We here at Cooking Light are avid grocery shoppers. Personally, I've been known to go through every single aisle reading every single label until I find exactly what I’m looking for. This process definitely helps when I’m trying to eat clean, but it doesn’t help when my boyfriend is following me around asking if I’m done yet. (Thank goodness for Whole Foods’ full-service bar.)
To me, clean eating is all about going back to basics. Unfortunately, bread can be a tricky food for determining "cleanliness." Most of the bread on grocery store shelves isn't clean.
That bears repeating: Basically ALL loaves in the bread aisle at your local grocery store aren't clean. Those breads are filled with preservatives and chemicals that help them maintain freshness for longer than a loaf of bread should ever be edible. Think about it: Why do they last over a month?
Where to look: - Local: To be truly clean, you need to buy good bread from your local bakery (or from the bakery in your grocery store). You'll have to buy fresh bread every few days because good, clean bread doesn't have any preservatives that will deter mold or prevent staleness. - Freezer aisle: Don't forget about the freezer section. Some great, whole-grain, clean breads live in the freezer section because they don't have the preservatives to sit at room temp very long. One of our favorite clean-eating breads: Food for Life's Ezekiel 4:9.
When purchasing your bread, stay away from the following things: - “Enriched” Flour: After they stripped all the nutrients from the flour, the manufacturer tried to put them back in. Your body doesn’t like processing it. Put that bread right back where it came from. - Preservatives: This is what makes loafs last for weeks at a time, and it’s weird. Reminds me of a “healthy” ice cream my dad once bought that never melted. - Added sugar: I’m talking about you, high fructose corn syrup. I can get behind honey in my bread because honey is delicious, and I want it on everything. (In moderation, of course.)
What you’re really looking for: - 100% whole-grain: Always look at that first ingredient. It should be whole-grain flour, sprouted whole-grain flour, or whatever fancy whole-grain flour you’re a fan of. Organic is ideal as well. - Simple ingredient list: The most wholesome breads have just five ingredients: Whole-wheat flour, water, yeast, salt, and a natural sweetener, such as honey.
How to store leftovers: If you know you have more bread than you can eat, you can save it for a future meal. To do so, tightly wrap extra loaves or buns, and freeze (do not refrigerate—this will cause bread to stale faster) for up to 3 months.