Celebrating Squishy Sandwich Bread
I’ve come to regard my gluten intolerance as a blessing in disguise. After all, it forced me to diversify my diet in ways that have been both healthful and delicious and led me to fabulous new foods that may never have crossed my radar otherwise. My friendships with Teff, Mochi, Millet, Polenta, Buckwheat, Quinoa and Amaranth have flourished since I broke up with wheat, and we’ve spent countless happy meals together over the years. Plus, gluten intolerance keeps the bread basket from spoiling my appetite when I go out to eat… and in so doing, leaves me a couple hundred calories in my budget for a few bites of dessert. (I’d take a bite or three of Flourless Chocolate Cake or Creme Brulee over a half-stale baguette any day…) With the ever-increasing number of gluten-free products available these days–and the ever-improving quality of these products–what’s to miss?
Still, I will admit to having the *occasional* wistful moment, where a glutinous vestige of my previous life comes back to haunt me. Catching a whiff of the aroma as I pass by a pizza parlor… encountering a brunch platter of heaving, hot NYC bagels… and, much to my own surprise, encountering something as simple as an egg salad sandwich with lettuce and tomato on two pieces of squishy sandwich bread.
It turns out that I’ve really missed squishy sandwich bread. While my freezer is always stocked with acceptable gluten-free bread options (most recently, Whole Foods’ Gluten Free Bakehouse Prairie Bread and Kinnikinnick Many Wonder Multigrain Rice Bread, these breads have two major drawbacks.
- If you want them to taste good, they absolutely have to be toasted.
- They can be quite dense, and results in their having twice the number of calories per slice as a ‘normal’ piece of wheat bread. Case in point: one slice of the Gluten Free Bakehouse Prairie Bread has 150 calories, 23g of carbohydrate and 5g of fat, compared with a standard piece of wheat bread, which has about 80 calories, 15g of carbohydrate and 0-1g of fat. That’s an extra 140 calories per day if you’re having a 2-slice sandwich every day. Furthermore, the carbohydrate difference is significant if you have diabetes and are following a carbohydrate-controlled diet. (The Kinnikinnick product only has 90 calories per slice, but it still really needs to be toasted in order to taste good.)
But I dared not complain about these drawbacks for fear of being accused of wanting to have my bread… and eat it, too. So I just took sandwiches out of my regular rotation, saving that frozen bread for the very occasional grilled cheese or tuna sandwich where its toastiness would be an asset.
Then along came a man named Udi. And I am happy to report that his tasty, squishy, airy, gluten-free sandwich bread is on its way to a supermarket near you. How do I know this? Because I had the chance to sample my very own piece this past weekend at the New York Fancy Food Show, where Udi’s, previously known outside their home state of Colorado only for their best-selling (but not yet gluten-free, hint, hint…) granola, was launching a whole new line of gluten-free baked goods.
The new Udi’s GF Sandwich bread comes in two varieties: white and whole-grain. The white variety is made with tapioca starch, brown rice flour and potato starch; the whole grain version has those same flours/starches with additional teff flour and flax seed meal. Like most other GF baked goods, the breads are not particularly good sources of fiber (0.5g per slice). Nonetheless, having tasted both varieties, read the
nutrition label and spoken to the company’s CEO, I think these breads have a few things going for them:
- Taste and Texture. The Udi’s GF breads are the first ones I’m aware of that don’t need to be toasted for best flavor/texture. In fact, they suggest that you just thaw it and eat it soft. Because Udi’s has its roots as a conventional bread bakery, their standards as far as acceptable taste and texture are based on conventional, wheat breads. The breads aren’t designed to be “good enough”; they’re designed to be just plain good. As a result, the slices are airy, soft and spongy when thawed… not dense or heavy like many other GF breads.
- Calories. Each slice has a much more reasonable 70-80 calories and 11-12g of carbohydrate (depending on the variety), which is the same (or less) than a standard 1 oz slice of wheat bread. To compensate for the relatively low fiber, serve your sandwich with a side of jicama sticks or baby carrots or chase it with a cup of fresh berries.
You can check the company’s website to see where the breads are distributed; apparently, they are expected to be in wide distribution on the East Coast by the end of this year. If you live in Denver, please stop by their GF bakery to pester them to get their products distributed Jersey City, NJ as soon as possible. I’ve had a hankering for an egg salad sandwich for about 2 years now…
Update: March, 2010: Udi’s Gluten Free sandwich breads have finally arrived in my local NJ Whole Foods. Look for them in the regular BREAD aisle (remember where that is?), not the frozen foods section.Did you like this? If so, please bookmark it, RSS feed.