Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Recipe: Sweet potato cornbread muffins

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I had some sweet potatoes that needed using and I was scheming a way to use them in cornbread. I decided to go for a cornbread muffin just because the crispy crusts of buttery cornbread are the best, in my opinion. Making muffins maximizes the crispy edges over traditional cornbread. Using sweet potato also meant that I could use a little less butter, not that these are really healthy but any justification to have a second one…

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar (white or cane)

2 eggs

3 small sweet potatoes (about 1 cup, roasted, peeled, and mashed)

1 2/3 cups flour

1 cup cornmeal

4 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups buttermilk (I use a splash of apple cider vinegar and regular milk)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Combine eggs, milk, and mashed sweet potato in a small bowl. In a separate bowl combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the creamed butter and sugar, alternating with the milk/egg/sweet potato mixture.

Spoon into greased muffin tins. Bake in centre of oven for about 25 minutes, until muffins spring back easily when lightly pressed on top. Cool, eat.


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Another salt study

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This headline made me cringe: Bread and cereal highest contributors to children’s salt intake: Study.
One, because we’ve known this for years, and it doesn’t just apply to children. In Western nations most people obtain the majority of their sodium from bread products.

Two, as the director of the Federation of Bakers points out toward the end of the article, it’s not because bread contains high amounts of salt, per se, it’s because people consume large quantities of bread products. Despite the focus of the article (and apparently the researchers) on pushing the food industry to lower amounts of salt in bread, it’s unlikely that this is the best response. For one thing, the industry is likely to replace the salt with something else that will turn out to be worse for us. For another, we should be focusing on encouraging people to consume a variety of foods, particularly those that are minimally processed, rather than emphasizing reformulating current packaged foods. Different bread is not the answer, less bread is.


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Baking Bread

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While it can be a time-consuming process, I find that baking my own bread is worth the effort. It’s so much better than anything you’re going to get in the grocery store (although possibly not better than Art Is In¬†for those of you in the Ottawa area… Damn, now I’m craving their walnut and fig sourdough bread). Here are a few things that I’ve figured out through baking bread over the past few years:

  • Bread flour will give you a chewier bread than all-purpose flour will.
  • Make sure that your liquid is warm but not too warm. If it’s too cold, the yeast won’t be activated. It it’s too hot, you’ll kill the yeast. Test it by holding the tip of your clean index finger in the liquid for about 10 seconds before adding. If it’s the right temperature, you shouldn’t scald yourself but it also shouldn’t be too easy to keep your finger in for that long.
  • Ensure that you’ve included sugar for the yeast to feed on. This can be honey, white sugar, molasses, etc.
  • Brushing the top of the loaf with an egg white and water wash before baking will give you a really nice crust.
  • To check if your bread is cooked through; remove it from the pan and knock on the bottom. If it sounds hollow then it’s done. Let it cool completely on a rack before slicing and freezing (of course, a warm slice with butter is mandatory!).
  • If you’re making gluten-free bread don’t wait for it to finish cooling before you freeze it. This applies to all gluten-free baked goods.

If you have any great bread baking tips please feel free to share them in the comments.


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Pumpkin

Now that fall is in the air I have an urge to bake pumpkin treats. On the menu this weekend: pumpkin granola, pumpkin cinnamon buns, and pumpkin ricotta waffles (it’s a good thing I’m in the midst of marathon training!). Pumpkin puree is great as a substitute for fat in a recipe making it healthier and adding flavour. If these recipes turn out alright I’ll post them, along with photos, on here.

Pumpkin puree (not pie filling) can be easily purchased at the grocery store. If you’re feeling more ambitious, you can buy a pumpkin, roast, and puree the flesh. The seeds also make a great snack, full of fibre and iron.

1/3 of a cup of pumpkin puree has only 35 calories, 1 gram of fibre, 1 gram of protein, and 360 mcg of vitamin A.

Pumpkin Pie Granola

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp all-spice

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup hot water

1/3 cup honey

3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (divided)

3 Tbsp golden brown sugar (divided)

1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

1/3 cup raisins

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300C.

Mix together oats, spices, pumpkin, and hot water in a medium bowl. Set aside for 15 minutes. While oats are soaking, in a small saucepan bring 2 Tbsp of olive oil, 2 honey, and 2 Tbsp of brown sugar to a boil. Mix into oat mixture. Spread on a large baking sheet. Bake in oven for 40-60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until desired crispness is reached. Remove from oven to cool and turn oven temperature up to 350C.

In a 8×8 (or so) baking dish, mix together the pecans, pumpkin seeds, and remaining Tbsps of olive oil and sugar. Cook in oven until lightly toasted, about 10 minutes.

Mix oats, nuts, and raisins together. Once cooled, enjoy with yoghurt and fruit.

(Adapted from Bon Appetit’s Surfer’s Granola)

Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns

Ingredients:

3 cups of flour

1/2 cup of white sugar

1/2 tsp salt

5 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup butter

2 eggs

1/2 cup low-fat milk

1/4 cup pumpkin puree

Filling:

1/8 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

2 Tbsp pumpkin puree

2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp all-spice

1/4 tsp nutmeg

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350C. In a large mixing bowl combine dry ingredients. Using a pastry blender or a couple of knives, cut in the butter until it resembles small peas. Combine milk, eggs, and pumpkin and then mix into dry ingredients. Roll dough into a large rectangle. Mix melted butter and pumpkin puree together and then spread onto dough. Sprinkle generously with sugar and spice mixture. Roll-up from short-side of rectangle and cut into ~1-inch thick buns. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for about 25 minutes (or until risen and golden).

Pumpkin Ricotta Waffles

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups of flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 Tbsp white sugar

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

2 Tbsp pumpkin puree

2 large eggs

2 Tbsp butter, melted

Directions:

Mix dry ingredients together in a medium-large mixing bowl. Combine wet ingredients and gently mix into dry. Scoop by heaping 1/2 cup measures onto a preheated waffle iron. Cook until desired crispness is reached. Serve with desired toppings. I used Greek yoghurt mixed with pumpkin puree and maple syrup, as well as toasted pecans, and apple compote.

(Recipe adapted from: Jennie’s Kitchen)