I have to admit that figuring out how to read labels on whole grain products is a daunting task. Usually, whenever a product contains the word “white” it is not whole grain. Whole grain white bread generally begins with bleached, enriched, refined flour, and fibers are added in later to make the product “healthier”. A few years ago I discovered an amazing product I consider to be the holy grail of baking: White Whole Wheat Flour.
It turns out that there are two types of wheat; red and white. Typically, we consume the red version which naturally contains pigmentation that gives a slightly bitter or astringent flavor. It is more readily available, and the red wheat is commonly processed to become what we know to be all-purpose white flour. The white whole grain wheat lacks the red pigment, thus yielding a product lighter in both color and flavor, yet the nutrient content is basically the same. It is still a whole grain, but when used for baking, the end product resembles one made with traditional refined flour. What a deal! Now you can use whole grain white flour in all of your baking with no complaints from those who are not whole grain fans! If you are curious and want more info, check out this link for FAQs from the Whole Grains Council.
With the demand for whole grain products increasing, food companies are working to manufacture items that are more acceptable to the general public. This whole grain white flour is popping up in more and more products. Hint: check the label on Triscuits! Just make sure that your product contains “white whole wheat flour” instead of enriched, bleached, or wheat flour.
Based on the USDA guidelines, as least half the grains we consume should be whole grains. I vote for closer to 100%. While white breads, cookies, muffins, bagels, etc., mostly contain refined flour, we now have an easy way to add some nutrition back to our favorite recipes. The increased fiber will help temper the rise in blood sugar and hopefully increase satiety to help keep you fuller, longer. Just remember that adding whole grains does not mean fewer calories, a cookie is still a cookie.
Experiment with your new found baking ingredient. All recipes that contain whole wheat flour can be prepared with white whole wheat flour. While white whole wheat flour is now readily available, if you cannot find it in your store, look for whole wheat pastry flour. It is derived from red whole wheat, but the finer texture is more pleasing in baked goods. Happy baking!