Feb 6, 2013

Book Review; The Vintage Remedies Guide to Bread

In my journey to finding affordable and practical traditional nutrition, this book has been my all-time favorite read;

I could not have been more pleased with this book. It was hard to put down! It appealed to everything I look for in my quest for nourishing foods. Does history support it? Does science support it? Is it practical and easy to make on a regular basis? The answer is YES to sourdough bread! And Jessie Hawkins does an excellent job explaining all that.

Update: Click here to go to my sourdough starter recipe.

I love history and Jessie shares the history of bread, all the way back to biblical times. She explains why bread was nutritious and life giving historically, and what happened to make it a neutral and (for some people) even dangerous food now. (Apparently, the vast majority of store-bought bread has tons of unhealthy - and sometimes scary - additives, that are also not properly labeled. Pig pancreas anyone?) She also shares information on some fascinating studies that have been conducted around bread and gluten. She then provides modern versions of traditional recipes for breads and rolls, plus healthified sourdough versions of pizza crust, donuts, tortillas and other breads that are familiar to us today. There is also a long section dedicated to what gluten is and why it is harmful to people, along with tons of gluten-free recipes.
One of my sourdough loaves.
So why is sourdough bread so nutritious?

Grains (seeds) contain phytates (nutrient blockers) and other substances designed to keep the grain from deteriorating until the optimum conditions are obtained for germination. This is a good thing for the seed, but a bad thing for the human digestive tract. Unless a grain is properly prepared it cannot be digested well and for some individuals can even cause serious harm. (People with celiac disease, for example, a condition caused and exacerbated by gluten). 

Traditionally almost all bread was created with a starter yeast and soured as it slowly rose, a process that dissolves the phytates, predigests the gluten, and makes the vitamins and minerals found in the grain (those being protected so fiercely for germination) bioavailable to our bodies. Souring also makes the bread lower glycemic. When baker's yeast was isolated and marketed to the public it significantly shortened the rising time for bread. This appealed to a lot of people, but especially bakeries. Yet the nutritional consequences of eliminating the sourdough method of preparation were not studied and are becoming more and more well-known today as gluten allergies and sensitivities are popping up all over the place, in addition to health problems (like malnutrition, believe it or not) related to consuming whole grains that are not properly prepared.

Today some people seeking to consume bread in a nutritious way are soaking their breads (the flour is left overnight in an acidic solution), sprouting the grains (the grain is tricked into sprouting, then dehydrated, then ground, then prepared into bread....sounds sooooooo complicated), and using the traditional sourdough method. I have done a lot of soaking (I still soak my baked oatmeal, though I am thinking about figuring out a version that uses my sourdough starter), never done any sprouting, and since reading the VR Guide to Bread book have made a a number of sourdough bread items. And I have happily determined that the sourdough method will work best for me!

History supports it.

Science supports it.

And it's easy. Yes, I have made all sorts of breads in my day, and the sourdough method Jessie Hawkin's outlines is EASY. We have so far enjoyed loaves of bread, rolls, pizza crust, and banana bread (I pretty much ate that baby by myself...sorry hubs...) I've tweaked Jessie's standard bread recipe a bit to our tastes and my unique yeast (which I caught using a little flour and water), but I couldn't have done any of it without this great resource.

My sourdough bread pizza. It turned out great!
The bottom line is bread made the sourdough method is good for you. Bread that is not soured (or soaked, or sprouted) has very little, if any, nutritional benefits (with most store-bought versions being very bad.) For those who need more carbs (like those with higher metabolisms and those doing a lot of physical activity), it is a healthy carb to fill up on. For people like me who pack on the pounds from carbs (and are not running or doing strenuous workouts) it is an acceptable carb in moderation, especially considering it has a lower glycemic index than regular bread. 

 If you are looking for a healthy and easy way to prepare bread for your family, trying to learn more about how gluten effects the human body, or in search of practical sourdough bread recipes including those using gluten-free grains, I suggest getting this book! You won't be disappointed.

{This post is linked up at Fat TuesdayTraditional TuesdaysDomestically Devine Tuesday, Whole Foods Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday,  Simple Lives ThursdayGluten-Free Fridays, and Fight Back Friday.}

I am an Amazon affiliate which means if you purchase this book (or anything on Amazon) after clicking through my site I will get a very small percentage of the profit (4%). I am also an affiliate with the handful of nutrition based ads you see on the right-hand side bar. Every dollar I make through this blog helps my family get closer to our goal of being debt-free.


  1. I am SO GLAD that you read and reviewed this! I have been concerned about gluten for awhile but unsure what to do about it. I am really excited to read this on my Kindle and know what it is all about! I tried sourdough once but it didn't turn out and I got discouraged. Thanks for the encouragement to try again!

  2. The pizza looks amazing. I am dreaming of how yummy it tastes! There is just something awesome about sourdough!
    Thanks for linking up at our Gluten Free Fridays party! I have tweeted and pinned your entry to our Gluten Free Fridays board on Pinterest! :)

    Thanks for linking back to the Gluten Free Fridays post!

    Cindy from vegetarianmamma.com