I recently bought a bread machine and have been experimenting with different recipes. I am still playing around to find the perfect whole-wheat sandwich loaf, but in the meantime I hit the jackpot with this cinnamon raisin loaf. The first time I made this bread the entire loaf (pictured) was gone in just under 24 hours. And no, we did not have any house guests…it was just my family of four chowing down like it was our jobs. At one point I had to cut the children off mainly because I wanted my loaf to last us longer than a day! I finally made more though and have been using it to make sandwiches – with organic cream cheese in the middle – for my daughters’ snacks at school. They even love this bread enough for it to serve as a “dessert” after dinner. If you don’t have a bread machine I think it’s worth the investment since it’s nearly impossible to find decent whole-wheat bread at a typical grocery store. I bought a Panasonic machine that was recommended by several friends, but I’ve also heard from readers who found a machine they love from their local Goodwill store. The only complaint I have about my machine is that I wish I didn’t have to wait an hour or two for it to beep before adding the raisins (since you don’t put them in with the rest of the ingredients). Other than that though I’ve been very happy with it! If you have a machine that you love please tell us about it in the comments below.
Archives for May 2011
I don’t know about you, but it seems like I’ve been hearing one negative thing after another about storing and cooking food in plastics. A friend of mine was just telling me that her husband got rid of all their plastic storage containers and went out to buy glass bowl replacements instead. Between the concern over BPA and if we should be heating foods in plastics in the first place I’ve been wondering if we should follow suit. Luckily there seem to be plenty of covered glass bowl alternatives out there that I suspect would last much longer than Tupperware anyway. And today I am going to give away a free set from Duralex! We started using this very same set last week, and I love them so far. First of all they are stackable so they don’t take up very much room, secondly they serve a dual purpose because the quality is nice enough to serve food out of as well, and lastly the size range seems to be appropriate for our needs. I think we may get a second set so we can do away with plastics all together!
I confess that just a little over a year ago I had never even stepped foot in a farmers’ market, and now here I am looking forward to it every Saturday morning and even setting my alarm for it. I don’t think it is realistic for anyone to eat locally 100% of the time, but it is certainly possible to incorporate some local foods into our diets every week. And who wouldn’t be on board with such a proposition that happens to make a great deal of sense? Did you know that the produce in the supermarket (whether it is organic or conventional) travels, on average, 1,500 miles from the farm to your plate? Not only is all that travel taxing on the environment, but it also gives the produce a chance to lose some of its nutritional value along the way. And the varieties of produce chosen to go on such an adventure are limited because factory farms are only interested in fruits and vegetables that travel well and can survive a long shelf life. To give you a better idea of how many varieties of produce we are really missing out on when we shop at the grocery store I want to share an interesting fact from the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which is about a family who ate almost 100% local (off their own farm and from other surrounding farms) for an entire year: “According to Indian crop ecologist Vandana Shiva, humans have eaten some 80,000 plant species in our history. After recent precipitous changes, three-quarters of all human food now comes from just eight species, with the field quickly narrowing down to genetically modified corn, soy, and canola.” Just check out the pictured vegetable that I got from our Poplar Ridge Farm C.S.A. (Community Supported […]
With less than a month left of school I am trying hard not to give in to the simplicity and ease of having my daughter buy her lunch. While slacking off at the bitter end is tempting, these thoughts are thankfully short-lived. So my hope is that one more lunch post will help rejuvenate us all so even during these last few weeks we can continue to send our kids to school with healthy, creative, homemade school lunches that contain nothing other than real food! In my first two posts about school lunch ideas (post I and post II) I shared that my daughter goes to a peanut/tree-nut free school. As a result the school has an “approved” snack list that shows what food products parents are allowed to send into the school. To me their little snack list not only shows what is approved, but it also serves as kind of a suggested list of items that you could and should send for your 6-year-old to eat at nine in the morning. Some of the items on their list that immediately jump out at me are Wendy’s frosties, skittles, oreos, fritos, airheads, cheese puffs, twizzlers, chips ahoy, and gummy bears. In fact, only 17 out of the 200 hundred items (8.5%) are what I would consider to be “real food” approved. And you know I pay attention to what the kids are eating when I volunteer in my daughter’s class (which happens to be during snack time!), and I see that some parents are unfortunately taking these snack “suggestions” to heart. So rather than sitting here and complaining about it what better thing to do than to try to fix the list?
I am thrilled with how popular the first two “real food” meal plans have been! The obvious next step was to of course create another one. And going forward my hope is to create these meal plans seasonally so we can take advantage of some of the fresh, tasty, local produce that is available at various times of the year. Therefore this meal plan is entitled “Meal Plan 3 – Late Spring,” and I’ve put stars next to all the shopping list items that are currently available at our local farmers’ market. So once again, this is what you can expect to find in Meal Plan #3: One 7-day practical “real food” menu plan designed for busy families Complete meals listed each day for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner with leftovers incorporated Food quantities calculated for a family of four
The other day I saw a “real food” blogger giving away a tub of “organic ghee” to one lucky reader. I said to my husband, “What in the heck is ghee and why would anyone want it?” I thought that blogger sounded a lot more “hard core” than me about eating naturally…admittedly because I didn’t understand the reasoning behind the giveaway. I’ve openly shared for months that oils are a weakness of mine and one of the last areas where our family could use a “real food” makeover. Trust me, the reader comments that call me out on my use of canola oil and cooking spray have not gone unnoticed! So I am pleased to share that my period of “ignorance is bliss” is over, and to help me make this transition I’ve turned to Deliciously Organic blogger and cookbook author, Carrie Vitt. And I must share that after a brief conversation with Carrie about this post I went out and actually bought some organic ghee. I haven’t opened it yet, but I will hopefully find the perfect opportunity to start using it! Before we dive in to this post I want to say that if you tried to avoid refined oils 100% of the time it would be incredibly challenging to leave the house. So it’s important to remember to strike a balance between your real food mission and reality. Here is a detailed explanation of oils from Carrie Vitt in the first-ever “100 Days of Real Food” guest post: Healthy fats in your diet are essential to healthy living. Healthy unrefined fats enhance our immune and endocrine systems, are needed for energy, and help play an important role in the health of our bones. Olive oil, for example, that is unrefined, uses olives that have been pressed to extract the […]
Since these cookies aren’t really “treats” I told my daughters (a.k.a. my taste testers) they could have as many as they wanted. As soon as they heard me say that they seriously went to town. I was thrilled they liked them so much, but I was starting to get worried about tummy aches! These “breakfast cookies” are perfect for those mornings when you’re racing out the door or for a quick and easy afternoon snack. If you have a nut allergy (or go to a nut-free school like us) you could easily substitute pumpkin seeds for the pecans. You could also add some cinnamon if you want to spice things up. Apparently my family likes them just the way they are though…so enjoy!
As I’ve said before, it is not necessarily the sugar itself (yes, white sugar is technically “natural” albeit highly refined), but it is the quantity in which our society consumes sugar that concerns me. What have things come to if we can’t even have a cracker or a bowl of cereal or a beverage unless it has been sweetened? Come on, sugar is in almost everything these days even when you least expect it. I get so many questions about sweeteners especially from those wondering why we’ve chosen honey and maple syrup as our sweeteners of choice. The moral of the story is – and most experts would agree – sugar is sugar and no matter what form of sugar you choose always consume it in moderation. Whether it is white table sugar, raw sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, or maple syrup they are all – for the most part – sugars. We selected honey and maple syrup as our sweeteners of choice because they are two of the least processed “sugars” out there, and they are also difficult to find in highly processed foods. Honey and maple syrup also have slightly more nutrients than highly refined sweeteners like white table sugar, although – once again – all sweeteners are similar in the fact that overall they are high in calories and low in nutrients. During our 100 Days of Real Food pledge, when we were restricted to honey and maple syrup as well as nothing out of a package with more than 5 ingredients, we ended up having to make all the “sweetened” foods we ate ourselves. I could not find any store-bought “sweet treats” that followed all of our rules – and trust me I looked! Since this sweetener restriction forces you to make sweetened foods from scratch you […]
You might be thinking…what in the world is berry sauce? Well, it is a simple invention that makes homemade flavored yogurt, strawberry milk, and berry ice cream a piece of cake! All you have to do is mix a few teaspoons of the finished sauce into whatever your heart desires, although I do recommend sieving out the seeds for the optimal berry-flavored milk. Please no more Hershey’s “Strawberry Syrup” which is pure high-fructose corn syrup! This berry sauce is also a great topping on pancakes and waffles. The possibilities are endless!
I think it’s a little crazy when I see banana bread recipes that call for an entire cup of sugar. Ripe bananas are so naturally sweet I actually use them as the sweetener in some recipes like smoothies and pancakes. Maybe it is my new and improved palate, but I cannot imagine needing a full cup of sugar in addition to three super sweet ripe bananas! So here is my version of banana bread, which of course calls for 100% whole-wheat flour and a mere quarter cup of honey. And don’t feel confined to the “loaf” shape…these are great as muffins, mini-muffins, or small loaves as well. Also, feel free get creative with add-ins like nuts, raisins or other dried fruit. Enjoy!