Monday, July 25, 2011

Battle of the Bulge: The Joys of Whole Wheat

In my teenage years, I would be stricken by violent stomach upsets every Motzei Shabbos, and I didn't know from what. Experimentally I tried whole wheat challah, and they went away. 

White flour is a scary being. 

White flour is stripped of the most nutrient-rich parts of the grain. It also is processed in a way which makes it instantly absorbed when it reaches the intestine. Unlike whole grains-which take a much longer time to be digested, absorbed, and broken down into energy, white flour immediately raises your blood sugar levels, much in the same way sugar does. 

That means that after you eat it, your body has two choices: either burn it off immediately, or store it as fat. Usually, unless you are working out while eating your flour tortilla, that means that it is stored as fat. 

Lastly, because of the instant elevation of your blood sugar level (which is also shown to be unhealthy), the later instant drop of your blood sugar will likely leave you hungry. White flour and sugar are very similar in the ways they effect our energy, bodies and health. Both can be major contributors to weight gain. 

If your diet is filled with a lot of white flour, you are likely missing out on some major nutrition necessities, and feeling very hungry a lot of the time. It's OK to have a little now and then, but it's much better for your health and your waistline to eat whole grains instead. - 

Due to recent years whole wheat awareness, there are many, many products available. 

Whole wheat lokshen is now available in supermarkets, and by kosher brands.

For cakes, I use whole wheat pastry flour. The only brand that I have found to be light and airy enough is Arrowhead Mills Organic Pastry Flour (it's carried my local kosher supermarket, and Shoprite, to my knowledge).

Be aware that when baking with whole wheat flour, baking powder should be omitted. I found that out the hard way, after cleaning out the oven after repeated overflows. The resulting cake has a great dimension, and is filling in its own right, meaning that unlike white flour cakes, I can actually say, "I've had enough."

I adore this cereal: Barbara's Bakery Shredded Oats. It's delicious, despite the name; I buy it from a nearby Trader Joe's. It passes the real test: the kiddies love it as well as the whole wheat cake. It's currently my picky nephew's main food supply.

Favorite Matzoh: Kemach Whole Wheat Matzohs.

Favorite cracker? Landau's. The ones that are hexagon-shaped. 
Practically all wheat-based products are available in whole wheat nowadays; I've even found soup croutons. But being whole wheat doesn't automatically make it healthy; still check the nutritional facts for fat, sugar, and fiber content (less of the first two, more of the last). 


SternGrad said...

I also try to eat whole wheat. The problem is that white flour tastes much better. Sure, I feel less guilty when I eat whole wheat pasta, but it just doesn't taste the same.

Princess Lea said...

I really like the taste of WW. I find it more substantial and hearty. I even liked it when I was a kid and my mother bought whole wheat bread accidentally.

It seems I was bred for it.

As for pasta, if you're having meatballs or something like that the sauce should camouflage the taste.

SiBaW said...

I think the whole wheat push nowadays has become somewhat of a marketing gimmick and fad. I’ve seen whole wheat croutons (probably the same ones you mentioned) that where more unhealthy than the typical radioactive yellow soup nuts. Furthermore, not all whole wheat or grain products (especially bread) contain a significant amount of whole wheat, but I guess the same can be said for commercial rye bread too.

Personally, we try to eat a balance of whole wheat products in our house. I think Barilla’s whole wheat Rotini is better than the regular edition, but StenGrad makes a very good point. A large portion of whole wheat/grain food just tastes nasty, or more aptly, it tastes like horse feed in comparison to its pure white counterparts.

I actually agree with most of the whole wheat foods you selected. The products you listed taste quite good for being whole wheat, at least the ones I’ve tried. But you didn’t answer the most important question: What’s your recommendation or favorite whole wheat bread?

ZP said...

There is a difference between whole grain and whole wheat. Whole grain is actually much better. Also, as some pointed out, not everyone enjoys the taste of whole wheat. In that case I would recommend, unbleached or white whole wheat. It is not as good as whole wheat/grain but DEF better than white.

Products that sell "healthy" and "fiber-filled" carbs are something lying. The best way to check, specially cereals, is to see the first few ingredients. Though organic cereals are the best, you'd be surprised how many of them have some form of sugar in their top three ingredients.

Fashion-isha said...

This is a great post and very necessary. People don't understand why I'm so insistent about declining the donut or the pasta. I am NO martyr trust me! The white flour does more than make you fat it causes inflammation which is the leading cause of disease. The spike in insulin and drop in blood sugar post eating it also affects your brain chemistry. It literally makes me depressed! I don't need scientific proof I can feel it! The only place I beg to differ is that I stay away from all wheat because whole wheat is not 100%. And don't worry I do cheat sometimes (but never feel good after).
hope you stop by and see my new post about visiting my married daughter in Chicago!

Princess Lea said...

SiBaW: Some, of course, exploit today's craze for healthy foods, but if you check the ingredients, then you can tell - avoid anything that says "enriched flour" (they just strip the flour of nutrients and then replace them) and check the fiber count - the more grams, the better. Or that new cereal gimmick: "made with whole wheat" - that means there is only a small percentage. I only buy 100% WW.

Of course I checked the ingredients and nutrition facts of the whole wheat croutons (insult my intelligence, why don't you). They were not more poisonous, although only slightly less, then the yellow version. But I don't ever eat the croutons. It's just for the kids and my father.

As for bread . . . I'll get there.

ZP: While whole grain is better, it is not available in everything, and in any case I'm introducing the concept. Baby steps for the WW newbies.

Fashion-Isha: I heard one doctor refer to donuts as "fried death holes" or something like that. They are naaaaasty stuff. I only eat 100% whole wheat products - love the stuff.

SiBaW said...

Interesting. (Sorry about that, no insult intended). Which brand of croutons are you referring to? I have the Quality Choice brand premium onion and garlic croutons; it has more calories and grams of fat than the yellow stuff per serving. We don’t buy it because it's healthy and whole wheat, it just happens to taste better and it doesn’t look artificial. Oh, that reminds me, any thoughts on Posts’ Shredded Wheat’n Bran?

Sefardi Gal said...

Wow. Healthy. I'll keep this is mind :D

Princess Lea said...

SiBaW: I think it was Shibolim soup croutons. I like Shibolim. Also, another hint: once the products has specialized flavoring (such as "Onion and Garlic") chances are it'll have more fat.

I haven't tried Post's Shredded Wheat, but it sounds positively awful. That's why I like the above Shredded Oats - it's sweetened with molasses, so it tastes pretty good. My nephews thinks it's Life cereal and gobbles it up.

SiBaW said...

The Post’s Shredded Wheat really isn’t that bad, at least with milk, eating it by itself would probably be akin to eating cardboard. It’s more of a cereal for adults I guess. I found that I got tired of the sweet cereals faster than the “healthier” ones, but I guess that is personal preference. Have you ever tried Quaker Crunchy Corn Bran? It has a similar taste to Shredded Wheat, but has less sugar and more fiber.

Princess Lea, can I ask you a personal question? What happens if (g-d forbid) your future husband doesn’t like whole wheat?

Princess Lea said...

I've never tried it, but it looks promising. It has pretty good fiber count, not much sugar, calories seem reasonable. But it has coloring (yellows 5 and 6, blue 1, red 40), even though it doesn't seem necessary.

But, I mix my cereal with Trader Joe's High Fiber Cereal, which is pretty good tasting for twigs, and has 9g of fiber in 3/4 cup. Mmmmm.

As for my husband not liking whole wheat . . . while I do not want to go on record, he better get with the program fast.

SiBaW said...

Interesting. It always amazes me the subjects that people don’t talk about on dates, such as food preferences. Best of luck though, I don’t know too many gents who are enamored with whole wheat to say the least…

Oh, btw, on the topic of Princess Lea and the battle of food, I just happened upon this t-shirt. I suspect you’d enjoy it. ;-)

Princess Lea said...

Ha! I wonder if the "Family Guy" parodies manage to have a storm trooper toting a cup of joe.