Sunday, September 7, 2014

Give us this day our daily bread!

Bread plays a pivotal role in almost all societies around the world, and rightly so, considering that us humans decided to start harvesting from Mother Earth some thousands of years ago. Ever since, grains have been used in various forms to feed us. Bread even plays a religious part in many people’s lives and here in Scandinavia it’s a very important part of our culture.

The tradition of open-faced sandwiches sits strongly among most Norwegian families, and we’re likely to have it for breakfast, lunch (Warm lunch? No thanks, got my sandwich pack here) and even supper! Whilst man has lived well on his daily bread up until the last decennials, there has been a drastic increase of people being diagnosed with gluten intolerance and coeliac disease. Why is this? What has changed in these last years? Did our daily bread make us sick also back in the day? Well, then we should also ask ourselves, what did they do back in the day that we don’t do today when we bake our bread? The answer is time. They took their time. The gluten was neutralized and made more easily digestable through sourdoughs and/or soaking the grains. All seeds and grains are protected by a layer of anti-nutritients (phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors). The only way to get rid of these anti-nutritients is to let them soak in an acidic solution for some hours. 

And what do we do today? Many of us claim not to have enough time to bake our own bread and instead we go shopping for bread. Most of these breads are made with an endless list of ingredients, time certainly not being one of them, and they’re often full of refined and bleached flour, chemical additives to speed up leavening, plenty of salt loaded with aluminum and and big dose of harmful fats. One of my absolute pet-hates is seeing newspapers and magazines listing healthy breads from the supermarket chains! I have yet to see a healthy bread in my local supermarket! (You might not be accustomed to these “best breads-charts” where you live, but here in Norway bread is part of our national identity and bread-charts sell newspapers...) I can’t tell you how many people, young and old, who I know struggle with stomach pains. It’s down right disturbingly many, and often times the problem lies in our daily bread. Baking your own bread is definitely a step in the right direction, but unless the gluten is broken down, you’ll be eating a bread that’s difficult for your body to digest and that gradually will drain your body for important minerals.

My message is simple: How about we all jump on board to take back time? I have four children and as I’m sure you can imagine, my days are all about being a logistics central: picking up, dropping off, birthdays, soccer, ballet etc. Add to that the fact that I’m self-employed and often the only time I have to work is after my kids are fast asleep or when my youngest one is having her midday nap. Most weekends are filled with my yoga or food workshops. I never watch TV because my priorities are to work, spend time with those I love and have some precious alone-time during the evenings. My point is: Don’t come to me complaining about not having enough time. It’s all about sorting our your priorities. Someone wise once said: “If it’s important you’ll find a way, if it’s not you’ll find an excuse.” I challenge those of you who say you don’t have enough time: Take your time to cook good, healthy food and you’ll get the energy to do a lot more than cooking!

Both me and my husband come from families where bread has been a fundamental part of our diets. Born curious and raised in a food-loving family, I’ve spent years experimenting on ingredients and temperatures for baking good bread. I’ve come to the conclusion that bread isn’t the healthiest of things we can give our bodies and therefore it’s all the more important to do it in the best possible way.

A few years ago, my oldest daughter was diagnosed with a hefty gluten intolerance. This being something we hadn’t need to relate to earlier, we resorted to buying gluten free breads. I tell you it’s not only tasteless, but the ingredients are all but useful for a body that’s growing. Shortly after I started baking sour dough breads made by biodynamic or organic rye or spelt, at it works like magic for her. The anti-nutrients and gluten are neutralized to give rise to a bread that’s easy to digest and with nutrients that are accessible for the body.

Oh, and remember, no rules without exceptions: Every Tuesday night after the the news, I watch TV. Right now the Desperate Housewives are on, and although I much prefer Grey’s Anatomy, I’m still glued in front of the telly. I prepare my sour dough before the TV show starts and then I make it ready to soak before I go to bed. I know I can’t really blame not having enough time, because sour dough breads really make themselves, without any artificial additives! I’ll let you know my secrets to baking a real good sourdough bread here.

Stay healthy and feast on your life with good bread.

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