Sunday, January 31, 2010

Our Bread's Secret Heart Healthy Ingredient: Omega 3's

One of the overlooked ingredients in our bread that packs a huge nutritional punch is flax seed flour.  Not only is the bread high in fiber but is rich in omega 3's which according to current research have benefits for the heart.  Flax seeds also contain high levels of lignans that may help inhibit some types of cancer.  Below are links to some good information on flax and omega 3's from the Mayo Clinic and WebMD.

Mayo Clinic - Omega 3's
WebMD - Info Flaxseed

We use Hodgson Mill flax flour found at most major chains.  It's fairly easy to find and doesn't require an extra trip to the health food store.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Favorite Music For Breadmaking

The reason we love our bread is because it is rich in nourishment and is very satisfying to our hunger.  That is the same reason we highly recommend the music from the artists below.  Indelible Grace and Matthew Smith create music that is rich, deep, and nourishing to our souls. 

Below are some really cool widgets that you can both sample, purchase and share the music with someone else. 

We had the opportunity to meet Matthew Smith a couple of years ago when he came to play at our church.  He is a special artist with a gift of communicating God's grace through music.   Listen and be fed.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Versatility of Basic Dough Recipe

This morning, after I had taken our 3rd child to swim practice, I came home and started making bread.  I tripled the Basic Dough Recipe out of my Bread Beckers Recipe Book and started the dough going in my Electrolux Assistent.  After I kneaded it (using the machine) for 15 minutes, I put the top on the bowl to let it rise while I went back to the pool to take the 4th child and pick up the 1st and 2nd who swam really early this morning. I came back home and punched down the dough in the bowl to let it rise again. I let it rise for about 20 or 30 more minutes and shaped the dough into 3 different forms. After shaping and rising again, I baked the different breads. I typically put butter on the bread as soon as it comes out of the oven.  It tastes amazing and it helps keep it moist, especially if I freeze the bread.  We have discovered by trial and error that it is important to make your pizza crust as thin as humanly possible because it does rise.  I now use a rolling pin and put down enough olive oil to make it easier to lift the flattened dough onto the pizza pan. Today I had the best luck ever and we put pepperoni and chicken sausage on the pizza.  YUM!

 I decided to make pizza for lunch (see picture) with part of the dough, make a pan of rolls, and 2 loaves for French toast.  We will use the rolls for sandwiches later next week (or for snacking) and make French toast for another meal next week too.  I will put the loaves and part of the rolls in the freezer to keep them fresh until we need them.  I make the basic bread recipe at least once a week and usually try to keep a quick bread around like banana bread for my breakfast or the kid's snacking.

Basic Dough Recipe

1 1/2 cups hot water                  2 Tbs. lecithin
1/3 cup cold-pressed oliveoil     1 tsp. gluten
1/3 cup honey                           4 cups freshly milled flour
2 tsp. salt                                  1/2 cup ground flax seed
1 egg                                        1 Tbs. yeast

Combine water, oil, honey, salt, and egg.  Add lecithin, gluten, half of flour, and ground flax seed.  Mix thoroughly.  Add yeast and enough flour to make a soft dough.  Knead until smooth and elastic (15 minutes for a triple batch or 10 minutes if kneading a single batch by hand,  5-6 minutes for single batch with mixer).  Let rise until double.  Punch down dough and let rise again until double.  Shape as desired and let rise again until double.  For 2 loaves bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  For rolls, bake at 350 degrees for 17 minutes.

This recipe is valuable because you can use it for any variation you'd like...bagels, filled breads, rolls, pizza bread, pizza, cinnamon rolls, etc. Adding the flax seed and eggs also makes it a powerhouse of nutrition. Enjoy!!

After my husband did the final pick-up at the pool, we had a delicious and nutritious  It's not often that you consider pizza healthy and nourishing, but if you make it yourself it certainly is nourishing, healthy and delicious.

For information regarding purchasing the ingredients at the best possible price, see our earlier post.

The Right Baking Pans Make a Big Difference

I have two Pampered Chef bar pans that I use for my rolls and oatmeal bars.  They are the BEST! I have several commercial-weight loaf pans that I use for my loaves.  The thicker the pan the better.

My little spatula I got from Pampered Chef is the perfect size for taking rolls out of the pan.

I brush an egg wash on the rolls after I shape them on the pan.  I do this to give rolls a golden brown color and more crispy texture.

An aside ......  when you put your rolls on the pan to rise, place them close enough so they touch when they bake (see pictures).

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Friday, January 8, 2010

Why We Grind Wheat for Fresh Flour

Mommy, where does flour come from?

Well, not from the grocery store, Wal-Mart or even ground chalk.  It comes from wheat and specifically wheat berries. 

Why go to the trouble to grind your own wheat?

That's a great question.  The major principle that guides our family's food planning is, "eating food as close to its natural state as possible."  Please Note: We are not 100% purist and believe you can become obsessed and not very fun to be around (especially eating out) holding rigidly to this principle, but when we can we try to make our regular diet as healthy as possible.

Back to the question: we grind wheat because bread can be a very healthy food if it is made from freshly ground wheat vs. store bought flour.

 I tried to seek some "non-health-nut" information regarding the processing of wheat to make flour as purchased in most grocery stores.  The short answer to the amount of processsing is A LOT.  This link to the North American Millers Association is a very factual account of all the processes wheat goes through to become flour.

There are two main reasons for the degree of processing: shelf stability and baking properties.

Bleached flour is really bleached, I mean chlorine bleach, just in the form of a gas.   Other chemicals are also used, but the most common is the chlorine. 

Flour is also enriched. Remember, enriched is a bad word instead of a good one.  Why do the millers have to enrich the flour?  The process of making flour removes a good portion of the nutrients that are really good for you.  So you get a good dose of the "spray on" vitamins similar to those in Lucky Charms or Fruit Loops.

The processed flour also produces baking qualities that most Americans really like.  We like soft and fluffy bread. The processing of flour helps achieve that texture.  Unfortunately, in many types of flour a little component called FIBER is lost on way.

So if that is what we gain from the industry website; just wait to see the information the health and wellness sites reveal.  We always try to read the health and wellness websites with a critical eye, but the WomenFitness link here has some eye-opening information on processed flour. 

Our bread is made from freshly ground wheat so it is NATURALLY good for our family.  It is high in fiber and many vitamins, especially vitamin E.  We also know it doesn't have residual chemicals used in the processing (there is debate over how much is in processed flour, but we err on the safe side).

Monday, January 4, 2010

Our Recommendation for Homeschool Book Source

We found out about from a seminary friend who orders lots of textbooks.  It is a great source for new and used books and textbooks at greatly reduced prices.  Many homeschool curricula suggest many books that are hard to find or out of print.  This is a great website to find these more obscure titles that are not carried by some of the more well-known book sellers.

One word to the wise if you are buying used books.  You will need to look through the book right after you receive the shipment just to make sure it is the condition the seller said it was in.