After a lot of interest in 'the best diary free milks to put in your trolley' post a few months back, I thought it was only natural to move over to another common staple, bread. Bread often provides a challenge for those of us making choices based on not only food intolerances, but also nutritional content. One has to only step into the supermarket bread isle of a health food store to be faced with a growing array of gluten free breads. In a lot of ways this is fabulous, as we have so much more choice now. Gone are the days where you could only hunt down a loaf of gluten free bread in health food stores.
I can recall my old housemate who was the first person I ever met following a gluten free diet back in the mid 90's. I had never heard of this thing called 'gluten'. All I knew was that he used really expensive pieces of small bread that tasted like cardboard for his cheese toasties. Today however we have an abundance of options, yet with the abundance comes confusion. Which are the best brands to buy? Which ones are nutritious and which ones are just plain junk (breads filled with white flours parading as ‘healthy gluten free’ alternatives).
Here’s my list of what’s commonly available not only in Brisbane, but also interstate in most main chain supermarkets and health food stores, along with a breakdown of how they saddle up against each other:
We recently had Naturis feature on our menu at our JCN Food Intolerance Friendly Italian Feast. Naturis does a buckwheat bread, corn bread, fruit and nut bread, rice and sultana bread and brown rice bread within their gluten free range.
Ingredients: I really like Naturis as they use organic wholegrain flours, which are naturally leavened. Other than the flours the remaining ingredients are just organic oils, salt and water. There are no added thickening agents, rising agents, sugar, yeast or dairy products.
Nutrition: The buckwheat loaf is a favourite nutritionally as it is very low in naturally occurring sugars, high in protein and complex carbohydrates. Naturis has around 1.5 grams of fiber per slice. Naturis is such a wonderful option for multiple food reactivities.
Texture & taste: Naturis is quite dense. I would not recommend using it to make a sandwich as such. Personally I prefer it toasted or warmed and drizzled with olive oil or smeared with avocado.
Available: Naturis in available in health food stores or can be bought on line.
Sol Bread also featured at our Italian Feast last year. Sol Bread is native to Brisbane and has really built a reputation on its delicious sourdoughs. Sol Breads have expanded their gluten free range over the years. They now have brown rice & chia loaf, mega-grain loaf, quinoa loaf, pumpkin & rice loaf and a fruit loaf.
Ingredients: Sol Breads uses their own sourdough culture for rise, which means their breads are free from yeast and dairy. Sol Breads do use some guar gum as a binding agent, which is quite common in gluten free baking and generally not problematic for those with intolerances. The majority of their gluten free breads are rice flour based.
Nutrition: A slice of Sol Bread is very low in naturally occurring sugars, only 0.8 grams per slice. Their brown rice & chia bread has a great 4.5 grams of fiber per slice and around 2.5 grams of protein. I really like this bread as a wholefood choice.
Available: Sol Bread is found in health food stores, online and also in their own bakery is West End Brisbane.
Texture and taste: Sol Bread’s is best toasted, as it is quite dense. Majority of my clients prefer it this way as opposed to eaten fresh. It has a sourdough flavour, which I personally like but may not be to everyone’s liking.
Britt’s Organics also sourdough based gluten free breads using a sourdough starter base. The have a multigrain rice bread, sunflower rice bread, pumpkin fruit bread, pumpkin rice bread, rice bread and wholegrain bread. Britt’s breads are GMO free and dairy free.
Ingredients: Britt’s breads are generally based on white rice flour and tapioca flour, meaning they will not contain as much fiber as some of the wholegrain options found in say Naturis. In saying this they do boost the breads with some added rice bran. There is no added dairy or yeast in Britt’s.
Nutrition: Britts multigrain is very low in naturally occurring sugars with only 0.5 grams per slice. It has a fiber content of close to 3 grams per slice and is high in complex carbohydrates.
Available: Britt’s is available in health food stores or can be bought on line.
Texture & taste: I find Britt's bread a little lighter and less dense than the above options. This is of course due to the more refined flours utilised creating less density. I personally like Britt's fresh and find that it can be used as sandwich bread.
Dovedale gluten free breads are made in Australia and New Zealand. The loaves are a lot smaller than the aforementioned brands, more on par with Naturis in size. Dovedale breads are organic and free from bakers yeast, using leaven fermentation for development and rise. Their gluten free range includes rice chia bread, fruit, chia grain bread and multiseed chia bread.
Ingredients: Dovedale gluten free breads are made on a mix of white and brown rice flour, water, rice starch, chia seeds for binding and vegetable gum (guar gum). Their chia grain bread contains egg white, which should be noted for those with an egg intolerance. The multiseed chia bread also contains low milk fat solids therefore rendering it unsuitable for dairy intolerances.
Nutrition: The mix of flours and starch in Dovedale bread means that it's not too refined overall and retains some of the natural fibers present in brown rice. Dovedale bread is low in naturally occuring sugars and a has a good source of fibre.
Available: Dovedale breads are available in health food stores and some supermarkets in Victoria. Orders can also be placed on line through their website.
Texture & taste: Dovedale bread is again quite dense. I have used it as sandwich bread, but personally I think it works better toasted like many of the breads already mentioned here. The added chia gives it more texture too, which is nice.
Healthy Bake offers a range of gluten free breads in their range. They have their Organic Gluten Free range including classic white, five seed and fruit & spice bread. They also do a range called Normal Life with a multigrain, tomato and basil and a olive and herb loaf.
Ingredients: The Organic Gluten Free range is made on brown rice flour, tapioca and potato starch, making it a little high in refined carbohydrates than the above brands. This range also includes baker’s yeast and soy flour, which may be problematic for some with digestive issues and food intolerances.
Nutrition: The Normal Life range is made on a base of tapioca, maize and rice flour which does not provide much quality fiber. This range also includes soy flour, non-fat milk solids (diary) which again may be problematic for people with food intolerances. There are also quite a few added thickening agents and a food acid added to this range.
Available: Healthy Bake is generally found in health food stores.
Texture & Taste: Personally I have not tried the Normal Life range, but I imagine it is more traditionally ‘bread like’. The Organic Gluten Free range is okay, its quite spongy and light like a white bread due to the simple carbohydrate nature of the gluten free flours.
Country Life is a common bread now found in supermarkets available to more of a wider market. The range offers gluten free only, and also gluten & dairy free options.
Ingredients: This bread range is made on tapioca starch, rice flour, maize starch, mixed grains (corn & quinoa), vegetable oil, egg white, soy flour, psyllium, yeast, guar gum and hydroxypropylmethylcellulose (a form of cellulose commercially prepared from wood then chemically modified)
Nutrition: This bread contains minimal fiber as the flours used to make it are more refined or from low fiber sources. One slice is around 0.75 grams of fiber. The sugar content is also higher than the above breads at just under 3 grams per serve. It is also a bread that contains other common reactants such as egg, soy and yeast so for those dealing with intolerances you may need to avoid this bread.
Available: Country Life gluten free bread is available from most supermarkets.
Texture & Taste: As this bread is low in fiber it is quite spongy and light, which a lot of people like as an alternative to more denser gluten free breads. It holds together well and can be used as sandwich bread.
Helga's gluten free bread is very similar to Country Life brand. There are quite a few varieties within the range including wholemeal, sunflower & red quinoa, soy and linseed and 5 seeds.
Ingredients: Helga's gluten free bread contains tapioca starch, rice flour, maize starch, sunflower seeds, quinoa, linseed, vegetable oil, sugar, soy flour, egg white, salt, psyllium flour, yeast, propionic acid (preservative), hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose and vegetable gum.
Nutrition: It does contain some added quinoa and linseeds, which provide some roughage, though the fiber content is still, not super high, around 1.5 grams per slice. Helga's does contain egg, soy and yeast for those with multiple food reactivates.
Available: Helga's gluten free bread is available for most major supermarkets.
Texture & Taste: Helga's is similar to Country Life in its lightness and fluffiness. It can be used rather well as sandwich bread and may be a good choice for fussy eaters.
Burgen gluten free bread has three breads in their range. Gluten free white, gluten free soy & linseed and gluten free sunflower and chia seeds.
Ingredients: Burgen contains modified tapioca starch, rice flour, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, linseeds, canola oil, sugar, soy flour, egg white, salt, yeast, vinegar and vegetable gums. Some of these ingredients may be problematic for food intolerances such as egg and soy.
Nutrition: The fiber is a slice of Burgen is similar to Helga's, around 1.5 grams per serve. One slice of Burgen has a bit over 2.5 grams of sugar which is quite a difference compared to some of the bread options above. Obviously with these higher sugar breads it depends on the frequency of their intake in regards to how adverse they may be as a bread choice in your diet.
Available: Burgen breads are available from most supermarkets.
Texture & Taste: Burgen bread is quite soft and fluffy which is obviously appealing when you are after a bread that replicates a 'normal' bread loaf. It can be used for toasting and for sandwiches.
Zehnder bread is made locally here in Queensland on the Sunshine Coast. Their range is exclusively gluten free and quite diverse. Each loaf differs in the additional intolerances it caters for ranging from purely just gluten free through to dairy, yeast, egg and soy free. Their rice bread is one of their most popular sellers as it is a very low reactive bread and maintains a light texture.
Ingredients: Majority of Zehnder breads are made with rice flour, modified tapioca starch, rice bran, canola oil, bicarb soda and glucona delta-lactone (raising agents), wholegrain maize flour, sugar, salt, flaxseed and thickeners such as guar gum and xanthan gum. Quite a few loaves have added soy flour too.
Nutrition: Zehner breads are not as rich in fiber as some of the other breads listed above as they have a refined gluten free flour base. The sugar content is quite low at around 0.5 grams per slice, even though sugar is added to the bread itself. Zehnder is a great option for food intolerances and often a useful bread for kids due to its texture.
Available: Zehnder is available from most health food stores throughout Brisbane and is also found in IGA supermarkets in the freezer section.
Texture & Taste: Zehnder breads are quite light and soft making them highly popular with fussy eaters and children. They can be used as sandwich breads and eaten toasted.
Schar bread range includes an artisan multigrain, artisan bakers white & deli style bread.
Ingredients: The multigrain bread is made from rice starch, sourdough culture with a rice flour base, corn starch, agave syrup, buckwheat flour, sunflower oil, soy protein, modified cellulose, psyllium seed husk, flaxseeds, guar gum, apple fiber, yeast, millet flour, sunflower seeds, apple juice concentrate, sugar, quinoa flour, salt and honey.
Nutrition: This bread is a great choice for low reactive bread, however it does contain quite a few added sugars such as agave, apple juice concentrate and honey. In saying this however the sugar content per slice is still quite low coming in at around 0.5 grams per slice. Fiber content is approximately 2 grams per serve. This bread is not as protein rich as some of the breads listed at the top made from wholegrain bases.
Available: This bread is available from IGA supermarkets.
Texture & Taste: Schar bread is quite light in texture making it quite popular as an everyday eating bread. My fellow nutritionist at the JCN Clinic Carissa swears by it and thinks it is the closest thing to 'normal bread' that she has tasted.