by Les Saidel - May, 2014

In this, the second part of my article, I am going to show you how to use a simple, ubiquitous food item - bread, to substantially improve the health of yourself and your family.

The reason I have chosen bread as the medium for this purpose is twofold.

Bread is the basis of most peoples' diets. Everyone eats some form of bread, pita or cracker as part of their daily intake (and if they don't they should). For children, this is especially appropriate, as sandwiches often function as major meals for that age group.

Secondly, bread is the ultimate camouflage medium. You can put all kinds of stuff into bread and those eating it will never even realize it. The processed food companies use this technique piecemeal, adding all kinds of chemicals and additives to enhance the appearance, color, texture and shelf-life of their products. It is a great trick because it works. You can use the same trick to add all kinds of healthy stuff into the bread to supplement your family's diet, without them even noticing.

Let's start with the flour itself. It is a well known fact that whole grain flour is healthier than white flour as it contains bran which adds dietary fiber - helpful in digestion and boosting our immune systems and wheat germ which is rich in natural vitamins, minerals and oils.

The problem with "difficult customers" is that they can spot whole grain bread a mile away. As soon as the color changes from white to brown they notice it. They may also notice the "flecks" of bran and wheat germ. Many (or most) kids turn their noses up at that and will not even try it.

It is possible to add a certain amount of whole grain flour to your bread and have it come out looking as white as regular white bread. After experimentation, we have found this quantity to be 10% of fine ground whole grain flour. This then is the first step, never use 100% white flour, but routinely add at least 10% whole grain flour. True, 10% is not 100%, but it is certainly better than 0%. You can experiment - over an extended period of time, gradually and incrementally increase the quantity of whole grain flour until you meet with resistance. 10% is the starting point.

By simply adding 10% whole grain flour you have just increased your family's intake of fiber, vitamins and minerals. It is not sufficient to meet the RDA (recommended daily allowance), but it is another piece of the puzzle that is nutrition.

The next "additive" we are going to slip into the bread are vitamin and mineral supplements. If your family and kids eat a well balanced diet with lots of milk, vegetables and fruit, this will not be necessary. If however, they frown on fruit, vegetables and milk - they are probably suffering from multiple vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Many vitamins may be added to bread that are not destroyed by the heat of baking. These include B vitamins Ribofavin, Biotin, vitamins A, D and E (vitamins A and E are partially destroyed by heat but not totally). Minerals (calcium, potassium, iron, etc) are unaffected by heat.

If your child has vitamin/mineral deficiencies, refuses to eat certain foods and will not take supplements, bread could be your answer. After consulting with a dietician to determine which supplements and dosage are required, you may add many of these to bread. Dry form is the easiest to work with, although gel capsules also work. Simply pulverize the supplement with a mortar and pestle or give it a spin in the coffee grinder until powdered, and add it to the dough while mixing.

You will have to do a little math to figure out how much to add to the bread to obtain the required dosage per slice.

For example, if you want your child to get 300 IU (international units) of vitamin E from 2 slices of bread (one sandwich). That is 150 IU per slice. There are between 20-25 slices per loaf depending on how thick you slice it. (let's say 25). So to get 150 IU per slice you will need the entire bread to have 25 (slices) X 150 IU (dosage per slice) = 3750 IU. Vitamin E supplements usually come in capsules of 400 IU, so you would need 3750 / 400 = 9 capsules per loaf. If heat partially destroys the vitamin, (such as A and E - around 40% is destroyed by heat), you need to multiply that by a factor of 1.4, i.e 9 X 1.4 = 13 capsules.

Similarly, if your child requires medication of any kind, will not tolerate pills or syrups and you are racking your brains to figure out how to give it to him/her - bread could be your answer too. You need to check with your doctor/pharmacist if the medication may be heated (by baking) and if that affects it or not. You calculate the dosage per loaf as described above. Most vitamins and minerals do not alter the taste of the bread, but certain medications might and may thus not work.

Other healthy things you may add to bread are ground flax seeds which are rich in omega 3 and omega 6, oils which are rich in nutrients such as olive oil, nutrient-rich ground almonds, garlic (in mild doses), eggs which are rich in protein and other stuff (I think you get the idea).

Remember, this is just the bread You are going to be putting other stuff ON the bread, so you do not need the bread to constitute the full complement of nutrients, but it certainly can contribute greatly.

In my many years of trying to educate people in nutrition, especially kids, the most exasperating aspect is the psychological aspect. Trying to get them to try a "new" or "different" kind of food is seldom successful (depending on the child) because of the marketing strategy. Kids are sucked in by savvy media advertising - tv, internet that "market" the food as something that Britney Spears eats or that is Justin Bieber's favorite (for the uninitiated - Britney and Justin are two contemporary singers) or package it in a highly colorful box with a game or a contest. This appeals to children.

The biggest error you can make is telling the kid that this food is healthy! Kids are not interested in health, they are interested in what is "cool". To ensure success you need to "market" your food items as something that is "cool" and use the same tricks that the processed-food industry uses and have been proven to work.

This is the first step to actually get the kid to try it for the first time. Of course, and this goes without saying, it has to be delicious, or the first time will be the last time. Most kids will not eat slop, even if it is Britney Spears favorite. Luckily for you, the smell and taste of freshly baked bread is delicious and unless you go completely overboard with the "additives", the bread will taste good.

Finally, I am not one to recommend dishonesty, but a little white lie for the greater good never hurts. If your child "grills" you about what is in the bread, be sure to emphasize the "acceptable" and "omit" the unacceptable. When the child is older and better able to understand the implications you can fill them in - "Oh by the way, the yummy bread you have been eating for the last 15 years has flax seeds in it!"

When dealing with a difficult crowd, one must sometimes resort to covert tactics such as those described above. If you feel guilty about it, don't! You are up against a processed-food monster industry that is using exactly those tactics. If you want to beat them and ensure the health of your family, you need to get "down and dirty" with them.

Good health.

Les Saidel


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