PODCAST: What Can You Trust in the Bread Aisle?May 16, 2023
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Is it just us or has the bread aisle gotten complicated? Really complicated? White bread, multigrain, honey wheat, whole wheat — to name only a few. How do you know what's actually healthy and what's not? In this episode, we take one of the most confusing aisles in the grocery store and break it down into its simplest parts: the nutritious grains you can trust and the refined ones you can't.
Hosts: Zach Moore, Katie McCallum (interviewer)
Expert: Kylie Arrindell, Registered Dietitian
Notable topics covered:
- Carbs don't have to be the enemy
- The benefits of whole grains and the downsides of refined ones
- Why you can't judge a bread's healthfulness just by its color
- One simple trick for identifying if bread is whole grain or not
- What "multigrain" really means
- Bakery vs. bread aisle: Is scratch-made more nutritious than packaged?
- Whether the crust is really the healthiest part of sliced bread
- Tortillas: Is corn better for you than flour?
- More of Kylie's tips for navigating the bread aisle
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ZACH: Welcome to On Health with Houston Methodist. I’m Zack Moore. I’m a photographer and editor here, and I’ve worked in multimedia and television for over 15 years - and I’m also a longtime podcaster.
KATIE: I’m Katie McCallum, I’m a former researcher, turned health writer, mostly writing for our blog.
ZACH: Katie, how much bread do you think you eat every week?
KATIE: Hm, I would say, probably, a pretty average amount. I think we probably end up putting bread in our grocery cart, not every week, but every other week. We use it mostly for toast in the morning, I would say.
ZACH: Good choice.
KATIE: Yeah, toast. Sandwiches at lunch, super easy. I’m a huge fan of a peanut butter and jelly. In fact, I have one for breakfast sometimes.
ZACH: Oh okay.
KATIE: Yeah, like, with toast. You know, you toast the bread and then peanut butter and jelly. So, yeah, I mean, I think – I think I eat, probably an average amount. How about you, Zach?
ZACH: I feel like I eat too much bread.
KATIE: Well, I would say, an “average amount” might actually be too much bread as well here since we overeat on a lot of things.
ZACH: Toast is great, sandwiches, croutons.
KATIE: Oh man, I love croutons. Do you know what I started doing?
KATIE: You know you did that episode on air fryers back in season two. I, actually, now buy little tiny baguettes, you can buy those little, small, like, baguettes, and I slice them up and then –
ZACH: Make your own croutons.
KATIE: I make my own croutons in the air fryer. You just, like, lightly toss them in olive oil and, like, some Italian seasoning, put them in the air fryer. I’m not kidding, you’ll never, like, buy packaged croutons ever again.
ZACH: Interesting, I might have to try this.
KATIE: Try it. It’s like you literall – Or sometimes you’ll just – I’ll snack on them now, which is dangerous.
ZACH: Well, that’s what I was gonna say. Sometimes I snack on croutons when I’m, like, making salads. I’m like, “Oh, I just got my crouton bag here, I can have a couple.” And it’s probably too much bread so if you – Think about that, right? I mean, you eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, like, not to mention if you eat pasta, you’re gonna make garlic bread. You’re just gonna eat a lot of bread. And bread probably has a bad reputation these days. When people are trying to be, quote-unquote, healthy one of the first things you hear is, “Oh, you gotta cut out bread.”
KATIE: Yeah. You know, we live in a very “Carbs are the enemy world.” Like, we did that with fats, I think, a while ago. I don’t really hear as much with fats anymore, about how awful they are. But carbs, for sure. And bread is the most obvious carb. The thought when you’re losing weight is, “I’m gonna cut down on the bread.” But it kinda does make you wonder if bread is as bad as we’re all making it out to be. Like, is bread the problem?
ZACH: We’re the problem.
KATIE: Or are we the problem?
ZACH: Well, who did we talk to today about this, Katie?
KATIE: Today we talked to Kylie Arrindell, she’s a dietitian here at Houston Methodist, and – We talked to her about bread, generally. But I think most importantly we talk about the bread aisle, how to navigate the bread aisle. You know, we have a lot of choices for a lot of different products. I don’t think there is a single, like, type of food that has its own aisle quite like bread does. There’s literally nothing else in the bread aisle, except for bread.
ZACH: Okay. Good point, I’ve never thought of those terms.
KATIE: Yeah. You know, like, water, there’s water and Sparkling water, maybe, on a side of the aisle. Bread is literally just – Every bread option imaginable on one side, bread adjacent stuff on the other side. It’s incredibly complicated to navigate on top of the fact that we’re often hearing, “Oh, bread’s the bad guy.”
ZACH: Yeah. And we had a great time talking to Kylie a couple of seasons ago about avocado toast, which is another form of bread, so, check out that episode if you haven’t already. And we’re gonna talk about more variations of bread and toast in our conversation with her today.
KATIE: Yeah, let’s get this bread.
[Sound effect signaling beginning of interview]
KATIE: Alright, well, we’re here with Kylie Arrindell, a dietitian at Houston Methodist. Welcome, Kylie.
KYLIE: Thank you. Glad to be here.
KATIE: Welcome back, I should say, actually. We had you on in season one for an episode about avocado toast, which, actually, is what inspired this episode today on bread. You know, bread is a staple in, I think, most people’s diets. Definitely, a staple of a grocery cart. I think at least once a month we’re all trying to pick out some bread option, whether it’s sliced bread or some rolls. And I think what we wanna talk about today is how complicated and overwhelming, and challenging it is to walk through the bread aisle and feel like you’ve come out making a healthy decision, I would say.
KYLIE: Yes, very overwhelming.
KATIE: Yeah, exactly. And I’m gonna run some numbers by you and our listeners just to paint the scene here. I opened my app for a very popular grocery store, here in Houston, and I checked out the bread section and there are 164 sliced bread options, 88 bun and roll options, 34 bagel options, 24 English muffin options, and I stopped there ‘cause already we’re entering the, like, 200 plus territory.
KYLIE: Yeah. Is that including, like, frozen section too, or just bread aisle?
KATIE: Actually, that’s a good point, it probably does. Like, the frozen garlic bread.
KYLIE: Yeah, I believe that.
KATIE: Yeah. But it’s overwhelming. It’s overwhelming for someone like me. And I mean, I’m interested to get your take. Even as an expert in nutrition, how do you make any sense of the amount of options we have these days?
KYLIE: It’s crazy ‘cause it’s not just bread, it’s yogurt or any kind of dairy product, and then you’ve got: nuts, seeds, beans, all kinds of stuff. I mean, the consumer wants choice and they definitely have it. So, it is really hard to kinda figure out what is gonna make the most sense for you from a health perspective, and also your taste preferences. It’s – there’s a lot that goes into that, for sure.
KATIE: Yeah. And I guess the first place to start with bread, or at least where I think we can start, and this is a huge question, so we’ll chip away at it. We wanna talk about where bread falls in a healthy diet. And I guess my first question is, bread often gets a bad rap, especially when we’re thinking about weight loss. I think everything I’ve even heard about weight loss is like, the carb-phobic. Like, “Get rid of the bread. Never eat another slice of bread.” I mean, just to start, like, is bread unhealthy?
KYLIE: That’s a loaded question but I definitely think it’s important to talk about. So, it’s sort of wild how much bread is vilified. It’s hard to say where specifically bread, kinda, went wrong, but I think it has to do with the types of breads that Americans or most Americans consume. A blanket statement of “all carbs are inherently bad for us” is just simply not true, and it can actually be kind of dangerous. So, bread being a carbohydrate doesn’t really help its case in the public’s eye.
KATIE: Are there some types of bread that are, quote-unquote, worse than others, maybe? And, you know, the bread aisle has more than just sliced bread. And so, I read something somewhere, on the internet, so correct me if this is wrong. But a bagel – Eating a bagel is the equivalent of eating six slices of bread. So, is that where like – are there any, like, bread aisle watch-outs that you would say, like – I’m not – I know we shouldn’t say don’t eat – Like, never stop eating something, but, like, put your red flags up and maybe that’s a every now and then item.
KYLIE: Yeah, so, that’s a good question. So, if you’re talking about serving sizes. So, a bagel is technically, depending on what kind of bagel, between two and four servings of a carbohydrate. So that’s where that kind of gets that, is it equivalent to four slices of bread? Six is a lot, I haven’t heard of the six specifically, but it is a higher carbohydrate containing food than just one piece of sliced bread. So, you do have to be careful with some of those products. But also, your cinnamon rolls and other packaged types of products, those may not be as volume-wise big, or have as much volume to them, but they still can have just as many carbohydrates if not more than the bagel or the other pieces of sliced bread.
KATIE: Got it. And when you mentioned that a bagel can be, like, two to five -- I think you said two to four servings of carbohydrates per, like, sitting meal, like, for breakfast, like, how many servings of carbohydrates is too many? I know you're probably, like, “These are so hard to answer.”
KYLIE: No, it's okay. It sort of depends on the person. So, if you are somebody who might have some blood sugar concerns then maybe you don't want to have as many carbohydrate servings at once than somebody who maybe doesn't have those blood sugar concerns. So, it might look like three to four servings for somebody who has type two diabetes and for somebody who doesn't, they could, maybe, get away with four to five. It really depends on what else you're eating with it, you don't want to just consume a huge carbohydrate-rich meal and have no other macronutrients in that meal.
KATIE: The bakery section of a grocery store. It's not the bread aisle but its competitor the bread aisle, almost, in that, you know, I can get my sliced bread from the bakery section or I can get it from the bread aisle. Type for type. So, like, let's say I want some sliced sourdough. Is there any benefit to me going to the bakery and getting, you know, some sliced sourdough that's fresh, scratch-made, or is that packaged sliced sourdough about the same? Can you talk us through those decisions?
KYLIE: Sure. A scratch-made sourdough is a great option, not just for taste, it kind of has a different taste to it, but it also has probiotics in it. So, sourdough is a fermented food so it can actually be really helpful for your gut, and it can also be a good option for people who have trouble digesting some other bread products. But to say it's better or worse than packaged bread is kind of a loaded question. It’s kind of hard, it just depends on the person who's buying it, and the actual bread that you're looking at. A homemade asiago or a croissant of some sort is gonna be a less nutrient-rich choice than 100% whole wheat bread that you find in the bread aisle.
KATIE: Croissants are getting down vote here. They’re, unfortunately, the most delicious thing that's probably on this planet, so that makes sense. I think probably saw that coming. So, when we get into, I guess all types of bread but in my mind, I think sliced bread, the two like categories that I immediately think of, there's obviously a ton of options we mentioned 164 options. There's a lot in there but the two main categories in my mind I think of is, like, white bread and then, you know, the brown bread that's either -- It's maybe whole grain, it's maybe whole wheat I don't know, we're gonna talk about that. What's the difference between white bread and brown bread, as far as our health goes?
KYLIE: There could be 50 differences between white bread and brown bread.
KYLIE: The kind of bread, the way it's made, the ingredients they used, or didn't use, for that particular product. That being said, a lot of the color relates to the type of grain that's used, so, whether that's whole grains or refined grains in that product. So, that could definitely be one of the differences between the white and the brown bread.
KATIE: Okay. And so, when we're talking about whole grains versus refined grains, if you if you had to choose which one someone would pick – I mean, I kind of feel like I know the answer, but just so we're very clear, what kind of bread do you want someone choosing when it comes to whole grain or refined?
KYLIE: Definitely whole grains.
KYLIE: Whole grains are associated with a lower risk for cardiovascular disease, they’re helpful for people who have type two diabetes, they also are extremely beneficial for our gut health. And it's a staple of the Mediterranean diet, which is year over year voted the overall best diet from U.S. News and World Report.
KATIE: Got it. And then white bread or breads made with refined grains or flours, what's the downside of those? Or do they have any benefits, maybe, is the first question and then what's the list of downsides?
KYLIE: Yeah, so, the benefit to those is that it typically has a longer shelf life, so, it's helpful for a lot of packaged products and those types of things. But it's stripped of some of the important components of the whole grain kernel. So, it typically is missing one or two out of the three. So, your whole grains are going to have all three parts of the kernel still intact or still a part of that grain. So, you're gonna get more fiber, you're gonna get more nutrients, you're gonna get more protein too versus the refined flours or refined grains that have been stripped of those nutrients, they have to actually be added back in to get the benefit of them.
KATIE: So, it sounds like really, the white bread came about for shelf-life reasons or –
KYLIE: And, like, mass production. Honestly, if you want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and you want it on white bread that has a certain kind of nostalgia to it. And then also you're having a fluffy piece of white bread and a lot of consumers want that fluffy factor to their bread products.
KATIE: Yeah, that's a great point. I didn't even think about that. I've never -- That is probably one of the things about whole grain breads that I -- it's like they're, like, firmer, I guess I would say.
KYLIE: Yeah. Yeah.
KATIE: Okay, that's a great point. One thing I wanted to touch on before we before we move on is, I know in a previous -- in our previous podcast episode about avocado toast, you’d mentioned that the color of the bread is not always the best indicator, sometimes, because there are ways to make a bread that's, you know, perhaps just white bread, or usually a white bread, to make it look like a brown bread and a healthier bread. As someone trying to just make it down the bread aisle, talk us through, like, this level of deception and what we need to know, and how to not pick up that bread.
KYLIE: That's a very fair question. So, I don't think that bread companies are trying to mislead the consumer, per se, but it does go to show you that you do need to check the nutrition facts label and the ingredients list. The appearance of brown bread tends to have a healthier connotation to it than white bread. It's also associated with, like, a better palatability. So, think of, like, a cinnamon roll when it's baking, it has that kind of brown toasty looking color to it, it's more appetizing. So, whether it be for the healthier option, or this is more appetizing, whatever fits the bill for that particular company, they may need to incorporate a browner-looking product. They can do that with sugar, they can do that with other types of additives like caramel colors. So, there can be some added things that don't necessarily need to be in there making it look like a browner piece of bread.
KATIE: So, when we're talking about sliced bread, the options that are brown that we think are healthy, you know, I've heard you say whole grain and I've seen the words “Whole,” and I’ve seen the words “Grain,” on a bunch of those 164 options, what is truly whole grain? There's multi-grain there's seven grain, there's 12 grain, there's sprouted grain, how do we know if what we're picking up is actually whole grain?
KYLIE: The only way to tell is to look at the ingredients list. So, you wanna see the word “Whole” in front of any type of grain that that particular bread is claiming to have. So, whole grain doesn't always mean whole wheat, you could have a bread that's made with barley or sorghum, or millet, even, so that could be a whole grain in itself. And you're looking for the words “Whole” in front of any of those grains.
KATIE: Okay, so, the if bread says “Whole wheat,” and I turn it over and the first thing is not whole wheat, it is not a whole grain bread?
KATIE: Okay. Is that - is that pretty common?
KYLIE: Usually not. Now we have the whole grain stamp that's from the Whole Grains Council, so if you have a product that's claiming to be made with whole grains, they actually have to meet a certain criteria of grams per serving, so, that's helpful. So, that's another way you can really quickly decide, if it has a whole grain stamp on the front it might or it probably is gonna be a really good option.
KATIE: Okay, great. Any other, you know, claims on the bread whether good or bad you would say look out for? Are there some claims, like -- sounds like if we see a whole grain stamp, we can be like, “Okay, good option, let me pull it.” Are there any claims on them that you're like, “Oh, this is a little misleading. Like, doesn't really need mean anything. They’re putting that to get you to pick it up.”
KYLIE: Not necessarily claims, but I think this kind of goes back to one of your other questions of carbohydrates getting a bad rap and sugar getting a bad rap. I do have a lot of clients that tell me, “Oh, I don't eat that bread product.” Or I don't eat this because it has X amount of sugar per serving. And that's not exactly the whole story. So, if you're looking for a bread product don't just look at the amount of sugar that it has in there, look at the total carbohydrates, look at the fiber content, look at the protein content and look at the amount of added sugars that's actually in that serving. And that is a better way to decipher if that's a good product or not versus just the total sugars.
KATIE: Okay. And I'm glad you brought up the added sugars because I -- As I talked to, you know, you and other dietitians we have, I often -- I've included the fact that there's a lot of added sugars in things where you might not expect. You know, when we're looking at bread, I think, there's correct me if I'm wrong, added sugars in bread, almost always.
KYLIE: It's rare that there's 0 grams of added sugar in a bread product, you're probably gonna find 1/2/3 grams in most bread products.
KATIE: Okay. What's your cutoff for if a bread product has this many grams per serving, like, that's just not, like, let's try to put that one down and pick up one that has this amount.
KYLIE: I would say the highest I would go is 3 grams. If you're looking for like a cinnamon roll or a sticky bun or something like that that's gonna be really hard to find a 3-gram or less, but for sliced bread, I would say 1 to 2 grams is okay. It does affect the flavor and the texture of the bread when you have less sugar involved in the process, but you don't necessarily need sugar 100% of the time to make a good bread product.
[Music plays to signal a brief interjection in the interview]
ZACH: Kylie mentioned choosing whole-grain bread requires looking at the ingredients list and looking for the word “Whole” in front of whatever type of grain is used. If it's not there, it's not a whole-grain option. This step is crucial since even something that looks or sounds healthy might not check out. For instance, I’m looking at an option labeled: Essential grains, 12-grain bread. Sounds pretty healthy, right? I noticed the first ingredient was “Enriched wheat flour” while the word “Wheat” may sound promising it's not preceded by the word “Whole”, so this isn't a whole grain option. This is actually the same first ingredient as an option labeled “Split top butter bread,” which definitely doesn't sound or look particularly healthy. But when looking at an option labeled “100% whole wheat” I saw the first ingredient was whole wheat flour, that checks out. If you're choosing a particular bread assuming it's healthy just by its color or label, consider flipping the package over and putting it to the test just to be sure.
KATIE: Kylie has covered where bread fits in on the health spectrum, and given us tips for making healthier bread choices. Up after the break, we cover a few more questions you may have asked yourself while standing in the bread aisle. Including whether the crust is really the healthiest part of a slice of bread, if corn tortillas are really healthier than flour ones, and if it's bad to eat a sandwich every single day for lunch.
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KATIE: And we're back with Kylie Arrindell.
We've got a pretty good landscape now of how to navigate the basics of the bread aisle; look for whole grain options, flip the bag over, make sure it says “whole” in front of whatever that first ingredient is. There's a ton of types of bread, and we’ve said that several times, I'm gonna pick out a couple, cherry-pick a few, that I think are either most confusing or popular and I think maybe we need to talk about. One is just for my own personal edification real quick.
KATIE: If I'm choosing an English muffin over a biscuit am I making the healthier choice?
KYLIE: Most of the time, yes. The English muffin is going to have a little bit less calories, a little bit less fat than most traditional biscuits. And if you can get a whole-grain English muffin, that's even better.
KATIE: Okay, cool. Sometimes I just wonder if I'm making these healthy decisions for no reason. Because I know –
KYLIE: You are. Every little bit counts, for sure.
KATIE: Well, that’s great to hear, because I think -- You know, and it’s so funny. Like, brown rice over white rice, like, there's all these little choices you make that doesn't taste as good so you're like, “Am I doing this for a good reason? Is this worth it?” So, okay.
KYLIE: Completely understandable.
KATIE: Good to hear for myself and any other English muffin choosers. Whole grain English muffin?
KATIE: Vote of confidence, okay.
KYLIE: Vote of confidence.
KATIE: Another quick question for you, crustless bread. You know, I think, I at least, heard growing up that I needed to eat the crust because, you know, it had tons of nutrients in it, and if I didn't eat the crust I was missing out. Is this just something our parents told us so we wouldn't waste food or is that real?
KYLIE Yes and no. So, the crust is the area of the bread that is exposed most to the heat during the baking process, so it sometimes comes out crispier, or a little bit drier and that's not as appealing to some people. There's not a significant amount of nutrients that is different from the crust to the middle part of the loaf, so you're better off eating all of it, so you get all the fiber per serving and all the nutrients per serving.
KATIE: Got it. I like the crust, actually.
KYLIE: I'm a big crust girl.
KATIE: Yeah, I'm a crust fan. I know most people aren't -- I just -- I hear the -- Like a lot of people are like, “Buy the crustless bread.” And I'm just like, “I don't know enjoy the crust.”
KATIE: Especially on pizza, the best part of pizza, for sure.
KYLIE: I agree.
KATIE: Next question, potato bread. I feel like it's becoming kind of, like, a popular option. Particularly, you know, when I'm getting a burger, I often see, like, it's a potato bun and in my mind, when I think about it, I'm like, “Oh potato, probably healthier.” But then I'm also -- wouldn't be surprised whatsoever if it's actually a like a less healthier way to consume bread. So, what's the take on potato bread?
KYLIE So, it's kind of the same as in the chip aisle, you have the veggie straws and those types of things, a lot of different plants can be made into flours, and then you can make any kind of bread product you want, whether that's a bun or chips or whatever the case. So, it doesn't necessarily mean it's healthier. It's still a good option for flavor purposes, but it's most likely going to be more so in the refined grain category than the whole grain category in terms of benefit.
KATIE: Okay, got it. Another question for you, I saw this type of bread when I was researching all these options and I had never seen this before, plant-based bread. I dug into it, because I was like, “Okay, grain is a plant, so, like, of course, all bread is plant based.” But then, you know, on the label they're like, “Contains no animal products.” Do breads contain animal products often?
KYLIE: Usually not.
KATIE: Okay. Okay. I was like, “What could possibly be in there?”
KYLIE: Yeah. Unless you're -- It's being made with some type of butter or some other type of kind of additive then it could be made with some animal products, but most always it's going to be yeast, flour, water, salt. That's kind of the main staple of bread.
KATIE: Okay, got it. Of all of the varieties of non-white breads, I think the one that's tripped me up the most in the past is multigrain. What on earth does that mean?
KYLIE: That's a very good question. So, multigrain really just means that the bread product was made with multiple grains. It does not mean that they're all whole grains that were used in the product, so again, look at the label and see all of the different grains that are in there and make sure you see the word “Whole” in front of all of those grains.
KATIE: Okay. Okay, perfect. Another quick question for you, bread aisle adjacent. It's in the bread aisle, so not bread aisle adjacent. In the bread aisle but, you know, sliced bread adjacent, tortillas. I think we often talk about whether we should order corn or flour. You and I have actually done a blog post on this, and I think it's very apt to address it on this podcast. Corn verse flour, am I making a healthier choice when I pick up the corn tortillas instead of the flour ones?
KYLIE: Not always, depends on how many tortillas you're gonna be using for that particular taco or whatever you're making.
KATIE: That’s a great pro tip.
KYLIE: Yes. But I would say the better choice of both of those is gonna be a whole wheat tortilla, since we're talking about whole grains already.
KATIE: You know, after we - After we did that blog post, I switched to whole wheat tortillas.
KYLIE: Oh my gosh, I'm so proud.
KATIE: Yeah, I don't mind them.
KYLIE: They actually taste great.
KATIE: Yeah, especially – I buy the ones that are refrigerated and you heat up on the stove.
KYLIE: Love it.
KATIE: Once you warm the tortilla it's kind of -- whatever's in it -- whatever's in the taco is usually delicious if you're doing it right. Maybe something to talk about in the future with you.
KYLIE: Yeah, that'd be great.
KATIE: So, yeah, I will thumbs up the whole wheat tortilla. Listeners, try it out. I like the refrigerated ones that you heat up on the stove, they're tasty. So, for someone that is really focusing in on weight loss – I know we've sort of already touched on, we don't need to be so carb-phobic, necessarily. But for someone who's thinking about weight loss, any tips when they're walking down the bread aisle? Are they different from tips you’d give, you know, the person who's not worried about their weight?
KYLIE: I think a lot of people, especially my clients who have said, “I've lost X amount of weight by cutting out bread.” They're usually talking about a lot more than just bread. They're talking about pasta, they're talking about cinnamon rolls, they're talking about doughnuts, maybe hamburgers, so, you're naturally gonna be cutting out a lot of lot of excess calories that way. Whether or not that was bread to begin with is up for debate.
KYLIE: But it is still important to watch how much you have of it in one sitting, specifically. So, if you do look at your day and breakfast, lunch, and dinner there is a lot of different types of bread products, and maybe they’re more refined bread products, then cutting back on those would be, definitely helpful for any type of weight loss or even weight maintenance.
KATIE: That reminds me of another question, actually then. Thoughts on having a sandwich every day at lunch. Is that – Like, you know, I think, when I think of my workday, like, a lot of times the easiest thing to do is just make a sandwich, grab a sandwich. But is that too much? Like, should I not be eating a sandwich every day?
KYLIE: I eat a sandwich probably five out of seven days.
KATIE: Okay. Perfect.
KYLIE: So, I think it's easy, it's quick, as long as you're getting the whole grain option and you're packing it with lean protein and a lot of vegetables, it's a great well-balanced lunch.
KATIE: Okay, perfect. Last question I had for you, we did this on the avocado toast episode with you and I loved it, so I wanted to close off kind of doing the same thing again. And so, for our listeners who didn't listen to the avocado toast episode, first of all, go listen. Second of all, I asked Kylie to build us her perfect avocado toast and I was inspired to do the same in this bread episode because, again, when I opened my app there's a whole section that was, like, “Build your perfect sandwich.” And when I clicked it all the bread options were, immediately, like, white -- white bread options. So, I wanted to ask you, since I think a lot of the reason, we buy sliced bread is for a sandwich, build us your perfect sandwich.
KYLIE: I actually have two perfect sandwiches, and it's dependent on the weather outside.
KATIE: Oh, I like that.
KYLIE: So if it's a cold day I would love the homemade sourdough option. And I would put the basil pesto on it, or a little bit of Italian dressing and then I would put some smoked turkey, lettuce, tomato, bell peppers, and probably some onion.
KATIE: That sounds delicious.
KYLIE: Yes. My second go-to if it's a little warmer outside, a 100% whole wheat bread, I would mix some tuna with Greek yogurt and avocado together, and I would put some pecans and grapes in there, and then top it off with a bunch of lettuce and bell peppers.
KATIE: Wow, that also sounds amazing.
KYLIE: Yes, it is.
KATIE: We're recording – Yeah, we're recording this right before lunch so now I'm starving.
Both of those are amazing.
KATIE: Alright, well, thank you so much for being on today and kind of hashing out the bread aisle with us.
KATIE: Yeah, I mean, I think as someone who is often wandering down it virtually, as I mentioned I use an app, this has been super helpful.
KYLIE: Good, I'm glad. I'm happy I was able to help clear up some things, too.
KATIE: Awesome, it's great to have you.
ZACH: Okay, Katie, big takeaways from this bread conversation.
KATIE: I think my main takeaway is that I have actually been purchasing multigrain bread thinking it's the healthiest option in the aisle. And from -- After talking to Kylie and checking packages I really couldn't find any that actually were whole grain in the end. So, that's my biggest takeaway.
ZACH: We’ve been lied to our whole lives about this.
KATIE: I've been – Yeah, I've been trusting the label, seeing the word “Grain” thinking –
ZACH: It’s terminology, you know. It's very confusing to the lay people.
KATIE: Yes, it's very confusing. You see the word “Grain” and you think, “Oh, grain, must be a complex carbohydrate.” No, not necessarily the case. Have to flip the package over. Now I know that. She gave us some real simple tips for quickly looking at an item and saying, I'm picking this up or putting this down. That was my biggest takeaway. How about you, Zach?
ZACH: Yeah, for me, the tortillas. Wheat tortillas being a recommendation. Because I had always heard, “Oh yeah, you always wanna go with corn tortillas.” Like, no matter what taco shop you're at -- I actually prefer crispy tacos, but that's a whole other conversation. But if you’re at a soft taco shop, right?
KATIE: Soft taco shop? Okay.
ZACH: And they say, “Do you want flour or corn?” I'm like -- I'm like,
“I want flour, but I know I should say corn.” So, I say, “Oh, corn, please.”
KATIE: Yeah. Well, so now what do you gonna say?
ZACH: Do you have wheat?
ZACH: I have, of course, probably seen them before, but I’d never really thought that was really a -- thought that was, like, a very, like, specialized health option. It might still be.
KATIE: Yeah. I wonder --
ZACH: I don’t know how, like, accessible they are to the general public.
KATIE: Yeah. I'm gonna be honest, I don't -- I don't know how many restaurants supply them. Like, I think if you asked a restaurant -- I think these days there's usually a whole wheat or whole grain bread option or bun option. Like, if you’re eating a burger, a lot of places now there's, like, a whole grain or whole wheat option. I don't know if there's wheat tortilla options at restaurants yet. I mean –
ZACH: There might be soon, depends on what restaurant, though.
KATIE: Exactly, yeah. You know, I had talked to Kylie about this in the past, and she kinda blew my mind with the wheat tortillas, as well, and so I switched to weed tortillas when we make tacos at home, which is often, at least once a week. I buy the refrigerated ones. So, they're, like, raw and you cook them on the stove, so they're warm and then they're, like, fresh. They're not like the bagged that kind of have that weird flavor, plus their wheat and healthy flavor. So, I will say, if you do it that way the wheat tortillas, actually, aren't that bad, in my opinion.
KATIE: Like, I enjoy them. Every now and then I'll do the flour ones, but for the most part, I can almost always talk myself into doing the healthier option and picking wheat.
ZACH: Okay, very good. Very good. Also, sourdough bread. I've always been a big fan of sourdough bread.
KATIE: Love sourdough bread.
ZACH: And hearing her say that it helps with digestion and there was some definite health benefits there, I'm like, “Great, I'm all about sourdough.”
KATIE: Yeah, I agree. I also was one of the people at the start of the pandemic who did the sourdough starter thing. To be honest, the bread never worked -- the bread part never worked out for me. It's really hard to make bread yourself at home. But I love sourdough, so I was happy to hear that, too. Because it's nice when something that tastes good and you enjoy also comes with that added health benefit of like, “Oh, maybe it improves my gut health.” I loved hearing that.
ZACH: Yeah, I think I'll be defaulting to sourdough as often as possible instead of, like, your traditional burger bun or something like that. ‘Cause I was -- You know, I like a good patty melt, right? And those come on sourdough.
KATIE: Yeah, sure.
ZACH: So, you have those, you get even sandwiches, even, you know, toast, sourdough toast. So, not that it's gonna be my only bread now. I'm not gonna just take -- You should never just take some one fact and like, “Okay, this is my thing now.” But it has encouraged me, as you said. It’s something I already enjoy, so, okay, good. I don’t have to, like, give something or switch something out there.
ZACH: Which, you know, gives me more of an open mind to like, “You know, okay, well I can switch out for these wheat tortillas.” For example.
KATIE: Yeah, I wonder if sourdough bread would make really good croutons in the air fryer.
ZACH: Oh man, that is -- I'm gonna go home and try that today.
KATIE: Back to that, it's all I think about. When I look at bread options, you know, like, the scratch –
ZACH: “Can I make croutons with this?”
KATIE: Will this make a better crouton than the one I had last night?
ZACH: Very good.
KATIE: Yeah, so that's something to try too, because then it would be a delicious crouton that comes with the gut health benefits. So, that's -- that was exciting to hear. Was also happy to hear that English muffins are in fact healthier than biscuits, that's often a brunch thing for me.
ZACH: I'm an English muffin fan, myself.
KATIE: See, I mean, like, biscuits for me, obviously, taste better, but, again, like, as I try to be healthier and things, I'm like, “Okay, this is a choice I'm gonna -- swap I'm gonna make.” Especially a brunch, I'm like, “I'm trying to make this brunch healthier, I’mma choose the English muffin over the biscuit.”
ZACH: Well, do you like a real crispy English muffin or softer English muffin? I’m a little crispy English muffin. So, it's not quite a biscuit substitute, it’s just a totally different thing to me.
KATIE: Okay, that's a good point. I think for me it depends. I like a crispy English muffin, if I'm doing, like, an eggs benedict. I like the softer English muffin, back to my peanut butter and jelly obsession. Sometimes for breakfast I'll do – I’ll still toast the English muffin, but the peanut butter and jelly is, like, gooey and soft. So, if the muffin’s a little gooey and soft it just becomes this, like, warm gooey, soft, delicious thing. So, I could go either way on the English muffin, being crispy or soft.
ZACH: Speaking of sandwiches, right, those couple sandwiches she described at the end were fantastic.
KATIE: Yeah, I mean, definitely gonna have to make both. If you -- If you, like, made me pick I think I would actually pick the tuna one, just because it sounded so unique.
ZACH: Okay, I would pick the other one. I'm just not Mr. Tuna over here.
KATIE: Yeah, that's fair. That's fair. We eat a lot of tuna and it's really boring, and the way she described that tuna sandwich I was like, “Yeah --
ZACH: You know, that is -- As someone who doesn't eat tuna very often, that is a tuna sandwich I would have to try.
KATIE: Yeah. And I'm happy to hear that she eats a sandwich almost every day.
ZACH: Very, very good to hear. It -- You know, and speaking to our first point at the beginning of the podcast, bread gets a bad rap. “Rap? What? Like a sandwich?”
And it's really about, as it is with everything really, moderation, for one, and what kind of bread are you choosing. And I feel like Kylie really gave us a good perspective, good guide. When you're walking down that intimidating bread aisle, like we discussed, we can kind of have some guidelines now.
KATIE: Oh, absolutely. I think that's my favorite part. I do most of my grocery shopping online and curbside now, just cause the pandemic started it and I was like, “Well, it's convenient.” So, I do most of it online, so, it is easier to check the ingredients list now, I think. Because back when I used to go into the store, I would stand and stare, and flip packages over. And, like, I said, I was picking multigrain thinking I was still making a healthy option and I probably wasn't, even still, wasn’t making the healthiest option. So, my biggest takeaway, really, was, like, flipping it over, looking for the word “Whole” as the first ingredient. I think it's simple advice that literally, all of us can do. If it doesn't say “Whole” and your goal is to pick a healthy option put it down, try another one, rinse repeat. I will never look at the bread aisle the same again.
ZACH: Alright, Katie, well, let's go ahead and wrap this up, which is a bread adjacent item that we actually forgot to ask Kylie about, so maybe next time, Katie.
KATIE: Yep, oops.
ZACH: That's gonna do it for us this week on the On Health Podcast. And we encourage you all to go to our blog at HoustonMethodist.org/blog and to share, like, and subscribe to our podcast. New episodes drop on Tuesday mornings, so until then, stay tuned and stay healthy.
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