Sometimes I talk too much.
Ok fine. Most of the time I talk too much.
Every question you ask me is a loaded question. Rarely am I able to just give you a straight answer without giving you the full background first… complete with random side-stories you probably didn’t care to know about. My friends have come to accept this and overlook my flaw.
My husband has perfected the art of asking yes or no questions. 😉
Here’s the thing though – my friends often ask me questions because of my answer. They know they’ll not only get a thorough explanation, but they’ll get a tutorial, the why behind each step and all the random tips that pop into my head as I’m walking them through my thought process.
I feel like we’ve done a fairly good job on being thorough so far on the Candid Carbs series. Although we haven’t covered any tutorials (yet – they’re coming starting next week!), I’ve given you my insight into why refined carbohydrates should be avoided (hint: it’s the way they’re made!)… but you’re still missing those fun random tips!
So today is random tip day. Possibly the first of many random tip days, but they’ll all be helpful (or at least, comical).
5 Practical Tips to Eat Less Refined Flour
1. Don’t Buy It
A very tongue-in-cheek answer, but it’s true! If you don’t want to eat it, then don’t buy it. Buy something else instead, like whole wheat flour or whole wheat white flour. Or take an even smaller step and buy unbleached, or unbromated or unenriched. Just don’t continue to buy bleached, bromated, enriched all-purpose white flour and expect you and your family to not use it. You know as well as I do that it doesn’t work that way.
In My Kitchen: I currently have one bag of bread flour in my pantry and I opened the last bag of all-purpose flour yesterday. Both flours are unbleached. I don’t intend on replacing the all-purpose flour. Honestly, I’m not sure what I’m going to do about the bread flour yet. I may end up buying another bag as I continue to experiment on bread recipes containing whole wheat.
2. Don’t Buy Foods that Contain It
Ha – another “simple” answer! But it really is simple. Crackers, chips, snacky foods – they all contain some form of refined flour. Stop buying them! If you must have these types of items, buy the whole-grain version instead. An even better alternative would be to make the snack items yourself (homemade granola bars or trail mix anyone?) or replace them with seasonal fruits and vegetables.
In My Kitchen: I stopped buying crackers around 6-9 months ago. The only exception was for Christmas when we hosted Christmas Eve dinner and had a plate of fruit and cheese with crackers for guests. Sure, The Girl wasn’t so happy when I told her we were out of crackers, but she eventually got over it when she realized my answer wasn’t going to change. Now she asks for fruit instead. Pretzel rods are a big treat and although they’re currently in the pantry, the last time I bought them was October.
3. Don’t Eat Foods that Contain It
This is a bit trickier, but you can make significant headway with the effort of just a few brain cells. Before you take a bite of bread, bun, cracker, cookie, cake, or anything else that could have the evil refined flour, remind yourself of what it’s made of. It may sound dumb, but when you’re consciously aware of what you’re putting in your mouth, you’re less likely to say yes.
This doesn’t mean you can’t ever have dessert or a sandwich. What an awful day that would be! Just try to eat less. Know that the cookie has refined flour and eat just one… instead of four. Eat half a sandwich or use a single tortilla instead. Make cheesecake or fruit crumbles instead of the traditional boxed cake with jarred frosting (which has hydrogenated oils, by the way). Try a chocolate brownie cake with chocolate ganache frosting if you’re needing a chocolate fix. 😉
In My Kitchen: We don’t buy cakes or cookies, and don’t even make typical cakes that much anymore. Mr. Crumbs prefers a good cookie or the a-typical cheesecake or tiramisu for dessert (although the latter is for REALLY special occasions). I like crumbles and fruit pies. The kids make sugar cookies with Grandma for holidays, but they’re limited to one cookie each day. To be honest, they usually forget that they have cookies by day three.
4. Start Using Whole Wheat Flour
You can add whole wheat flour to lots of recipes where it won’t make an iota of a difference. Biscuits, crusts, tortillas, pita bread, buns, pancakes and cookies will all turn out fine with whole wheat. The only items that are not recommended to use all whole wheat flour in are fine pastry cakes and bread.
Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t use some whole wheat and less white flour. I’ve substituted whole wheat flour for all my breads and they’ve all turned out just as well. Regular cakes come out with a brownie-like texture that we prefer even more to a cake. Even if it’s just one cup – one cup of whole wheat means one cup less of white.
In My Kitchen: I’m working on finding bread recipes that use more whole wheat, but I haven’t found a successful recipe using ONLY whole wheat – hence the reason I’ll probably buy another bag of bread when we use up the one in the pantry. And you know what? I’m okay with that right now. I’d like to start grinding my own wheat, then possibly find a better bread flour. Or maybe it’ll be the other way around. We’ll see!
5. Bake Less Often
A hidden secret about baking your own breads is that you control how much you consume. You can reduce how much refined flour you eat by using more whole wheat, but you can also reduce it by simply baking less often!
In My Kitchen: It’s my goal to bake loaves of bread once a week. Once batch yields two loaves and typically one loaf will be for a dedicated dinner (like tomato basil soup or grilled sandwiches). The other loaf covers breakfast and the remaining dinners. When it’s gone, it’s gone. Sometimes I’ll make tortillas one week too, or pitas or biscuits – but I try to plan those out for no more than once every two weeks (you can see these in my real food meal plans). If it’s feasible, I’ll make a double batch of whole wheat tortillas and purposely use those in a few dinners, plus a few lunches. Desserts are no more than once a week, but sometimes we’ll go a few weeks without any dessert.
Need more random tips? Wanting to eat more whole wheat flour instead of processed white? Curious how it happens in my kitchen? Read how we’re eating more whole wheat flour here.
Do Something: Choose one of the tips above and implement the change into your kitchen and routine. When you feel like you’ve comfortably “mastered” that change, choose another.