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A meal in every slice

Minneapolis, Minn. — A hearty new organic bread from French Meadow Bakery has all the right stuff: sprouted spelt, amaranth and quinoa; pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds and dates, plus one of the most nutritious and misunderstood food plants in the world — hemp.

Healthy HempTM sprouted bread is French Meadow Bakery’s newest offering in the rapidly growing “functional foods” sector. Functional foods are designed to meet specific dietary needs, says Lynn Gordon, president of the nationally recognized organic bakery, which sells two million loaves a year.

In addition to Healthy Hemp, French Meadow makes two other functional breads: Woman’s Bread® with soy isoflavones and HealthSeed® spelt, both introduced last year. Later this year, the bakery will introduce a bread just for men.

Working backwards

Created for consumers who want lots of protein and fiber, all four breads present “a real baking challenge,” Gordon says. She and business partner Steve Shapiro turned to AURI cereal scientist Charon Wadhawan in Crookston for help in developing the recipes.

Wadhawan began with the ingredients and nutritional qualities French Meadow wanted in each bread, then worked backwards. “I would formulate a recipe, fax it to them, they would bake it, and we’d analyze it for taste, texture, appearance and nutrition,” Wadhawan says. Then the breads were tested at French Meadow Cafe, the company’s busy restaurant in Uptown Minneapolis.

Wadhawan also found ingredient sources, assembled nutrient facts, and made sure product labels met federal and state regulations.

Ladies first

Of the “functional foods” breads, Woman’s Bread was developed first and quickly became the company’s second-best-selling bread. Like all 22 French Meadow varieties, Woman’s Bread is kosher, organic and naturally leavened. No sweeteners, dairy products or fats are added. Soy isoflavones in Woman’s Bread supply 40 milligrams of phyto-estrogen per serving, touted to relieve symptoms of PMS and menopause.

HealthSeed spelt was developed at the request of French Meadow customers who wanted a high-protein, wheat-free bread. It’s lower in carbohydrates than most breads, making it suitable for the popular “zone” diet.

Inquiries from Canada

Healthy Hemp sprouted bread was also developed by request. In late 1999, “Canadian hemp growers approached me and said we’d be the perfect company to do a hemp bread,” Gordon says.

She had long been interested in the versatile hemp plant, which has thousands of food and fiber uses but suffers from a bad case of “mistaken identity.” She and Wadhawan incorporated high-protein hemp flour into a toasting bread she calls “a meal in a slice of bread.” Hearty Hemp made its market debut in May. Like the other functional breads, it is selling well, Shapiro says. “They’re among our fastest growing products.”

Now, Wadhawan is helping French Meadow develop a high-protein, high-fiber, prostate-friendly bread with saw palmetto for men, due out this fall. Says Gordon: “So many men were saying, you’ve got a bread for women, why not make one for men?”

When Good Morning America called

AURI has assisted French Meadow in other important ways. In July, for example, Woman’s Bread was featured on the television show Good Morning America. The day before the broadcast, ABC producers called Gordon, asking for additional nutrition information.

“They had to have that information or they weren’t going to feature the bread,” Wadhawan recalls. “Lynn called me late in the afternoon, and we dropped everything to get it done.” Gordon and Wadhawan worked for several hours, making phone calls to suppliers and calculating nutritional information in the form requested by ABC News.

The mad scramble paid off. Since that broadcast, Gordon says, “We’ve been getting 2,000 hits a day on our Web site.”