Thursday, December 31, 2009

Under A Blue Moon

Ninety-nine percent of the time when I bake breads at home, they're dark and grainy. [See Thursday, July 9 2009 post by clicking here.] But once in a blue moon I'll make a light and fluffy country loaf, using unbleached, all-purpose flour. Well, guess what? Tonight, New Year's Eve -- there's going to be a blue moon. So to mark the occasion and kick off a new year, I baked a loaf of country bread and cut it into big, thick slices. And it's not altogether unhealthy. I used eggs, lots of buttermilk, olive oil and oatmeal in the recipe. My sample of fresh baked bread was delicious with wild, blueberry fruit spread. Tonight I'll serve it with humous, brie, ham and wine.

Everything in moderation though. That's a smart New Year's resolution for life and a diet. Limit white foods like refined rice and flour most of the time. I believe in a little flexibility. Otherwise, you become a fussy guest in someone else's home, and you can never enjoy a country biscuit, Christmas cookie or French pastry. Ridiculous!!!

So the word for 2010 is “moderation.” And you might expand your everyday diet to include 100% whole grains.

Ten healthy grains to try in 2010 are:
1) Amaranth – It's really a seed, but eaten like a grain and loaded with vitamins A, B2, B6, C, K, folate, and minerals like calcium and iron.
2) Brown Rice – Rich in vitamins B1, B3, B5, B6, plus iron, magnesium, phosphorous and zinc.
3) Bulgar Wheat – A good source of the usual B vitamins, iron, phosphorous and manganese.
4) Barley – In addition to B vitamins, it has iron, magnesium phosphorous and zinc.
5) Millet – Packed with B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc.
6) Popcorn – Eat plain, or flavored with olive oil and brewers yeast to keep it healthy.
7) Quinoa – Contains a balanced set of all 8 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.
8) Spelt – A good source of protein, B vitamins and minerals like manganese and copper.
9) Steel cut Oats – High in protein, B vitamins, iron and magnesium. It's also good for your heart because of its cholesterol-lowering properties. [Steel cut oats are chewy and taste nutty unlike rolled, or rolled quick oats. All 3 are whole grains.]
10) Teff – An excellent source of protein, cacium, iron, magesium, boron, copper, phosphous and zinc.

For blue moon occasions, here's my Country Bread recipe:
1 package dry active yeast
2 tablespoons honey
1 ¼ cups buttermilk, warmed [Eyeball it. Add more or less as you work the dough.]
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra
1 cup rolled oats, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling top
Optional: 1 tablespoon each - sesame seeds & flax seeds for sprinkling top
2 ½ cups all-purpose unbleached flour, plus extra for kneading
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 extra large egg, plus 1 egg yolk
1 egg white, lightly beaten for top

In a bowl combine the yeast, honey, 1 c. buttermilk and olive oil. Make sure the liquid is warm before you stir in the yeast. Set aside for about 20 minutes. Next add the oats, salt, eggs and flour. Mix into a dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface until supple, and place the dough in a bowl. Coat the ball of dough with olive oil. Cover and let it rise for about an hour, until doubled in volume. Then, punch the dough down, knead and shape into a loaf. Place it in an oiled loaf pan. Oil the top and let the dough raise until it doubles in the pan. Last, brush the top of the loaf with an egg white and sprinkle with the remaining oats, sesame seeds and flax seeds. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 - 30 minutes.

Enjoy the blue moon … and Happy New Year!

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