Today, most of us are looking for ways to be more active and to have a healthier diet and lifestyle. There are tons of things that we can do to help promote better health and wellness, and a lot of these things have to do with the food choices we make every day. Diet is where most of us fail on the health front. There is so much conflicting information these days about what is healthy and what isn’t—just think how many times eggs have been “bad” only to be shown to be “good” again.
Not only is there so much confusing information out there, a lot of us are simply too busy to devote a ton of time to meal planning and ensuring that we source the finest ingredients and know the process our food goes through to get from farm to table. What is certain though, is that a lifetime of fast food is not good for the body and as more and more of us find ourselves overweight, obese, or otherwise unhealthy, the food we eat is often a key culprit.
With a bit of know-how, you can find ways to cut through the ambiguity of what to eat and get down to the basics. A little bit of research and small investments can make healthy, homemade food an option for even the busiest of families, allowing you to take control of your diet and lifestyle, and work towards healthier outcomes. What follows is a bit of advice as to how to utilize bread machines to make healthy, homemade foods that you and your family can feel good about eating.
Things to consider when looking at bread machine recipes
The internet has been a real boon to the home cook. Now we have more access to tons of different recipes than ever before, including tutorial videos and even instruction for basic cooking techniques. It is little wonder that even the busiest of us want to find a way to have more wholesome and healthy food in their diet.
Bread machines not only give you the ability to make tasty bread, fresh at home, but you also have control over every ingredient that goes into the recipe. Your breads will be to your liking and won’t be laden with preservatives and other additives like store-bought bread.
A quick Google search of “healthy bread machine recipes” will yield a plethora of quality recipes that give clear, detailed instructions on how to make said recipe. You will want to make sure that you look for recipes that include calorie counts and nutrition facts as it will help you figure out which options are the best in terms of calories, fat, and nutrition. Just because you want something healthy doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor; when you use a bread machine to make your own bread at home, you can tweak the recipe to you or your family’s unique taste.
You will want to avoid recipes that are heavily reliant on refined flours and that use a lot of sugar. These will be high in calories and devoid of a lot of nutrition. You want to look for recipes that use little or no sugar and that utilize whole-grain flours like whole-wheat or oat flour; these recipes will be higher in protein and vitamins and minerals. If you want to add sweetness or a savory element to your bread, choose fruit and natural sugars before refined sugars and lean heavily on herbs and spices for savory breads.
How to choose healthy options
First and foremost, the healthiest bread options will be those that are made from whole grains. Refined flours, like all-purpose flours, have been, as the name implies, refined and part of that process is removing the bran and husk that actually give wheat most of it nutritional properties. What is left is something that, when it hits your tummy, is turned into, well, sugar. White breads are devoid of much nutrition unless heavily fortified.
There are a lot of options when it comes to flours. Whole-wheat pastry flour has the fine texture of refined flour, but it still retains all the good bits that give it fiber and vitamins and minerals. There is bread machine-appropriate whole-wheat flour that produces tasty, toothsome loaves of healthy bread. It is fun to try different flours to see what you and your family like best. Try rye flours, rice flours, oat flours, and more. All will produce healthy breads with unique flavors and textures.
Consider the ad-ins you are putting into your bread. Toppings or stir-in options can actually end up adding a lot of calories to what would otherwise be a healthy bread option. Stirring chocolate, fruit, nuts, or, especially, cheese into your dough or topping your breads with these things can significantly up the calorie and fat content of your end product. This is not to say that you should never put anything extra in, but it helps to be cognizant of the calories it will add. Herbs and spices let you add a punch of flavor, without adding fat and calories, so it is advised that you play around with a variety of different herb combinations.
It is still possible to eat healthy, homemade food, even if you have a fast-paced and busy lifestyle. Most of us want to eat healthier and one of the easiest ways to do this is to cook at home more often. When you make your own food, you have control over everything that goes in it. There are also no preservatives or other nasties in homemade food as you aren’t trying to prepare something that has to be shelf stable.
Bread is where that a lot of us could make better choices and bread machines make that possible, even if we’re busy. Store-bought bread tends to be loaded down with dough softeners, preservatives, and other things to give it a shelf-stable nature and soft texture. Most of us too often turn to bread made from refined flours that are laden with sugar and do not provide much in the way of nutrition.
Using whole grain flours and recipes that are not loaded down with sugar allows you to make healthy, tasty bread that you can be proud to serve your family. Using a bread machine, you can provide whole-grain, homemade bread for your family, by simply adding ingredients to the machine, selecting the bread type, and what time you want the bread to be ready.