June 18, 2008

Whole Wheat Whining; Plus... Plug for Panko?

You Know You Should

Nutritionists out there are always nagging us all to eat more whole grains because they're so good for you. But if you don't spend hours making things from scratch, you may have tried to buy packaged whole grain products at your local grocery store.

Seems easy enough, right? Because the grocery store shelves are bursting with products screaming "Now in Whole Wheat!" or "Made With 100% Whole Grain!"

So you grab a loaf of bread or a box of cereal or a frozen pizza and you take it home. Sometimes it tastes wonderful. Other times, it tastes...

Well, maybe a little too grainy.

But at least you tried. You either make yourself learn to like it, or you abandon the experiment and go back to the refined grain version.

Faked Out

Has this ever happened to you? You're at the grocery store and you discover that some refined flour product you used to buy is now available in 100% whole grain. Hooray! So you take it home and try it and it's not too bad!

But then one day you happen to look more closely at the package...
and discover something suspicious on the ingredients label.

Hmm. How come the first or second ingredient is "wheat flour?"

"Wheat flour" may sound "wheaty" and everything, but didn't you read somewhere that it's just a euphemism for good old refined white flour?

White flour?? You told me it was Whole Wheat!!!

So how could those lying scumbag scheming evil corporate toads product marketing specialists get away with calling a product "100% Whole Grain" when it's not?

Because... they just said it was "made with 100% whole grain."


There could be just a little bit of whole grain and a lot of other things in there too, like the refined white flour you're trying to avoid. Or...

... insect parts! And hey, by the same reasoning, shouldn't these "made with 100% whole wheat" products also have to say: "Made with 100% Insect Parts?" I'd be willing to bet that the insect parts you're eating in processed foods are generally 100% insect. But oddly enough, I've never seen that particular product label.

That Same Old Song

If you are long-time reader this rant may sound strangely familiar. Yep, I wrote the exact same thing (back when no one reading the blog yet) and I was recommending "white whole wheat," which sounds fake but is really actually a whole grain (winter wheat).

And yet again, the reason for all this whining about fake whole grain products is that it explains my excitement when I find one that appears to be (a) real and (b) very tasty.

So those of you who like Crispy Crunchy things, check out Ian's Whole Wheat Panko Crumbs!

Note: of course as soon as I discovered these, they became temporarily unavailable on Ian's site through Amazon. (They currently only seem to ship their non-whole wheat ones, so this picture is of the Canadian version). However, the Ian's people have assured me you can find their whole wheat panko crumbs at a Whole Foods near you.

All in Search of Crispy Chicken

The reason I found out about these in the first place was because the awesome Elastic Waist blogger Anne had a great post on her fond recollection of Shake 'n Bake chicken.

She was all excited because she found a healthier, tastier recipe for crunchy not-fried chicken at Family, Friends, and Food. But... their recipe called for panko bread crumbs, which I've never tried cooking with before. And I thought--do I really want to find yet one more yummy refined grain product to wish I could eat more of when there are already so many, like cupcakes?

But then I googled "whole wheat panko crumbs" to see if there was such a thing, and there was, at Ian's. So I begged a sample off them, made the Chicken Recipe and...

It was really good! Crunchy and only slightly more grainy than it probably would be using regular panko crumbs. (Note: I did tweak the recipe a bit to make it better match the spices I had available, so I can't vouch for the exact combination. And if you want to try it too, don't be scared of the exotic ingredient "EVOO." For those in the know, which I wasn't, it's just extra virgin olive oil).

Summary: Great bread crumbs, great chicken recipe. Want more!

Does anyone else struggle with the Whole Grain Thing?


  1. Ive never heard of PANKO CRUMBS!
    (and not surprisingly I actually like the lumpybumpycardboardy flave of wholegrain stuff)

    When I was personal training so many of my clients were duped by the whole wheat bread which was really white with a spray on tan.

    I couldnt blame them either---it's all so confusing!


  2. My chief struggle is I miss white bread. I eat whole grain spelt and use other flours like kamut, barley, and rye along with forays to the gluten-free world. Recipe takes some playing around and some getting used to, but spelt makes a nice loaf of bread.

    The link on what's in our food, eeewww. But in many ways that stuff is a hell of a lot healthier than the chemicals we use.

  3. I grew up on home baked whole wheat bread, so I am not fond of grocery store bread in general. When I buy it, I do usually buy multigrain and hope for the best.

    That chicken looks really good though, may have to get me some of those Whole Wheat Panko crumbs; I've had the regular ones but had no idea you could get whole wheat!

  4. warning - orthorexia alert: I have severe guilt about even eating whole grains! I've got kind of sucked in to the whole Paleo diet mindframe which asserts that any grains at all suck. Which is doubly hard since I'm a vegetarian and if I don't eat grains I kinda starve. So I eat. And guilt. Wheee:)

    PS> LOVE Ian's stuff!! Theirs are the only kind of fish stick I'll serve my kids.

  5. I was just thinking up a recipe for barbecue meatballs using Panko crumbs this morning. Weird coincidence, but I'm glad to know they come in whole wheat!

    So, I decided yesterday to just start making my own bread because I'm tired of being duped. So I made a loaf in my breadmaker, and it didn't rise. So sad. Anyone got a good whole wheat bread recipe to share? Please?!?

  6. The Bag Lady wasn't brave enough to click on the link to the bugs in our food. She adheres to the "ignorance is bliss" rule about some things!

    Haven't seen Panko...must try it. She confesses to making bread with a combination of white (unbleached) flour and whole wheat. Loves grains and crunchy things (well, except now she'll wonder about each "crunchy thing") in her bread.

    And Charlotte, what causes the guilt about grains? Must investigate this Paleo diet.

  7. Oh, Gena - too bad we commented at the same time - I have a lovely recipe for ww bread in the bread-maker. (Oh, and perchance your water was too hot?)

  8. As the granddaughter and great-granddaughter of millers, I grew up hearing "Weevils are good for you! They're full of protein!"

    Also brought up on whole wheat. The only white bread I ever enjoyed was my Great-Aunt Alice's, and she was the kind of cook whose cooking was impossible not to enjoy.

    Dorothy Sayers' _Murder Must Advertise_ has the best explanation of the difference between "made with" and "made from" I have ever read.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky, reading labels since forever

  9. No..but many other issues! Great post!

  10. I haven't eaten white bread for a long, long time but I'm only just getting into the wholewheat pasta thing, which is taking me a while. I'm really not a fan of the taste but I find that if I add more seasoning to the sauce, it's bearable. Ugh.

    I get caught by the 'made with' and 'made from' thing ALL the time but I'm too lazy to check the labels at the time. Must be more vigilant.

    Charlotte - I don't know how you could avoid grains. I need my grains!

  11. I actually enjoy things that are really grainy, so I go for the loaded-up stuff. But it does drive me nuts how they try to mislead us with all of their fancy labels. Right now I'm trying to decide if I think baking my own bread is cheaper than buying it. The only reason I hesitate to bake it is because it is SO good I'm likely to eat a lot more of it. :)

  12. Now all I can think about is the article I read a while back about the acceptable level of insect bits in processed foods...blech.

    I'm with you on the evil labelling. It makes eating healthy harder. I bought a new brand of fat free sour cream the other day to discover, when I got it home, that it has 1.5% milk fat. How both those things occur simultaneously is a mystery to me...

  13. Seriously...I'm going to just start making my own bread.

  14. "Acceptable level of insect bits?" AHHHHHH!
    I admit I get hung up on HAVING to have only whole grain. Cannot believe I was raised on Wonder Bread! blech!
    I should go out and get a breadmaker - any suggestions on what brand I should get?

  15. I hate all that marketing stuff that confuses you. Thats why I always try to make my own bread (HEART the breadmaker!)

  16. Crabby, I hate to complain, but this post was simply crumby. It's half-baked. I think if you had a whole grain of sense you'd stop loafing around.

    Oh all right. I know those were bad. You've inspired me to try to use the breadmaker that's been sitting on my counter taking up space.

  17. I generally tend to stick to multigrain bread where I can actually see the multi-grains in it. I don't trust the stuff that says "wheat bread." The bread I buy every week from a local farmstand store is multigrain with dried dates baked into it. It's awesome.

  18. Thanks for the reminders that it's actually possible to make one's own bread--I do tend to forget that!

    We had a breadmaker once and it really was great! It was cute, like R2D2. (And you had to be careful not to put it on the edge of a countertop because it would start "walking" during the kneading cycle and it almost committed suicide a couple of times).

    But alas, we moved near a great bakery, got out of the habit of using the machine, and after years in the basement it didn't work anymore when we finally tried to resuscitate it. We really should get a new one, since we're no longer near a great bakery and grocery store whole wheat sucks.

  19. Eeeek! I agree with "the bag lady"...I can't look! Ingorance is definitely bliss!! =X

  20. I try to stick with the "designer" section of the bakery at my grocery. You can see that it's whole grain with the naked eye.

    Also, I don't worry too much about the white flour thing. I even put some in my whole wheat bread recipe to lighten it a bit. It's still plenty fibrous! I don't like eating all-white flour stuff because I feel like turns into glue in my insides, but who can resist the really yummy stuff, like good French bread in a restaurant? Or Italian with the flavored EVOO?

    BTW, last time I made bread (which I haven't done in years) it also refused to rise. Very disappointing. I wonder if the yeast quality has changed?

  21. The Bag Lady's breadmaker is a Cuisinart, and she loves it!

    The most important things to remember when making bread in a bread-maker are to have your water the correct temperature (invest in a good thermometer) between 80 - 90 F, and, if you keep your yeast in the fridge (which you should) allow it to warm to room temperature before you use it.

    And follow the instructions for adding the ingredients to the machine - they are in that order for a reason.
    I have had the bread rise so high on occasion, it has lifted the lid on the machine. That is not a good thing, so don't use too much yeast... (Oh, do I sound like an expert, or what...haha!)

  22. Yes, yes, yes- half the whole wheat stuff taste like cardboard...and I haven't been adventureous enough to try the other half!

    The chicken sounds yummy.

    Bag Lady- I must have the WW bread recipe- I have a bread machine and can't find any good recipes!!

  23. Yep, I totally have a hard time finding edible whole grain foods. I've learned about the sneaky labeling and spend 2 minutes scanning ingredients for new items I find in the stores, but still...where do you find *truly* whole grain, unprocessed foods? Something that's beyond the best Orowheat bread or Wassa crackers?

    I had a wheatberry salad at Whole Foods (from their deli) that was amazing, but is that "whole grain" enough? And what about farro?

    On the bright side, it's eating (which I like to do), and if you're a decent cook you can probably make anything taste good, so... I ain't complaining ;)

  24. that recipe sounds good! i was thinking about shake n bake just the other day!

  25. gulp
    I wish I'd read the Bag Lady's instructions before I pressed the Start button. Oh well, I'll see if I had beginner's luck.
    (I did read the manual before I started... didn't see anything about freezing the yeast or warming the water in there. Just said 'room temperature' water.)

  26. I love my old Black and Decker bread maker, but it is old. My friend just got a Cuisinart and she really likes it.

    As far as bugs in your food, as a species we survived the dark ages before refrigeration. Lots of cultures eat insects on a regular basis as well. I would rather not think about them being in my food, but, there you go.

    That chicken recipe sounds similar to one I have for home made chicken fingers.

    Of course as I was reading this I was munching on the loaf I made last night, but I was bad and it was white bread. I am out of whole grain flour though does that count as an excuse?

  27. have you tried Flat-out wraps? 10 g of fiber for one wrap and lots o whole grains. Yummt.
    I get tricked out by the "made with whole wheat" thing so now I always check the ingredient label when buying bread. Not that I'm always buying bread, but you know what I mean. Not trying to sound freakishly compulsive. I'll stop now.

  28. Another trick to get whole grain bread to rise well is to mix in about a tablespoon of "vital wheat gluten" per cup of whole grain flour. It adds to the protein structure (which needs to be stretched by the gases the little yeasties give off), which can be compromised by the fiber in whole grains - it makes a lighter loaf too.
    One other trick to make a really nice light loaf - knead it extra.

  29. I love whole grains! But I don't like insects or their parts, so I usually bake homemade bread. Sooo good! :)

  30. What I would love is a decent recipe for making bread with brown rice. I know that sounds strange. But I am a fan of brown rice.

    And - being in Japan....I can't even buy whole wheat bread, let alone whole wheat baking stuff. Or at least I haven't found any. Sigh. So I eat a lot of barley and brown rice.

  31. I LOVE PANKO! And I am SO EXCITED that there's a whole wheat version! *jumps up and down in joy* And there's a Whole Foods right by my house! *jumps more* Hooray!

    *has to stop jumping because she's getting a little sick.*

    Thanks, Crabby! :D

  32. I eat a lot of whole grain foods but I so far I haven't like any pizza that I've tried made with whole grain crust. I wish I did like it, it could make pizza a bit more nutritious.

  33. Ian's plus Panko is an awesome combo. On the whole wheat thing what gets me are the faux whole wheat which is really just white flour with maple coloring. Oh yeah, it's been done.


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