8 Healthy Alternatives to Bread
Most breads that you buy in a grocery store are made with highly-processed grains and include preservatives and added sugars. If you are trying to lose weight or avoid processed foods, you might want to consider this list of clean eating and healthy alternatives to bread.
History of Bread
Bread has been a staple in the human diet for thousands of years. Bread is easy to make, inexpensive, and filling. As agriculture replaced hunting and gathering some 10,000 years ago, bread quickly became a permanent fixture.
Reasons Bread is Considered A Processed Food
After the Industrial Revolution, processed white bread stripped of natural nutrients replaced the whole-grain, homemade breads humans had enjoyed for millennia.
Post-Industrial Revolution, machines replaced traditional methods of bread baking. There was also a population boom that demanded more food than ever before produced. As a result, bread was quickly manufactured with cheap ingredients, making it a far cry from its nutrient-rich ancestor.
At this point in human history, most breads you buy at the grocery store include processed ingredients, GMO-based grain flours, dough conditioners, and other chemicals to improve shelf life.
While not all breads are considered unhealthy (see my list of healthy bread choices below), it’s probably wise to avoid the overly-processed breads that are on the shelves of most food stores.
In addition, breads made with processed white flours can cause a quick rise in blood sugar and may not be appropriate for people who have blood sugar issues.
8 Healthy Alternatives to Bread
If you choose to avoid bread altogether, these clean eating bread alternatives serve similar purposes while often adding benefits of their own. Be sure to add in some other sources of healthy carbs like gluten-free grains or fruit if you’re not following a low-carb diet.
1. Deconstructed sandwich in a salad form
Rather than layering all your sandwich ingredients on bread, simply toss them into a bowl and cover with a dressing. As a bonus, this gives you the space to add in more greens.
2. Toasted sliced sweet potato
Thinly slice a sweet potato lengthwise to about ⅓-½ inch thickness, and put in the toaster until pliable. Use in place of bread, buns, or toast.
3. Rice cakes
Using rice cakes in place of bread makes for a light lunch or a great snack. Simply layer with toppings like turkey slices and avocado, or peanut butter and apple slices.
See my complete list of healthy gluten-free and dairy-free snacks.
4. Lettuce wraps
Use lettuce wraps in place of tortillas, sandwich wraps, or even hamburger buns for added nutrition. See my recipe for Ground Chicken Lettuce Tacos.
5. Rice paper
Use rice paper to wrap up sandwich goodies like turkey slices, lettuce, and tomatoes. See my recipe for Mango Chicken Spring Rolls.
Nori takes the place of bread as another wrap option while providing amazing nutrients and minerals. Use for an Asian-inspired sandwich.
7. Egg wrap
Egg wraps are the new Keto alternative to bread. They are essentially a very thin omelet that can be used instead of a grain-based tortilla. They add protein, healthy fats, and nutrients and can make a meal more satisfying.
Stuff with bell peppers, onions, and spinach for a bread-free breakfast burrito!
8. Grain-free tortillas
There are many options for grain-free tortillas on the market now. Use one or two as a sandwich wrap or to turn a grilled cheese into a quesadilla. Many are made with almond flour, but you can also find grain-free tortillas made from cassava flour and other alternative flours.
Healthier Bread Choices
If you choose to stick with bread, there are still plenty of healthy options to choose.
Baking your own bread allows you to control the ingredients. You can skip the added sugars, preservatives, and bleached flour for more wholesome additions like nuts, seeds, and sprouted flour.
You’ll also save money by avoiding overpriced bakery breads or gluten free breads–and gain a sense of accomplishment from doing it yourself!
Fermenting bread dough, like in sourdough bread, makes it easier to digest and can increase the nutrients. Our ancestors have been fermenting bread for centuries as a method of preservation. Choose a bakery-made sourdough bread or make your own.
Be sure to use gluten-free flours if you are on a gluten-free diet.
Some Healthy Brands You Can Buy
If you want to continue the convenience of picking up bread at your local store, these are some better options:
- Ezekiel 4:9 (gluten-containing and gluten-free options)
- Bread Srsly Gluten-Free sourdough (gluten-free)
- Silver Hills Sprouted Bakery (gluten-containing and gluten-free options)
- Rudi’s (gluten-containing and gluten-free options)
- Julian Bakery (grain-free)
- Barely Bread (grain-free)
- Dave’s Killer Bread (gluten-containing)
- Trader Joe’s sprouted or whole wheat varieties (gluten-containing)
- Whole Foods Bakery, fresh baked options (gluten-containing)
Bread can certainly be part of a well-rounded diet. For better nutrition, choose whole-grain or fermented options with minimal ingredients. If you choose not to eat bread, alternatives like grain-free tortillas, egg wraps, and sweet potatoes are great replacements.