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Whole Grain Benefits

These Women Are Making Bread Better for Everyone



Whenever the word “woman” or “female” is used as a prefix, you can cue the arched eyebrows and weary eye rolls from millions of women. Female judge, female engineer, female chef — why should a job description need gender specification?

To those who say it’s a way of making up for lack of representation: We need to work harder at creating equal opportunities so that women don’t need pink fences to mark our space.

Yet here I am, writing about the women of bread. But I do this to bring attention to an exciting movement and a specific moment in time. Historically, men have baked commercially in shops and kitchens, while women baked at home or in markets. Today, this old dynamic is being turned on its head, with women leading the charge in the business of baking.

In my personal bread journey, women have taught and inspired me in ways that diverge from the traditional nurturing matriarch narrative. My mentors are professional chefs, as well as sculptors, lawyers, chemists, and actors—a diversity of professions that’s reflected in their wide range of approaches to bread baking. Taking advantage of better working conditions (finally compatible with the pursuit of a life outside of work) and of a renaissance in the supply chain (with younger generations taking on crops and mills), these women bakers are thriving. They are opening microbakeries on farms, revolutionizing bread in restaurants, using dough in lieu of clay or paint in artwork, collecting and preserving seeds (as many women do in many agri-cultures), and baking to forge a path toward autonomy in disadvantaged areas .

The women bakers I most admire seek a complex palette of ingredients, swapping common for ancient wheat, rye, oats, barley, and corn. They honor the tradition of unleavened and naturally leavened breads, whether it’s with sourdough-style country loaves or with flatbreads. Preserving or innovating on the lineage of regional recipes is a given for them. Bread entrepreneurship is their way to pursue a more sustainable food system, a tool for social activism and personal expression.

Beyond their affinity for dough, they share a code, a healthy indifference toward competitiveness and braggadocio. Muscle-flexing about the technicalities of the process is not their style, though they sure know those technicalities well. Reverse engineering the process is more of a male obsession that has dominated the bread movement in the past few years; There’s a reason why Silicon Valley is home to a big contingent of “sourdough bros” and why science-driven tomes like the Modernist Bread collection are authored mostly by men. (Anecdotally, whenever I post a photo of my ciabatta on Instagram, at least a couple of men slide into my DMs asking me, “H2O%?”, something women never do.) I think we are more interested in delivering flavor, nutrients , and culture than in showing off.

Take, for example, Vanessa Kimbell, founder of The Sourdough School in Northampton, United Kingdom, who is on a mission to prove the benefits of a long fermentation of whole wheat on gut microbiome health. Equally obsessed with stone-ground milling and rich-flavored pain au levain baked in wood-fired ovens is Apollonia Poilâne, gallerist, baker, and CEO of the famous Parisian boulangerie. She took over the family business at 18 while studying at Harvard, following the tragic loss of her parents. Belgium, too, has its queen of wood-fired baking: Sarah Lemke of De Superette, in Ghent, the bakery and restaurant opened by chef Kobe Desramaults.

Italy has the world’s highest number of landrace and heirloom varieties of wheat (heirloom grains are consistently selected by farmers or agronomists and are a few hundred years old; ancient grains like einkorn have been grown for 30,000 years), not to mention evolutionary populations (thousands of old and new varieties of wheat sown in the same field), and almost all artisan bakers incorporate these deeply aromatic flours in their loaves. Two are former chemists, Aurora Zancanaro, of Le Polveri, a microbakery in Milan, and Lorenza Roiati, of L’Assalto ai Forni, in Ascoli Piceno, a historic town in Le Marche, a region known for its grain. Rural life also becomes Louise Bannon, a Ballymaloe Cookery School trainee, who’s made bread for Noma Australia and in the Pyrenees mountains (with heirloom wheat grown by Andy Cato of the band Groove Armada). She has opened Tír Bakery on a farm in northwest Denmark, where she bakes with grains freshly milled a few feet away from where they were harvested.

Pam Yung, formerly of Semilla, in Brooklyn, split the last months of 2021 between her role as head chef of James Lowe’s Flor wine bar and bakery, in London, and a residency at Dan Barber’s Stone Barns, in upstate New York. Even pre-Tartine, California was making sourdough cool, with the bakeries opened by Nancy Silverton and Alice Waters. Today, the Golden State is home to a strong base of cottage bakeries and independent shops owned by women, places like Wayfarer Bread, in San Diego, which Crystal White crowdfunded on Kickstarter after a successful string of pop-ups, or Proof Bakery in Atwater Village, Los Angeles, started by Korean-born Na Young Ma and currently run as a co-op by her employees—proof that small can be not just beautiful but also meaningful, serving the local community, one bread roll at a time.

The most political is Lexie Smith, Queens-based artist and model behind the project Bread on Earth; through her haunting ancestral breads, she brazenly initiates conversations on money, religion, conflict, and sex. The youngest is Kitty Tait, 17-year-old baker of The Orange Bakery, in Oxfordshire. In Mexico, there’s a mother-daughter duo, Patricia Rangel and Breana Bauman, of Breana’s Toast. Rangel, a single mother of two, chose to focus on gourmet pan crocante for its longer shelf life, knowing she wouldn’t have to make it every morning, and used her skills as an industrial designer to create the production line, based in Guadalajara .

As much as we should all celebrate the artistry and vision of these women, we must also remember that not all women have the freedom to run businesses, especially in regions lacking political and economic stability. That’s why I’m thankful for projects like Mavia Bakery, a social enterprise in Beirut, Lebanon, that was started by baker Brant Stewart, is run by women, and trains Syrian refugees; or The Women’s Bakery, which was founded in Rwanda by Peace Corps volunteer Markey Culver and prepares vulnerable women to manage bakeries in their communities (much like Jessamyn Rodriguez, who has been empowering immigrants and women of color through bread with Hot Bread Kitchen, her NYC non-profit). In these pages, you’ll meet other exciting bakers, ideas, and attitudes. Seek them out and support them; try their recipes (starting on p. 88). The world is a richer place thanks to what they do.

From social activists and Mexican matriarchs to performance artists, these are some of the world’s most exciting bread bakers.

“Sometimes I feel like my brain is fermenting!” says computer scientist-turned-baker Nataša Djuric. Head baker at Hiša Franko in Slovenia (a F&W World’s Best Restaurant), she alone makes all the breads, crackers, and pastries, carefully flavor-matching them to the restaurant’s tasting menu.

Elvia Leon Hernandez makes 90 pounds of fresh masa every day with white corn from two farms in Oaxaca. “It tastes and smells like milpa [the cornfield]like maíz farmed organically from seeds planted with our feet,” she says. For 20 years she’s served tortillas, tamales, and memelas to the neighborhood from her comal in San Juan Bautista la Raya. In 2018, with her son Jorge, a chef trained at Enrique Olvera’s Pujol in Mexico City, she opened Alfonsina (also a F&W World’s Best Restaurant!).

Originally from Lima, Peru, Marisol Malatesta is a performance artist who runs Tilde Forno Artigiano, with her partner, Simone Conti, in the Northern Italian town of Treviglio. Dough is the medium through which she expresses herself, for instance, with the “cracker mask” project, reproducing human emotions and faces in cracker form.

What’s a Korean American pastry chef who has worked at Per Se, Noma, and Mirabelle doing in Piedmont? The answer is Rantan, a micro-farm with chef’s table that Carol Choi co-owns with her husband, chef Francesco Scarrone, where her deeply aromatic sourdough made with Italian heritage flours accompanies a menu inspired by her and Scarrone’s roots.

Roxana Jullapat has a journalism degree and a love for the “mother grains” like barley, buckwheat, corn, oats, rice, rye, sorghum, and wheat. They’re the backbone of her menu at Friends & Family, the bakery/restaurant she co-owns in her native Los Angeles. Mother Grains is also the title of her first cookbook (Norton 2021).

In a small village of the Central African Republic, Yvette Abaka founded the all-female “boulangerie communautaire,” part of a larger EU project on wildlife conservation and community outreach, an inspiring example of women empowerment in one of the most politically unstable pockets of Africa.

After studying French literature, Pelin Ugur Akun opened a travel agency and then a bakery thanks to a state-run program to encourage women entrepreneurs. At Pelin’in Ekmeği in Istanbul, “we combine Turkish and Western influences. Our Tartine-style loaf is made with a sourdough starter, our village loaf with a portion of dough reserved from the previous day, as they’ve done in Anatolia since the dawn of bread,” she explains.

Ancient: Wild einkorn was grown around 30,000 years ago, which is why, from an evolutionary standpoint, bread wheat is “young” at just 8,000 years old.

Landrace and heirloom (or heritage): Collectively known as “old varieties” and refer to grains selected by the consistent work of the farmer in a specific environment (landrace), or by agronomists (e.g. White Sonora, in the US) Mostly, they ‘re no more than a few hundred years old. All these wheats are packed with antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients, and their gluten is weaker. Flavor-wise, they reflect the peculiarities of their terroirs, just like grapes. In fact, some bakers can identify them just by smelling them.

Why paint in black and white when you can access a rainbow? Choose stone-milled organic-grown grains that deliver maximum nutrients and flavor and support small, local productions. They are more expensive, yet as Sarah Owens says: “We are at a critical moment in time where change is inevitable, but growth is optional. Every dollar we spend is a vote to initiate more positive change.” You can find these flours in select supermarkets, specialty stores, or online, purchasing directly from the producers. A few to look out for: Anson Mills, Arrowhead Mills, Bob’s Red Mill, Cairnspring Mills, Capay Mills, Grist & Toll, Hayden Flour Mills, and King Arthur. Sicily-based Molini del Ponte exports some old varieties of durum wheat flour to the US through Gustiamo.


Whole Grain Benefits

For the 55-and-over crowd, March 27-April 3, 2022 | Local News



For information about services available to older adults, contact Pam Jacobsen, director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and Helen Mary Stevick Senior Citizens Center, 2102 Windsor Place, C, at 217-359-6500.

RSVP and the Stevick Center are administered by Family Service of Champaign County.


  • Active Senior Republicans in Champaign County’s monthly meeting will be held at 9:30 am on April 4 in the Robeson Pavilion Room A & B at the Champaign Public Library. This month’s speakers will be Jesse Reising, Regan Deering and Matt Hausman, Republican primary candidates for the newly redrawn 13th Congressional District.
  • Parkland Theater House needs four ushers each night for “The SpongeBob Musical,” opening April 14. There will be nine shows in total — April 14-16, April 22-24 and April 29-May 1. For details, call or email Michael Atherton, Parkland Theater House Manager, or 217-373-3874.
  • Parkland College also needs four volunteers for commencement. The commencement ceremony will be in person at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at 8 pm May 12. Volunteers needed from 6:30 to 8 pm For details, contact Tracy Kleparski, Director of Student Life, at or 217- 351-2206.
  • The Milford High School National Honor Society and Student Council is hosting a Senior Citizens Banquet at 6 pm April 22. The event will be held in the MAPS #124 Gymnasium (park at south doors at Milford High School. To RSVP, call Sandy Potter at 815-471-4213.


Knit or crochet for those in need:

Meditative Movement with Yoga:

  • 9 to 10:15 am Tuesdays and Thursdays.


  • 11 am to noon, second and fourth Tuesdays. Call 217-359-6500.


  • Noon to 3 pm Thursdays.


Card game 13:

  • To sign up to play, call 217-359-6500 and ask for Debbie.

Men’s group:

  • 9 am Monday-Friday. Join us for a cup of coffee and great conversation.


The Peace Meal Nutrition Program provides daily hot lunches at 11:30 am for a small donation and a one-day advance reservation at sites in Champaign, Urbana, Rantoul, Sidney (home delivery only), Mahomet (home delivery only) and Homer.

For reservations, call 800-543-1770. Reservations for Monday need to be made by noon Friday.

NOTE: There is no change for home deliveries, but at congregate sites, you can get a carry-out meal.


  • BBQ pork sandwich, mini potato bakers, corn, creamy cole slaw, bun.


  • Turkey pot roast with carrots and celery, Italian green beans, pineapple, whole grain roll.


  • Savory sausage stew, broccoli, chunky apple sauce, biscuit, surprise dessert.


  • Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and brown gravy, tomatoes and zucchini, apricots, whole-grain roll.


  • Chef’s choice — regional favorites will be served.


If you are 55 and older and want to volunteer in your community, RSVP (funded by AmeriCorps Seniors and the Illinois Department on Aging) provides a unique link to local nonprofits needing help. We offer support, benefits and a safe connection to partner sites.

Contact Pam Jacobsen at or 217-359-6500.


Senior Volunteers.

  • RSVP of Champaign, Douglas and Piatt counties/AmeriCorps Senior Volunteers is your link to over 100 nonprofit organizations. Please contact Pam Jacobsen at or call 217-359-6500 for volunteer information.

Food for seniors. Handlers needed to unload boxes of food for repackaging at 7 am on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. We are looking for backup delivery drivers to deliver food to seniors. Contact Robbie Edwards at 217-359-6500 for info.

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Whole Grain Benefits

The future of nutrition advice



By Lisa Drayer, CNN

(CNN) — Most of us know we should eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

So why would the National Institutes of Health spend $150 million to answer questions such as “What and when should we eat?” and “How can we improve the use of food as medicine?”

The answer may be precision nutrition, which aims to understand the health effects of the complex interplay among genetics, our microbiome (the bacteria living in our gut), our diet and level of physical activity, and other social and behavioral characteristics.

That means that everyone could have their own unique set of nutritional requirements.

How is that possible? I asked three experts who conduct precision nutrition research: Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology and chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, and Martha Field and Angela Poole, both assistant professors in the division of nutritional sciences at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology.

Below is an edited version of our conversation.

CNN: How is precision nutrition different from current nutrition advice?

dr Frank Hu: The idea of ​​precision nutrition is to have the right food, at the right amount, for the right person. Instead of providing general dietary recommendations for everyone, this precision approach tailors nutrition recommendations to individual characteristics, including one’s genetic background, microbiome, social and environmental factors, and more. This can help achieve better health outcomes.

CNN: Why is there no one-size-fits-all prescription when it comes to what we should be eating?

Huh: Not everyone responds to the same diet in the same way. For example, given the same weight-loss diet, some people can lose a lot of weight; other people may gain weight. A recent study in JAMA randomized a few hundred overweight individuals to a healthy low-carb or low-fat diet. After a year, there was almost an identical amount of weight loss for the two groups, but there was a huge variation between individuals within each group — some lost 20 pounds. Others gained 10 pounds.

Martha Field: Individuals have unique responses to diet, and the “fine adjust” of precision nutrition is understanding those responses. This means understanding interactions among genetics, individual differences in metabolism, and responses to exercise.

CNN: How do we eat based on precision nutrition principles now?

Huh: There are some examples of personalized diets for disease management, like a gluten-free diet for the management of celiac disease, or a lactose-free diet if you are lactose intolerant. For individuals with a condition known as PKU (phenylketonuria), they should consume (a) phenylalanine-free diet. It’s a rare condition but a classic example of how your genes can influence what type of diets you should consume.

Angela Poole: If I had a family history of high cholesterol, diabetes or colon cancer, I would increase my dietary fiber intake, eating a lot of different sources, including a variety of vegetables.

fields: If you have high blood pressure, you should be more conscious of sodium intake. Anyone with a malabsorption issue might have a need for higher levels of micronutrients such as B vitamins and some minerals.

CNN: There is research showing that people metabolize coffee differently. What are the implications here?

Huh: Some people carry fast caffeine-metabolizing genes; others carry slow genes. If you carry fast (metabolizing) genotypes, you can drink a lot of caffeinated coffee because caffeine is broken down quickly. If you are a slow metabolizer, you get jittery and may not be able to sleep if you drink coffee in the afternoon. If that’s the case, you can drink decaf coffee and still get the benefits of coffee’s polyphenols, which are associated with decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes without the effects of caffeine.

CNN: How much of a role do our individual genes play in our risk of disease? And can our behavior mitigate our disease risk?

Huh: Our health is affected by both genes and diets, which constantly interact with each other because certain dietary factors can turn on or off some disease-related genes. We published research showing that reducing consumption of sugary beverages can offset the negative effects of obesity genes. That’s really good news. Our genes are not our destiny.

Another area of ​​precision nutrition is to measure blood or urine metabolites, small molecules produced during the breakdown and ingestion of food. For example, having a higher concentration of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) strongly predicts one’s future risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The blood levels of BCAAs depend on individuals’ diet, genes and gut microbiome. We found that eating a healthy (Mediterranean-style) diet can mitigate harmful effects of BCAAs on cardiovascular disease. So measuring BCAAs in your blood may help to evaluate your risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease and encourage dietary changes that can lower the risk of chronic diseases down the road.

fields: The environmental effects can sometimes be on the same magnitude as the genetic effects with respect to risk for disease.

CNN: Our individual microbiomes may be able to dictate what type of diet we should be consuming. Can you tell us about this emerging research? And what do you think of microbiome tests?

Poole: Research has shown that in some people, their blood sugar will spike higher from eating bananas than from eating cookies, and this has been associated with microbiome composition. Scientists have used microbiome data to build algorithms that can predict an individual’s glucose response, and this is a major advance. But that’s not an excuse for me to shovel down cookies instead of bananas. Likewise, if the algorithm suggests eating white bread instead of whole-wheat bread due to blood glucose responses, I wouldn’t just eat white bread all the time.

At the moment, I’m not ready to spend a lot of money to see what’s in my gut microbiome… and the microbiome changes over time.

Huh: Microbiome tests are not cheap, and the promise that this test can help develop a personalized meal plan that can improve blood sugar and blood cholesterol … at this point, the data are not conclusive.

CNN: How will nutrition advice be different 10 years from now?

Poole: I think you will receive a custom-tailored grocery list on an app — foods that you want to buy and foods that you want to avoid, based on your blood sugar responses to foods, your level of physical activity and more.

Huh: We will have more and better biomarkers and more affordable and accurate nutrigenomics and microbiome tests as well as better computer algorithms that predict your response to food intakes.

But these technologies cannot substitute general nutrition principles such as limiting sodium and added sugar and eating more healthy plant foods. In a few years, you may be able to get a more useful response from Alexa if you ask her what you should eat — but like other answers from Alexa, you’ll have to take it with a grain of salt.

The CNN Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Whole Grain Benefits

Are Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches Healthy?



In order to assess its nutritional value, first we must discuss the breakdown of this sandwich.

Typically, there are three main ingredients — bread, peanut butter, and jelly — each with different nutritional values.

Nutritional value of bread

Bread can be a part of a balanced diet. The nutritional value of bread depends on the type chosen.

For starters, whole-grain bread is the best option because it provides a higher amount of nutrients. Whole grain kernels have three parts: the bran, endosperm, and germ (1).

Because whole grain bread retains all three parts, it’s higher in protein and fiber compared with other breads. These nutrients slow the absorption of sugar into your blood stream and keep you full longer (2, 3).

Whole grain bread is also richer in key nutrients, like B vitamins, iron, folate, and magnesium. Look for the word “whole” as part of the first ingredient in bread’s nutritional label (2).

Choosing sprouted grain bread, like Ezekiel bread, is also an excellent choice. The sprouting process increases digestibility and bioavailability of nutrients. Studies show sprouted bread has more fiber, vitamin E, and vitamin C, and beta-glucan (4).

Sourdough bread is fine, too. Although it’s not as high in fiber and protein, it has a lower glycemic index than white bread.

Glycemic index measures how quickly food increases blood sugars. In general, foods with a lower glycemic index better support your overall health.

But keep in mind that glycemic index doesn’t tell the whole story. We must look at the meal as a whole — for example, what we add to the bread. Nutrients, like protein and fats, can help lower the overall glycemic load of a meal, and serving sizes also play a role (5).

As a guideline, look for whole grain breads that offer at least 2 grams of fiber per slice. We also suggest using bread that contains 3 grams of protein or more per slice.

If that’s not available, sourdough bread may be your next best option.


Choose breads that are higher in fiber and protein, like whole grain bread or sprouted grain bread. These varieties help slow absorption of sugars and keep you full longer.

Nutritional value of peanut butter

Many people find peanut butter delicious.

Nutritionally, it also delivers. Peanut butter is a good source of protein and healthy fats, important for all stages of life, especially growing children. Plus, it’s a good source of fiber.

Two tablespoons (32 grams) of smooth peanut butter contain 7 grams of protein, 16 grams of fats, and 2 grams of fiber (6).

Importantly, the majority of fats in peanut butter are unsaturated fats. Research consistently indicates that replacing saturated fats found in animal products with more unsaturated fats (like those in peanut butter) may lower cholesterol and improve heart health (7, 8).

For growing kids, healthy fats are vital for healthy development. Plus, fats help absorb the vitamins A, D, E, and K, all of which play a synergistic role in supporting immune and brain health (9, 10).

Contrary to popular belief, conventional peanut butter doesn’t usually have more sugar than 100% natural peanut butter. However, it may have more salt (6).

When shopping, check the nutrition labels to ensure it doesn’t contain additional ingredients other than peanuts.

When enjoying natural peanut butter, the oil will separate from the peanut butter. Not to fret — just give it a good stir! This helps mix the oils with the solids.

Pro tip: You can store peanut butter upside down in the fridge to keep it from separating again!


When available, choose 100% natural peanut butter, as it’s lower in salt. Remember to stir the peanut butter before eating to mix the oils with the solids.

Nutritional value of jelly

The PB&J sandwich isn’t complete without jelly or jam. What’s the difference, anyway?

Well, while jellies and jams have similar nutritional value and taste, there’s a slight difference: Jellies are made with fruit juice, while jam is made with the fruit juice and pulp (7).

Both jellies and jams contain pectin (artificially added to jelly), which has prebiotic effects that may improve gut health (8).

However, both are naturally high in sugar, so enjoy them in moderation. To have more say in the ingredients used, you can try making your jelly at home.

If you’re buying from a store, look for jellies with no added sugar in the ingredients list. Alternative names for added sugars include glucose, sucrose, dextrose, and fructose.


Jellies are high in natural sugars and contain pectins that may have a beneficial effect in promoting good health. Try to choose jellies with no added sugars.

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