Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Cooking in the time of COVID19

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Image from Cook Smarts

Since you’re all (hopefully) joining me in social-isolation (I’ve been practicing for a while being on mat leave) I thought I’d compile some useful websites for pantry recipes and meal planning.

Also, while it’s good to have enough food at home to see you through two weeks, please be considerate when you’re shopping and don’t buy more than you need. There are many people who can’t afford to stock-up and/or don’t have facilities to store piles of food.

With that out of the way, I’m a big fan of Budget Bytes and she’s compiled a list of 15 pantry recipes. She has lots of other recipes on her website too that are affordable and require very few perishable ingredients. And for more affordable recipes you might want to check out Jack Monroe’s (aka The Bootstrap Cook) website. Smitten Kitchen’s blog and cookbooks are a couple of my favourite recipe resources. She’s also got a section for pantry recipes on her website. Another great source of simple, affordable recipes is Leanne Brown’s free pdf cookbook: Good & Cheap.

Why not take advantage of being home to try a new baking recipe? Personally, I’m planning on tackling croissants. Sally’s Baking Addiction has compiled a list of 36+ fun home baking projects for everyone who’s holed up at home.

If you’re new to meal planning, UnlockFood.ca has a list of 7 steps for quick and easy meal planning and if you scroll down to the bottom there are a bunch of additional meal planning tools.

This is just a short list I threw together off the top of my head to get you started. If you know of additional websites please share in the comments. Also, if you decide to undertake a baking project send me a pic!


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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.