All posts by Jim

(Whole Wheat IS Whole Grain)

One question that I am asked quite often is “what is the difference between whole wheat and whole grain?” Or sometimes, someone will tell me that they don’t want whole wheat, they want whole grain, or even that whole wheat ISN’T whole grain. I usually explain that wheat is a type of grain, so they really need to focus on the “whole” part.  “Whole” means that the entire grain is included, all of the nutritious parts, whether that grain be wheat, or barley, or corn or whatever. Thank you WomensHealth Magazine for helping me explain:

Slice a day


Have you heard the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away?” Well, according to important new research, a new saying may be in order. Based on 25 years’ worth of data collected from over 100,000 people, there’s now one more reason to feel good about your daily bread: it may make you live longer! Simply swap out one daily serving of refined grains for one piece of Honey Whole Wheat (or any 28 gram serving of whole grains) and you can lower your risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 8%, and lower your overall mortality rate, according to new research.

Whole grains’ significant health benefits have been recognized by health care and nutrition professionals around the world, and evidenced in study after study. In “Association Between Dietary Whole Grain Intake and Risk of Mortality,” the authors carefully analyzed decades’ worth of data from two large studies to examine the association between mortality risk and whole grain consumption.

The results were astounding:

  • Not only did they find that higher intake of whole grains was significantly associated with lower mortality due to cardiovascular disease, it was also associated with lower mortality across the board.
  • From the data, the authors were able to estimate that for every 28 grams of whole grain consumption per day there was an associated 5% reduction in total mortality and a whopping 9% reduction in mortality from cardiovascular disease. That’s just one 2 oz. slice of our Honey Whole Wheat Bread!

How does that compare to the health impact of refined grain consumption? The researchers found that although there was a reduction in total mortality for every 28 grams of refined grains, the amount was small and no association with reduced death from cardiovascular disease was found.

The takeaway:

So what does all of this mean to you? Well, quite a bit. By adding just 28 grams of whole grains to your diet every day you can reduce your risk of dying from heart disease and extend the length of your life

 What does 28 grams look like at Great Harvest? Here are some ideas:

  • 24 grams in one slice of our Dakota Bread
    • 22 grams in one slice of our High 5 Fiber Bread
    • 25 grams in one slice of our Nine Grain Bread
    • 28 grams in just ½ cup of Groovy Granola
    • 22 grams in ½ cup of dry Cranberry Almond Oatmeal Mix
    • 32 grams in ½ cup of dry Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Mix
    • 22 grams in one of our 3 oz. Berry Oatmeal Muffins
  • And of course, you will always find 29 grams of freshly milled whole grain flour in just one slice of our made-from-scratch, fresh out of the oven Honey Whole Wheat Bread.
  • Hey, no one ever said healthy eating had to be hard!


Wu H, Flint AJ, Qi Q, et al. Association Between Dietary Whole Grain Intake and Risk of Mortality: Two Large Prospective Studies in US Men and Women. JAMA Intern Med. Published online January 05, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.6283. Accessed online here.

Red, White, and (Real) Blueberries

Today is Independence Day, a day to celebrate freedom. As a bakery owner, I am free to make choices about my business. Yesterday, as we were making our Red, White and Blueberry Bread, I started thinking about the dried blueberries we use. Dried blueberries are a fairly pricey ingredient; about $7 – $8 per pound. About a month ago, I received a phone call from a supplier, just in time for summer, offering me a free sample of something called Blueberry Flav-R-Bites. (I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to use that “registered trademark symbol” when I write those words, so let’s just call them blueberry flavored pellets.)

The salesman on the phone said that the blueberry flavored pellets were a fraction of the cost of real blueberries and that customers love the taste of the blueberry flavored bits more than actual real blueberries, and best of all, they are “all-natural.” Sounds too good to be true. I certainly can’t argue the price factor, and other bakery owners have confirmed that customers really do find the flavored pellets addictingly good. The ingredients are, not surprisingly, mostly sugar, along with flour, oil, starch, “natural flavor” and some small amount of actual dried blueberries.

OK, so they’re cheaper, customers love them, and they’re “all natural. Still, it just didn’t seem right to me. I believe in eating unprocessed, or minimally processed foods whenever possible. I subscribe to the theory that the shortest distance our food travels from the farm to our table is the best. So, our Great Harvest Red White and Blueberry bread is made with REAL, honest-to-goodness dried blueberries. Our muffins, scones and cakebreads are made with REAL fruit, usually either quick-frozen, dried, or fresh in-season. (quick-frozen and dried fruits are easier to work with when baking, as they do not fall apart or disintigrate when being mixed.

We’ll try to coax the natural flavor from the fruit, and leave the processed stuf for other bakeries. If we go to the effort of milling our own flour, and making everything from scratch, rather than relying on factory mass-produced dough or mixes, why would we cut corners on the fruit. I believe that our customers appreciate this attention to quality and freshness. It’s Independence Day, and we all have the freedom to choose what we believe is the best for us. Please let us know what you think.

ps. Here’s an interesting video on the disappearance of blueberries in  food:


I’ve been reading a ton of praise recently for Panera Bread Company who announced this week that they will eliminate artificial ingredients, sweeteners and preservatives from their products, by 2016. Everyone seems to agree that this is a good thing, and that they are a great company for doing it. I agree; it is a good thing. But I also have to wonder; why did they use them in the first place? And why will it take them two years to stop using them? I also have to wonder if they would still be doing this even if their sales weren’t declining.

Subway restaurants had the same response last month when they announced that they would stop adding yoga mat sneaker foam (azodicarbonamide) to their sandwich bread. I call it the repentant sinner effect. The sinner who repents is admired more than the person who never sinned, like the recovering addict is given more credit than the person who never abused substances.  Both of these companies are getting LOTS of praise for their announcements.

If you can’t wait until 2016, and want to eat some simple, natural, wholesome food today, I invite you to come visit our bakery. Since 1976, Great Harvest Honey Whole Wheat Bread has been made with 5 simple ingredients: Fresh, stone-ground whole wheat flour, filtered water, pure honey, fresh yeast, and salt. Such simple ingredients are the basis for all of our products. Look up the ingredients for Panera Honey Wheat Bread – I counted 38 ingredients!

At Great Harvest Bread Company, we mill our own whole wheat flour and make our own dough right here in our bakery in Newbury Park, it’s not trucked in from a factory somewhere else or sitting in a freezer.  Our motives are simple: we love what we do, and we care about our customers and our community. We aren’t trying to prove to our shareholders that we’re responding to trends. All we ask is that if you appreciate what we are doing, please tell your friends about us.


Phenomenal Bread – National Quality Award

Phenomenal Bread Trophy

We’re proud to announce that our bakery has recently been named the recipient of the 2013 Phenomenal Bread Award. This award recognizes our bakery as one of the top 5 Great Harvest Bread Companies in the nation for bread quality.
Great Harvest is a franchise, but it’s not run like a typical franchise. Each bakery is independent and is responsible for milling their own flour and making all of their products in-house from scratch.
As part of quality control, each of the 230 or so bakeries must submit loaves of our signature Honey Whole Wheat bread throughout the year. These loaves are evaluated based on taste, texture, appearance, color, size, flavor balance and general awesomeness. Each year, the top 25 bakeries with the highest scoring bread are invited to submit a final loaf for the award consideration. Only 5 bakeries are chosen each year for this award.
This is the second time Great Harvest Thousand Oaks has won the award. We also won it for 2010, and we have been finalists in 6 of the last 7 years. We couldn’t accomplish this without top-quality ingredients and a fantastic crew who give great attention to details and all the nuances of craft bread-making. Of course, we wouldn’t be anywhere without our wonderful customers!
Stop by and enjoy a free slice of our award winning bread!


Americans spend millions each year on diet books. Some of the most popular ones promise the secret to quick, effortless weight loss and a healthier life, all for the price of a paperback, and of course, the accompanying recipe books, journals, and maybe a DVD or two.

Many popular fad diets ignore the time-tested, medically and scientifically proven concept of eating a balanced diet of minimally-processed foods, lowering overall calories and exercising more. That’s simply not “new and sexy,” it’s not a quick and easy miracle fix, and it certainly won’t get a celebrity doctor booked on a daytime talk show. But over the long term, that is what works!

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Food-specific diets rely on the myth that some foods have special properties that can cause weight loss or gain. But no food can. These diets don’t teach healthful eating habits; therefore, you won’t stick with them. Sooner or later, you’ll have a taste for something else – anything that is not among the foods you’ve been “allowed” on the diet.
The popular diets are based on the idea that certain foods are bad, that many people are “allergic” to them or are insulin-resistant, and therefore gain weight when they eat them. The truth is that people are eating more total calories and getting less physical activity, and that is the real reason they are gaining weight.
Successful weight loss (losing weight and keeping it off for at least five years) is accomplished by making positive changes to both eating habits and physical activity patterns.

Ten Red Flags That Signal Bad Nutrition Advice:
Recommendations that promise a quick fix
2. Dire warnings of dangers from a single product or
3. Claims that sound too good to be true
4. Simplistic conclusions drawn from a complex study
5. Recommendations based on a single study
6. Dramatic statements that are refuted by reputable scientific organizations
7. Lists of “good” and “bad” foods
8. Recommendations made to help sell a product
9. Recommendations based on studies published without peer review
10. Recommendations from studies that ignore differences among individuals or groups

This information was created by:
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Nutrition Basics.” Health-e-Weight for Women. Brigham and Women’s Hospital – A Teaching Affiliate of Harvard Medical School, 20 Oct. 2011. Web. 23 May 2013.