Christmas seems long-gone already and so is the orgy of rich food. In my house at least, thankfully it means the end of everything I touch being covered in glitter shed from wrapping paper. If you are at all like me, you’ve had enough of that for now and are craving savoury foods that are a lot healthier and getting back to doing some exercise.

Bread is an important part of most of our diets. The flour used and the way the dough is made can have a significant impact on the healthiness of the baked bread. I asked Vanessa Kimbell to tell us what makes a healthy (and tasty) loaf and how to make one without compromising on flavour.

Re-evaluating your daily loaf is really important, and rather than making drastic and unsustainable changes to your diet, a few simple techniques will drastically improve the nutrition of home baked bread. Choose your flour carefully, to maximise the nutritional value, make the most of salt, oil, and seeds, while fermenting your bread slowly and you will have a most delicious and nutritious loaf you can bake.

The simple changes below are very easy to implement and will make your bread even tastier.


Use stoneground flour such as Foster’s Mill, Redbournbury or Stoate’s to make your bread. Stoneground flour, unlike the mass-produced roller-milled flour, retains the wheat germ which is packed with a long list of nutrients including B vitamins, omega 3 and folic acid.

Roller-milled flour is made by rolling the grain between huge steel rollers and then separating all the components. This allows for the production of really white flour since the cream-coloured, tasty and nutritious wheat germ has been removed.


Cheap table salt is a highly refined product containing only sodium chloride with anti-caking agents. By contrast, artisan salts such as the excellent Cornish Seasalt are unrefined, taken straight from the sea. This means that they contain over 60 trace elements such as the important potassium, calcium and magnesium. In turn, these trace elements replace the amount of sodium present by up to 10% – which is the one to reduce.


Rapeseed oil contains high levels of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, and unlike other vegetable oils, cold pressed rapeseed oil contains essential fatty acids with a great balance of omega 3, 6 and 9 oils. These oils are essential for our bodily functions, and help with cholesterol reduction, and maintaining a healthy heart. Recent research has suggested that a diet high in omega-3s lowers inflammation, which helps many conditions, from asthma to rheumatoid arthritis. Omega 3 can be quite challenging to find in our everyday diets so adding a couple of tablespoons of rapeseed oil to your everyday bread will give you and your family nutritional benefits.


I love adding seeds to my everyday loaf. A handful thrown in to your dough adds not just texture and flavour but delivers significant health benefits too I could go on about sunflower seeds all day. They are sweet and nutty and an excellent source of essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, and contain high levels of amino acids such as tryptophan, which is essential for growth (especially in children). 100g of sunflower seeds provide 21g of protein (which is 37% of an adult’s daily-recommended intake).

Similarly pumpkin seeds are packed with fibre, minerals, and numerous health promoting antioxidants, and are a superb source of vitamins such as B-complex group of vitamins including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 and folic acid.

Slow fermentation

Several studies have shown that slowly fermented bread is not only more flavoursome but better nutritionally too, especially when made with wild yeast to make sourdough. The bacteria and yeast found in sourdough break down the phytic acid which otherwise inhibits our bodies from absorbing nutrients in flour.

Other studies have indicated that bread made slowly, using sourdough, have a lower GI which leads to a slower absorption of sugar which may be helpful in combating diabetes.

Slowing things down by adding flour

Simply blending 20% rye flour or wholegrain flour to your usual white loaf will slow down the digestive process, which helps keep blood sugar levels stable.


BBC baking contest The Great British Bake Off is returning in 2015 and the production team are currently looking for the next batch of great home bakers to take part. So who’s the best baker you know? If you, or someone you know, can turn out a terrific tart, produce a perfect pie or serve up a sublime sponge, then please get in touch now.

All applications must be submitted by midnight on Sunday 11th January.
For more information or an application form, go to:

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