6 tips to make any baking recipe healthier, part 1 of 2

At the Zermatt in December, I taught these six tips for making a baking treat healthier. You don’t have to know anything about recipe development. These are no-brainers. Three tips today, three tomorrow. (All of this information is in Ch. 11 of 12 Steps to Whole Foods.)

1.           Substitute finely ground whole wheat instead of white flour.

What you see on recipe labels as “wheat flour” is actually a toxic, nutrition-less white gluey mess. It’s the grain with the germ (vitamins) and bran (fiber) removed).

Ask for a good grain grinder for Christmas. I love K-Tecs, which you can find here. They aren’t terribly expensive, and you’ll need one in an emergency where you have to make your own bread, so it’s a good preparedness item.

For cookies, cakes, pastry recipes, I like SOFT WHITE WHEAT, ground on the finest grind setting your mill has. Your kids won’t even know the difference. A coarser grind will cause a heavier product, and red wheat will make it look darker. (I use red wheat for breads, etc.)

Some people think they don’t like whole wheat flour products, when in fact they’re just used to eating RANCID whole wheat. When the grain is ground, the protective shell of the grain is destroyed and oils inside begin to deteriorate. Consequently, those milled grains go rancid quickly and taste bad in baked goods. (Plus, rancid oils are carcinogenic.) Bags of whole wheat flour sometimes have spent months in warehouses and in transit before arriving in your home, and then you store them even longer.

Thus a grinder becomes essential, so you can have FRESHLY milled grains anytime you want.

2.           Substitute coconut palm sugar, or Sucanat, for sugar.

I recently mentioned coconut sugar in a blog entry and since then, we’ve gotten many queries from readers who can’t find it, to buy. I spent some time looking for it and have obtained the best organic product I could find for a good price in the GreenSmoothieGirl store: get some here.

Read about it here.

I’m thrilled about this product because of its low glycemic index for far less impact on your blood sugar and pancreas. It has high vitamin and mineral content, it is highly sustainable, more so than cane sugar, and it tastes lovely. Sucanat is in my baking recipes in 12 Steps (it’s dried, unrefined cane juice) but coconut sugar is my new favorite and is an easy substitute.

Substitute it 1:1 for any white or brown sugar called for in a baking recipe.

3.           Baking powder

Please buy the kind in the health food store that is ALUMINUM FREE. Don’t buy giant quantities because it’s good for only 1-2 years. Aluminum is a toxic metal your body has a very difficult time eliminating, and it’s linked to Alzheimer’s and many other health problems. And it’s in commercial baking powders. Substitute the aluminum-free version 1:1 in your recipes.

sugar replacement: possibly the best solution

You know I recommend only sparing use of any concentrated sweeteners. A while ago, I posted a recipe featuring COCONUT SUGAR. I’d been given a sample of it, and I was enjoying substituting it for Sucanat (my previous “standby” for baked goods). I didn’t realize how hard to find it was until y’all wrote me a bunch of emails saying, “WHERE DO WE GET IT?”

So I had to spend some time tracking an affordable, organic, reputable source of it.

Fact is, coconut palm sugar is a great find. If you have been here long, you know refined sugars have no place in your kitchen or your baking. (White flour and refined salt are in my kitchen for making play-dough at least. What is sugar good for? NOTHIN’!)

In the past, I’ve recommended Sucanat. On a scale of 1 to 10, if 1 is high-fructose corn syrup (the very worst) and 10 is dates (a whole food), Sucanat is about a 4. It is unrefined, dried cane juice.

Read here why I feel coconut palm sugar is a big step up from that.

In that “sugar replacement” report I wrote, check out the charts showing amino acid profile, micronutrient comparisons to other sweeteners, and the glycemic index rating.

Now we have it in our store so you can obtain it easily.

It’s vastly higher in micronutrients.

It’s far more sustainable.

It is a low-glycemic-index food, which is rare in sweeteners.

Substitute it 1:1 in any recipe calling for sugar. Bakes well, tastes wonderful, no aftertaste. In a couple of weeks here on the blog, I’ll teach you six ways to make ANY baking recipe much more nutritious.

Here it is in the GreenSmoothieGirl.com store.

one of my favorite weekend breakfasts, pumpkin waffles

So my Breakfast class at the Zermatt Resort last week was great fun. Just one strange thing, I discovered after class when I went to sample the food: the chef apparently made my Pumpkin Waffles . . . without pumpkin!

Weird. But my newsletter with these recipes went out, and one reader immediately went out to find canned pumpkin and said “crop damage” means no canned pumpkin right now. Maybe that’s why! (I keep it in my food storage, so I didn’t know.) If you can’t get it in the store, hang onto this recipe, perfect for fall. Or used cooked pureed carrots, or your own winter squash or pumpkin, baked, outer peel removed, pureed.

Anyway, we love these dense, delicious waffles with raw applesauce from the apples coming out of our tree now (see the photo below of Tennyson picking them), and a little real maple syrup.

To redeem myself, here’s the recipe. It makes a big batch so you have leftovers, which you can freeze if you want.

Remember (read Ch. 9 all about this) that if you soak the liquids in the grains overnight, you neutralize phytic acids that may bind to minerals, making them unavailable to you. You also break down the proteins, making grains easier to digest.

PUMPKIN WAFFLES

2 cups whole-wheat flour (finely ground, soft white is my favorite for this)

2 cups regular rolled oats

1 (30 oz.) can pumpkin

¼ cup coconut oil (liquid)

3 Tbsp. Sucanat or unrefined coconut sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. sea salt

1 ½ tsp. baking powder (no aluminum), reduce by ½ tsp. if you soaked grains overnight

1 cup yogurt or kefir

2 ½ cups water

2 tsp. vanilla

3 eggs (organic, free range) or 3 Tbsp. chia soaked in 9 Tbsp. water

Mix rolled oats in your high-power blender to break them down to a coarse meal. Mix the whole-wheat flour, oats, yogurt, and water together, then cover and let sit overnight (optionally). In the morning, add the remaining ingredients and mix by hand, but don’t overmix. Batter is dense, and baking time usually must be longer than waffle timer indicates. Top with Quick Raw Applesauce or plain yogurt, and real maple syrup.

Quick Raw Applesauce

4 large Jonathan or Fuji apples, washed/cored/quartered

1 cup water

1/3 cup lemon juice

2 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. nutmeg

1/3 cup (or more, to taste) maple syrup

Pulse all ingredients in high-power blender for a chunky sauce.

2 cake recipe contributions from a reader

These recipes were submitted by RuLea Taggart when I blogged about my kids’ birthday cake last August. (I have made healthier ingredient substitutions for these two recipes. Note that I have not tested the recipes, and any comments are welcome!)

If you don’t have Original Crystal Himalayan Salt, read my report on it here with a link to get some:

http://www.greensmoothiegirl.com/robyn-recommendations/salt/

Hot Fudge “Burn the Fat” Pudding Cake or

Healthy Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

1 c organic whole-wheat flour, hard white, ground fine

3/4 c. Sucanat

3 T. organic cocoa

2 t. baking powder

½ tsp. Original Himalayan Crystal Salt

½ cup filtered water

1 tsp. vanilla

Mix & blend together in your high-power blender or using a hand mixer. Pour into 9″ square or oblong  glass or non-teflon baking pan.  Double recipe for 9×13 cake pan.

1/4 c organic cocoa

1 c Sucanat

1 3/4 c filtered hot water

½ cup chopped nuts (sprinkle over the top, optionally)

Combine this mixture & pour over batter.   Bake  in oven  at 350 degrees for 40-45 min until done.   Serve warm or cool.   It is delicious and nutritious!

(I, RuLea, cut the sugar down & it is still plenty sweet.   I also substituted agave &  used less liquid.   Make as directed. It seems very runny, but the cake bakes up & pudding settles on bottom….yum yum.)

Note from Robyn: substitute 2/3 cup agave for 1 cup sugar in BAKING recipes. Rulea says cut the liquid. I have not tested this recipe, so please post if you have more specific alterations after trying it.

Yummy All-You-Can-Eat Cake with variations

Base:

3 c finely ground whole-wheat flour

2 t baking soda

2 c organic sugar

2 t vanilla

2 tsp. Original Himalayan Crystal Salt

(Spices to taste – cinnamon, allspice, clove)

Blend in:

2 c cold water

2 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar

(Add apples, nuts, carrots, raisins, zucchini, dates, etc)

Mix together for 1 min in blender or 2 min by hand.  Pour into 9×13 pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 min.

Quinoa cookies

Brigham Young University’s alumni magazine just ran a story on some researchers who are distributing quinoa cookies to starving populations. The idea is that quinoa is a very nutritious food that is high in protein, important for people in third-world countries. 12 Stepper Kris and I have altered the recipe that ran in that publication to be much more healthy, so you can enjoy it. You could give these cookies along with with a big baggie of fruits and veggies to your kids for a school lunch that has plenty of protein and is low in sugar but feels like a “treat.”   If you like them and want to save  time on school lunches, make and freeze a lot of them!

Kris also tells me that she often cooks up some quinoa (which takes only 10-15 mins.!) and puts any of the dressings in Ch. 3 of 12 Steps on it. She says she’s found every dressing she’s put on the quinoa to be yummy. I also recommend tossing in lots of your favorite raw veggies for a complete dinner that’s quick and easy.

Tip: If you are a vegan and don’t want to use an egg, instead put 1 Tbsp. of ground flax seed in 2 Tbsp. of water for a few minutes until it gels.

QUINOA COOKIES

1 cup quinoa flour (blend quinoa in BlendTec)

1 cup finely ground whole wheat flour

¼ cup Sucanat or honey

1 Tbsp. aluminum-free baking powder

½ cup coconut oil

1 tsp. vanilla

1 organic, free-range egg

Add 1 tsp. at a time of  water if needed for mixing. Mix all ingredients well and bake at 350 degrees for  8 mins.

Good, Better, Best . . . Part II

GRAINS

Good: eat whole grains and quit eating white flour.

Better: eat soaked whole grains (this requires planning a little ahead, as my cousin noted).

Best: eat sprouted, raw nuts, seeds, and grains.

SWEETENERS

(Note, that I am uneasy about fructose, xylitol, “organic sugar,” or dehydrated cane juice crystals—ways to spend extra money on refined options that really aren’t much better.   They’re maybe a 2 on a scale of 1 to 10, whereas sugar/corn syrup are a 1.   So I don’t even include them in the “good” category.)

Good (4 on a 1-10 scale): use Sucanat and honey  and real maple syrup instead of refined sugar and corn syrup.   They have a high glycemic index but also good nutrients and are not terribly acidic like refined sugars.

Better (7 on a 1-10 scale): use raw agave and stevia and molasses.   They have higher nutrition and  lower impact on blood sugar.

Best (10 on a 1-10 scale): use little or no concentrated sweeteners, just fruit and dates as treats or sweeteners.   They are high in fiber, lower in sugar, and highest in nutrition.

Your body and spirit will tell you when you’re ready to transition to the next level. If everything in you is resisting the “best” levels, then start with “good” and congratulate yourself, for now, rather than anguishing or beating yourself up.