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Navigating the bakery aisle

Basil Chicken and Piquillo Pepper Panini
Basil Chicken and Piquillo Pepper Panini - Submitted

Food Wise with Kerri Robichaud, RD

What ever happened to the days when buying store-bought bread meant choosing between white, whole wheat and rye? Nowadays, there are so many choices of breads, buns, bagels, wraps and more (not to mention all of the sweet baked goods) that a trip through the bakery department can be nothing short of overwhelming.

When it comes to nutrition, all bakery items are not created equal! It’s important to keep in mind that a healthy-sounding name does not necessarily mean that a loaf of bread is packed with nutrients. You’ll get the greatest health benefits from eating whole grains.

As a general rule, when shopping for bakery goods of all kinds, it’s best to look for whole grain products most often. Whole grains have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers and can also help with weight management.

Whole grain products are made using flours that include all three parts of the grain kernel, including the outer bran, where nearly all of the fibre is found; the middle endosperm, which contains the starch; and the inner germ layer which is rich in nutrients. On the other hand, white flour is more highly processed and is made from only the endosperm, so it provides primarily starch and lacks the nutrients that the other parts of the grain contribute.

Health Canada recommends that at least half of all grain products consumed in a day should be from whole grains. Unfortunately, many Canadians fall short of this goal and part of the problem may be the deception behind whole grain packaging. We may think we’re making a nutritious choice based on catchwords such as “multi-grain”, “ancient grain” or even “whole wheat” that we see on the packaging, when in fact the food may contain little to no whole grains. So how do we know if we’re making a nutritious choice? The most reliable clue lies within the list of ingredients.

Look on the food label’s ingredient list for the words “whole grain” in front of each grain name. If whole grains are the main ingredients in a food, they should appear first in the ingredient list, such as whole grain whole wheat flour. To get the most from your whole grains, try to choose breads that have at least 2-3 grams (or more!) of fibre per slice. Remember, “multi-grain” does not necessarily mean whole grain. Multi-grain products will include a variety of grains, but those grains may not be whole. Similarly, whole wheat bread may have part of the outer bran and inner germ removed. Generally, whole grain products are a more nutritious choice because they are higher in fibre, vitamins and minerals.

In the bakery aisle, choose whole grain bread for toast, pita, tortillas or bagels instead of croissants, doughnuts or pastries. Try to keep grain products that are high in fat and added sugars such as cookies, cakes, pastries and pies, for special occasions.

This Basil Chicken and Piquillo Pepper Panini is a great rush-hour dinner that is sure to please the family. PC Thins Ancient Grain Buns are thinner than regular buns but are packed with whole grains and four grams of fibre per serving. To complete your meal, try pairing the panini with a side salad or some veggie sticks.

Basil Chicken and Piquillo Pepper Panini

1/2 cup (125 mL) PC Mayonnaise

1/3 cup (75 mL) chopped fresh basil

1 tsp (5 mL) grated lemon rind

1 tsp (5 mL) fresh lemon juice

1/4 tsp (1 mL) freshly ground black pepper

1 pkg (450 g) PC Thins Ancient Grain Buns

1-2/3 cups (400 mL) shredded skinless rotisserie chicken

6 PC Black Label Piquillo Peppers Roasted Red Peppers, drained, patted dry and split open

1-1/2 cups (375 mL) grated PC Mozzarella Cheese

1 cup (250 mL) lightly packed baby arugula


1. Combine mayonnaise, basil, lemon rind, lemon juice and black pepper in small bowl.

2. Open buns; spread mayonnaise mixture over both sides. Arrange chicken on bottom of each bun; top with peppers, mozzarella, arugula and top of bun.

3. Heat panini press to high. Arrange three sandwiches on grill; cook for 4 to 6 minutes or until bun is crispy and cheese is melted. Repeat with remaining three sandwiches. Let stand 2 minutes before serving; cut each panini in half to serve.

Makes 6 Servings

Per serving: 460 calories, fat 25 g, sodium 620 mg, carbohydrate 42 g, fibre 5 g, protein 19 g

Recipe Source:

Kerri Robichaud is a Registered Dietitian with Atlantic Superstore in Amherst, Nova Scotia. Have a nutrition question? Want to book an appointment or shop with the dietitian? Book online at www.atlanticsuperstore/dietitians, contact me by phone at (506) 866-2115 or by email at

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