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Alternatives to bread

By: Stephanie Reyes, dietetics student at California State University Northridge

Reviewed by Jinan Banna, PhD, RD

What is bread?

Bread is a staple food that is made from a dough of water and flour. The dough is placed in the oven to bake, and once it finishes baking, it is ready to be eaten. Bread is a common food consumed in many parts of the world, and there are many different types. These include sourdough, whole wheat, white, and many more. Most people find themselves eating bread daily. 

Bread may be tasty, but what are the nutritional benefits?

To begin with, not all bread contains the same nutrients. Below are several different types. These are good sources of carbohydrates and differ with regards to calories, protein, and fiber. If you are someone who is trying to decrease your carbohydrate intake, replacing bread with an alternative is a good way to start. Some bread alternatives have fewer calories, which is also beneficial for individuals who want to lose weight.

Bread TypeWhite Bread
(1 slice)
Wheat Bread
(1 slice)
One Hamburger
Bun (white bread)
Sourdough Bread
(1 slice)
Kcalories75 69.914570
Source: USDA FoodDataCentral

Is bread bad for you?

Some types of bread are more nutritious than others, such as oat bread, 100% whole wheat bread, and sprouted whole grain bread. It is fine to consume bread; however, it is important to choose a type of bread that offers protein and fiber to satisfy. Many people find themselves consuming more than one slice of bread, which means that they are consuming double or triple the amount of carbohydrates contained in that one slice. 

Why should you consider a bread alternative?

Some bread alternatives may have lower carbohydrate content. Some bread alternatives may also contain fewer calories, but still provide the body with fiber or protein. Vegetables are one possible bread alternative. Vegetables are very nutritious, and it is always a good idea to incorporate them into your meals. Vegetables also do not contain gluten, which is very important for individuals who have been diagnosed with celiac disease. 

Here are six bread alternatives that contain important vitamins and minerals and are gluten free:

  1. Collard Greens
    • Collard greens are a great alternative to bread. Collard greens are a good source of fiber, iron, and vitamin B-6. Collard greens can be used as a wrap to hold the food together, and as an extra plus, you get more vegetables in your meal. Collard greens may be eaten raw, but I recommend briefly steaming the collard green for 1-2 minutes. Steaming will help the collard green be more flexible to be used as a wrap.
  2. Nori Sheets
    • Nori is an edible seaweed that is pressed into a sheet. Nori sheets are a great source of iodine which is very important for thyroid function. They also provide the body with fiber, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Nori sheets can be used as a wrap.
  3. Chickpea Flatbread
    • Chickpea flatbread contains folate and protein. It can be used as a bread alternative in sandwiches, pizza crust, or burger buns. Chickpea flatbread is also gluten free!
  4. Portobello Mushroom
    • Portobello mushrooms are a great source of vitamin B2 and B3. Portobello mushrooms are also low in carbohydrates and contain fiber. They can be used in sandwiches or as burger buns. To prepare, the portobello mushrooms can be placed on a grill or the stovetop until cooked.
  5. Cauliflower
    • Cauliflower is a great source of vitamin C. Similar to portobello mushrooms, cauliflower is also low in carbohydrates. Cauliflower can be used for pizza crusts.
  6. Sweet Potato
    • Last but certainly not least, sweet potatoes are a great bread alternative. Sweet potato contains a great source of vitamin A and can be used as a burger bun. To prepare, simply slice the sweet potato into half-inch slices or rounds and cook the sweet potatoes on the stovetop with a small amount of olive oil. Cook each side for about 3 minutes.

If you want to try out one of these alternatives to bread and are looking for a tasty main dish to top or sandwich in between your bread alternative, check out this delicious recipe for Lebanese chicken kafta burgers. These scrumptious mini burgers would go so well with several of the bread alternatives!

Have questions? Comments? I would love to hear what you think below!

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