Applesauce Oat Bread and Brunch

I’ve always felt like brunch is an inconvenient creation. I always want breakfast. And I always want lunch. So brunch becomes an awkward middle meal where I never know whether to try to hold out and be starving or eat before and be full….

I’m lucky to have such problems. Alas, this weekend I had a brunch scheduled. It was a fairly late brunch – 11:30 – so I tried to solve the above dilemma by eating  a smaller sized breakfast as soon as I woke up:

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In the mix: yogurt, fiber one, strawberries, banana, and coconut whip (the cream from a can of coconut milk with just a tad of vanilla. See here for a tutorial).

I then hit the gym for some NROLFW and a quick burst on the stairmaster before coming home to make my brunch contribution: applesauce oatmeal bread! The recipe I used was from Jane Brody’s Good Food Book, and I made a few minor adjustments. full recipe below

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, and 1 cup oats:

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Add 4 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon each of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda:

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In a separate bowl, mix together 1 egg, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce, 2 tablespoons oil, and 1/2 cup water:

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Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix it all up:

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Bake for 55 minutes at 350°.

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Allow to cool before slicing:

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This definitely had the taste of a healthy bread – a little dry and oaty. But I enjoyed and will particularly be looking forward to for breakfast later in the week! Maybe with peanut butter…or hummus…or as french toast. Only time will tell. 🙂

Ingredients
 - 1 cup all-purpose flour
 - 1 cup whole wheat flour
 - 1 cup oats
 - 4 teaspoons baking powder
 - 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
 - 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
 - 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
 - 1/2 teaspoon cloves
 - 1 egg
 - 3/4 cup applesauce
- 1/2 brown sugar
- 1/2 water
- 2 tablespoons oil
Method
In a large mixing bowl, combine flours, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and spices.
In a separate bowl, mix the egg, applesauce, brown sugar, water, and oil.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine. 
Pour into a greased bread pan at bake at 350° for 55 minutes. 
Allow to cool before slicing.

The rest of brunch was yum-azing. There were homemade caramel pecan rolls:

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Crustless quiche:

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French toast casserole:

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Plus fruit and juice boxes:

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This is my plate with a sampling of everything:

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A chocolate cinnamon roll came out of the oven a little later which I also sampled.

I hold by my original statement that the timing of brunch is monstrously inconvenient, but this meal was so delicious I wasn’t too bothered. 🙂

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How many people does it take to…

I had a lovely potluck Shabbat dinner with friends this weekend. As my contribution to the meal, I prepared some cabbage that I had left in my fridge from last week’s trip to the farmer’s market. This recipe was quick, easy, and delicious – so a winner all around.

First, I chopped two small onions:

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I sauteed the onions in about 1 tablespoon of coconut oil:

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While the onions cooked, I chopped up a half head of cabbage:

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Once the onions were slightly browned…

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I added the cabbage plus 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar and cooked until the cabbage darkened and became soft:

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Right at the end, I added several shakes of thyme and a pinch of salt. Yum! Here’s the full recipe written out:

Ingredients
 - 2 small onions
 - 1 tablespoon coconut oil
 - 1/2 head cabbage
 - 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
 - thyme
 - salt
 Method
Chop onions and cook in a skillet with heated coconut oil until just beginning to brown.
 Add cabbage and apple cider vinegar and cook until cabbage wilts and darkens.
 Add thyme and salt to taste.

See? Sooo easy.

My friends made a delicious tomato and coconut chili with beans, corn, and rice:

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After the meal, it was down to business putting together a new bed from CB2. CB2 is a modern furniture and accessory branch of Crate and Barrel. My friend just bought the CB2 siesta bed, and it required home assembly.

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Are we up to the task?

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There was a slight hiccup with the alignment of the headboard…plus some apparent mislabeling of parts…plus we put some pieces on the wrong way….plus we had one misguided phone call to customer service…but besides that things went smoothly!

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All’s well that ends well:

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After all that hard work, we needed some reward…reward in the form of ICE CREAM. Look for my next post on the best ice cream in Minneapolis. 🙂

Stir Fry – Is Gluten-Free Good?

I had dinner with a couple friends this past week. One of them has gone gluten free, so when we planned the menu, we decided on stir fry as an easy g-free option. Stirfry is fast, easy, delicious, and healthy – a perfect weeknight meal!

Add a little bit of oil to a wok, and add broccoli (and any other slower-cooking vegetables you are using):

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Sidenote: Check out that wok! I want to get something like this for my own kitchen. Whenever I make stirfry I just use a regular skillet, but this really seems superior – plenty of space for stirring and tossing.

Chop up the other vegetables and add to the pan:

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Once the vegetables have cooked for a few minutes, add in tofu (or other protein of choice), and stir to combine:

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Serve over rice, topped with soy sauce or other seasoning:

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And now a question about gluten…I’m assuming I’m not the only one who has recently had a slew of friends jump on the gluten-free train. I know a couple of people who have been diagnosed with celiac disease, but the majority of people I know who are keeping a gluten-free diet are doing so without having been given the diagnosis (in fact, most have been tested, come back negative, and still chosen to go g-free). Nonetheless, everyone I know who’s gone g-free (celiac or not) swears to feeling more energized, having better bowel functioning, and a greater sense of overall health.

Which brings me to the main question…is it really healthier?

In favor of gluten free, Dr. William Davis – the author of Wheat Belly, a bestselling diet book of 2012 – outlines a biological argument against wheat. In short, Davis says that the modern wheat we eat today has essentially ‘evolved’ through human plant breeding and modification. Our human bodies have not been able to adapt at a fast enough pace to match the changes in the food, so we are not really able to digest wheat (at least not modern-day wheat) properly. As a result, Davis argues, wheat leads to constipation, weight gain, and a whole range of other health issues. This applies to everyone – not just those with celiac – simply because we, as a species, are intolerant to the food.

*sidenote: Although the scientific side of his argument is compelling, Davis then goes on to suggest a diet that cuts out almost all carbs (even grains that are gluten free) as well as fruit for its high sugar content. This type of diet seems a bit extreme, not to mention that the dangers of a low-carb diet have been generally agreed upon by health professionals.

On the flip side, as someone with a history of an eating disorder, I see a lot of potential danger coming from removing entire categories of food from your diet when there is no true medical reason to do so. This seems an especially important consideration in the case of gluten given that most wheat and/or gluten-free plans, proponents, and books emphasize weight loss as one of g-free’s greatest benefits. The full title of Davis’ book, in fact, is Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Way Back to Health.

Overall, I would say that gluten-free is, obviously, a good idea for those who are suffering from celiac or a serious intolerance, but for others, this seems suspiciously like just another fad diet with potential physical and/or psychological dangers. What do you think? If you have an opinion on g-free, I’d love to see your thoughts in the comments section.

Party Dinner

It’s simple arithmetic really:

good friends + good food = one lovely evening

Originally, there were two of us. Then three. Then four. And four’s a party. So, behold, what I now consider to be the best party dinner…

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MAKE YOUR OWN SPRING ROLLS!

Why, you ask, are spring rolls the best party dinner? Let me count the ways:

1. There are enough small tasks for everyone to be involved with the prep.
2. You get to assemble your meal gathered around the table together.
3. It’s healthy!
4. It’s fun!
5. It’s easy!
6. You are guaranteed to laugh at least once when someone accidentally gets the wrapper they are preparing ripped/mangled/stuck to itself/stuck to something else.

The only things you need for this fabulous, festive feast are:

– a bunch of your favorite vegetables chopped into strips (we used carrots, cucumbers, avocado, and green onions)
– protein of your choice (we used chicken)
– rice noodles (optional, if you want to bulk up your rolls)
– fresh herbs of your choosing (we used basil)
– spring roll wraps
– dipping sauce, if desired

First, cut all the veggies into strips:

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Cook the chicken in a skillet. Flavor with soy sauce, if desired.

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Making your own peanut sauce is really easy, so I would recommend giving it a try! This is a combo of soy sauce, fresh ginger, chunky peanut butter, and a little hot water (tip: it’s very important that the water be HOT!).

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You will need to stir vigorously to combine the sauce, so don’t feel discouraged if it doesn’t look right at first.

Cook the rice noodles, if using, on the stove:

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Once all of the ingredients are ready, assemble everything on the table and prepare some hot water in a skillet for prepping the wrappers:

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The spring roll wrappers will be something like hard, thin, crackers to start with. You need to dip them in the hot water to soften. Once softened, the wrappers will also be sticky so you can fold up your roll after stuffing. You will probably master this step on the second try. 🙂

softened wrapper

softened wrapper

Finally, the best part, add all the ingredients you want, roll up, and enjoy!

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Yes, definitely a party. 🙂

Autumn Vegetable Bread Soup

I have a wonderful friend who has a wonderful soup addiction. Naturally, she follows the blog Soup Addict. When we had a dinner date this past weekend, the obvious menu choice: soup! We were inspired by Soup Addict’s Roasted Winter Vegetable Bread Soup recipe, but changed the recipe around a bit to include more of our favorite vegetables and use what we had on hand. (full recipe listed below)

First, chop up one onion, one sweet potato, three small carrots, and a couple stalks of celery. Toss the vegetables with a little bit of olive oil and roast in the oven for 30 minutes at 425°.

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When the veggies finish, add some olive oil to a pot, transfer the roasted veggies there, and add white wine, flour, vegetable stock and water. Once the soup is lightly boiling, add red lentils and quinoa and cook for 10 minutes.

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Meanwhile, chop some kale:

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Add to the mix and cook for another 10 minutes:

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Cut slices of bread and fry eggs for the number of people you are serving.

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Ladle soup on top of bread…

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where did the bread go?!

…and top with a fried egg.

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enjoy!

Winter Bread Soup
makes 4 servings
Ingredients
- olive oil as needed
- 1 sweet potato
- 1 onion
- 3 small carrots
- 2 stalks celery
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup red lentils
- 1/3 cup black quinoa
- 1 bunch kale
- 4 thick slices of bread
- 4 eggs
- salt and pepper to taste
Method
Cube sweet potato, onion, carrots, and celery, toss with olive oil and 
roast in dish for 30 minutes at 450°
When the roasting is finished, heat olive oil in a pot, add vegetables, 
white wine, and flour - stir to coat.
Add stock and water, bring to a boil. 
Once boiling, add lentils and quinoa, keeping at a low boil for ten minutes.
Add chopped kale and cook for another 10 minutes.
Serve soup over thick slices of bread and topped with a fried egg.