Thursday, May 28, 2009

What is seems vs. what it is

One of my friends told me recently that they thought I was a great cook. Though I accept the compliment with pride I should put to rest this misconception!
For one, great cooking really is subjective I could whip up a fabulous tofu fajita dinner... if you like tofu!
For two, I ask myself all the time how it is my family hasn't started ordering in for dinner every night. I put them through so much experimenting and so many disclaimers. "Sorry, the tortillas are gummy I tried half chickpea flour this time", "WOW one too many cloves of garlic in the pesto", "okay before you try these, you need to know that I tried to substitute the oil in it with peanut butter".
Which leads me to my third point which is really a congratulations to you all for trying new recipes, branching out and taking the healthier road. The fact of the matter is that healthy cooking is harder than non-healthy cooking. - White flour making baking bread a breeze. It takes a lot of work and mistakes to use wheat flour or other substitutions. - Eggplant is a bland vegetable - Ten thousand ways to make beans still makes beans and not steak ... I could go on.
I commend all of your cooking skills for even attempting it! I post recipes that have been trustworthy but I don't want to give the impression that all my meals turn out to be glorious things. Last week I used some turnips in my recipe for beet salad and ruined the whole thing, the leftovers are still in the fridge as if someone might come along and eat them. I frequently serve pita bread without pockets in them, chickpea burgers that are falling apart and in no way resemble a burger, soggy pizzas, gummy muffins, boring stews, burnt fish, and super dense and short bread. My point is DON'T GIVE UP, and don't ever assume that what your doing isn't good enough or isn't as perfect as someone else, because it is an absolute fact that they are messing up too!

Monday, May 25, 2009


In keeping with the bread-ish theme I'm going to post my recipe for Wheat Bran Rolls (since I had a few requests for it!) Actually the recipe if off the side of the wheat bran box with some adjustments. I usually divide the recipe in half. If I don't then I freeze the unused ones and they thaw out and taste perfectly after frozen. I have also formed them into hamburger bun shaped rolls, baked them, sliced them and froze them. You need to know too that these have butter, egg and honey in them - making them a little on the decadent side, but a good recipe from splurging off your diet.
1 pkg of yeast (that's 2 1/4 tsp)
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup wheat bran
3/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup unbleached AP flour

Proof the yeast (this is how) - Add the yeast to 1/2 cup warm water; stir to dissolve and let stand for 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, pour the boiling water over butter and honey, stir in the wheat bran and salt. Cool this to lukewarm temperature (I usually stick it in the fridge because I'm in a hurry).
Beat egg and add to the wheat bran mixture. Stir in dissolved yeast and mix well.
Stir in flour 1/2 cup at a time. Knead for 5 minutes. Place the dough in a bowl, cover and let rise for 1 hour or so. Punch down and divide into equal portions, usually about 20 or so. Place them on the baking sheet you plan to bake them on and let them rest for 10 minutes. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Whole Wheat for beginners

I've just finished researching how diet can effect hypothyroidism which is not at all what I want to talk about right now but I do want to pass along that I find it interesting that diets have such an impact on so many of our ailments. For example someone with a mild case of hypothyroidism would be prescribed a dosage of synthetic tyrosine. But this comes naturally in a plethora of good foods. But not only that, there is a substance found in other good foods called goitrogens that can inhibit an already sub par thyroid from doing it's job. If you happen to struggle with this click here for one of the many diet related sites about this.
Onto what I was going to write about... whole wheat. We all know by now that is is essential to throw out your white flour and start buying whole wheat. But many of you have also discovered that whole wheat is not so tasty and quite difficult to bake with. First let me recommend King Arthur's whole wheat flour, I like how finely ground it is - that helps when trying to make the switch. Whole wheat doesn't have a high gluten content and to adjust for this the prime strategy would be some fermentation (time aloud for gluten to develop) which is fun to do but admittedly quite a pain because it takes alot of time and pre-planning. So I would like to give you a couple recipes that can put whole wheat flour into your diet. I half both of these recipes since my family is currently only 2 adults and 1 two year old!
Whole Wheat Pancakes
1 cup ww flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 TBL honey
3 TBL oil
1 cup plain yogurt (lately I have been using half yogurt half water - you could use milk)
2 Large eggs
1/4 tsp salt

Mix up honey and oil, add the yogurt and egg then beat. Add the dry ingredients, you know the rest I'm sure ;)
Oh I did learn a trick in a cookbook recently that if you let the pancake batter sit for about 10 minutes before starting up the skillet then your pancakes will be fluffy, I have taken to do this and it really does work.
On another side note I frequently add stuff to this batter like bananas or course but also sweet potato and winter squash

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
1 1/2 cup flour
2 cups ww flour
1 tsp salt
1 TBL olive oil
1 TBL yeast
1 1/2 cup warm water
1/2 TBL honey
Mix together the honey and water, sprinkle the yeast on the top - let rest for 10 minutes
Add oil and salt, then flour (I like to sprinkle in garlic (oh especially roasted garlic, though a little hard to cut up!) or rosemary or something, yum). Knead but I don't know how long like, a couple minutes. Let rise for an hour - roll out onto a pizza pan or a cookie sheet or whatever you can find ;) Put your toppings on (we usually put everything that is left in the fridge that needs to be eaten (vegetable things I mean!) Bake at 425 for 16 minutes.
Here is how funky this can get: last night we had some leftover sweet potato and leek casserole which I mashed up with the spaghetti sauce that we use for this recipe (Newmans Own is my fav oh and Francesco Rinaldi). Then I sauteed cilantro, leeks, garlic, and peppers. I steamed some spinach and threw all of that on top of the sauce. So weird but so good!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


I have meet few people who actually like lentils all alone. Now, I'll spare you all the nutritional benefits, vitamins and minerals and good reasons you should be eating lentils. I imagine that you can gather by the name "lentil" that it is something healthy that you should be eating! Let me tell you 2 basics. 1.) Great protein source and 2.) doesn't require soaking/cooks in 20 min.
Here was our dinner tonight:
Okay a few things you should know about this recipe. First of all it is super versatile. You can use any kind of veggies that you want in it or none at all. You can use whatever spices you want or even fresh ones. Second the quality of the broth is really going to make a difference. I mean look at this recipe...its not that... uh glamorous. I used to use Rachel Ray's chicken broth, but I have discovered these amazing vegetable herb broth cubes at the Natural Food Store, I used those tonight and this dish was infinitely better! And third, it cooks for an insanely long time. Maybe we can work it out in the crock pot? I haven't tried that yet.

Lentil and Rice Casserole
1/2 cup lentils (dry)
1/3 cup whole grain rice (dry)
2 cups broth
1/2 onion
2 carrots
1 tsp Italian seasoning
2 garlic cloves
Some cheese

Put all of this into a small casserole dish. Cover it with foil and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Add some cheese on top then cook it for 15-20 minutes more.

More lentil recipes later... I hear "mommy" coming from the other room!