Posts Tagged ‘healthy-snack’

Product Spotlight on Bread

Friday, November 24th, 2006

Convenience has two faces. In order to save time – to mass produce, sacrifices are made. Case in point – bread.

First let’s look at wheat, the main ingredient in bread. Domesticated wheat – bred to grow faster, resist disease, increase yield among other things has sacrificed many of the nutrients in the original wild varieties of wheat – spelt, kamut, emmet, and farro are a few. Cool names too! Scientist are now breeding these ‘lost’ nutrients back into domesticated wheat. Kind of strange, why not go back to the wild variety?

Second, let’s look at leavening or what is done to make the dough rise. Today, super fast acting yeast cultures with special flours and conditioners make bread rise fast. Time, after all is money. Back in the old days, bread was made with a long slow fermentation using a culture of wild yeast and lactobacillus bacteria along with some other critters and enzymes. The result was a nutritious loaf with a sour tang – what we call sour dough bread.

So what’s the big deal? What’s wrong with our technologically ‘advanced’ mass-produced bread? Well, we now understand that fermenting grains, in this case, via the long slow rise of bread makes the grains easier to digest by breaking down the gluten and making the nutrients more bio-available. Nutrients are also added from the by-products of the various critters in the fermenting culture.

Further, grains have a compound called phytic acid, which while in our gut, bind to minerals that are essential to our health – like calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron and copper. Finally, the long fermentation breaks down much of the starch converting our loaf of bread from what is usually considered a refined carbohydrate into a complex carbohydrate.

There are many fine artisan breads being baked out there using the time honored tradition of a long slow fermentation using wild cultures – breads with crisp crusts, hearty textures and oh so much flavor. If you’d like to try baking a loaf or two or eight yourself, check out the posts on No-Knead Bread at Tasty Bytes.

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Product Spot Light on Yogurt

Monday, November 13th, 2006

There are so many yogurts out there to choose from – ‘light’, ‘Activa’, ‘creamy’, ‘custard’, ‘carb control’, ‘light ‘n fit’… and what is ‘whips’? You will find all of these in a dizzying array of flavors in tubs and jugs and tubes – some decorated with cartoon characters and wild colors to appeal to kids.

While yogurt is a healthy food, the best choice is usually not in one of these slick packages with fancy names and descriptions. Check the label – 10, 12, 14 grams or more of sugar? artificial sweeteners? artificial colors? or gasp…bovine growth hormone?

What should one look for in a truly healthy yogurt?

Ideally – the plain Jane – from pasture raised whole milk with no growth hormone, unsweetened, with live cultures – no added non-fat dry milk and from a local company.

That’s the ideal. The main criteria is – plain, no growth hormone and live cultures.

To flavor the yogurt add:

fresh in-season fruit or,
frozen fruit or,
dried fruit or,
apple sauce or,
a dash of vanilla

Still need a bit more sweetness, add:

a small amount of maple syrup or,
honey or,
a small pinch of stevia or,
even cinnamon.

Want some crunchies – how about some:

nuts or,
seeds or,
granola?

Go ahead – try out a few different brands of plain yogurts – they all have different flavor profiles. Here in the Bay Area in order of least tart – I enjoy Strauss, Brown Cow and Pavel’s Russian Style.

Miss the convenience of those little individual servings? Try this – Get a quart of your favorite plain yogurt and divide into smaller (reusable) serving size containers, add the ‘extras’ that you like, cover and store in the frig for the quick grab and go.

Now we’re talking – yogurt as a truly healthy part of a meal or snack!

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Time for a nutty whole grain snack

Monday, November 6th, 2006

Granola is a versatile food. Great for breakfast or to nibble on whether at your desk or on the road. Here is a recipe with a slight twist…or rather a head on collision with Asian ingredients. It’s got a bit of seaweed for extra minerals and a splash of tamari soy sauce to balance the sweetness of the honey. Use the best organic ingredients you can find and you are good to go. Sometimes I like to add dried cranberries or diced dried apples for variety.
Nutty Tamari Seaweed Granola

Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
——– ———— ——————————–
6 cups oats — old fashion, raw
3 tablespoons sesame seeds — whole raw
3 tablespoons flax seeds — whole
1/2 cup sunflower seeds — raw
1/2 cup pumpkin kernels — raw
6 tablespoons seaweed — flaked
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 cup honey
4 tablespoons oil
4 teaspoons tamari soy sauce

Preheat oven to 300F

Put dry stuff in a large bowl and toss to mix

Heat liqiud ingredients in small sauce pot until thin enough to pour.

Pour honey mixture on to oat mixture and stir to evenly coat.

Spread on two half sheet pans lined with parchment paper.

Bake, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown – about 25-30 minutes. Granola will become crispy after cooling. Stir in your favorite dried fruit if desired.

Cool and store in airtight containers.

Yield:
“3 quarts”

Enjoy!

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Substitute the donut thump for the Soda bread yum

Sunday, October 15th, 2006

When Irish Soda Bread lands in County Alameda – home to Berkeley California!

What else could happen but we stuff it full of nuts and seeds. This bread is inspired by Karyn D, one of my classmates at the Bauman College Nutrition Consultant program. She happens to hail from Ireland – home to my favorite fiddle music 😉

She made her very addictive Irish Soda bread for us which she learned how to make from her Mum by the POTPOT method.

Just so you know she’s the one who added the nuts and seeds. I’m just attempting to record an approximation of a recipe – not the recipe. This is what I came up with. Not as tasty as I remember hers to be but satisfies my craving. And I couldn’t in good conscious call it Irish soda bread because of the County Alameda influences!

Irish Lassie Crunch Bread

Amount Measure – Ingredient – Preparation Method
———————   ————-    ————————-
3/4 cup oatmeal – old fashion
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup almond meal
2 tablespoons sucanat or rapadura
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon sea salt, fine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter – chilled, and cut into cubes
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup flax seed
1/3 cup walnuts – finely chopped
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
2 Tablespoons sunflower seeds – for topping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a medium loaf pan with butter and lightly flour.

Toss together flours, almond meal, sucanat, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt in a large bowl to blend. Add butter. Using fingertips, rub in until coarse meal forms. Mix in nutsand seeds. Make well in center of flour mixture. Add buttermilk. Using fork, gradually stir dry ingredients into milk until just blend. Don’t overwork or you will have a very tough loaf of bread.

Transfer dough to prepared pan and flatten slightly. Sprinkle dough with the 2 tablespoons of sunflower seeds.

Bake bread until brown and tester inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean, about 30-40 minutes. Cool bread in pan 10 minutes. Transfer to rack to finish cooling. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yields 1 loaf with approximately 14 slices. Per Serving: 147 Calories; 8g Fat (49.4% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 14g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber.

A nice variation would be to add some dried fruit: raisins, apricots, cranberries, cherries.

Enjoy!

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