Healthy Multigrain Bread

Apparently, baking multigrain bread can be a bit tricky. Despite all of my precise measurements and attention to detail, my first loaf was the consistency of concrete. John suggested I make bread pudding out of the result (he is so sweet), but I truly thought a burial would kinder.

The image above is loaf #2.  I altered the recipe somewhat (less flour, more water), hoping for a better outcome and despite my husband’s efforts to pull me away, I hovered over the bread machine, expecting either a beautiful loaf or an explosion. For a while, I thought an explosion was the more likely possibility as the bread rose all the way to the breadmaker lid. I had visions of bread dough consuming my kitchen, engulfing my small frame. I would never be found and my demise would become an unfortunate part of culinary history.

Thankfully, the bread survived and the result was excellent.  Next time, I may decrease the yeast a bit; after all, I wouldn’t want to tempt fate twice. 

Ingredients for loaf #2: 1 1/2 cups water, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons honey, 2 cups bread flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup sesame seed, 1/8 cup quinoa, 1/8 cup walnut (grounded), 2 teaspoons vital yeast gluten, 2 1/4 teaspoon rapid rise instant bread machine yeast (will decrease by 1/4 teaspoon next time), 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds (grounded), 1 tablespoon steel cut oats, 1 tablespoon flax seed (grounded)

Combine ingredients as directed for your bread machine. Use whole-wheat setting, 1 1/2 pound loaf.

Simple Breaded Eggplant

Eggplant seems to be prone to insults. Recipes often bury this beauty beneath heavy sauces and layers of cheese. And, this is one vegetable that rapidly disintegrates into tasteless mush when overcooked. 

This morning, hubby John presented me with a wonderful breakfast that is easy to make and delicious. The eggplant was breaded, sprayed with avocado oil, and grilled on the medium setting for roughly 30 minutes. Then to add flavor contrast, he topped each slice with a dusting of goat cheese, basil leaves, and oregano flower tops (another edible herb flower). On the side, he mixed Fagé 0% Greek yogurt and blueberries (sweeten to taste) for a lite and infinitely appealing meal.

For the Love of Beer-battered Fish

As a teenager, my favorite fast food was the infamous fish sandwich. During our school lunch break, my friends and I would walk a few blocks to the neighborhood Burger Chef. I always ordered the fish sandwich and fries, believing this choice was healthier than the burger alternative. Imagine my surprise when I learned that deep-fried fish often has more saturated fat than the red meat counterpart. 

As a result, my beloved fish sandwich became a rare treat…until now. With the help of my awesome Ninja Foodi grill and a bit of research, I was able to prepare a healthier alternative that tastes much like the deep-fried original. The cod was patted dry, dusted in flour, and then placed in a batter of beer (1/2 cup), sweetened with a tablespoon of honey, and thickened with all-purpose flour. Be sure to add the flour slowly and fold it into the batter – don’t use a whisk. After draining the excess batter from the fish, I placed each fillet in pepper-seasoned breadcrumbs (add other seasonings to taste) where they sat for several minutes. Next, I placed them in the freezer for one to two hours to allow the batter to solidify. This step also prevents the fish from cooking too fast, allowing more time for the crunchy crust to develop. Finally, I sprayed each filet with avocado oil (always use an oil with the high-smoke point, such as avocado or grapeseed) and then air-fried them for 12 to 15 minutes. 

Add bun and toppings for a delightful pub-worthy sandwich and a few sweet potatoes fries on the side (air-fried, of course).   

A New Use For Basil Tops

Fridays are typically busy. It is our day to go to the farmer’s market and enjoy a day away from home. We, therefore, try to keep breakfast simple. This Friday I opted to make steel-cut oats seasoned with cinnamon and topped with blueberries.

As I sat down for breakfast, John came in from the garden with a handful of tops from our basil plants to add to the oatmeal. This is an ingredient I would never have thought to add to oatmeal, but the result was an amazing blend of flavors – tart, sweet, and a bit sassy. I almost felt like I cheated a bit with this breakfast – so delicious and yet so simple and healthy, packed with antioxidants and fiber.

Healthy Whole-wheat Bread

I decided early in life that there were two types of people – bakers and non-bakers.  After a few rubbery cookies and biscuits that were more appropriate as softballs, I relegated myself to the non-baker camp.  I would be the person to bring sides or maybe the main course, but baked goods – no thanks. 

However, hubby and I are both trying to limit processed foods in our diet so I decided to “attempt” homemade bread.  I did not have much hope for an acceptable outcome, but what the heck, there is always a nearby trash bag.  We invested in a worthy compact breadmaker and after carefully measuring and adding my ingredients, I closed the lid, pressed start, and waited. Wow, was I in for a surprise. The loaf pictured above is my first result, a whole-wheat loaf using olive oil (instead of butter) and honey (instead of sugar).  As an added bonus, there are no preservatives. It is amazing how much a good breadmaker and a simple google search for a healthy recipe can support the quest to be healthy. I have definitely been missing out.  The whole process was easy and the result was not only healthy but delicious.

For the Love of Summer Salad

Our garden kale decided to make a comeback this year, so this morning we decided to add our kale (flowers included) into a summer salad featuring romaine lettuce, arugula, white onion, red and yellow peppers, carrots, celery, and goat cheese. Splash a bit of homemade vinaigrette (we used raspberry vinegar and added EVVO, white balsamic vinegar, Italian seasoning, garlic, onion, and a blended fruit assortment of blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries to create our antioxidant power-house dressing) for a light and tasty addition to any meal.

Fish Tacos

 

This is a tale of two fish – one rockfish and one red snapper.  I wondered which one my husband would choose if I broiled them for brunch.  After all, both are tasty but have very different flavor profiles. 

Several moments passed and I decided that no one should have to choose between these two delectable sea creatures. My solution? Fish tacos, of course. Both fish were sauteed in a mixture of onion, carrot, and celery, seasoned with a balsamic lime vinaigrette (Italian herbs, garlic, onion, EVOO, fresh-squeezed lime juice, and balsamic vinegar). While the mixture gently cooked, I streamed the black rice (30 minutes in the rice cooker) and blanched the kale.

The final meal was literally “built” on the plate, starting with the bed of kale, topped with black rice drizzled with the remaining vinaigrette.  The fish mixture was wrapped in a high-fiber tortilla shell. Place one lime wedge at the edge of the plate and top with salsa for a creative and delicious feast.

High-fiber Bread

If you are seeking more fiber in your meal plan, high-fiber tortilla shells are a great option over the typical bread product. Gently brush each shell (both sides) with EVOO and add your favorite seasoning.  Place shells on a parchment paper-lined baking tray at bake at 350 degrees for roughly five minutes. Check and turn shells frequently to prevent burning.  Once baking is complete, cut into triangles using a pizza cutter.  The shells will be crispy and, if you choose your shell wisely, you will have a lower-carb alternate to bread and a much healthier option over store-bought chips.
 
The example in the image above contains 15 gms carbohydrate and 11 gms fiber.  

In the Backyard Garden

As many of your know, I retired at the end of 2020.  So this spring, we decided to mix it up a bit.  When I was working, John handled all of the cooking.  I have now joined him on the “cooking” front, freeing him to focus more on the garden.  

John loves gardening and the rewards of growing your own food are endless.  Early spring brought kale to our table and we are hopeful that summer will produce a bounty of tomatoes, green beans, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, and peppers.

Wild-caught Blueberry Salmon

Moving forward in our healthy eating adventure, we decided to attempt wild salmon.  Pictured above – this was my first attempt with wild Coho salmon, shown here marinaded in blueberry sauce and paired with sauteed asparagus and sweet potato chips.

I created two versions of a blueberry sauce. The thicker sauce was created through reduction – cooking the blueberries down in a small amount of water and then blending them for consistency using a NutriBullet. The second sauce was a lighter dressing using a small amount of the thicker sauce blended with olive oil, golden balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar, and Italian seasoning. The lighter dressing was used for the marinade and sautéing. The thicker sauce topped the salmon.

To create the sweet potato chips – dice the potato, lightly toss in EVOO (optional – can skip this step if you don’t use oil), add a seasoning of your choice, and cook in an air fryer. The amount of cook time varies by volume, so check the potatoes every five minutes or so. I used a combination seasoning of onion, garlic, salt, and pepper.

The Coho salmon was broiled. Everything turned out great!  If you decide to give this one a try, let us know how it turns out.  We would love to hear from you.

Enjoy!