Wholesome & Healthy category winner, 2023

Dr. Susan Wiebe is the winner of the “Wholesome and Healthy” category for this year’s National Festival of Breads competition with her nutritious Knotty 7 Grain Rolls! Susan grew up and practiced medicine in Wichita, Kansas, but currently lives in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, where she bakes for herself, her family and her friends. She has been baking since she was a young adult, but doesn’t remember baking very much as a young child or preteen.

While Susan was trying to develop a recipe for submission for this competition, she enjoyed another roll recipe she had made recently. She adapted the inspiration roll recipe to be this easy Knotty 7 Grain Rolls recipe by keeping the shape but adding the 7 grain cereal and olive oil to make a healthier option that achieves her goal. Susan enjoys this roll as a savory side to have with a salad or soup, but also as a nutritious sandwich base.

When asked to share her biggest tips for those making this recipe for the first time, she shares that allowing the 7 grain cereal to soften in the water at the beginning of the process is important. Susan informs us that this is a good time to get other things done around the house or kitchen while you wait for the cereal to soften. Another helpful tip that Susan shared that she says is true of all baking, not just for this recipe, is to assemble ingredients before you begin baking (Mise en place). She explains the frustration of getting halfway through the recipe before you realize that you are missing an ingredient, don’t have enough time to bake or cook the dish, or need more of something than you currently have. Taking advantage of resources is another tip that Susan encourages, specifically using the internet, recorded baking seminars, or even TV shows to get inspiration and motivation to continue learning and growing in your abilities.

Susan says that she believes that this simple roll recipe is a very good option for those trying to manage food intake or portion sizes because the dough is scaled into 12 equal portions. The size of these rolls is helpful in managing the amount of food you are consuming in each sitting. Contrasting this with making a loaf of bread, it can be easy to feel pressured to use or consume the whole loaf before it goes stale or bad, especially if you are only cooking and baking for yourself or you and another person. Susan adds that this bread is a healthier option because of the 7 grain cereal. She also likes the knot shape rather than the traditional bun shape as it is more fun to make, serve and consume! She says that having an attractive shape or way of serving often makes it more fun to consume something that you might not have otherwise chosen.

Baking is a way that Susan can express her creativity and learn and test new things in her kitchen, as well as give herself the opportunity to share her skills and creativity with others. She also bakes to feed herself and provide for herself rather than relying on stores or others to provide something that she not only can easily make but also something that she enjoys doing. Susan is inspired to bake by her good friend in Southeast Nebraska who is very fearless in the kitchen and always encourages Susan to try new things even if they are unfamiliar. Susan is also very impacted and influenced by British food writer, chef, baker and television presenter Mary Berry and her work in the kitchen, and she enjoys watching and rewatching the ‘Great British Baking Show’ to inspire herself.


Written by Jenna Fiscus, communications intern