Eating Healthier Breads and Muffins
From a weight-management perspective, toast is your best bet for a bread since it has the fewest calories per serving. However, if you are planning a grueling workout or a six-mile run, go ahead and eat a bagel or muffin since you may need the extra calories to fuel your activity. If you go for a muffin, consider it a treat, like dessert, and go for smaller sizes (like mini-muffins).
Always read package labels or inquire at coffee shops (most chain establishments such as Starbucks will provide you with nutrient information if you ask). Compare the serving size on the labels with the amount you actually will eat, and avoid breads or muffins made with trans fats (hydrogenated, or partially-hydrogenated, oils).
The Bread and Muffin Food Facts
- Storing bread is best in a breadbox at room temperature; it will stay fresh for days if wrapped. Bread goes stale up to six times faster at room temperature outside of a breadbox.
- Bread labeled cracked wheat, sprouted wheat or wheat bread usually contains white flour.
- Never expect whole wheat bread to rise as high as white bread or be as airy; there is more volume to it.
- If you are using a bread mixer, try spraying liquid oil on the dough hook to keep the dough from climbing up and escaping.
- Bread holds water well and will last for weeks in the freezer.
- Place a piece of aluminum foil under your napkin or paper towel in a bread basket to prevent stains.
- Bagel sales have increased. Bagels now rank as one of the most popular breakfast foods.
- Glass dishes will bake bread faster than metal pans.
- When thawing frozen bread, it should be consumed shortly after, otherwise it will dry out.
- If you make French toast and pancakes ahead of time and freeze them you can pop them in the toaster or microwave any time you want.
- Rye bread usually contains white flour. Make sure the label says whole rye flour.
- Whole wheat bread will rise faster if you add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to the dough when you are mixing it.
- After you boil potatoes, try using the water in your bread recipe and the bread will stay fresher longer at room temperature. The water will have high starch content.
- If you run out of yeast and need it to make biscuits, try using a teaspoon of baking soda and an equal amount of vitamin C. The results will be the same, since a similar chemical reaction occurs.
- When making pancakes or waffles, be sure and mix the batter between batches to avoid settling. You will be surprised at the difference in the quality of the dish.
- One hundred percent whole wheat bread will be moister if you add as little flour as possible to the dough. Whole grain tends to absorb water more slowly than standard refined flour and becomes dry as the dough rises.
- Add yeast to water, never water to yeast. Be gentle with yeast.
- Remember, yeast is a living organism. There are approximately 3000 billion cells in one pound. Their food supply is sugar and they produce alcohol and carbon dioxide (the riser we want). Enzymes in the wheat starch produce the sugar for the reaction to begin.
- Dry yeast will last longer if refrigerated.
- When reheating biscuits, place them in a well dampened paper bag, seal up tightly and heat in oven on low temperature reading.
- Always bake biscuits on pans without sides, the heat circulates more evenly.
- Biscuits will brown to a rich golden color if you add a teaspoon of granulated sugar to the dry ingredients.
- To reduce rising time approximately one hour, try adding one extra packet or cube of yeast. This will not change the taste.
- Use the ice cube divider to cut biscuits into small squares.
- The secret to light dumplings is to puncture them when they are finished cooking, allowing the air to circulate within.
- Remember that salt and cold retard yeast growth, sweetness and warmth (up to a point) increases it. Oven temperatures will kill it.
- To place moisture into a stale loaf of bread, wrap it in a damp cloth or towel for about one to two minutes then place it in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes.
- To replace moisture into French or Italian bread or hard rolls, sprinkle the crust with cold water and place into a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes.
- For a hard to knead dough, try oiling your hands before working it.
- To avoid fresh baked bread from getting moldy, try wrapping the bread in waxed paper and store in the refrigerator.
- Kneading dough is easier if you place the dough in a plastic bag.
- If you store yeast or a flour product containing yeast in the refrigerator make sure you allow it to warm to room temperature before using it to wake up the yeast. Cold inactivates yeast.
- Sourdough bread is produced from a living bacterial culture called a starter. The starter consists of water and flour which ferment and as it does it traps while yeasts from the air giving it its distinctive sour taste.
- Place a pan of water in the oven when baking breads to keep the crusts from becoming too hard. The moisture and steam works great.
- Try placing a piece of tin foil under your towel in the bread basket when serving rolls. It will keep them warm longer.
- Freshly baked breads should be cooled on a rack so that air can circulate around it as it cools. Keeps the bread from becoming soggy.
- Use a heating pad on medium to help your dough rise perfectly. Place the dough in a pan then place it on the pad.
- Bread sas may contain up to 42 percent fat.
- Pita bread pockets usually contain no sugar or added fat.
- A quality brown bread should contain 100 percent whole wheat flour or whole grain flour.
- Pita bread has almost no fat and contains only 75 calories per ounce.
- A 7 inch pita pocket weights only 2 ounces and has 120 to 150 calories.
- Avoid any baked product made with mostly shortening, hydrogenated oils or lard. It will be high in saturated fat.
- Moldy bread should be disposed of. Throw out the whole bread even if only one piece has the mold. Mold sends feelers out that are invisible to the naked eye.
- Quick breads are leavened with the use of baking powder or baking soda in place of yeast. No rising time is needed. The baking powder or soda reacts with water and acid in the dough at the oven temperatures and forms carbon dioxide which causes the rise.
- To remove rolls or muffins more easily, try placing the pan directly from the oven on a wet towel for 20 to 30 seconds.
- English muffins have no nutritional advantage over white bread.
- Bagels have a low fat content and have more protein than two slices of white bread. However they are getting so large that they are no longer considered a low calorie food.
- Toasting bread reduces the protein efficiency ratio from 0.90 out of a possible 2.5 to approximately 0.32.
- Burned the toast? Rub two slices of burnt toast together over the trash can. This will "scrape" the toast, getting rid of the blackened, burned area.
- If you must buy white bread, make sure it says enriched on the label; many do not.
- To increase the protein value of bread, remove 1 to 2 tablespoons of whole wheat flour and replace it with an equal amount of soy flour.
- To make cutouts from bread slices, try freezing the bread first. This will give your cutouts clean, sharp edges.
- Pumpernickel is usually made from white or rye flour and colored with caramel.
- To cut through pizza dough easily, just use a scissors.
- Bagels are made from high protein flour and little or no shortening.
- Bread pans should never be scoured to a shiny glean. Bread bakes better in a dull pan.
- To keep bread fresh when freezing, tuck a paper towel into the bag with the bread or rolls. The paper towel will absorb the moisture that usually makes breads mushy when thawed.
- Buy the thinnest sliced white bread you can. It will reduce the calories about 50 percent.
- Your best white breads are Italian, French or sour dough. Look for those that say enriched.
- White bread should be made from unbleached flour instead of white flour or just flour on the list of ingredients.
Did you know?
Bread and milk poultices work very well for infection: Heat milk; add a bit of bread and wrap in gauze or cheese cloth and place on cut or wound, Also good for boils. Use as hot as you can stand it. Repeat a few times a day as long as necessary. Herbalists say this works pretty fast and often much better than antiseptic creams.
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