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Prairie Fare: Don’t Judge Bread by Its Color

Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Food and Nutrition Specialist Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Food and Nutrition Specialist
Breads provide complex carbohydrates for energy, B vitamins and iron, with little fat.

[Editors: Please use this updated version of Prairie Fare. An error in the recipe has been corrected. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.]

By Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

“Mom, could you please buy some white bread?” my 11-year-old daughter asked, whispering quite loudly in my ear as I sat at a potluck dinner. She had just made a peanut butter sandwich with the white bread on the buffet line.

“Yes, we can buy some,” I replied quietly. I was trying to keep up with the conversation at the table. I don’t think my daughter believed me because she persisted.

“This white bread is so good. I love its velvety softness! We always have whole-wheat bread. Are you sure we can have some?” she prodded.

“Yes, I’ll add it to the grocery list,” I said.

“Are you sure?” my persistent offspring asked. Then she started whispering “white bread” and “velvety softness” in my ears, as though she was an advertiser sending subliminal messages.

“We just had white bread. I made homemade white buns last weekend. We had white rolls for dinner last night,” I whispered, a bit defensively. By now the other people at the table were amused at this interaction.

“Come on, Mom, buy her some white bread,” someone teased.

Yes, she will get soft, velvety white bread in addition to whole-grain bread and a variety of grains in the near future. Breads of all kinds fit in a healthy diet. Breads provide complex carbohydrates for energy, B vitamins and iron, with little fat.

Current dietary guidelines recommend that we make “half our grains whole.” For most people, that means we should consume about three 1-ounce servings of whole grains daily. A serving (or ounce equivalent) equals 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal or one-half cup cooked pasta or rice.

Whole grains are made up of all parts of the grain, including the bran, germ and endosperm (starchy part). Be a label reader, though. Don’t judge bread by its color alone. “Brown bread” is not necessarily whole grain and some “white bread” is whole grain.

While most white bread is made from hard red spring wheat, whole-grain white bread is made from hard white wheat. The hard white wheat kernel is golden in color, with a slightly sweeter flavor. When white wheat is milled to make flour, the resulting flour is lighter in color and higher in fiber compared with refined flour milled from hard red spring wheat.

To distinguish whole-grain from refined, read the ingredient label on food products. Look for whole wheat, whole grain, oatmeal or whole oats as the first item on the list. Some foods containing whole grains can carry a health claim if they meet other standards set by the Food and Drug Administration.

For more information about grain food recommendations, including a personalized nutrition plan, go to For more recipes and tips, visit the NDSU Extension Service Web site at

Fall is a great time to enjoy fresh bread and a pot of soup. Try your hand at bread making with this delicious bread recipe courtesy of the Wheat Foods Council at

Honey Wheat Bread

1/2 c. water, 110 to 115 degrees

4 1/2 tsp. yeast (2 packages)

2 c. fat-free milk

1/4 c. margarine

1/3 c. honey

1/4 c. brown sugar

2 1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 c. wheat germ, optional

2 Tbsp. wheat gluten, optional

3 c. whole-wheat flour, divided

4 to 4 1/2 cups bread flour, divided

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand 10 minutes. Warm milk to 110 to 115 degrees and then stir in the margarine, honey, brown sugar and salt. Cool to lukewarm. Add milk mixture to yeast. Add wheat germ, wheat gluten, 2 cups whole-wheat flour and 3 cups bread flour. With an electric mixer, beat for three minutes. Stir in remaining cup whole-wheat flour and additional bread flour as needed to make stiff dough. Place dough on a floured board and knead for 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Dough will be slightly sticky to the touch. Place dough in bowl coated with nonstick spray, turning once to coat the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place, but free from a draft, until doubled in size, about 75 minutes. Punch down and let dough rest for 10 minutes.

Divide dough into two portions. Shape each portion into a loaf. Using a rolling pin, roll each portion into a 9- by 14-inch rectangle. Starting at the short end, roll the dough tightly and pinch the dough to seal ends. Place loaf in a 9- by 5-inch pan coated with nonstick spray. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled, about one hour. Bake for 35 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped with fingers. To prevent a dark crust, cover the last 15 minutes. Remove from pans and brush with butter. Cool thoroughly before storing. For rolls, bake about 15 minutes or until golden.

Makes two loaves of bread or 2 1/2 dozen rolls. Each serving (1/16 of a loaf) has 144 calories, 27 grams (g) of carbohydrate, 2 g of fiber, 2 g of fat and 200 milligrams of sodium.

(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and associate professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Julie Garden-Robinson, (701) 231-7187,
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136,
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