Honey Wheat Quick Bread and Birthdays

Depending on what time zone you’re in, either today or tomorrow is my roommate’s birthday. To celebrate, she hosted a potluck at our apartment over the weekend. It was really classy, see?

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What do I wear to such a classy party?

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A black sequined dress, obviously.

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Since it was a potluck I couldn’t just show up empty handed, so I made a quick bread. I found inspiration from Jane Brody’s Good Food Book (copyright date: 1985), but I ended up making my own recipe.

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I like this cookbook because
1) the recipes are good and,
2) I think it’s slightly comical that it’s advertised as a special high-carbohydrate cookbook.

High-carb, of course, to maximize health. Here is a quote from the back cover:
Jane Brody’s nutrition book…demonstrated the dramatic health benefits of a diet that relies on complex carbohydrates – foods such as potatoes, rice, pasta, beans and bread.

In case you didn’t notice, those are EXACTLY the foods that are most vilified in mainstream diet culture today. I think it’s a great illustration of how ‘good’ foods and ‘bad’ foods are more a product of diet fads and marketing rather than a reflection of what is actually best for our bodies.

Anyway…I made some quick bread inspired by Brody’s honey health bread (p. 590 if you have the book). My recipe was as follows:

Ingredients
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 cups coconut creamer
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Method
Mix all dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls. 
Combine the wet and dry and stir until one consistency. 
Pour into a 9x5x3 bread pan and cook at 325° for one hour.

Tada!

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The bread was thick, chewy, and had a mild flavor. Since the whole loaf didn’t get eaten at the party, I decided to be creative and make french toast for breakfast in the morning! For the batter, I combined one egg with a few shakes of cinnamon, a splash of vanilla, and a generous splash of coconut milk. That amount of batter was enough for two full slices (which would be four of the half-slices pictured above), plus a little extra. On the skillet:

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I’m a lot better at flipping french toast than I am at flipping pancakes. Go figure.

All done – plated and topped with walnut butter, 1 tablespoon of maple syrup, and a banana:

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Yum. This sort of french toast is so much more satisfying than the white bread kind at most restaurants.

 

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.

Where are the Bananas?!?!

This morning I threw together a quick breakfast before heading to work. In the mix: a few spoonfuls cottage cheese, 1/2 cup kashi go lean, 1/4 cup trail mix, coconut milk, sliced apple. Yum!

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I packed up my lunch and snack to bring to work with me for the day:

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yes, those are chocolates next to my apple 🙂

This is probably my #1 healthy eating rule: always bring a healthy lunch and snack to work! If I don’t bring good food to the office – or I bring too little food – then I end up finding my way back to cookies and candy in the break room all day.

First thing on my agenda for the day was to pick up some stuff at Costco. On the shopping list:
– toilet paper
– contact solution
– apples
– bananas
– spinach

Finding the bananas took me about 30 minutes. Although I’m a big Costco fan, one big drawback to the store is that there is absolutely zero signage and the location of regular products is constantly changing. The bananas are typically kept with the rest of the produce, but today they were nowhere to be found! I searched all over and was just about to give when a miracle happened. What appeared in front of my but a…

the motherload

the motherload

…banana cart! This led me straight to the source. They moved the bananas into the cooler section by the yogurts. Weird?