The Secret to Healthier Bread: The Benefits of Sourdough

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Vegan pesto and porridge sourdough bread Bellbird Bakery

Hello there! I’m Jackie. You’ll most likely have been served by me if you visit our Riverside Market stall on the weekend. As it happens, I’m also a qualified nutritionist! 😊

Today, we are diving into the fascinating world of sourdough bread. Sourdough isn’t just a delicious type of bread; it’s also a powerful nutritional choice that our ancestors have enjoyed for centuries. Let’s uncover the incredible health benefits of this ancient bread and why making the switch from store-bought loaves is a fantastic idea for your well-being.


A glimpse into history

Sourdough breadmaking is believed to have originated around 3700 BC in ancient Egypt. This technique spread across Europe and eventually worldwide. It was the norm in breadmaking until the Industrial Revolution when, due to increased demand and advancements in technology, manufacturers started to develop quicker, more scalable techniques. With the advent of refined flours and commercial yeast, baking became more predictable, easier, faster and cheaper, but it affected the nutritional and sensory qualities of the finished product.


The growing interest in sourdough we are witnessing today is a testament to the enduring, simple and powerful combination of just three basic ingredients: flour, water and salt.

The flour matters

Let’s start with the flour, shall we? The flour used in sourdough is often whole grain, which means it includes all parts of the grain – the bran, germ and endosperm. Unlike refined flours, whole grain flours retain essential nutrients and fibre, making your bread not only flavourful but also incredibly nutritious. The whole wheat flour we use at Bellbird is whole grain.

The power of wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria

Sourdough relies on wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria for its leavening. These natural components work together to create the distinct flavours and health benefits of sourdough.

  • Wild yeast – Wild yeast is a natural microorganism present in our environment. In sourdough bread, it serves as the leavening agent. When combined with water and flour and given enough time, wild yeast breaks down complex carbohydrates into simpler sugars. This process makes the bread rise and, importantly, results in a more digestible final product.
  • Lactic acid – Lactic acid bacteria, another essential element in sourdough, produces lactic acid during fermentation. This acid not only imparts the characteristic tangy flavour but also plays a crucial role in breaking down gluten, further enhancing digestibility.

Unlocking nutrients and improving digestibility

One of the key advantages of sourdough is that it makes the nutrients in the flour more available to your body. The fermentation process breaks down phytic acid, which is an anti-nutrient that can interfere with the absorption of essential minerals like iron, zinc, and calcium. This means that the nutrients in your sourdough bread are easier for your body to absorb.

The breakdown of gluten and other compounds may reduce digestive discomfort, potentially making sourdough a better choice for those with mild gluten sensitivity, although it’s essential to remember that sourdough is not entirely gluten-free.

Making the switch

In stark contrast to supermarket bread, which is usually made with highly refined flours and loaded with additives and preservatives, sourdough is a healthier, tastier alternative. It’s not just about the incredible flavour and texture; it’s about nourishing your body with each bite. If you’re not sure what a good sourdough looks like, here is a quick guide for what you should look for.

So, if you are looking to prioritise your health while indulging your taste buds, consider switching to sourdough. You can find a few different types at our bakery or try your hand at crafting your own. While the process may take a bit more time, the rewards for your well-being are absolutely worth it.

And remember: like any food, moderation is key πŸ˜‰


Bonus recipe: Nut-free, Vegan Pesto

To make snacking on your sourdough even more delicious and nutrient-packed, our prep chefs are sharing this simple nut free, vegan pesto recipe.

Ingredients

  • 150-200g of fresh flat leaf parsley, washed (can be substituted with spinach or kale)
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1⁄4 Tbsp pepper (adjust to taste)
  • 1⁄4 Tbsp salt (adjust to taste)
  • 1⁄4 cup sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil

Method

  • Place the washed parsley, lemon zest and juice, minced garlic, pepper, and salt in a food
  • processor.
  • Blend the ingredients until you achieve a smooth texture to your liking.
  • Serve and enjoy!

The pesto can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.

Vegan Pesto in mortar and pestle

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