Saving money with bread: my favourite easy, healthy, no-knead bread recipe

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I’m back to making our family’s bread on a regular basis. It saves us at least $7 per week or more, and is much tastier than anything we can buy. On second thought, I think making good bread saves much more than the cost of bread, since my family is more likely to choose a fresh slice of yummy fresh bread than a more expensive snack like boxed cereal. Plus, my kids really love “Mommy Bread”, and it makes my heart swell to hear them say so!

With cooler Fall weather coming our way, making bread is also a lovely way to heat up the house and create that homey feeling that seems to define the season.

My current fave recipe is kinda healthy, and very easy. It’s the Good Whisk Bread recipe from Wildly Affordable Organic by Linda Watson (with only a couple of modifications that I’ll tell you about below!). Linda has made two videos (first part heresecond part here) demonstrating the process for making and then shaping this bread, which really takes the guess-work out–especially for the shaping bit!

What I love about this recipe is that it gets great flavour with a super simple recipe that requires very little hands-on time. It makes two small loaves, which I have been slicing right after baking, and putting in the freezer to last the week. It makes very flavourful toast and cheese sandwiches. My daughter loves when I make her a toasted cheese sandwich in the morning for her lunch (she calls it a “Cheese-a-roo”), and I love having a tomato sandwich for lunch, with mayo, cheese, and a pickle!

The original recipe recommends white whole wheat flour, and 1/2 cup of untoasted wheat germ along with the first mix. I don’t have either of these things, so I have just been using the freshly ground Redeemer whole wheat flour that I have, and not bothering with the wheat germ, though I suppose I could add in 1/2 cup of home-ground oat flour or some other add-in. I have also reduced the salt from 1 tbsp to 2 1/2 tsp, as I found it a bit too salty at the higher amount.


Good Whisk Bread

(by Linda Watson, from Wildly Affordable Organic)

2 1/2 cups (300 g) whole wheat flour, sifted

2 1/4 tsp instant yeast (or one package)

2 1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp (21 g) honey or other sweetener (maple syrup or agavé for a vegan choice)

3 cups warm water

4 cups (480 g) all-purpose unbleached flour

Combine whole wheat flour, yeast, salt and sweetener. Add 2 cups of the water and whisk swiftly for one minute. This starts to develop the gluten to give a better rise in the final bread.

Add the last cup of water and the 4 cups of unbleached flour, and mix vigorously and thoroughly to combine. The dough will be sticky and quite wet.

Cover with a lid and let rise on a counter for 1 to 5 hours, then refrigerate overnight or longer (up to 2 weeks). I find a good flavour develops at 2 days).

On baking day, remove the dough from the fridge and divide and shape into two loaves. This video shows how to divide and shape the loaves. They will be quite wet, but still should form a nice shape in a loaf pan.

Whereas Linda uses a greased nonstick pan, I prefer to line my loaf pans with parchment paper which easily peels away from the finished loaves. I find mine need to rise for at least 3 hours. I prepare my oven with the loaves on the middle rack, and a pan of boiling water underneath for warmth and humidity.

I also find mine need a longer bake at a higher temperature (though maybe a longer rise would correct this somewhat). The last loaves I made baked for at least an hour at 400ºF. The internal temperature should reach 205ºF.

Allow to cool completely, and then either keep at room temperature or slice and place in the freezer to maintain freshness.

I’ve used my Amazon Affiliate link–but I have no expectation of ever making a dime off such a thing. I am completely willing to be surprised, however, if you want to order this great book. You won’t be disappointed.

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My Green Smoothie Recipe

smoothie-wordsHappy Monday morning folks!

On my way to work today I had a happy encounter with a man named Trenton. He’s a cancer survivor, and he asked me about my green smoothie. Trenton is working out to get fit, along with his 17yo son. He totally made my day when he asked me for my smoothie recipe, so I told him I’d blog it just for him! Here you go Trenton, this is for you!

Morning Smoothie

1 banana
a handful of strawberries (or other sweet fruit: apple, grapes, pear all work well)
1 cup kefir (could use yogurt)
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp flax seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp coconut oil
large handful chopped kale
water up to “max” line on Bullet, or enough water to make it liquidy

Blend, and enjoy!


I’ve been drinking this smoothie daily for the last few months, and I really love it. Here are some notes about the ingredients.

Bananas: This smoothie is best if some of the ingredients are frozen when you make it. I’ve had good luck with breaking up a bunch of bananas and freezing them on a tray, then storing the chunks in a baggie in the freezer. This makes for a nice cold smoothie, and allows you to take just the right amount of banana.

Strawberries: I like to use frozen sliced strawberries. I can get a nice big bag of organic ones from Costco for a much better price than the grocery store. This is something you can grow, but it takes a lot of area to grow a sizeable strawberry crop. I was also lucky to go strawberry picking in the early summer, so I kept back a few from that adventure for my smoothies (So delicious!!).

Kale: I grew a nice crop of kale this summer, so I was able to enjoy *Really* local kale for my smoothies! You can buy a big bag of chopped kale and throw it in the freezer for ready access through the week.

Kefir: I have been making my own kefir! Stay tuned for more on that!

Chia seeds: Chia seeds have a very high amount of Omega 3, and very low Omega 6, very good for the brain. Chia seeds get really thick once they’re blended up and mixed with a liquid, so you might have to adjust your quantities of chia and water to get a thickness you like. Too much chia or too little water, and you get something more like pudding, which is a little hard to drink. I like to put the seeds in after I add my kefir. If you put them in the bottom or over the bananas, they sometimes stick to the bottom of the cup, and miss out on the smoothie party.

Flax seeds: These are another good source of Omega 3s, and a good source of fibre.

Turmeric and Cinnamon: These are both touted as cancer-fighting ingredients, and they give the smoothie a nice flavour. Cinnamon can also add an impression of “sweetness” without added sugar.

Coconut Oil: Another healthy fat, which emulsifies and adds richness and a creamy mouthfeel. Coconut oil can also help to make fat-soluble vitamins available to your body. In the summer, when your coconut oil is liquid, try to add it to the top, otherwise it might harden onto the side of the cup and never make it into your smoothie. When it is hard in the cooler months, I like to layer it in with the seeds so it doesn’t stick to the blades.

I blogged about my Nutribullet just the other day. Well, this is the smoothie I’ve been making with it.

I’d love to hear other recipes, and your ingredient tips too! Let me know what you think in the comments!


And then you eat salads out of mason jars — an accidentally vegan lunch salad recipe

eat salads out of mason jarsOkay, so I’m about two years behind the whole salad in a jar craze. But actually, I was Way ahead of the trend because I’ve been eating–and drinking–out of Mason jars since before they somehow became cool. Just ask my co-workers circa 2000 (they thought I was crazy! Who’s crazy now?!).

Despite my jar-lovin’ ways, I was sceptical when I first heard about salad in a jar. My scepticism asked, how can you possibly get enough salad into a jar to constitute a meal? Really, this girl gets pretty hungy, and I’m sorry but a mere pint of romaine just isn’t going to fill my bellah.

However. That was before I discovered my current lunch salad.

It’s crunchy. It’s healthy. It’s filling. And it packs conveniently inside a Mason jar. Oh, and did I mention it is also super frugal?

My lunch salad starts with a bag of pre-shredded coleslaw, which goes for $1.39 at Food Basics. One bag of cole slaw mix will make 3-4 lunch salads, which truly fill my tummy for hours.

I add a simple, wholesome, vegan dressing, toss with some toasted sunflower seeds, and head to work with my frugal healthy filling lunch. In a Mason jar.

Frugal Urban Tummy-Filling Lunch Salad

1 pint pre-shredded cole slaw mix, raw

1.5 tbsp tahini

Enough Olive oil to make it runny, about a tbsp

3/4 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Salt to taste

Sunflower seeds, roasted without salt

To take this to work, I usually pre-mix the salad the night before, following these exact instructions: First, place cole slaw mix in a bowl. In a small mason jar, mix together the tahini, olive oil, apple cider vinegar and salt, using an old bamboo chopstick. Pour dressing over the cole slaw and stir with the chopstick until everything is combined. Then use first the chopstick, and then your finger, to get every last bit of dressing out of the smaller jar and eat it right then & there because it is sooooo yummy.  Taste the salad and adjust for salt. Pack the salad in a pint-sized (500 ml) Mason jar, put the lid on, and store it in the fridge overnight. Pack the sunflower seeds separately, and when you are ready to eat, sprinkle them over the salad.

When you make it the night before, the salad shrink down as the cabbage gets soft and chewy. I like it this way, but if you prefer to follow the Pinterest-approved salad-in-a-jar method, you could choose to mix the dressing in the pint jar, then pour the undressed cole slaw mix in over top of it, keeping it upright overnight. In the morning at work, turn it upside down and the dressing will magically mix with the cabbage, theoretically leaving you with a perfect, fresh salad for your lunch. Still pack the seeds separately, or they will get soft and less fresh and crunchy.

While the second method gives you a fresher salad, I found the dressing didn’t mix completely well, as it is a fairly thick consistency, and I found eating it a bit awkward, with bits falling all over since they weren’t stuck together all nicely with the dressing. But maybe that’s just me. I am known to be a bit clumsy.

Enjoy my contribution to the world of “salads in jars”! With a full tummy 🙂

 

Pink Things: a recipe for a frugal probiotic condiment

scrambled kale & eggs with lacto fermented rutabaga on the side
scrambled kale & eggs with lacto fermented rutabaga on the side
scrambled kale & eggs with lacto fermented rutabaga on the side

I’ve been doing a fair bit of fermenting here the last few weeks, with some successes, and some screw-ups here and there. But one of my successes has been what we call “pink things”. What they are, in fact, are sticks of rutabaga, lactofermented with garlic and beet in brine. The beet chunks mixed in with the rutabaga make everything turn a vibrant pink, while the garlic just makes it yummy.

I think these are the brilliant pink condiments that Lebanese restaurants add to Shawarma.

Rutabaga are under a dollar a pound at this time of year–making this one frugal ferment! I though I had shared my recipe on my blog before, but when I searched, I couldn’t find it. So here it is!

Pink Things

1 rutabaga

2-3 beets

3-4 cloves garlic

3-4 pint/500 ml mason jars, very clean or sterilized with boiling water

1 litre basic brine (approx. 1 tbsp salt to 1 L water: less salt in colder weather, more salt in warmer weather; see note about water to use)

Peel rutabaga and cut into spears, about the size of your pinky finger. Dice beets. Bruise or crush the garlic cloves so that the flavour will emerge but the cloves will stay intact. Divide the ingredients evenly between the pint jars, making sure there is at least one clove of garlic per jar, and a small handful of beet chunks.

When the veggies are divided up, pour brine over it all to cover. The veggies should stay submerged beneath the brine: you can use a lid from a smaller jar, maybe weighted down with a stone that you have boiled to sterilize. The lids should be put on "fingertip tight" to allow carbon dioxide, produced during the fermentation, to escape.

Leave on the counter for several days, maybe 3 days if the weather is warm, and as long as a week if it is cooler. They will lose the “raw” taste, the beets will start seeping colour into the brine, and the whole thing will take on a dark shade of pink. If they smell alcoholic, or grow a lot of mold, throw them out and try again with fresh ingredients and sterile jars. Using filtered or distilled water can also help if you have problems.

These disappear pretty quickly at my house! I hope they are as popular at yours. What a frugal way to get some gut-supporting probiotics, in the form of a delicious condiment!

Real Food Standby #4: Stove-top Popcorn

You put the oil in the pot

And you let it get hot

You put the popcorn in

And you start to grin

Sizzle-sizzle, sizzle-sizzle, sizzle-sizzle, sizzle-sizzle

Sizzle-sizzle, sizzle-sizzle . . . . POP!!

That’s really all you need for a recipe! This snack can be salty or sweet, cheesy or plain, but it’s always easy and low-cost.

Popcorn has long been the go-to late-night snack for our family. For years my partner and I have been driving various neighbours crazy with the aroma filtering through to their apartments late in the evenings. Lately I”ve been throwing it in our snack bag. The kids see this as a real treat!

It’s very frugal–even if you factor in buying non-GMO organic popcorn and coconut oil–and just about as quick as microwave popcorn. But when you make it yourself, the ingredients are much healthier. We usually buy ours in the bulk aisle of the health food store, or occasionally through the ONFC food co-op. Either way, it’s a fraction of the price of any store-bought snack, and also much better for you.

Simple Stovetop Popcorn

coconut oil or palm oil

popping corn

Optional toppings: sea salt, melted butter, parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast

Spoon a large gob of coconut oil into the bottom of a large cold lidded saucepan. Turn the heat to max. As soon as the oil has liquefied, add popcorn to cover the bottom of the pot. We don’t measure quantities, but rather aim for the oil to be level with the kernels, and the whole mass covering the bottom of the pot. Too little oil and you will end up with lots of unpopped kernels. Too much, and the popcorn will be soggy or oily. Feel this out and you will have a skill for life 🙂

Put the lid on the pot and listen for the popping to start. Have a large bowl or two ready to receive your popcorn.  If the popcorn starts to fill up the pot and lift the lid, dump some of it out into the bowl. In this way you can easily make large quantities even in a relatively small pot. Throw some salt on it immediately, as it sticks better when it’s hot. Return pot to heat and give it a good shake every few seconds so any kernels get shifted to the bottom of the pot for a chance to pop.

Once the popping almost stops, dump the whole into the bowl(s) and salt to taste. Add your optional toppings and enjoy!

How do you like your popcorn?

Real Food Standby #3: Applesauce

While I’ve never been one to buy jars & jars of applesauce off the shelves, I’ve come to ADORE home made applesauce. There is something so delectable about the aroma of simmering apples, and the warm sauce freshly made just can’t be beat. I have no idea why, but it tastes so much sweeter than a raw apple, even though there’s no sweetener added. It’s fast, it’s easy, and if you preserve a bunch, it’s a great way to continue eating local apples all winter long.

Some of our favourite uses include:

– in oatmeal. Since going sugar free, this sweet sauce has been a major boon to us in the breakfast department.

– in yogurt. I’ve perfected the art of forming a cute pink applesauce heart in the middle of a tiny bowl of yogurt.

– just plain eating. Best while it’s still warm, but also a delicious snack when the kids are hungry NOW!

Next year I am definitely going apple picking with the kids, and will make jars and jars of applesauce to last us all year. For now, I’m getting them by the slightly bruised bagful from the Herb & Spice (I just discovered their cart of marked down produce–what deals!!).

Simple Applesauce

3 pounds organic apples

1 cup water

Core and roughly chop apples. Place in a saucepan with a cup of water. Bring to boil and simmer for about 15 minutes. Once cooked pass them through your food mill to squash out all the good stuff and leave the skins behind. If you don’t have a food mill you can always peel the apples beforehand, or leave the skins on and blend it all together for a more fibre-rich mixture. If you use very red apples, the sauce will be a lovely pink colour. Refrigerate and enjoy, or process in a water bath according to up-to-date canning instructions.

Real Food Standby #2: Smoothies

We’re officially on day 4 of our Real Food Revolution, and things are going so well. My kid has been able to stay in the “green zone” pretty much 100% of the time, not counting normal reactions to having shiny pieces of red ribbon snatched away by her little brother and that sort of thing.

To be honest, I feel a little guilty and silly for not trying this earlier. Imagine trying to learn and figure out the world, all the while battling these monster reactions to stuff your mom keeps giving you!!

I think the biggest change has been with our breakfast. We used to have oatmeal with honey and blueberries, or cream of wheat with brown sugar. No more! We’re still having oatmeal, but I’m using a few drops of Stevia instead of the honey. And we’re also starting the day with a smoothie, which gives them some fruit, some pro-biotics in the form of yogurt, and some omega-3s from flax oil.

With organic blueberries and sustainable strawberries, this is certainly adding to our budget but hopefully next year I can stock up when they are in season. (I think I will need a bigger freezer!) The kids are loving their smoothies (as am I!), and I feel really good getting all that healthy stuff into them at the top of the day.

So here’s the recipe. You can adjust the quantities depending on your taste and budget. I just eyeball it, to be honest!

Breakfast Smoothie

yogurt

frozen blueberries

frozen strawberries

1 ripe banana

4-5 drops of Stevia

3-4 tsp flax oil (it’s pretty flavourless so I’ve been increasing it day by day)

water to cover

Toss everything into the blender. Blend on highest speed until smooth. Enjoy with a side of soaked oatmeal.