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Sunday, May 9, 2010

French Meadow Bakery: Yeast Free Bread That Actually Tastes Good

French Meadow Bakery has a wide range of breads, bagels, tortillas, cookies, and brownies that are various combinations of certified gluten-free, lactose free, casein free, lactose free, trans fat free, vegan, yeast free, certified USDA organic, and low gylcemic for diabetics. They contacted me about reviewing their products. I don’t have food sensitivities but I know some of you do and as a foodie, my curiosity was peaked.

However I was cautious about the taste. I’ve heard people with Celiac Disease  describe something as “not bad for gluten free” which in my very limited experience (a 3 ounce taste of gluten free craft beer to be exact) that roughly translates as “not completely wretched.”

Since I don’t have any food sensitivities, I think I can give you a straightforward review of this bread and if it tastes like real food. The best thing that could happen is I find a yummy new bread. The worst thing that could happen is…well, I do have a compost bin.


Husband I tried the French Meadow Bakery Hemp Bread (Low Glycemic, Vegan, Yeast Free), Healthseed Spelt Bread (Organic, Vegan, Yeast Free), and Flax and Sunflower Seed Bread (Organic, Vegan, Yeast Free.) We ate each flavor of the bread as toast with honey and again in a sandwich with turkey, sliced mozzarella cheese, and leftover homemade Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce. We taste tested multiple times because we have a habit of eating breakfast and lunch each day.

The French Meadow breads are much more flavorful and chewy than the whole wheat bread I regularly buy. I’m really surprised because I was lead to believe that most gluten free food tasted terrible. There is a nice mix of grains and I really enjoyed the dense flavor and grainy texture of all the breads I tried.

There were a few noticeable differences. The bread is sold frozen in the freezer case because it doesn’t have any preservatives in it. This isn’t an issue for me because I usually buy my bread four loaves at time and store them in the freezer until I’m ready to make a sandwich. As always, your mileage may vary.


Pros

  • The Hemp and the Spelt had a nice multigrain flavor which is what I like and look for in dark breads. 
  • The Flax and; Sunflower bread reminded me a lot of a rye or sourdough in taste. So much that I have to keep double checking the package to make sure it was neither rye nor sourdough bread. Good job French Meadow. 
  • The Hemp bread is made from industrial hemp. In other words, the THC levels are so low it’s impossible to get high from eating the bread. Or from smoking a slice if that’s your thing.

Neutral

  • Since the bread is a little denser, it took a bit longer to defrost and toast. Not really a good or bad thing, just something to be aware of.

Cons

  • Husband didn’t like the Hemp bread. He said it had an after taste that he didn’t like. I couldn’t detect what he was talking about but then again I liked it (and not because I got a free loaf of bread. One loaf we got free for review. The other two we bought with our own money because they looked interesting.) 
  • This stuff is expensive - Up to $5.50 a loaf. Fortunately French Meadow Bakery has coupons
  • The slices of Spelt and Hemp loaves were significantly smaller than a traditional loaf of sliced bread. Makes sense since all of the breads we tried are yeast free.

The verdict? While a bit more expensive than regular sandwich bread, I’d buy it again on occasion because it tastes good, which other than being transfat and HFCS free, is what I want in bread. Based on my good experience with the breads, I’m going to be on the lookout for French Meadow Bakery’s other products in the future and give them a whirl if I find them for sale. If you have gluten, yeast, dairy, vegan, or sugar sensitivities French Meadow Bakery’s breads are a great option that doesn’t sacrifice on taste. Well done French Meadow Bakery!

Update 4/9/10 3:43 PM - I updated the types of bread with their designations. Turns out I didn't buy the gluten free varies of bread that I first thought I had but all are yeast free which is something I haven't tried either. Based on my experience with the breads I tried I will try to find the gluten free flavors of bread.

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Hey FTC in case you weren’t reading carefully: French Meadow Bakery gave me one free loaf of bread so I could conduct this review. I bought two more loaves with my own money for comparison. French Meadow Bakery didn’t pay me to say nice things about their product all opinions are my own and longtime readers know I can be very opinionated.


Further Disclosure: I feel like a jerk going into this review and thinking this bread might taste terrible based on my limited experience with a gluten free beverage. I am so happy I was wrong about that.