Fresh Herbs From My Garden

Ooh I just picked a sprig each of fresh oregano and basil from our backyard garden, and chopped them for my fried egg breakfast. I’ve never had fresh oregano and wow, it’s wonderful. I’m so lucky.

So, fried egg (fried in 1/2 tsp coconut oil in cast iron) with chopped herbs, garnished with a couple spoonfuls of salsa and topped with more fresh herbs. And a side of fresh baked rosemary whole grain bread. Life is good!

:)

Whole Foods Bulk Isle

I love the Whole Foods Market bulk isle! I love that I can buy as little or as much as I want of a product.

Keep in mind, not all bulk isles are created equal; there are some differences in products offered.

I recently visited the Whole Foods in Dedham, MA, the state of the art, environmentally-friendly, huge, Northeast flagship store and was thrilled to find bulk local honey, local maple syrup, and agave nectar. The agave was on sale, and I have never tried it, so I bought a container. (PS. I really like it!) Not all stores carry these items, and I’m on the look out! I will definitely buy all three if I can find them!

Some stores offer bulk spices, which I also really appreciate. I buy most of my spices at Penzey’s Spices, but it’s nice to know I can buy a tiny bit of a spice that I don’t use that often (like cream of tartar) or maybe a small amount of an unfamiliar spice like a curry powder. The good news is, unsanitary spice containers of the past are gone; they now offer easy pour spouts which keep out germs and keep in freshness.

I also love buying dried beans in the bulk isle. They must be really fresh, because they take no time at all to cook! I still soak the beans for a few hours, but once I start cooking, they are done in a snap! Almost as fast as the fresh cranberry beans I received in my CSA share last summer. I have been buying navy beans and black beans, along with dried garbanzo (chick peas), as well as lentils and split peas. It’s so convenient to buy a smaller amount, so I’ll always have fresh! Plus, it gives me an opportunity to try out some interesting varieties of beans, that I might not want in a full bag.

Besides beans, I also regularly purchase brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat couscous, steel cut oats, oatmeal, oat bran, sucanat sugar, rye flour, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, pecans, filberts, raisins, dates, barley, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds.

It’s almost always cheaper to buy from the bulk isle compared to commercially bagged products. And I love that most of the items are organic!

If you haven’t considered the bulk isle at your local Whole Foods, then I suggest giving it a try. Other stores like Hannaford also offer a few bulk choices as well. But I don’t believe Hannaford is as inexpensive as Whole Foods. Perhaps because the turn-around isn’t as great.

Bob Harper Biggest Loser TV Commercial for Quaker Oatmeal Squares Cereal

What’s up with Bob Harper endorsing processed cereal? He’s in a new TV ad for Quaker Oatmeal Squares, trying to convince America how wonderful this processed cereal is. I understand that a person needs to make a living, but it’s very disappointing that he would choose such a poor food product to promote. Shame on Bob Harper!

Take a closer look at Quaker Oatmeal Squares and how outright deceiving the advertising is (including Bob Harper’s enthusiast endorsement!)

The ad proudly states ONE serving has “96% of your minimum whole grain needs” – the small print on their web page states:

**Experts recommend eating at least three one-ounce equivalents of whole grains, or 48 grams daily, based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Quaker Oatmeal Squares has 46 grams per serving.

What does 48 grams of whole grain exactly mean? Well, the total weight of one cup of Quaker Oat Squares is 55 grams. So, minus the sugar, sodium, and other assorted preservatives and chemicals, and you’ll find a net of 46 grams of whole grain.

But Bob Harper doesn’t mention that a bowl of this crap also provides 10 grams of sugar, which is about a third of the suggested refined sugar consumption (Did somebody say Fruit Loops?), along with some lovely BHT and fake food coloring. Don’tcha just love all those wonderful ingredients that you can’t pronounce!

Quaker Oatmeal Squares Ingredients:

WHOLE OAT FLOUR, WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, BROWN SUGAR, SUGAR, MALTODEXTRIN, MALTED BARLEY EXTRACT, MOLASSES, SODIUM BICARBONATE, SALT, CALCIUM CARBONATE, REDUCED IRON, SODIUM ASCORBATE, YELLOW 5, NIACINAMIDE*, ZINC OXIDE, BHT (A PRESERVATIVE), VITAMIN E ACETATE, VITAMIN A PALMITATE, YELLOW 6, THIAMIN MONONITRATE*, PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE*, RIBOFLAVIN*, FOLIC ACID*.
*ONE OF THE B VITAMINS.

Compare Quaker Oatmeal Squares cereal to REAL old fashioned steel cut oats from Bob’s Red Mill, which contains, hmm, say it with me… OATS!

One 1/4 cup (dry) of gives you just about the same amount of “whole grain” goodness @ 44 grams. Even when you add a tsp of sweetener and a pinch of salt, you still come up healthier with less calories, less sugar, and less sodium, compared to the Quaker Oatmeal Squares. And the bonus is you leave out the chemicals, preservatives, and other assorted ickyness that Bob Harper endorses.

Too bad Bob Harper didn’t choose a company like Bob’s Red Mill to support, but then again, they don’t have a huge marketing budget like Quaker and their parent company Pepsico!

Bob Harper is raking in the big bucks but, to me, he’s looking like the Biggest Loser!

Healthy Whole Wheat, Barley, Coconut Milk Pancakes

UPDATED: 2011-05-15 (see below for banana pancakes variation)
It’s always comforting to have pancakes on Sunday morning! I whipped up a batch of batter using whole wheat & barley flours, So Delicious coconut milk, and olive oil, and while I washed weekend dishes, my lovely DH cooked the pancakes!

He made 5 large pancakes. They’re very hearty and healthy, but not something I’d make every day. 1 and 1/2 pancakes filled me up, while DH ate 2 and 1/2 pancakes. I’m happy to have one left over for tomorrow’s breakfast.

whole wheat, barley, coconut milk & olive oil pancakes

I was inspired by a white flour pancake recipe I found at All Recipes, Here’s my healthy whole grain version:

Whole Grain Healthy Pancakes Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (I love using King Arthur’s white whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 cup barley flour (or any other whole grain flour, a little cornmeal tastes yummy too)
  • 3.5 2.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sucanat sugar (or plain sugar)
  • 1 1/2 cup coconut milk (or almond milk, or dairy milk if that is what you like – you can also mix the milk with a little water)
  • 1 whole egg
  • 3 2 Tbsp olive oil

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Whisk all dry ingredients: flours, baking powder, salt, sugar in a medium bowl.
  2. Using a large glass measuring cup, measure the coconut milk, then mix in whole egg and olive oil.
  3. Pour wet ingredients into dry, and mix until just combined. It’s a thick batter. If you like a thinner batter, add more coconut milk.
  4. This is the only time I recommend using a non-stick pan, just because it’s a lot easier and there’s no need for additional oil. Cook pancakes to your desired size and shape. As I said, we made a total of 5 large ones, but you might like smaller or thinner pancakes.

Enjoy!

I ate them with my fingers, dipping pancake pieces into a small bowl of real maple syrup!

Nutritional Data

Makes 5 pancakes / One serving = 1 pancake

Use the nutritional data as a guide; the info is not absolute, your results might vary considerably depending on the total weight of the finished dish.

Calories: 237
Total Fat: 11g
Saturated Fat: 3g (saturated fat from vegetable sources is not the same as animal fat sources)
Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g
Monounsaturated Fat: 6.5g
Trans: 0
Cholesterol: 42mg
Sodium: 551mg
Potassium: 79mg
Carbs: 27g
Fiber: 4g
Sugar: 2g
Protein: 6g
Vitamin A: 4%
Calcium: 28%
Iron: 22%

UPDATE: 2011-03-20: Made pancakes again this morning. It’s becoming a nice tradition! I added a little bit of cornmeal to the barley flour, and instead of the non-stick pan, DH used our cast iron, with about 1 tsp of coconut oil. I don’t know if it was the added corn or the cast iron (or both) but these pancakes ROCKED! They had a slight crispy coating (which is probably from the cast iron) and I didn’t even need syrup. I ate them straight! They were delicious!

UPDATE: 2011-05-15: Made banana pancakes this morning in the cast iron. Yum. Tweaked the ingredients a little bit. Since I added 2 medium bananas (1 cup), I left out the sugar. I had previously noticed a slight ‘metallic’ taste so today, I tried reducing the baking powder to 2.5 tsp and the pancakes were equally light and fluffy. I also reduced the oil to 2 Tbsp.

Recipe: Whole Wheat Rye Sesame Muffins

whole wheat rye sesame muffins

I haven’t been inspired (or had the time) to make any muffins or quick breads for months. But I’ve been craving desserts, so tonight, I decided to take to heart Michael Pollan’s Food Rule #39: Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.

Which muffin recipe to make? I thought about peanut butter chocolate chip, blueberry, and oat raisin, but decided I’d like to try something new.

I searched through my Evernote recipes and found a lovely sesame seed muffin recipe. I loved that the recipe included a good amount of sesame seeds, but I wanted more whole grains, so I adapted it to my needs.

Here’s my modifications:

Healthy Low Sugar Whole Wheat Rye Sesame Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup rye flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder (aluminum free)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp (approx) freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 cup milk (I used So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk, but almond milk would also work very well, as well as plain yogurt)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (the good stuff, not imitation)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together whole wheat & rye flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and sesame seeds.
  3. Whisk oil and egg together in a small glass bowl or large glass measuring cup until slightly frothy
  4. Mix in molasses, milk, and vanilla.
  5. Pour wet mixture into dry flour bowl and stir to combine. Try not to over mix.
  6. Scoop into 12 muffin tins lined with paper and bake for 14-20 minutes.

whole wheat rye sesame muffins

Notes:

  • The mixture is firm, so it’s easy to pile the batter high in the tin.
  • I think I’ll add more spice next time. The cinnamon and nutmeg was fine, but I think it needs more ginger and maybe even a bit of anise or fennel seed.
  • It was easy to scoop the batter into tins using my Oxo Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop.
  • I slightly over-cooked the muffins, so next time I’ll bake for only 14 minutes. I bake in a counter-top convection oven.
  • These muffins are not sweet, so more sweetener can be added if that is what you like. We plan on topping with a dollop of jelly for tomorrow’s breakfast!
  • Raisins would be a great addition, as would some dark chocolate chips (leave out the spices).
  • The sesame seeds are yummy! I might increase the amount added next time. They add a touch of chewy sweetness to the muffin.

Nutritional Data

Each muffin is approximately 2 oz.

Calories: 165
Total Fat: 8.3g
Saturated: 1.7g
Polyunsaturated: .5g
Monounsaturated: 3.2g
Cholesterol: 16.3mg
Sodium: 225mg
Potassium: 53mg
Total Carbs: 17g
Fiber: 2.7g
Sugars: 4g
Calcium: 13.5%
Iron: 12.5%

Use the nutritional data as a guide; the info is not absolute, your results might vary considerably depending on the total weight of the finished dish.

UPDATE: For breakfast, we ended up melting some organic whipped butter on top of a sliced muffin. It was yummy. I’ll definitely add a bit more sweetener next time, or possibly some sweeter mix-ins like raisins or chocolate chunks, along with a bit more sesame seeds.

butter topped whole wheat rye sesame muffins

Experiment: Whole Wheat, Cornmeal, Barley Sesame Seed Bread

whole wheat bread made with cornmeal and barley with sesame seeds

I love experimenting with cold fermentation for developing flavorful bread dough. I started a new (for me) bread experiment yesterday, based on the technique of Peter Reinhart’s book “Whole Grain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor“. In the book, Peter advises to mix both a mash and a biga, refrigerate for at least 12 hours, then mix up a new dough with the two plus a small amount of ingredients.

I decided that I would try mixing one biga mash together with no sugar, oil, salt and just a touch of instant yeast, refrigerate for a day, then mix up a new dough using the biga mash with new flour and ingredients.

The result was a fair success! A yummy fluffy high rising whole grain bread. I love a hearty dense loaf, but sometimes you just want bread to be light and airy!

I still need to work on this technique though, although the taste is fantastic, the “crumb” is usually too crumbly and the top crust pulls away. By the time I get to the middle/end of the loaf, it’s usually difficult to slice thinly. I think it might be an issue of not shaping my loaf properly, or it could be over-proofing (final rise). I don’t think it’s an issue of too much milk and/or oil but maybe my dough needs more water. It’s also possible that I am not kneading long enough, but that seems hard to believe since I’m using a machine for the final dough. I’ll have to do some additional reading on the Fresh Loaf web site, and maybe re-read Peter’s book. There is still so much to learn!

whole wheat bread made with cornmeal and barley with sesame seeds

Anyway, here is my process.

Biga Soaker – Day One

It only take a few minutes to mix up the biga soaker dough.

Note: I use the West Bend 41300 Hi-Rise Electronic Dual-Blade Breadmaker for all kneading.

Biga Soaker Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk product. I used So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk, but I have used almond milk in previous recipes.
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 oz whole grain flour = I used 1.5 oz cornmeal and 2.5 oz barley flour
  • 8 oz King Arthur white whole wheat flour, (for a total of 12 oz for ALL flours)
  • 1/4 tsp instant yeast

NO salt, oil, sugar just yet

Bread Machine Biga Directions:

It’s possible to process the bread dough using the “dough” setting, but you should NOT allow it to rise the bread. Shut off the machine after the kneading process finishes, and remove the dough before the warm rise step.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Machine knead for about 10 minutes
  2. Stop the bread maker for an autolyse rest for 20-30 minutes. During this resting time, leave the dough in the bread machine pan.
  3. Re-start the machine and knead again for 10 minutes
  4. After 10 minutes, shut off machine again, and allow a short rest of 2-3 minutes before transferring the dough (using wet hands) to a bowl.
  5. Cover bowl and keep in fridge for at least 12 hours and up to 3 days.

Bread Baking Day:

Take the dough out of fridge, allow to warm up for at least two hours.
Chop up dough into several smaller pieces, using pastry scraper or sharp knife.
In bread machine pan, add dough pieces with the following ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 oz white flour
  • 2 Tbsp sucanat sugar
  • 1.5 tsp kosher salt
  • 1.5 tsp instant yeast
  • Optional seeds or nuts (1/4 cup)

Baking Day Directions

  1. Using the bread maker dough setting, combine all ingredients in bread maker and allow the machine to do it’s thing including the rise.
  2. When machine is finished, wet hands, and pull dough out of the pan.
  3. Gently form into loaf shape and place into loaf pan (lined with parchment paper)- this is where I might be going wrong. I think I am not shaping the loaf correctly.
  4. Allow to proof for 30-60 minutes
  5. In preheated 375F oven, bake for 30 minutes
  6. Or until internal temperature of bread reaches 190F
  7. Remove from loaf pan and allow to cool for at least an hour.

Makes one 30 oz loaf (after baking and cooling) – even better, it’ll also make two smaller loaves too!

whole wheat bread made with cornmeal and barley with sesame seeds

Nutritional Data:

Calories: 97
Total Fat: 3.5g
Saturated: 1g
Monounsaturated: 1g
Cholesterol: 0
Sodium: 13.5mg
Potassium: 14mg
Carbs: 14g
Fiber: 1.5g
Sugar: 1.5g
Protein: 3g
Calcium: 1.5%
Iron: 5%

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Raisin Muffins – Recipe

I wanted to bake some muffins for my aunt when we visit next week, so I googled recipes for oatmeal raisin muffins, and found this recipe:

http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/breakfast/recipe-quick-and-homey-oatmeal-raisin-muffins-126095

The author wrote that the recipe was adapted from the More-With-Less Cookbook so I rushed to put a copy on hold at the library to check it out. Reviews on Amazon are glowing, but there are a few negative reviews scattered as well, so it’s a great book to borrow before purchasing.

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Raisin Muffin recipe

inspired by thekitchn.com – makes 10-12 muffins

whole wheat oatmeal raisin muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup oats – old fashioned or quick
  • 1/4 cup Wheat Germ (or additional oats)
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 6 oz container yogurt
  • water
  • 1 large egg
  • 1-2 tsp Sucanat or brown sugar (Optional for topping)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°
  2. Grease a muffin pan, or line with muffin papers
  3. Combine the flour, oats, wheat germ, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl.
  4. Add in raisins and stir to coat with flour mixture
  5. In a large measuring cup, pour 1/4 cup molasses and container of plain yogurt and add enough water so all liquids total 1 cup. Mix very well with fork or whisk so all ingredients are combined.
  6. Whisk the large egg with olive oil, then stir together with the yogurt mixture.
  7. Pour all liquids into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  8. Scoop batter into prepared muffin tin and then optionally sprinkle a little bit of sucanat over each one.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes.
  10. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for a minute or two. Then transfer each muffin to a cooling rack.

Enjoy!

whole wheat oatmeal raisin muffins

My Notes:

  • Sodium is pretty high, I assume due to the large amount of baking powder. I think I’ll reduce that next time, possibly by half.
  • I think it would be difficult to divide the batter into 12 muffin tins. I got 10, and they were just the right size. I think 12 would be a bit on the small size. It could be because I used a package of instant oatmeal instead of the old fashioned oats. Play it by ear.

Nutritional Data:

Calories 186
Fat: 7g
Saturated: 1g
Monounsaturated: 4g
Cholesterol: 22mg
Sodium: 328mg
Potassium: 130mg
Carbs: 28g
Fiber: 3g
Sugar: 10g
Protein: 5g
Calcium: 16%
Iron: 10%

Peter Reinhart’s Transitional Whole Wheat Bread – Using a Bread Machine

Peter Reinhart Whole Grain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor

I’ve been experimenting with bread dough, and have found that a long slow fermentation makes the most flavorful, delicious bread! I experimented with my own recipe, but wanted to keep exploring.

I’m all about whole grains, so reading Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor seemed like the next logical step!

I’m really not into hand kneading, even when authors say how easy it is. I have no patience for it, even if it’s only for a few minutes. I use my bread maker and I am very happy with it! I started with a one paddle Breadman, and recently purchased a West Bend 41300 Hi-Rise double paddle breadmaker, which I absolutely love!

Anyway, my first crack at his recipes (Multigrain Stuan recipe – page 102) was a semi-disaster, but I was so proud and happy to finally be working with a soaker and biga! Whoo hoo!

My second try at the same recipe was better. My soaker consisted of random amounts of cornmeal, barley wheat, wheat germ, oat bran, and wheat bran. The cornmeal gave it a pleasant texture.

Next, I tried the Transitional Whole Wheat sandwich bread recipe (page 99) and yum, it really turned out well.
Just look at the oven spring!

Awesome oven spring!

Continue reading “Peter Reinhart’s Transitional Whole Wheat Bread – Using a Bread Machine”

First Soaker and Biga!

Peter Reinhart Whole Grains

Well it was my first try at a soaker and biga. Whoo hoo!

I followed a recipe from Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor

I followed the Multigrain Stuan recipe on page 102. Actually I shouldn’t even be calling them recipes, (thanks Pen!) they are actually called “formulas”

I started out very well. I added a whole mess o’ grains and flours to the soaker. I mixed a combination of corn meal, barley flour, wheat bran, oat bran, oatmeal, and rye flour, added the salt, whole wheat flour, powder buttermilk and water. I kept it on the counter until this morning.

The Biga was just as easy to mix. I used my bread machine, and mixed the whole wheat, instant yeast and water. Shaped it into a ball, and allowed it to rest in the refrigerator until this morning.

This morning, I warmed up the Biga for a couple of hours, then, along with the grain soaker, I cut it up into smaller chunks with my pastry cutter.

This is where I went astray. I mistakenly read the wrong section on the page, and thought there was 3/4 cup of liquid. oops. That was the Biga! So, for the final dough, I poured water and the rest of the ingredients into my bread machine and let it knead. Hmm, it looked awfully soupy and that’s when I realized my mistake! Ugh!

I had to add a ton more flour, I kept adding and adding until it finally looked normal. I figured since it was so messed up, I better allow the machine to go through its paces. I kneaded for 10, then rested for 20, then kneaded again for 10.

Then I removed the dough and let it rise in a bowl near our wood stove for about 60 minutes. There was really a lot of dough, so I figured it might work better as two loaves; I divided the dough with my pastry cutter, and shaped into loaves.

After baking and cooling, I started slicing for tomorrow’s lunch sandwiches. Eh, not so good. The crust came apart from the crumb. Oh well. I had a few bites of crust, and it was surprisingly alright, considering the salt and sugar flavor was diluted from all the extra flour.

I’m not giving up, and will definitely try again. It was a great learning experience, and a mistake that I will probably not repeat again! haaha!

Recipe: Ginger Lemon Muffins (Made with Fresh Ginger)

UPDATED 2011-05-11

These ginger lemon muffins were a big hit! They are light, healthy, and bursting with fresh zesty ginger flavor! The fresh ginger requires a bit more work, but it’s worth it!

ginger lemon muffins made with fresh ginger

Continue reading “Recipe: Ginger Lemon Muffins (Made with Fresh Ginger)”