The gluten-free train is getting packed—and so is the marketplace. But peruse a few nutrition labels and you'll quickly see that those choices aren't always healthier. In an effort to taste like its wheat-y brethren, gluten-free bread in particular often ends up highly processed, hockey-puck hard, and not so yummy.
"A lot of gluten-free breads still use very refined flours from grains like millet and white rice and starches like tapioca, all of which cause a glycemic spike," says Tricia Williams, founder of the meal-delivery and nutritional-counseling service Food Matters NYC. "It's important to know that sometimes gluten-free just ends up being a new brand of junk." It's time for the next generation of gluten-free: grain-free.
As any baker knows, making great gluten-free bread is no easy feat, so creating one that's grain-free is akin to cracking the human genome. But Williams, a chef and holistic nutritionist, was up to the challenge. Enter Paleo bread, a grain-free artisanal loaf that's low-glycemic, low-carb (one gram), high-protein (12 grams), and now available on the company's website.
Williams worked hard to make sure it would function as well as traditional bread. "You can use it to make sandwiches, regular toast, French toast, and croutons. It's super-moist and holds up really well when you freeze it, too," she says.
Hu Kitchen founder Jordan Brown is equally committed to the trend of taking bread into "uncharted territory." He hopes to make the restaurant's grain-free 80 percent veggie loaf available on the Web by spring. "It's in tune with what we want to push: Focus on eating foods that keep your blood sugar as stable as possible and get your carbs through vegetables," he says.
Williams, one of Hu's advisers, adds, "The good news is that things are changing. More grain-free products are coming to market. I think it's just a matter of time." For all you early adopters, these grain-free options mean you can have your bread and eat it too:
Food Matters NYC: Paleo Bread
Made from a proprietary blend of eggs, almond flour, flax meal, and coconut oil, this 90-calorie bread boasts a healthy ratio of omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids. It also has a glycemic index of one--meaning you can eat it and still lose weight. "I wanted to create something hearty and satisfying, and Paleo bread really helps you stay full longer," says Williams.
Julian Bakery: Grain-Free Breads
In keeping with the popular Paleolithic theme, this California bakery puts out two grain-free breads: almond and coconut. A slice of the former, made from blanched almonds, egg whites, psyllium, organic apple-cider vinegar, and baking soda, tallies up at 100 calories and nine grams of protein. The latter, made with organic coconut flour (a flour that's denser and can be a bit drier), is about half the calories and protein and great if you want to up the ante and go nut-free, too.
Against the Grain: Rosemary Baguettes
Like its clever name, the goal behind this Vermont-made brand (available at Whole Foods) is to buck the trend of additives, chemical binders, modified starches, and flavor enhancers. This grain-free option is made with locally sourced milk (free of preservatives BHT and rBGH), eggs (free of hormones and antibiotics), and cheese (without growth hormones or anti-caking agents). And while it does contain tapioca, giving it higher GI and carb counts, the starch is not chemically modified.
Hu Kitchen: Veggie Bread
"Who ever said bread had to be a grain bomb? We stayed up nights and went through about 100 batches to get it right," says Brown of the secret recipe that includes minced vegetables, seeds, flax meal, and egg. It's packaged and available for purchase now at the restaurant. Look for it online this spring.
About the author:
Q by Equinox is the daily blog of the luxury fitness brand. Check back here weekly for new posts that tap into Q's stable of world-class trainers and experts to keep up with all things health and well-being.