Being healthy isn’t just about doing wall ball 300 times until you feel like ralphing (though that helps). Fueling the machine is important too. There’s all sorts of diet this and paleo that and beaches (mostly in the south), but really the basics of solid nutrition come down to reducing intake of foods that are processed all to hell, full of sugars, salt and preservatives.
However, most of us really love bread. I mean, come on, that’s the big one, the thing that kills a lot of people’s attempts at healthy eating. I know I love me some bread. But apparently, I might also be highly sensitive to sodium. So much so that it might be what is causing my blood pressure to spike up so high. And although you wouldn’t think it, a lot of the bread you buy in the store is ridiculously full of sodium (and sugar, and processed flour, and all sort of other junk… but I digress). Boo.
But then there’s Food For Life’s Ezekiel 4:9. No, not the biblical verse, though that’s where the inspiration for this bread came from. In that verse, it is written “And you, take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and emmer, and put them into a single vessel and make your bread from them.” As it turns out, that’s actually a pretty darn solid recipe for making healthy and delicious bread. But “Food For Life” took it a step further.
Essentially what this company did was make a “live grain” sprouted bread with no flour in it, making it a low glycemic index food. It is also a source of complete protein, including all 9 “essential” amino acids, Vitamin C, Vitamin B and of course fiber. They left out sugar, they left out most salt. Basically they left out anything that wasn’t a whole, wholesome food. You’re probably thinking “I’ve never seen that on my grocery store’s bread aisle”. And you’re right, because it would spoil very quickly there, there’s no preservatives in it. That’s why they keep it in the freezer section. Even my local Target store has it.
There’s two different types of the 4:9 that I’ve tried (and several I need to), a slightly sweeter cinnamon raisin and a sprouted whole grain, which is more like your standard multi-grain style bread.
The first thing to note is that you’ll be storing these in your freezer. You could potentially use your fridge, but it really does spoil quickly, so the freezer works better (make sure you really seal the package up well to prevent freezer burn). This means, of course, that just pulling out a slice to eat doesn’t work, you’ll need to toast it. Luckily the bread toasts very well, browning and creating a nice golden crust in my toaster oven in just a minute or so.
Both breads are very dense, but have a good chew. Usually flourless breads (in my experience) tend to crumble or have a weird texture, The 4:9 breads have a texture very much like a multi-grain style bread, and especially like other so-called “sprouted” breads.
Flavor is often another complaint, and here you will have to judge for yourself. I find that the breads taste enough like bread to satisfy my craving, and that’s plenty for me. The raisin especially is very good, and I often will spread an organic peanut butter or almond butter on it, which results in an almost dessert like meal, especially if you add on some dried fruit or banana slices. Mmmm.
The “standard” version works well in sandwiches and actually seems to have a bit more “structure” than the raisin version (most likely since it doesn’t have all those raisins!). Once toasted it held together nicely as I spread avocado across it, and did just fine as I piled veggies high on it and cut it in half.
Basically if you like bread but want to stay healthy (especially in terms of sodium and sugar) you only have a few choices. Buy it from a local baker you trust, bake it yourself or buy Ezekiel 4:9. I have 2 loaves in my fridge at all times.
(By the way, I want to thank Scott Jurek, the amazing Ultra Runner, author and all around awesome guy, for writing about this bread in his book Eat & Run. I highly recommend it for anyone looking at vegan or vegetarian cooking for athletes.)