Nutritionists often suggest that, as part of a weight-loss program, dieters and other individuals who are trying to lose weight should cook and bake at home as much as possible. This allows them to monitor the ingredients that go into creating a meal. Restaurants and other eateries frequently use high levels of fats, sugar and sodium in their dishes — ingredients which create good-tasting food but add pounds and reduce the nutritional value of a meal.
In my experience as a weight loss coach I work with a large range of people who enjoy their familiar home-cooked foods but are stymied by the difficulties involved in turning calorie-ridden dishes into healthy, nutritious and low-calories meals.
Switching to whole flours and other grains
I've developed several strategies that aid individuals in turning their favorite high-calorie recipes into wholesome and nourishing feasts but one of the most important approaches that I present, and the one that has had the most significant effect to help people lose weight and maintain their weight loss, involves switching to whole flours and other grains.
In my coaching work I always introduce the idea of switching to whole grains early in our sessions. Moving to a whole grain-based diet takes getting used to but, ultimately, ensures a healthier and less caloric intake.
Bread, for instance, is made using flour that is extracted from grain kernels. There are three parts of a grain kernel — the bran, the germ and the endosperm. Bread made from whole grain flour contains all the different parts of a grain kernel so a loaf of whole wheat bread is naturally full of fiber and rich with nutrients including vitamin E, magnesium, fatty acids and zinc.
White bread, however, is made with white flour — white flour has been processed to remove the bran and wheat germ. It's softer and looks richer but lacks essential nutrients. For dieters, this also means that it takes more white bread to create the same feelings of satiation that a smaller amount of whole wheat bread produces.
One of my clients wanted to make challah, a sweet twisted Sabbath bread which is a traditional dish among Jews for the Friday night meal. The bread is generally made from white flour and is sold in kosher bakeries. In Safed, a northern city in Israel known as the "City of Kabbalah," many people bake their own challah using whole wheat flour.
Whole Grain Shabbat Challahs
- Safed Challah
- 4 cups of whole wheat flour
- ¼ cup canola or soy oil
- 1 egg
- 2 tsps. Salt
- ¼ c. honey
- 1 tsp yeast
- approximately ½ c. warm water
- Proof the yeast with 1 tsp. sugar and 1/8 c. warm water.
- Place all of the ingredients in a bowl. Knead the dough. Add more water as needed until you have a nice firm dough ball.
- Cover the dough and allow it to rise, approximately 1 hour
- Divide the dough into four balls. Roll out the balls into strips and shape the strips into a braided loaf.
- Cover again and allow the dough to rise a second time, approximately ½ hour.
- Bake the bread in a 350 degree oven for approximately ½ hour. Remove, glaze with egg yolk and place back in the oven for another few minutes to set the glaze.
If you find it too difficult to go completely "cold turkey" and use only whole wheat flour, bake your challah or any other bread with half whole wheat flour and half white flour. Then, slowly reduce the amount of white flour each time that you make another batch.