I LOVE TO COOK FOR MY FAMILY. AND, I LOVE TO CREATE GRANDIOSE MEALS.
Often, I labor all weekend to create an incredible, multi-course, Sunday evening meal entirely from scratch that I know the family will love. At the end of the meal, the kitchen is a mess. Stained cookbooks lay strewn around the room. But, the meal was a success and I feel a sense of satisfaction. And, I should…after all, I just served my family a delicious, connected, meaningful meal with my two hands. However, when I really think about it how much of an impact did that one single meal make on my family’s health? Not too much… A single, incredible meal once a month, or even once a week is a wonderful treat. But it is the basic, non-sexy, day-to-day food you prepare for your kids that keep them truly nourished.
If you want to make a meaningful impact in your kids’ diet and health, think about what they eat
And… that means you need to focus on your kid’s school lunches.
SOURDOUGH OATMEAL SANDWICH BREAD
If your kids eat sandwiches for lunch, then one of the single most important things you can do to REALLY improve the safety and nutrition in their food is to make their bread entirely from scratch for each and every sandwich! And…make sure it is a long, slow fermented sourdough bread.
The long slow fermentation uses the wild yeasts to leaven the bread but, more importantly, relies on the wild bacteria to chemically and physically transform the grains in a number of ways. It deactivates the antinutrients such as phytic acid, detoxifies the toxins including lectins, and predigests the grains. All of this aids in the safety, digestion and nutrient absorption of the bread. Sourdough bread is a completely different food that the commercial, yeasted bread from which almost every sandwich on the planet is made. And, your body deals with it in a completely different way too!
While my kids love all varieties of sourdough bread, thick crusted slices from rustic loaves are not their first choice for school lunch sandwiches. After years of trial and error, I have developed a recipe for a sourdough oatmeal bread that is perfect for their lunch boxes and is now our go-to sandwich bread. Throughout the school year, I bake a large loaf once a week. After letting it cool overnight, I then slice and freeze in a container with a snap lid that holds the entire loaf. Each night when I make their lunch, I take out what I need.
I also cook the bread in a pullman pan with a lid. This not only creates a very uniform slice that fits perfectly in their Bento Box, but it also results in a soft crust that they really love. If you plan on cooking bread for their sandwiches it is worth investing in a pullman pan. And, you might as well spring for the large, 16” one!
OATMEAL SANDWICH BREAD
Bread Flour – 371 grams
Whole Wheat Flour – 165 grams
Warm Water – 396 grams, divided (106 and 290 gram portions)
Oats – 106 grams
Milk (room temperature) – 65 grams
Honey – 52 grams
Butter (softened) – 52 grams
Sourdough Mother (80% hydration) – 200 grams
Salt – 13 grams
Place the oats and 106 grams of the warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir to combine. Set aside for 15 minutes while you assemble the other ingredients allowing time for the oats to soak up the water.
At the end of the 15 minutes add all the remaining ingredients to the bowl. With dough hook mix on speed one for five minutes followed by speed two for 2 minutes.
Transfer to a lightly oiled container with a lid and bulk ferment for 3 hours. While the dough is fermenting give it a fold every hour.
As the end of the 3 hours turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and preshape into a large round. Make sure to use the minimal amount of flour needed to keep the dough from sticking to the surface and your hands. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 15-20 minutes.
Lightly oil the pullman pan.
At the end of the rest period give the dough a final shape and load it into the loaf pan. Cover with lid and let rise for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 430 degrees.
At the end of the 2 hours bake at 430 degrees for 20 minutes. Then, drop the temperature to 400 degrees and cook for an additional 20 minutes. When it is finished baking cool overnight on cooling rack.
The next day slice and freeze.
***Please note: This recipe is scaled for a 16 inch pullman pan. If you are using a standard loaf pan or a different sized pullman pan you will need to use a different amount of dough. You can either adjust the recipe (make sure you keep the ratios the same) or use the leftover dough for another purpose. This recipe makes fantastic rolls!
Replacing the toxic, nutrient free, commercial bread in your kids lunch is a critical first step, but there is so much more you can do to arm your kids with the most nourishing lunch possible! As we enter the first few weeks of the new school year future blogs will provide recipes and techniques for tackling some of other important components of your kid’s lunches!