Have you ever tried making your own bread?
It may not be as convenient as simply popping into a supermarket to buy a loaf but there are many benefits that could make it worth a go. Now, in honour of Real Bread Week (23rd February - 3rd March), Juliette Kellow, registered dietician and nutrition consultant for Panasonic, is explaining exactly why we should think about making our bread from scratch...
1. You're in charge
If you make your own, you can control exactly what goes in, and subsequently the ingredients can fit you and your family's requirements. For instance, if you want a gluten free or nut free loaf, simply adapt the recipe.
2. Carb up
Low-carb diets are popular, but health guidelines recommend half of our calories should come from carbohydrates - this should preferably be made up of wholegrains and starchy, high-fibre ones. Brits subsequently need to be including more carbs in their diets, and a great way to do this will be with bread - especially when it's made with wholegrains.
3. Salt watch
Too much salt in your diet is linked to high blood pressure - as it stands, this affects over a quarter of UK adults, and with it comes an increased risk of a heart attack or stroke. High blood pressure is the third biggest risk factor for dying early. While the amount of salt in products has now been limited, bread is still one of the main providers in our diet. This is because just under a fifth of the sodium (the component linked to high blood pressure) from food comes from bread - in fact, two slices contribute up to 13 per cent of our recommended daily intake. By making your own, you can choose exactly how much to include.
4. Fibre boost
Despite its importance, many of us fail to get enough fibre in our diets. It's necessary for keeping our digestive system healthy and letting us maintain a healthy weight, as it fills us up. It's recommended that we aim for 30g a day, but the average adult only manages 18g. A great way to boost your intake will be using wholemeal or other fibre-rich flours – for instance, rye or buckwheat. There are also fibre-rich options you can include like nuts, seeds, oats, dried fruit and even sun-dried tomatoes.
5. Choose your size
If you're baking for your family, it's likely that you'll have your own preferred slice sizes. That's another advantage of baking your own, instead of buying a pre-cut loaf - you get to choose how thick they are.
6. Less plastic packaging
With shop-bought bread generally coming in plastic bags, it can be bad news for the environment - recycling centres don't always have the facilities to accept them. The ingredients you use to make your own will still come in packaging, but flour (the main component) will be in a recyclable paper bag.
7. It's simpler than you think
If you've watched the Great British Bake Off, you'd be forgiven for thinking bread is hard to make. However, if you're not faced with a showstopper and just want a single loaf, it's simple. All you need are a few key ingredients - flour, yeast, salt and water. There's then a minimal amount of measuring and weighing to do. It can seem a lengthy process as the dough needs to prove a couple of times, but the time needed to be hands-on with it is actually not much. Kneading dough is also a great way of reducing stress and anxiety levels.
8. Prioritise freshness
Getting to enjoy fresh, unprocessed food will be the cornerstone of healthy eating. There will be few things fresher than a loaf that's fresh from the oven and still warm. It's also crucial because many of us want to know what's in our food - making your own gives you peace of mind and means you can be confident it will feature ingredients to suit your family.
9. It smells so good
Let's face it - fresh, homemade bread smells amazing and tastes even better - in short, it's a great way to keep us happy. The smell of a freshly baked loaf is also a tip that estate agents recommend if you want to make a good impression. In fact, it was viewed as being even more important than moving furniture to make a room seem bigger.
10. It's cheaper
With a home-made loaf typically costing 50-60p, you make a nice saving on how much you'd pay for supermarket equivalents.