By Karly Kolaja 2015-12-23 21:47:32
Schools have made the switch to whole grain-rich recipes, but how is this new priority affecting the quintessential lunch: the humble sandwich? Is there any food more closely associated with lunch than a traditional sandwich? Think about it—if someone asks you to imagine a midday meal, there’s a pretty good chance your brain conjures up a PB&J, turkey club or grilled cheese. Sandwiches are so universally loved, in fact, that even breakfast sandwiches have become a staple for early-morning munches. Although the question of what exactly constitutes a sandwich is tough to answer (for example, does a burger count?) it’s safe to say it begins with bread. Therefore, we’re counting wraps, biscuits, rolls—pretty much any grain product that you can fill with food—under the heading of “sandwich breads.” But what kind of grain, exactly, makes up these types of sandwiches? In school breakfasts and lunches, it’s a sure bet that it’s at least 50% whole grains. As part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA), all baked goods—sandwich breads, too—must now be at least “whole grain-rich.” However, unless you’re doing the ordering or actually baking the bread—which might not be as common as it once was in schools—you might not be sure what the difference is between “white,” “whole grain” and “whole grain-rich.” The easy definition: A whole grain-rich food is one that’s made of at least 50% whole grains, such as whole-wheat flour rather than all-purpose flour. But how, exactly, does whole-grain flour differ from the all-purpose flour we know and love? To answer, we need to take a little trip into science. Whole grains comprise the entire cereal grain kernel (or seed), which consists of three parts: the bran, the endosperm and the germ. The bran is the hard outer shell of the seed that protects it. Brans are rich in fiber and B vitamins. The endosperm is the middle layer of the kernel and contains protein and carbohydrates. The germ is the kernel’s innermost layer—it’s the small, nutrient-rich core that provides nourishment for the seed. The germ is rich in antioxidants, B-vitamins and vitamin E. Whole grains (and the foods made from them) contain all parts of the entire grain seed in their original proportions. That means that, even though it’s made of crushed, milled seeds, whole-grain flour provides the same balance of nutrients found in the original kernel. The most common kind of whole-grain flour used in baking is whole-wheat flour, though you can find quinoa, oat and rice flour, as well. The next question: How does whole-wheat flour differ from white (aka all-purpose) flour? All-purpose flour is made by milling only the grain kernel’s (in this case, a wheat berry’s) endosperm. While it’s easy to work with and undeniably tasty, all-purpose flour lacks the nutritional benefits of the bran and germ. Whole-wheat flour, on the other hand, maintains the nutritional properties of the entire wheat berry, but is notoriously difficult to work with. It also features a very different taste from all-purpose— one that’s often not quite as well-received by young eaters. Rich in Challenges Now, we have yet another question: How does all this affect you when you’re just trying to meet the 50% whole-grain requirement for your bread products? Quite a bit—just ask Peggy Lawrence, SNS, School Nutrition director of Rockdale County (Ga.) Public Schools. “Living in the South, biscuits are the biggest deal ever,” she declares. “When we had to switch to what our kids call the ‘brown biscuits,’ it was a mess. Kids were bringing them back, and our breakfast sandwich sales went way down.” Whole-wheat bread has a nutty, rich flavor and a full texture. Depending on whom you ask, though, some think those qualities don’t exactly lend themselves well to sandwich breads, wraps, rolls or biscuits, all of which are better described as buttery in flavor and light in texture. It’s also simply harder to work with whole grain-rich or whole-wheat flour than all-purpose. Whole-grain flour requires more water, longer hydration times and a longer rise than its white counterpart. And, as Lawrence notes, it can be tricky to get right. “I found very quickly that whole-grain products don’t have as much forgiveness,” she notes. “You have to cook them at exactly the right temperature.” While you have control over some of these factors when you’re scratch baking, it’s impossible to regulate breads you purchase and serve as is. You’re completely reliant on the manufacturer for the taste profile. And on top of being more difficult to work with, whole-wheat flour is more expensive than all-purpose. “When you’re buying millions of dollars of food a year, we see the cost increase tremendously,” Lawrence says. “It’s a huge challenge.” Start From Scratch The best way to maintain control over the taste and texture of your bread is by scratch-baking. Assess your equipment and staff resources to see if doing so is a viable option. You might not be able to bake every bread item from scratch due to staff and time constraints; however, baking what you can allows you to rework the recipe as needed and gives you the most insight into how your sandwich bread turns out. If you have the available resources, consider training for your staff in scratch baking. Some districts employ head chefs or bakers who may be able to teach in-house, but there are also classes that school nutrition professionals can take outside of the school system. “Consider scratch baking where you can,” Lawrence recommends. “Baking is an art. I can pick up dough and feel and smell it and tell you what kind of dough it is and if it’s going to turn out. That’s stuff you learn over years and years of handling dough, but I think it’s worth investing that time because you maintain control of the product.” Plus, you’ll feel an enormous sense of pride when you make your bread from scratch. “How good does it feel to make a home-made roll when it turns out great?” asks Lawrence. “It feels really good.” At Bend-La Pine Schools in Oregon, Director of Child Nutrition and Operations Terry Cashman had a relatively easy time transitioning into the 50% whole-grain requirement, largely because he and his team worked to reach that target well before the implementation deadline. Today, his staff scratch-bakes their sandwich bread, which they slice themselves, put in bags and ship to individual schools for sandwiches. Cashman’s successful sandwiching, however, didn’t come without a few minor hiccups. “At first we were sending out hoagies, and then we switched to the sandwich bread [aka hero or subway bread],” he says. “Especially for the younger kids, I think the hoagie was almost too much bread for them. Switching to the sandwich bread was good.” Lighten Up If you scratch bake your sandwich breads for school meals, one way or another, you’ll have to purchase whole-grain flour. And because student acceptance is your aim, coming as close to what’s known and loved—all-purpose breads—could be key to your success. But how do you mimic white bread with whole grains? Try seeking out white whole-wheat flour. Contrary to what the name may suggest, white whole-wheat flour is composed entirely of milled whole grains. However, it’s a grain that doesn’t have major genes for bran color (unlike conventional red wheat, which has one to three color genes). “The only difference at all is that it’s a different variety of wheat that has a light color,” says Kent Getzin, director of Food Services for Wenatchee (Wash.) School District. “The entire whole-wheat kernel is ground up, just like other whole-wheat flour, but you don’t see those little chips of bran in it—you see a more homogenous color. If you put it side-by-side with white flour, you can see that it’s a darker, richer-looking color, but you still don’t see the individual flecks of bran.” White whole-wheat flour also gives baked goods a lighter, milder flavor, sandwich breads included. That’s because it doesn’t contain the same intensely flavored phenolic compounds as red wheat. “It’s not refined, it’s not bleached and the grain’s not taken out,” says Donna Martin, EdS, RD, SNS, School Nutrition Program director, Burke County (Ga.) Public Schools. “But it doesn’t have that metallic taste to it that whole-wheat bread sometimes has.” White whole-wheat flour, however, can be a little more expensive than regular whole-wheat. And while it can come much closer to tasting like white flour, the taste isn’t exactly the same. Therefore, even if you can afford it, there’s still a chance you may struggle with student acceptance. If you do, try serving your sandwiches alongside something the kids already like or with truly excellent fillings. Students are much more likely to go for whole-wheat sandwich breads when they can fi ll them with something they love and with which they’re familiar. “We buy whole-grain biscuits, and I don’t think the kids think they’re as great as the old-timey biscuits, but what they put between the biscuits is great, and they go ahead and eat them,” says Martin. “If it’s chicken or steak nugget day, we make sure we have biscuits because the students really like to put them inside.” No Pain, No Grain No matter the way you go about introducing it, the method you use to prepare it or its fillings, there’s still a chance your students simply won’t like your whole-wheat sandwich bread. If that’s the case, don’t give up. “We just stayed the course,” Getzin recalls. “If you hear the kids complaining, after a while they stop. If you’re serving good-quality food on whole-wheat bread instead of white bread, they’re eventually going to get used to it.” Don’t be afraid to experiment, either. Tweak your scratch recipes and, if your purchased products just aren’t passing muster, test out some new ones. “We had a hard time finding good bagels that are whole grain, so we just kept experimenting and trying different companies,” says Getzin. “Sometimes, it’s just a matter of continuing to try different products or stopping serving them for a while until something better hits the market.” Chances are, if you look around enough, you’ll find products you like. “For the most part, I would say we have had good success with the items we purchase,” says Ronda McCullick, RD, director of Food Service for Park Hill School District, Kansas City, Mo. “Experiment, because manufacturers are coming out with improved products all the time.” Turning whole-grain flour into delicious, kid-friendly bread is undeniably challenging. It’s finicky, costly and, above all, unfamiliar. But, if you scratch-bake whenever possible, serve it alongside beloved fillings, experiment with different types of flour, purchased products and methods of introduction, you’ll put yourself in a good position for student acceptance. Remember: It’s hard to argue against well-made bread. “There’s not a better marketing tool in the world than the smell of freshly baked bread going through a school building,” says Lawrence. “You just can’t beat that—that just smells of goodness.” KITCHEN WISDOM SAYS . . . • The rolls had a great taste, and the fact that they were easy makes them a good fi t for any school operation. Our students gave them a thumbs up on the taste! • Just for fun, we took the same recipe and substituted butter to see if we got a different taste profile. The funny thing is, we thought the butter would taste even better than the one with shortening, but it didn’t! So our recommendation is to use the recipe as is. • This isn’t a terribly long process, but it is definitely more involved than using frozen dough pucks! It might be difficult for large schools with high breakfast participation. • The recipe worked very well and was quick and easy. Biscuits were tasted by staff, and they were delicious. We are putting them on the menu with our homemade beef stew. • This will definitely be a recipe that we incorporate into our menus. A great and easy homemade option to add as a grain to any meal! WHOLE-WHEAT ANGEL BISCUITS YIELD: 100 servings (2-oz. roll) PER SERVING: 188 cal., 6 g fat, 5 g pro., 29 g carb., 2.7 g fiber, 232 mg sod. MEAL PATTERN: 2-oz. eq. grains INGREDIENTS White whole-wheat flour—4 lbs Enriched all-purpose flour—3 lbs. Instant yeast—2½ozs. Granulated sugar—10 ozs. Baking powder—1 Tbsp., plus 2 tsp. Baking soda—1 Tbsp., plus 2 tsp. Salt—1 Tbsp., plus 2 tsp. Vegetable shortening, trans fat-free —1 lb., 4 ozs. Low-fat buttermilk—2 qts., 2 cups Flour, whole-wheat, for kneading—7 ozs. DIRECTIONS Combine the flours, yeast, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl. Using a paddle attachment, mix on low speed. Cut the shortening into the dry ingredients with the paddle attachment until the mixture looks like coarse meal (about 2 minutes). Add the buttermilk to the flour mixture; mix just until ingredients are moistened. Cover and chill for one hour. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface; knead lightly five times. Roll dough into a ¾–in. thickness; cut with a 2.5-in. biscuit cutter. Biscuits should weigh approximately 2 oz. each. Place the biscuits on a paper-lined sheet pan. Bake in a convection oven at 450°F for 9 minutes or a convention oven at 475°F for 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Recipe and Meal Pattern Analysis: Kansas State Department of Education Photo: Samantha Cowens-Gasborro, Windham-Raymond (Maine) School Department KITCHEN WISDOM SAYS . . . • We made and tasted this recipe with our culinary students. The bread was very tasty, but it was time-consuming. We would consider making it for a special occasion. • We used the honey that we raise on the school farm, so it was also nice to have a recipe to do that with. • Definitely labor-intensive, and a challenge for employees who don’t have baking skills. POTATO WHEAT BREAD YIELD: 2 loaves (28 slices/2 slices per serving) PER SERVING: 170 cal., 4 g fat, 5 g pro., 28 g carb.,4 g fiber, 260 mg sod. MEAL PATTERN: 2-oz. eq. grains INGREDIENTS Water—16 ozs. Potatoes, peeled, cut into chunks—10 ozs. Milk, reduced-fat—8 ozs. Butter, room temperature—4 ozs. Honey—3 ozs. White whole-wheat flour—28 ozs. Instant yeast—4½ tsps. DIRECTIONS Peel the potatoes, and cut them into chunks. Combine them in a small saucepan with the water, which should just cover the potatoes (if you’ve cut them into small enough chunks). Simmer the potatoes until they’re soft. Remove the pan from the heat, and use a small food processor, blender or hand beater to blend the potato/water into a smooth, chunk-free slurry. Once the potato mixture has cooled to lukewarm, combine it with the remaining ingredients. Mix and knead them—by hand, mixer or bread machine—to form a smooth, supple dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise until puffy, though not necessarily doubled in bulk, for 60 to 90 minutes. Lightly grease two 9-in x 5-in loaf pans. Transfer the risen dough to a lightly greased work surface and divide it into two. Shape each half into a log and fi t them into loaf pans. Cover the pans with lightly greased plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise until its domed center is about 1" over the lip of the pan, about 60 to 90 minutes. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the plastic and put the bread into the oven. Bake the bread for 37 to 40 minutes, until it’s golden-brown on top and tests done; a digital thermometer inserted into the center will register at least 190°F. Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool completely. *Notes: King Arthur White Whole-Wheat Flour can be used for this recipe. Double-check yeast packaging to ensure that you’re using instant yeast, not instant rapid-rise yeast, which isn’t compatible with recipes that require double rising time. Recipe and Photo: King Arthur Flour, www.kingarthurflour.com Meal Pattern Analysis: Chef Sharon Schaefer, SNS, www.facebook.com/evolutionofthelunchlady, @chefsharonsns WHOLE-GRAIN ROLL YIELD: 100 servings (2.25-oz. roll) PER SERVING: 155 cal., 3.3 g fat, 4.9 g pro., 28 g carb., 2.8 g fiber, 209 mg sod. MEAL PATTERN: 2-oz. eq. grains INGREDIENTS Instant yeast—4⅛ ozs. Warm water—5 lbs., 1 oz. Sugar—10¼ ozs. Vegetable oil—9⅓ ozs. Salt—1⅞ ozs. Whole-wheat flour—3 lbs., 14½ ozs. Enriched bread flour— 3lbs, 10⅝ ozs. DIRECTIONS Combine yeast, water, sugar, oil and salt in a large mixing bowl. Blend in whole-wheat flour. Gradually add bread flour and mix on low until blended. The dough might be slightly sticky. Place dough in a warm area and let rise for 45 minutes. Punch down dough to remove bubbles. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray sheet pans (18-in. x 26-in. x 1-in.) with pan release spray. Pinch off 2.25-oz. pieces and place on a sheet pan in a rows of 10 down and 7 across to make 70 per pan. Use 1½ sheet pans. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown. Recipe: What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl, www.whatscooking.fns.usda.gov Meal Pattern Analysis: Chef Sharon Schaefer, SNS, www.facebook.com/evolutionofthelunchlady, @chefsharonsns Recipe: What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl, www.whatscooking.fns.usda.gov Meal Pattern Analysis: Chef Sharon Schaefer, SNS, www.facebook.com/evolutionofthelunchlady, @chefsharonsns WHOLE-GRAIN FLATBREAD YIELD: 400 (3-oz. flatbreads) PER SERVING: 176 cal., 4 g fat, 5.3 g pro., 31 g carb., 2.7 g fiber, 300 mg sod. MEAL PATTERN: 1.25-oz. eq. grains INGREDIENTS Whole-wheat flour—21 lbs. Bread flour—19 lbs. Sugar—5 lbs. Salt—14 ozs. Powdered milk—3 lbs. Trans fat-free shortening—4 lbs. Instant yeast—1 lb. Warm water (75°-80°F)—3 gals. DIRECTIONS Combine all dry ingredients and the shortening in a 60-qt. mixing bowl. Attach the dough hook to the mixer, turn the mixer on to low speed and add water while the mixer is running. Continue mixing on 1 speed for about two minutes until ingredients are incorporated. Scrape the bowl. Mix on speed 3 for two minutes. Reduce speed to 2 and mix 10 more minutes. Be careful not to overmix. Cut dough into 3-oz. balls. Flatten by rolling to 1⁄8-in. to ¼-in. Place the dough between layers of parchment paper and set aside. Heat a flat griddle or skillet and dry-toast the flatbread on both sides until bubbles form and it browns, about 2 minutes per side. BONUS WEB CONTENT Ready to introduce a new whole grain-rich bread option to your students but are afraid of negative feedback? SN offers tips for introducing new, healthy menu items, and staying flexible when the going gets tough. Visit www.schoolnutrition.org/snmagazine bonuscontent to access this web extra. TO YOUR CREDIT: For CEUs toward the SNA Certification in School Nutrition, complete the “To Your Credit” test on page 72. Karly Kolaja is a freelance writer based in Bethel, Conn. Photography by iStock/Thinkstock.
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