Gluten-Free Bread

Gluten-Free Bread.  Woman in bed dreaming of a sandwich.

Do You Dream About Bread?

I do.  With disturbing frequently.  And I'm not dreaming about gluten-free bread!

If you're like me, the dream involves a sandwich.  It’s made from two thick slices of homemade white wheat bread; it doesn’t matter what’s between them, it’s about the bread.  The outer crust is crispy, even a bit tough.  The inner “crumb” is soft, moist, slightly sweet and a little chewy.  The fragrance fills my nose and the airy wheatiness caresses my tongue.  Some people might ask you if you dream in colour but I ask, do you dream in flavour?

This is the hub of the Gluten-Free Bread section of NaturallyGluten-Free.com. 

We'll talk about why bread gets in our head and is such a deep part of our psyche and give lots of links to practical solutions to making gluten-free bread part of your naturally gluten-free life.

And then the dream turns dark...

Gluten-Free Bread.  Woman screamming.

The memory, the cold sting of reality leaks through the dreamy haze and reminds you “you can’t have this, you have celiac”. 

Mouth still full, the panic sets in.  What do I do? 

Sometimes I find myself running to the bathroom, spitting out the bread and rinsing my mouth to get rid of every last crumb and praying for only a mild reaction. 

Sometimes I find myself holding the sandwich back from my lips for a moment and deciding “What the heck, I’ve gone this far” and finishing it, consequences be damned. 

Are you relieved when to wake up to find it was only a dream?  I do.  I won’t be in bed for the next several days with the shades drawn against the migraine and, well we don’t need to get into the rest.

Funny the dream is never about cake.

Gluten-Free Bread: The Quest

If thou tastest a crust of bread thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens –

Robert Browning

Gluten-Free Bread.  Overhead shot of a loaf of bread with 2 slices on a wooden cutting board.  Small square dish of honey with a spoon to the right.

It’s like the quest for the holy grail; the search for the best gluten-free bread, or if we’re being realistic, the search for even a decent loaf of gluten-free bread.  But why?  For those of us with celiac disease, we can still eat most of the food that planet earth provides for us.  All kinds of fruits and vegetables, whole fresh cuts of meat, eggs, cheese, even wine, the very nectar of the gods.  So why do we obsess over bread?

Buying Gluten-Free Bread: What's the best tasting gluten-free bread?  Where can you buy gluten-free bread?  Go here to learn about everything from the national supermarket brands to to your local(ish) gluten-free bakery.  And of course we discuss cost.

Frozen gluten-free bread in grocers freezer.

Baking Gluten-Free Bread:  If you want to try baking your own gluten-free bread this is your resource.  There are many, many options.  Baking from scratch or from a mix.  Learn the basic recipe and the 7 steps to baking gluten-free bread.  We'll explore yeast breads and quick breads and flatbreads and the huge variety of flours to choose from.  We'll also investigate sourdough.  There is lots of information and misinformation about gluten and sourdough bread so we'll clear that up once and for all.

Baking gluten-free bread.  Overhead shot of whole loaf of bread on a wire cooling rack.

Gluten-Free Quick Breads:  They're call quick breads because, you guessed it.  This covers bread-like items that are leavened with baking powder or baking soda instead of yeast.  Think muffins, scones (biscuits), or cornbread.

coming soon

Is Bread in Our DNA?

I think bread is deep inside our psyche.  It’s part of our DNA and resonates through every human culture.  Bread after all is almost as ancient as agriculture.  Michael Pollan in his book Cooked, a Natural History of Transformation1, tells the story of one of our human ancestors, somewhere in Egypt about six thousand years ago noticing something strange about a bowl of cooked wheat porridge.  Maybe it was left on it’s own a bit too long. 

Gluten-free bread.  Ancient Egyptian painting of two people making bread with a large loaf of bread in the middle.

 Forgotten in the pot near the fire it started to bubble and ferment.  From there it was not too much of a stretch to discover that this bubbly mass could be cooked over the fire perhaps in an ancient crucible and bread was discovered.

Gluten Free Bread: decorative wine chalice with blue grapes and a broken loaf of bread at the base.

Since that fateful fantasy day in ancient Egypt, humans and bread have been inseparable.  We associate bread with society, family, joy and celebration.  “Give us this day our daily bread” we pray and to “break bread” is to share a meal solidifying bonds and healing rifts.  Is it coincidence that bread and wine are so often depicted together, even forming the basis of Christianity?

Is Gluten-Free Bread Healthy?

First we have to ask the question "is bread healthy".  I think the answer to that depends on what you're trying to accomplish.  If you’re following a keto or low carb diet for example, you’re like eliminating or drastically reducing all grains, including any form of bread from your diet.

Healthy Gluten-Free Bread.  Teddy bear wearing a surgical mask with an ice pack to the left, a high tech thermometer to the right and a hand holding a stethoscope in front.

Brett Weinstein and Heather Heying who are both evolutionary biologists and co-authors of the book A Hunter-Gatherers Guide to the 21st Century2 make the point that "humans no longer eat just to satisfy energetic requirements any more than we have sex just to make babies".  I would add to that by saying that health is about more than just vitamins and minerals.  Our mental and spiritual health is important too and having food we enjoy and can enjoy with others is at the very foundation of that.

So yes, bread, in moderation is healthy, gluten-free bread included.

Original Photo by Kristine Wook - Unsplash (sandwich is mine)

For more answers to your questions about healthy gluten-free bread go here:

Is Gluten-Free Bread Healthy? Here is a deep dive on gluten-free bread nutrition facts, what to look for in a healthy gluten-free bread and what to avoid along with a nutritional comparison of gluten-free bread vs wheat bread. 

Healthy gluten-free bread: Overhead shot of life changing bread with a few pieces sliced off.

Naturally Gluten-Free Bread

And Bread Alternatives. 

With everything we've learned about how hard it is to mimic gluten in gluten-free products, is it even possible to have a naturally gluten-free bread?  If you've read much of my work you'll know that I look at "natural" as being on a continuum and balance as the key to, well everything.  To learn more, click the link below.

Naturally Gluten-Free Bread:  Can bread even be part of a naturally gluten-free diet?  Let's explore this together.   I think you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that when it comes to bread, there are lot's of choices from around the world and right in your own back-yard that are healthy, simple and natural.  One may even change your life :)

Naturally Gluten-Free Bread: Loaf of gluten free oat bread with one buttered slice on a teal napkin.

Gluten-Free Bread Alternatives: What if we just want to avoid bread altogether?  Are there advantages?  What are the choices.  Actually there are lots...of both.  Go here to find out more

Gluten-Free wraps.  Carrot wrap cut in half and stacked.

Weinstein and Heying go on to observe that:

“if you had a list in front of you of the people you know and the people with whom you’ve broken bread, you’d find that the broken bread with list is special." 

I find that to be profoundly true and for those of us with celiac, the social and cultural importance of "breaking break" meaning to enjoy a meal together is especially significant.  We realize very quickly after diagnosis that almost every occasion or milestone of importance involves food, which for us means extra planning, extra precautions and often means bringing our own food.  We then find that, even if we are eating with our family and friends, the fact that we are not eating the same food as they are makes us feel strangely left out even while being included in the group.  We don't eat just to satisfy caloric requirement, food is so much more.

Gluten-Free Meals: Overhead shot of table set with Mexican food.  Hands reaching and pouring wine.

All sorrows are less with bread

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (author of Don Quixote)

Cleaning Up the Crumbs

Gluten-Bread Crumbs, Batter and Stuffing:  What do you use to coat your fish for Friday night fish and chips, or your chicken for chicken (or veal) parmigiana?  What about pork schnitzel, or onion rings or tempura?  Don't worry, there are solutions for all of that and many of them are well up on the "natural continuum" and I think even better than the gluteny originals. 

Breaded baked whitefish on plate with green beans and veggies.

Have I helped at all to solve the mystery around gluten-free bread?  Why the moment we're told we can't have wheat, it's a thousand loaves of bread that flash through our minds and haunt our dreams?  Do you think bread is really in our DNA? Or maybe it’s just our childish nature, we want what we can’t have.

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Sources:

1. Pollan, M. (2014). Cooked: A natural history of transformation. Penguin Books.

2. Heying, H. E., & Weinstein, B. (2021). A hunter-gatherer's guide to the 21st century: Evolution and the challenges of Modern Life. Portfolio.