Healthy Eating Plans Eating Gluten-Free

This Grain-Free Bread Brought Me Back to Life After an Autoimmune Issue Forced Me To Cut My Favorite Foods from My Diet

Photo: Stocksy/Sophia Hsin
Without sharing all of the gory details, I recently embarked on an autoimmune ~health journey~ of sorts that, well, required me to basically overhaul my life, from what and when I eat to how I exercise and manage stress (fun!). Luckily, all of this came at the advice of a top-notch functional medicine physician.

Needless to say, as an avid home cook and general lover of all foods and food groups, having to cut out gluten, dairy, soy, corn, and alcohol—albeit temporarily—felt overwhelming at first, especially when I was told I also needed to curb my intake of grains. My saving grace, however, has been the fact that I discovered a truly delicious and healthful grain-free bread while starting this process. (I knew that living without bread, even for a few months, was going to be the hardest part of this whole thing for me from the get-go.)

After many misses when trying out grain-free breads (which are not cheap, by the way), I thought I was doomed to be avocado toast-free for months. While their ingredients lists were wholesome, I noticed that many these breads smelled funky, the textures were way off, and they just plain didn’t taste great at all. Not exactly what your stomach wants to toast and wolf down upon waking, if you catch my drift. However, when checking out Orange County, California-based AWG Bakery, everything changed. Their loaves are downright *delicious.* But after reading the nutritional profile and ingredients list on AWG's breads, I found myself thinking that old adage: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. To cut to the chase, I have never been so thrilled to be wrong.

It sounds dramatic, but biting into a slice of AWG's signature Everyday Loaf is transformative: The mouthfeel of this bread is on-point and the nutty, seedy flavor is the perfect match for a creamy slice of avocado or, dare I say, my newly-discovered favorite dairy-free cream cheese (WHO EVEN AM I?). Plus, there are multiple flavors for every type of eater ranging from CinnaSpice (tastes like gingerbread!) to an aromatic rosemary loaf. Feeling energized and excited about my tedious dietary restrictions for the first time, I had to learn more about the brand for both myself and the other 24 million Americans dealing with autoimmune conditions that may or may not prohibit them from eating grains.

The AWG Bakery story: how this delicious grain-free bread came to be

After embarking on a health journey of her own after being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism at the age of 23, Hanna Lane of @airwaterandgreens realized her quality of life would be much higher if she could find a bread alternative that was equally delicious and nutritious (sound familiar?). Nothing on the market fit her needs.

"All the tastiest versions were basically devoid of nutrients and had a lot of synthetic additives, and the whole-food alternatives either had a strange texture, flavor, or both," Lane says. “No one wants to have to cut out bread completely, so I started working on a recipe myself because I already loved to bake. After a year, I came up with our current recipe and started making it for friends and family. At the same time, funding for the protein bar start-up I was working for fell through, so I was out of a job but knew I had this amazing recipe I had developed for myself in my back pocket. I pivoted and began selling my bread via local Facebook groups, and people went wild for it. I got hundreds of messages right away! That’s when I realized I was onto something.”

The Southern California native says she really wanted to create a bread that was nutrient-dense and something that would truly  taste delicious—no compromise. Her priorities specifically focused on making the recipe rich in fiber, based completely around organic and whole food ingredients, and free from preservatives or stabilizers that could suit anyone with digestive sensitivities. Lane has definitely achieved all of the above that with AWG Bakery (which is short for air, water, and greens), as the signature Everyday Loaf checks every one of those boxes.

AWG Bakery products are available for nationwide shipping (and Southern California residents can find them at several health food grocers in the region, plus all Erewhon Market outposts). Lane says that the bread can be stored in the fridge for up to three days and the remainder of your loaf should then be sliced and frozen for best preservation. "This bread should also always be toasted, even the day you buy it, to achieve the most glorious texture and bite," she adds.

An RD’s thoughts on AWG Bakery's grain-free bread

I reached out to Nathalie Rhone, MS, RDN, CDN to see what she thought about AWG Bakery’s products. Rhone also loves to find nutritious alternatives to the classic white bread most of us grew up with, especially for her clients who have celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or other inflammatory autoimmune conditions that could be impacted by gluten consumption. "Finding a grain-free bread can be especially helpful for those suffering from IBS and other other gut-related problems, too, as grains can become inflammatory to the digestive system in these instances," says Rhone. Thankfully, AWG Bakery’s products get Rhone’s seal of approval—and then some.

“The organic, wholesome ingredients in this bread provide great nutritional value compared to most breads on the market,” Rhone says. “Specifically, the organic psyllium husk powder, almond flour, black chia seeds, and olive oil are rich in fiber, plant-based protein and healthy fat.” Not to mention the omega-3s you'll reap from the chia and the magnesium in the almond flour.

Rhone highlights the well-balanced combination of fiber, protein, and healthy fats. "These nutrients are essential, especially at breakfast, for maintaining cognitive functioning, balancing blood sugars, and keeping our energy levels stable all day long," she says. Plus, Rhone loves that these products are free from added sugars, synthetic leaveners, binders, gums, additives, dough conditioners, and flours that have been bleached or enriched. "This is extremely rare to find these days—just go browse the bread aisle at your local supermarket!"

While, I’ll admit, this bread is a bit of a splurge for me, it is such a worthwhile one. Now, I can finally enjoy my favorite snacks and meals, such as almond butter and cinnamon toast, and egg and avocado breakfast sandwiches, all while sticking to my autoimmune protocol for healing. And in an uncertain time of facing a anxiety-provoking health diagnosis and having to completely change the way I cook for myself, having the delicious comfort of AWG Bakery’s loaves are worth just about any price.

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