Friday, September 30, 2011

September is Whole Grains Month

Did you know that September is Whole Grains Month? I write in a monthly newsletter for daycare providers, mostly about nutrition, so I decided to write a short and (hopefully) easy to understand article about whole grains. I wanted to share it here too.
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When I found out that September is Whole Grains Month, I decided I should look into what being “whole grain” means. You always hear that eating whole grain bread is healthier than eating white bread, but why? I also learned a lot about finding whole grain foods at the grocery store.

Whole grains (like whole wheat flour) contain cereal germ, endosperm, and bran.
Refined grains (like white flour) only contain the part of the grain called the endosperm.










Common whole grain products:
-whole wheat bread
-whole wheat flour
-whole wheat pasta
-brown rice
-rolled oats
-quinoa
-popcorn

Common refined grain products:
-white bread
-white flour
-pasta (non-whole wheat varieties)
-white rice
  
According to Michael Pollan the germ contributes “some of the most valuable nutrients to the flour, including much of its protein, folic acid, and other B vitamins.” But once the grain is crushed during the milling process, the germ releases a nutrient rich oil that gives the flour a short shelf life. So in the 1800s rollers were invented that could take the germ out of the grain and leave the endosperm, which is good for the manufacturers and others who want flour to have a very long shelf life, but bad for consumers who don’t want what’s left over: refined flour that is high in calories and low in nutrients.

Whole grain foods have many health benefits because they contain things like antioxidants, B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, iron, and fiber. In 2002 a study was conducted that said that eating whole grain foods instead of refined grains can be a way to reduce risk factors for type II diabetes. Eating whole grains has also been linked to decreased risk factors for heart disease, stroke, cancer, and obesity.

Sometimes, buying whole grain foods can be confusing if you don’t know what to look for. Whole grain foods and multi-grain foods are not the same thing. Multi-grain means that more than one type of grain is used in the food, like wheat and oats or wheat and corn. “Multi-grain” has nothing to do with whether or not it’s “whole grain.” Also, “wheat bread” is not the same thing as “whole wheat bread.” Be sure to look for the words “whole wheat flour” or “wholegrain wheat flour” on the package for the healthiest flour options.

One way manufacturers try to trick you is by putting a label on their package that says “made with whole grains” or “made with whole grain ingredients.” This just means that part of the grains or flour used is whole grain. If you want 100% whole grain bread, be sure you see the words “100% whole grain.” Another way they try to trick you is by coloring their breads brown with molasses or caramel coloring. So just because you see brown bread on the shelf at the grocery store, doesn’t mean you’re getting whole wheat bread!

I learned these things from wholegrainscouncil.org, wikipedia.org, and 100daysofrealfood.com.
You can go to these websites to find out more about whole grains including recipes to try.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Whole Wheat Strawberry Banana Muffins

I love muffins! I especially love that you can freeze them, and have fresh muffins for weeks! (I pull one out of the freezer in the morning and microwave it for about a minute.)

I found this recipe on Pinterest (of course) and followed a few changes that I found in the reviews section to make it healthier... but still yummy!

While I'm already talking about Pinterest... I have 376 pins now! Crazy! And I spent over an hour adding a couple of new boards and reorganizing my pins. I separated "Crafty" and "DIY", and I separated "Eats" and "Sweets." I just had too many recipes and crafts! I'm still trying to decide if things like muffins should go onto the Eats board or the Sweets board. Right now they're in Sweets because that's where all my other baking recipes are. They'll probably stay there. If you haven't been to Pinterest yet, you should check it out!



Whole Wheat Strawberry Banana Muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries, thawed and mashed

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 18 muffin cups.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, applesauce, brown sugar, and bananas. Combine the flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg; Stir into the banana mixture until moistened. Stir in the strawberries until evenly distributed. Spoon batter into muffin cups.
  3. Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the tops of the muffins spring back when pressed lightly. Cool before removing from the muffin tins. 

Notes

1. I lined my muffin tins, but I suggest you grease them instead. These muffins really stuck to the liners so I ended up with too much muffin stuck to the paper and not enough in my mouth!
2. I took a heaping cup of frozen strawberries, put them in a microwavable bowl, and microwaved for about 40 seconds. Then I took our pastry blender and mashed them up. I probably ended up with about 3/4 cup mashed strawberries.
3. I used 1/2 Tablespoon of cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg. Next time I'll double it. I changed the recipe to reflect the change.
4. If you want a sweeter muffin, you should follow the recipe and add 3/4 cup brown sugar. 1/2 cup is sweet enough for me for a breakfast muffin.
5. I made 20 muffins, but I suggest making 18 instead. A few ended up pretty small. (Especially since so much stuck to the paper liners! Can you tell I'm really upset about that?)


I found (and adapted) this recipe from allrecipes.com via Pinterest

Saturday, September 24, 2011

S'more Cookies

Back again with another cookie recipe! I found this idea on Pinterest. I love cookies, and I love s'mores. When I found this, I just had to try it.



I actually cheated and paid the price. I used my favorite chocolate chip recipe as the base, and changed it a little to make them s'mores. Last time I made chocolate chip cookies I divided the dough in half before I added the chocolate chips. To one half I added a cup of chocolate chips, which is my regular choc chip recipe. Then I scooped the dough and froze. To the other half I added a little more than 1/4 cup of chocolate chips and a little over 1/2 cup of marshmallows. I scooped the dough onto graham crackers, baked 6 minutes, took out to add the Hershey's bars, and baked for another 7 minutes.



They didn't turn out quite like I'd hoped. For some reason my version of s'mores cookies had edges that tasted like toffee, and the marshmallows didn't turn out the same as in my Pinterest inspiration. I think it's because my chocolate chip recipe uses a lot of brown sugar?? They still tasted really good, but not as s'more-like as I hoped. I guess next time I should follow the recipe exactly from The Girl Who Ate Everything. If you try it before I do, let me know how they turn out!


I got the idea for this recipe from: Pinterest

Friday, September 23, 2011

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are my absolute favorite chocolate chip cookies. When I make these I bake about a dozen and then freeze the rest of the dough for later. There is nothing worse than stale homemade cookies. I scoop the dough balls onto wax paper into plastic containers that I keep in the freezer. The next time I want fresh chocolate chip cookies, I just take a few dough balls out of the freezer and put them straight onto the pan. Then I bake them in our toaster over for a few minutes longer than the directions say since they're going into the oven frozen.

I usually make these cookies exactly like the recipe. But sometimes I add pecans to the mix... I use less chocolate chips if I do.




Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe source: Alton Brown via Joy the Baker

Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
(pecans if desired)
 

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Melt the butter.
Mix together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.
Pour the melted butter into a big bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream it on medium speed.
Add the egg, yolk, milk, and vanilla and mix until well combined.
Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined.
Stir in chocolate chips (and pecans if desired).
Chill the dough for at least an hour, then scoop onto baking sheets, and bake 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool completely and store in an airtight container.


Monday, September 19, 2011

DIY Dry Erase Board with Paint Chips

It's been over a month since I said I wanted to try to make 2 pinned items from Pinterest a month. With moving, settling in, and a death in the family... I got a little behind. In fact, I made this dry erase board back in August but didn't even snap a picture until this month. And now I'm finally getting around to blogging about it. So does that mean this craft gets counted for August or September? And to make things even more confusing... This is kind of three crafts in one.


Craft #1: I bought this frame 50% off at Hobby Lobby. First I drew lines on it with a permanent marker to make a calendar. I didn't love the results because it just wasn't colorful enough. Then I pinned a dry erase board made with paint chips. So I went to the hardware store and picked up some paint chips. 35 to be exact. I got home and spent like an hour trying to get the permanent marker off, with great success. I lined up the paint chips and taped them all together. (I should have done that in the first place because it is really hard to draw straight lines with a permanent marker on a piece of glass... And it was really hard to get it off when I decided I didn't like it.)
Craft #2: I added the little "I love you because" which is an idea from another pin. Eric and I take turns writing there. He only does it because I make him. Lol
Craft #3: I made little die-cut 'stickers' to mark birthdays and holidays. I used my mom's Cricut machine and then laminated them. So fun and colorful!

I love how there is extra room on the left side for writing notes and leaving sticky note shopping lists. The reason the lists are on sticky notes instead of written with dry erase marker is so I can take the lists with me.

(I really wish I was capable of taking better pictures than this. Part of the problem is our extremely dark lighting conditions.)

So do you think this should count as one craft or three? I did do all three parts on different days. I love, love, love how it turned out.


I got the ideas for this craft from:

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My DIY Fate?

A friend of mine had this on her Facebook. I think it's hilariously funny, and it's what happens to me sometimes when I try to DIY.




In an effort to economize, Lucy makes a dress and gives herself a permanent.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mushroom Veggie Burger

I looked up National Food Holidays because I was curious and found out that September is National Mushroom Month! So to celebrate I bought half of a pound of mushrooms at the grocery store. Of course I bought the mushrooms before I even knew what I wanted to make, so I ended up having to third the recipe I found. I just googled “mushroom recipe” and found a ton of recipes. Isn’t the internet great? These turned out so, so good. But I think next time I will chop the mushrooms much smaller to see if I can make it more like a hamburger. I will definitely be making these again, and I’ll be sure to plan ahead so I have hamburger buns. Although, these mushroom burgers were good bun-less too.


Mushroom Veggie Burger
Makes 2 burgers
Recipe adapted from Food Wishes
 
olive oil
1/2 lb of mushrooms, chopped
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 big clove of garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
salt
pepper
1 egg, beaten

Sauté mushrooms, onion, and garlic with salt in olive oil over medium heat. After a few minutes, add Italian seasoning. Once all the liquid dries up, move mushrooms to a bowl and add rolled oats, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Mix everything together, and then add the egg. Mix until combined, and let sit for at least 15 minutes so the dry ingredients can soak up the wet ingredients. (You could even cover and put in the fridge for the next day.) Put a little oil or water on your hands, and shape mixture into patties. Add a little olive oil to your pan and fry patties until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Serve just like you would serve a burger.