Who can resist a slice of freshly-baked bread right out of the oven? Bread is the one thing I can never truly cut out of my diet, but we haven’t always been friends. The classic white, fluffy bread we all know and love isn’t too kind to our hips and thighs.
But here’s the good news: there are healthy ingredients you can add to your bread to add more nutrients. Whether you’re gluten-free, paleo or something in between, you’re sure to find a bread recipe that fits your diet needs.
Start adding these five ingredients to your basic bread recipe for flavor and to get that extra health kick we all need.
1. Flax Seeds
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, flax seeds are a nutritional powerhouse and are a perfect match for healthy, whole grain bread.
One single ounce of flax seeds has 6,338 mg of omega-3 (ALA). Along with this essential nutrient, these potent little seeds also contain:
- Vitamin B1
Typically, high-fiber foods, like beans, are also high in carbs, but flax seeds is a low-carb food. So, if you’re on the ketogenic diet, GAPS, or paleo, this is one ingredient you can add to your healthy, grain-free bread.
Flax seeds can be added to the crust or in to the dough itself, but if you’re going for a gluten-free bread, you can also use flaxseed meal to create your dough. Flax is often used as an egg substitute because it thickens and binds ingredients.
If you plan on using flax as an egg substitute, you’ll need one tablespoon of flax for every egg in the recipe.
2. Almond Flour
Almond flour is another excellent addition to healthy bread, and it’s often used to substitute regular all-purpose flour in grain-free baking recipes. As you may have guessed, almond flour is finely ground almonds.
Almonds are rich in healthy fats, protein and fiber, but they’re also low in the carbohydrate department. The only drawback with these healthy nuts is that they’re also high in calories.
Almond flour can be a healthy addition to your homemade bread, but it’s best to use it sparingly and with other alternative flours that are lower in calories.
Along with fat, fiber and protein, almond flour is also a great source of manganese, vitamin E, magnesium and other minerals.
Almond flour is a staple in gluten-free flours, but you don’t have to purchase an expensive pre-made mix to experiment with this healthy ingredient. Almond flour can replace all-purpose flour in a 1:1 ratio.
The great thing about this flour is that it can be used in just about any baking recipe (pumpkin muffins, anyone?)
Milk is a common ingredient in bread recipes, but you can substitute yogurt to make your bread healthier without losing the texture you love.
Some people also use it as a substitute for sour cream in richer bread recipes.
Nutritionally, yogurt has a lot going for it. The good bacteria is what attracts most people to this dairy product, but don’t get too excited about those live cultures – they won’t make it into the final bread product. The heat from baking will kill off most of the gut-friendly bacteria in yogurt.
But yogurt is rich in healthy fats and protein, and it adds a delicious creamy flavor to your breads.
Just be sure to purchase plain yogurt, and go with Greek if you can. Greek yogurt is higher in protein, and flavored yogurt is high in sugar and artificial ingredients.
Yes, you can add vegetables to your favorite bread recipe to give it a nutritional kick. Most people have no issue adding fruit to their baking recipes (like the bananas in these vegan cookie dough balls), but vegetables? No way. Right? Wrong.
From garlic to tomatoes, zucchini and carrots, you’ll find dozens excellent vegetable bread recipes all over the web. And you’ll find both traditional and grain-free versions of these breads.
Adding vegetables to your bread will give it a unique flavor, but getting the dough right can be tricky. When using vegetables with high water content, like zucchini, you’ll need to spend a little extra time removing as much moisture as possible before starting your dough.
Salting vegetables will remove most of the water, but take care not to over salt, as yeast hates salt. You’ll also need to adjust the amount of flour you use in your recipe. As soon as you start kneading your dough, you’ll release more moisture from the vegetables.
Don’t let this minor inconvenience dissuade you from adding your favorite veggies to your bread. This is a simple way to add nutrients to your favorite comfort food.
5. Nutritional Yeast
Who doesn’t love a good cheesy bread? Okay, some of us may prefer sweet bread (like that delicious Oreo Monkey recipe here on Cake Journal), but that’s a whole other story.
Nutritional yeast is a healthy substitute for cheese in bread. And yes, it really does taste cheesy.
Just add the yeast to taste. Along with flavor, this yeast will add a ton of nutrients to your bread.
What do you add to your bread to make it healthier? Share in the comments below.
Joe Hughes, known by most as the Village Baker, is an expert in homestyle cooking techniques, with a primary interest in baking. He runs the very popular website, http://village-bakery.com, which provides the latest homestyle cooking news, techniques, tricks, and recipes. He can be reached at [email protected]
Sponsorship Disclosure: A big thank you to Village Bakery for working with us to bring you this content. Go check out their site for awesome baking tips and tricks!