you know I love you too) can call themselves a nutritional therapist. Unlike RDs, they are not accountable to any governing body. That means that there is no recourse for members of the public who are fed incorrect information by these “therapists”. They do not have to complete a university degree, nor an accredited internship programme, nor a national exam, nor provide evidence of on-going learning.

Naturally, I had to take a little peek at Breanne’s website. Her “about” page is pretty revealing. She suffered from unnamed digestive issues and vitiligo and somehow cured herself through diet. While her website fails to make it clear, vitiligo is not related to digestive problems. It’s a loss of pigment in the skin. While in some rare occasions the pigment may return, it’s highly uncommon and almost certainly unrelated to diet.

Digestive “issues” on the other hand, can quite often be managed by diet, although not usually cured completely. Not knowing what these mysterious digestive issues were I can’t provide much further comment on her self-treatment. All I can say is that different things work for different people and experiencing an ailment doesn’t make a person competent to treat others with similar ailments.

Most telling, is what’s absent from Breanne’s website and that’s mention of her credentials. There’s nothing about where she received her education. If you’re looking for a credible nutrition professional, that’s something that you need to ask for. Make sure that you’re getting advice from someone who’s qualified to provide it. Dietitians aren’t registered for our benefit, we’re registered for the benefit of the public. Our regulatory bodies exist to protect the public and work to ensure that we’re competent to provide the best evidence-based advice possible.


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Another salt study

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This headline made me cringe: Bread and cereal highest contributors to children’s salt intake: Study.
One, because we’ve known this for years, and it doesn’t just apply to children. In Western nations most people obtain the majority of their sodium from bread products.

Two, as the director of the Federation of Bakers points out toward the end of the article, it’s not because bread contains high amounts of salt, per se, it’s because people consume large quantities of bread products. Despite the focus of the article (and apparently the researchers) on pushing the food industry to lower amounts of salt in bread, it’s unlikely that this is the best response. For one thing, the industry is likely to replace the salt with something else that will turn out to be worse for us. For another, we should be focusing on encouraging people to consume a variety of foods, particularly those that are minimally processed, rather than emphasizing reformulating current packaged foods. Different bread is not the answer, less bread is.


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Follow Friday: @rightbread

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On occasion, I receive emails from people asking me to advertise on my blog or to write about such and such. Generally I ignore those messages as I use this site to write about what I want to write about. I got an email a little while ago from a gentleman, asking me if I would tell my readers about a new bread they’re working on getting to market. I took a while to respond, then a while to look at the information he sent, and then a little while longer to actually write this post. Don’t worry, I’m not getting anything in return for writing this post. Not even a free loaf of bread, which, unfortunately, means that I can’t vouch for its deliciousness.

Despite my lack of experience with Rightbread, I figured that it was a venture worth telling you about. It’s a joint initiative between Halifax (yay! Local!) and Toronto to create a nutritious, vegan, gluten-free bread. It sure sounds like good stuff: 97.5 calories (per slice), 3.9 g fat, 9 g carbs, 5.1 g fibre, 5.1g protein. The only downside is 237 mg of sodium per slice. The key ingredients include: chia seeds, soy bean flour, psyllium husks, and ground almonds. And it’s sweetened with maple syrup!


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Grocery store lessons: Dempster’s Garden Vegetable Bread

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Dempster’s recently came out with a Garden Vegetable Bread which has carrots and pumpkin baked into it. I must admit, the packaging is beautifully designed. However, the product inside the packaging is slightly less desirable.

The company website boasts: “1/2 serving of vegetables in every 2 slices”. As most of us don’t eat enough vegetables I suppose every little bit counts, even that 1/4 cup of carrots and pumpkin you get from eating two slices of bread. But… Are you really getting a 1/4 cup of vegetables. Technically, that’s the amount baked in. However, once it’s been processed and baked you don’t actually see any of the nutritional benefits of actual vegetables in that bread. Vitamin C? 0% of your daily recommended intake (an actual medium carrot has about 3.6 mg). Vitamin A? 6%. Okay, that’s better than Dempster’s 100% Whole Wheat Bread which has 0%. Still, an actual carrot has over 7, 000 mcg, more than 100% of your daily requirement.

That’s just a couple of nutrients in comparison to carrots. I think a better picture might be obtained if we compare the Garden Vegetable Bread to another bread. Looking at the nutrition facts panel for the vegetable bread and the whole wheat bread (aside from the whole wheat listing information based on one slice and the vegetable based on two… don’t you just hate how companies do that to make comparisons more complicated?!) they look pretty similar. They both have 220 calories for two slices, the vegetable has 1 g more fat (3 vs 2), the vegetable has more sodium (310 mg compared to 280 mg in the whole wheat), 180 mg of potassium in the vegetable vs 190 mg in the whole wheat, a bit more fibre in the whole wheat (6 g compared to 4 in the vegetable), slightly more protein in the whole wheat as well (8 g vs 7 g). As for the remainder of vitamins and minerals, they’re pretty much identical.

This bread isn’t horrible as far as store-bought breads go. The thing is, it’s nutritionally pretty much the same as all of the other whole grain breads from Dempster’s. If you’re looking for a new bread there’s no harm is giving it a try. But if you’re looking for vegetables you’d be better off hitting the produce section.


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Baking Bread

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While it can be a time-consuming process, I find that baking my own bread is worth the effort. It’s so much better than anything you’re going to get in the grocery store (although possibly not better than Art Is In¬†for those of you in the Ottawa area… Damn, now I’m craving their walnut and fig sourdough bread). Here are a few things that I’ve figured out through baking bread over the past few years:

  • Bread flour will give you a chewier bread than all-purpose flour will.
  • Make sure that your liquid is warm but not too warm. If it’s too cold, the yeast won’t be activated. It it’s too hot, you’ll kill the yeast. Test it by holding the tip of your clean index finger in the liquid for about 10 seconds before adding. If it’s the right temperature, you shouldn’t scald yourself but it also shouldn’t be too easy to keep your finger in for that long.
  • Ensure that you’ve included sugar for the yeast to feed on. This can be honey, white sugar, molasses, etc.
  • Brushing the top of the loaf with an egg white and water wash before baking will give you a really nice crust.
  • To check if your bread is cooked through; remove it from the pan and knock on the bottom. If it sounds hollow then it’s done. Let it cool completely on a rack before slicing and freezing (of course, a warm slice with butter is mandatory!).
  • If you’re making gluten-free bread don’t wait for it to finish cooling before you freeze it. This applies to all gluten-free baked goods.

If you have any great bread baking tips please feel free to share them in the comments.