Kombucha Gummies

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I saw this recipe recently on Pinterest and decided to try it. My kids love gummies, and healthy gummies, not laden with sugar is a win in my book!

The kids have devoured half of them in the last couple of minutes with our youngest informing us she was getting fatter. Ha! This double batch has 48 grams of protein as well as the probiotic benefits of the kombucha. The secret ingredient is Great Lakes unflavored beef gelatin, a collagen joint care product with a ton of benefits, including protein.

The recipe:

2 cups kombucha (we used homemade cherry kombucha)
2 cups fruit purée (mango and black raspberry…but seedless fruit would be better)
8 Tablespoons gelatin
3-4 Tablespoons honey

Warm kombucha (not boiling, as that will destroy its benefits) and whisk in gelatin. Add purée and honey. Pour into molds or a buttered pan to later cut into squares. Refrigerate a couple of hours.

Really anything could be added to these as long as the liquid to gelatin ratio stays similar. So the options are endless! They were quick, yummy and healthy.

Kombucha

Strange and wonderful things are again growing in my kitchen.  I first brewed water kefir back in May of 2010.  It is an amazing probiotic drink, similar to Kombucha. Then I grew Mr. Kamut and had fun with sourdough, but alas, gluten free eating came upon us.  I have taken a long break from bacteria-growing but decided, for health reasons, it was time to try my hand at it again. I first heard of Kombucha about six years ago.  It was at the time that we first began eating more healthy foods and I was completely new to fermented food and drink.  We got a fancy 3-gallon jar and tried to brew our own, but after green mold started growing on the SCOBY, we decided that was the end of that idea.

But now we are helping our two new girls recover from multiple parasites (i.e. major intestinal issues!) and limit, as much as possible, the bad effects of antibiotics they will be on for the next nine months due to TB infection.  And then there are two of “the originals” who have had bad tummy aches and digestive issues off and on since birth.   I was spending a fortune on refrigerated probiotic tablets to try to help their guts.

Let’s just say, Kombucha is a LOT cheaper!  And it is recommended by dietitians…and my doctor (which, of course, was a pleasant surprise).   I chose Kombucha for now, over water kefir because of the ease of the SCOBY versus having to mess with the kefir grains.  I got a starter from my neighbor and began brewing 1 gallon at a time.  I am now brewing three gallons at one time as we can easily go through 6-7 bottles of it a day, if I have it on hand.  I have flavored some of it with a frozen berry blend and also a few with ginger. I have been adding pure blueberry juice to the latest batches (in place of fruit or ginger).  And I cannot tell you how much the kids love this stuff!  And it even passes Adam’s taste test, although he commented recently that he never gets any because the kids down it so quickly.  So I have to hide a bottle in the fridge for him.  I find great satisfaction in creating healthy yet cheap goodness for my family.  I have shared the recipe I am using below, which I found here.

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Bring 3-1/2 quarts filtered water brought to a boil, then remove from heat.  Add 1 cup of Florida Crystals and  8 tea bags.  Let sit until cool.  I get my tea from Trader Joe’s and use 4 Mango black tea bags and 4 green tea bags.  Once it is cool, remove tea bags and add 1 cup of already-made Kombucha (very important!).

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Pour into a glass brewing jar..this one is a 1-gallon.  The SCOBY floats to the top and grows a new layer of mushroom each week, which can be pulled off and given away or thrown out.  I have actually let my mushrooms grow, so they are getting thicker and thicker. I think this speeds up the brewing time.

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So it looks kind of gross, but this is home education science right here. :-)  Yeast and bacteria in a symbiotic relationship, working to create a bi-product that is exceptionally good for you.

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Cover with a paper towel so it can breathe.  But cover the jars with a towel so that light does not hit it.  Or they could be put into a dark cupboard.

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After about 7 days (longer if you like it really tart, or shorter if you like it sweeter), make a new batch, bottle the old and let the bottles sit to increase carbonation.  We got these bottles from a beer brewing store here in our town, back when we were brewing water kefir.

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Definitely the highlight of the day!  They have a Kombucha chant they all do…really hilarious.

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Pancakes, Pancakes!

I have long been a pancake lover.  I am always trying new recipes, searching for the perfect tasting and textured pancake.  In the past year, since going gluten-free, it has been a new challenge to find that old pancake taste with GF flours.  A few of my family’s old recipes have come close, but…

I was reading the Eric Carle book, Pancakes Pancakes!, to the kids one day and it made me hungry for pancakes, so I came up with this GF Banana Pancake recipe.  And wonder of wonders…it is by far the best pancakes ever tasted in this house!  They retain their fluffy-ness and cook on the inside while still remaining brown (as opposed to burnt) on the outside.  They are just beautiful and delicious!

I thought I would share the recipe.  Though we’ve been trying to stick to a Paleo diet, these are not. You could substitute almond flour and coconut flour for the GF flour – we just didn’t have any of those this morning, so GF was good enough.  We also added peanut butter and a little maple syrup this morning.

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GF/Dairy Free Banana Pancakes

Ingredients:

3 cups flour (using Sina’s GF substitution – today it was brown rice flour, sorghum, arrowroot powder and potato starch)
1/2 cup sugar (left this out this morning…bananas are enough sweetener)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon soda
5 eggs
3 very ripe bananas
2 cups coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut oil (or unsalted butter)
2 teaspoons bourbon vanilla

Directions:

1. Sift together the gluten free flour blend along with the baking powder, salt, soda. Whisk in the sugar.
2. Mash the bananas; Set aside.
3. Whisk the eggs, coconut milk and vanilla. Add in the coconut oil and/or butter.
4. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together along with the mashed bananas.
5. Cook as you would any other pancake or waffle.

And just for fun, here are some other family favorites.

Hearty Oatmeal Pancakes

Serving Size: 4

Ingredients:

1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup flour (white or mixture of white and wheat)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg , lightly beaten
2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter, coconut oil or olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
assorted berries, optional
syrup

Directions:

1. In a bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. In another bowl, combine the egg, buttermilk, oil and vanilla; mix well. Stir into the dry ingredients just until moistened.
2. Pour batter by 1/4 cupful onto a hot griddle that has been coated with nonstick cooking spray. Turn when bubbles form on top; cook until second side is golden brown. Serve with berries and syrup, if desired.

Coconut Flour Pancakes

Ingredients:

8 eggs, room temperature
2 cups milk, raw or coconut
4 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons honey , (or sugar)
1 cup coconut flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
coconut oil or butter for frying

Directions:

1. Preheat griddle over medium-low heat. In a small bowl, beat eggs until frothy, about two minutes. Mix in milk, vanilla, and honey or sugar.
2. In a medium-sized bowl combine coconut flour, baking soda, and sea salt and whisk together. Stir wet mixture into dry until coconut flour is incorporated.
3. Grease pan with butter or coconut oil. Ladle a few tablespoons of batter into pan for each pancake. Spread out slightly with the back of a spoon. The pancakes should be 2-3 inches in diameter and fairly thick. Cook for a few minutes on each side, until the tops dry out slightly and the bottoms start to brown. Flip and cook an additional 2-3 minutes.
4. Serve hot with butter, coconut oil, honey, syrup, or fruit.

Buttermilk Pancakes

Recipe By: Nancy C.

Ingredients:

3 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
3 eggs
1/3 cup melted butter

Directions:

1. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Mix wet ingredients together and carefully fold into dry ingredients; do not overmix.
3. Pour by the 1/4 cupful onto heated griddle. Turn when bubbles are popping.

 

Empire State Muffins

Back in my professional days, I worked with a sweet lady who shared this recipe with me. She said it had won prizes at their local fair when their daughter entered the muffins for 4-H.  I have made these many times since then and absolutely love them…and now the kids love them too!  And they are healthy…packed full of apples, carrots and dried cranberries (and always a little whole wheat flour too).

I shredded up fresh apples (with the skins left on) picked a couple weeks ago at our favorite orchard.

Shredded carrots and Craisins are then added to the apples.

The sugar is then added and all four ingredients and mixed together and put aside.

The eggs and butter are whipped together (I have found one key to a muffin actually rising is whipping the eggs really well).

Once all is mixed with the dry ingredients and baked, the result is delicious, moist muffins!

Empire State Muffins
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Recipe By: Patti E. (friend)

Ingredients:

2 cups shredded, unpeeled apples
1-1/3 cup sugar
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts/pecans, optional…I always leave out as we do not like nuts in baked goods
2-1/2 cups flour (I doubled the recipe so used 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour and 4 cups King Arthur unbleached white flour)
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup butter, unsalted

Directions:

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine apples and sugar. Gently fold in cranberries, carrots and nuts.
2. Combine dry ingredients; add to mixing bowl. Mix well to moisten dry ingredients.
3. Combine eggs and butter; stir into apple mixture.
4. Fill 18 greased muffin tins 2/3 full.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
6. Cool 5 minutes before removing from tins.

 

 

Soup, Smoothies & Ice Cream

Since the title of my blog is What’s Mixing, it’s only appropriate that I share about the latest machine sitting on my kitchen counter.  After going through three Jack LaLanne blenders – one purchase, two replacements due to burnt out motors – we made the plunge and purchased a Blendtec mixer.  We are heavy-duty smoothie drinkers so I am just super thankful for this new machine!  The reviews for it are awesome and I am hopeful that the motor will not burn out before the year is up.  So far we have made soup, smoothies and ice cream – with smoothies being the most frequently made item. Here are some photos of the process and results:

Blendtec machine came with two containers

Shows the pre-set options for mixing

Plain yogurt, honey, summer squash, pineapple, nectarines, & carrots

Blended smoothie

 

Roasted Tomato Soup (tomatoes, onions, garlic, celery, carrots, thyme, peppers)

Veggies after roasting, put directly in the container

Fresh basil - yum!

Super easy homemade, delicious and healthy soup!

Tomato Soup Recipe:
3-1/2 pounds (about 11) tomatoes, halved/quartered
1 small onion, quartered
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh thyme (2 tsp dried)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
12 fresh basil leaves, chopped
salad croutons
additional fresh basil leaves

(I added carrots, celery and red and yellow peppers to the baking dish for extra nutrition.)
1. Place the tomatoes, onions, and garlic in a 9 x 13 baking dish; drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper; toss to coat.
2. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until tender. Cool slightly.
3. In a blender, process tomato mixture (in batches, if necessary) until blended (adding fresh basil in last batch).
4. Transfer to a saucepan and heat through (unless using a Blendtec). Garnish with croutons and extra basil, if desired.

Strawberry Ice Cream – frozen strawberries, Florida Crystals (sugar), organic whipping cream, raw milk

This stuff was delicious! We made it and put in the freezer for a while to harden.

Butternut Squash…4 Ways

I love butternut squash!  Last fall, we were given a few out of my parent’s garden and then we bought a big box of them from our buying club to last the winter.  They have kept really well in the entrance to our basement – where it’s been cool all winter. I thought I would share the four ways that we most enjoy eating this kind of squash.

The first is just cooked and mashed.  I put the uncut squash in the oven in a 9 x 13 pan with a little bit of water in the bottom.  I can usually squeeze 2 or 3 squash into the pan.  I generally cook them at 350 degrees for about an hour.  Once they are cooked, I remove them from the oven and cut them in half, lengthwise.  I scoop out the seeds and scoop the rest into a container…add a little bit of butter (and brown sugar is good too) – and ENJOY as a side!

The second way we enjoy butternut squash is in muffins.  This recipe calls for sweet potatoes, but squash works just as well.

Sweet Potato Muffins
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Yield: 12 muffins
Summary:
These are one of our favorite muffins.  So moist and delicious!
If using mashed squash (instead of sweet potatoes), omit the milk.
Ingredients:
1 stick butter, unsalted
1/2  cup  dark brown sugar (I use sucanat)
1/2  cup white sugar (I use Florida Crystals)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cups sweet potatoes, cooked & mashed
2 cups white or whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1  teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons sugar
Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  In a large bowl, beat the butter with a wooden spoon until creamy.  Beat in sugars, until fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in milk, vanilla and sweet potatoes (batter will curdle).
3.  In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients.  Mix with wet ingredients just until moistened.
4.  Pour into muffin tins, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and bake for 18 minutes.

The third way is in Butternut Squash bread.  This is an absolutely delicious recipe that I got from one of my SILs years ago.

Buttercup Yeast Bread

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Yield: 4 loaves

Ingredients:

3 packages active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water, 110-115 degrees

2 tablespoons sugar

2-1/2 cups mashed cooked buttercup or butternut squash

2 cups milk

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 eggs, lightly beaten

3 teaspoons salt

13 cups flour (white or mixture of white and wheat)

Directions:

1.  In a very large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm yeast.  Add sugar; let stand for 5 minutes.  Add the squash, milk, brown sugar, butter, eggs and salt; mix well.  Add 6 cups flour.  Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes.  Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

2.  Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.  Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1-1/4 hours.

3.  Punch dough down.  Divide into three portions; shape into loaves.  Place in three greased bread loaf pans.  Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

4.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

The fourth is in soup.  I found this soup a couple of years ago in a Taste of Home magazine.  We recently had it with squash bread grilled cheese. YUM!

Golden Squash Soup

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Recipe By: Taste of Home

Serving Size: 6

Ingredients:

5 medium leeks (white portion only), sliced

2 tablespoons butter

1-1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed (about 4 cups)

4 cups chicken broth

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1-3/4 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

1/4 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons green onions, thinly sliced

Directions:

1.  In a large saucepan, saute leeks in butter until tender.  Stir in the squash, broth, thyme and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until squash is tender.  Cool slightly.

2.  In a blender, cover and process squash mixture in small batches until smooth; return to the pan.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low.  Add the cheese; stir until soup is heated through and cheese is melted.

3.  Garnish with the sour cream and onion.

Sweet Potato Burritos

It had been a while since I had used my Crock Pot, so I decided to work a few meals into the menu that included the use of it. I forgot how much I LOVE the Crock Pot!  One of my goals this year is to spend less time in the kitchen and more time with my kids and others – trying to find the balance that I am sure many moms are trying to find between a healthy menu and time. Crock Pot meals definitely fit the bill!  And I love these Bean and Vegetable Burritos (as known as Sweet Potato Burritos at our house).

Obviously it took planning to have the ingredients on hand, but it was just a matter of chopping everything, layering it and turning it on.  I also have loved making homemade tortillas in the past (even blogged about it).  But there again…time!  So I have found a good alternative at Costco in the frozen section – uncooked flour tortillas with nothing bad in them (I have found it almost impossible to find tortillas without partially hydrogenated oils).  You just thaw them, cook each one for a few seconds in a hot pan and they are ready to use.  For me this is a good and healthy alternative and they taste fresh! (And the corn I used…frozen straight out of my dad’s garden – YUM!)

Bean and Vegetable Burritos
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Recipe By: Best Loved Slow Cooker Recipes Book
Serving Size: 4 (I always double the recipe…my large family roots coming out again.)
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green or red pepper, chopped
1 cup frozen corn, thawed and drained
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
3/4 cup Monteray Jack cheese, shredded
4 10-inch flour tortillas
Directions:
1.  Combine chili powder, oregano and cumin in small bowl.  Set aside.
2.  Layer ingredients in slow cooker in the following order: sweet potato, beans, half of chili powder mix, garlic, onion, bell pepper, remaining half of chili powder mix and corn.
3.  Cover and cook on Low 5 hours or until sweet potato is tender.
4.  Stir in lime juice and cilantro.
5.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (We skipped the remaining steps and just filled up the tortillas and ate them.)
6.  Spoon 2 tablespoons cheese in center of each tortilla.
7.  Top with 1 cup filling.
8.  Fold all 4 sides to enclose filling.
9.  Place burritos seam side down on baking sheet.  Cover with foil and bake 20 to 30 minutes or until heated through.
10. Serve with sour cream, if desired.

Simple Gift Ideas

Below are several ideas for simpler gifts I have found or made for this Christmas:

  • The first simple gift idea came to be when I asked my brother and his wife what toys they were getting rid of this year.  We had been wanting to get our daughter a doll house for a while now, but the nice ones are so expensive – and we hate buying more plastic toys that will break before next Christmas is here.  So I prayed about it!  And low and behold, they were getting rid of a big doll house complete with furniture.  I am still excited about this one!  Mostly excited that God answers prayers – and actually cares about the super small details of life. :-)  I just had to share this one…maybe someone you know is getting rid of something that would be a treasure to your child! ASK!
  • A couple months ago I decided to try my hand at making my own vanilla.  I had heard that homemade vanilla could be replenished and used for years and years.  I also had heard that the flavor was unbeatable and the price much cheaper than the good non-imitation vanillas out there.  So I bought bourbon and vanilla beans (recipe here).  It was super simple and tastes great!  So for Christmas, I decided this would make tasty and simple gifts.  I don’t know about you, but I love homemade gifts – especially ones that I can keep replenished with little effort!

Bourbon Vanilla

  • For the gift vanilla I purchased Vodka (it seemed less strong to me than the bourbon) from Meijer (recipe here) and vanilla beans and glass jars from Mountain Rose Herbs and mixed away.  The vodka is clear, but as the beans have soaked the color has turned darker.  Whereas bourbon is dark to begin with and gets even darker as it sits.  I think the final product turned out really well.

Vodka Vanilla


  • I have a friend who has started a little sewing business out of her home.  I recently went to a home party where her products were featured. She does such a great job!  I bought these three crayon holders for the kids’ stockings for Christmas.  They will be a great gift combined with a little notebook or coloring book.  She makes kids aprons, journal covers, crayons holders, and a lot more.  Her blog is crbuttons.blogspot.com.

  • My kids love straws!  I have been wanting to get them glass straws for a while.  My thinking is that glass has to be better than all the plastic they eat every time they drink a smoothie.  Their straws look seriously mutilated after every smoothie!  I found this company – Strawsome.com – and ordered them each a straw for their stocking.   Their straws are guaranteed for life against breaking. I love supporting in-home businesses too!

  • For my autumn decorating, I made up three glass hurricanes.  I was inspired by my friend Amber posting this to her Facebook page and thought I would try my hand at it.  These would make beautiful and inexpensive gifts.  I currently have them filled with Christmas decorations sitting on top of my kitchen cupboards.  Each season they can be transformed.

  • The last idea, which I did not do for a Christmas gift – though I could have – is to knit…a scarf, socks, a hat, etc…  When it gets cold outside, I get the urge to do something with my hands while curled up under a sleeping bag (our house is big, old and cold!).  So I made a trip to one of our local knit shops and had them help me get it started.  I learned to knit and crochet when I was young but can never remember how to get started.  Below is a photo of the scarf I made (in one week, I should add!) for my daughter to match her purple winter coat.  You would be amazed how many little moments you have in a week’s time to pick up something mindless like knitting and actually accomplish something with those moments!

I would love to hear ideas that you have!!

Whole Grain Bread

Kamut Grain going into the grinder

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have been making our bread for several years now.  I am totally convinced of the advantages of baking with whole grains over processed white flour (though I still use white flour now and then).  We are blessed to not have any food allergies in our family, so far.  So I currently have the ‘good’, ‘better’, and ‘best’ approach to baking.  Buying breads from the store is good (better than starving, right?).  Making bread with white flour is better than store bought – no preservatives, high fructose corn syrups and other un-pronouncable ingredients.  And then making breads from whole grains that have been freshly ground and soaked in either lemon juice or apple cider vinegar is best – by far.

Sue Gregg has produced a set of cookbooks that are phenomenal.  Reading through them is the equivalent to taking a college course on nutrition!  In her book An Introduction to Whole Grain Baking, she has some really interesting and helpful information and charts regarding grain. I personally had no idea how much nutrition is found in a kernel of grain – fat, protein, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, choline, folic acid, pantothenic acid, vitamin E, chromium, manganese, selenium, zinc, iron, cobalt, calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, molybdenum, copper and fiber.  This definitely points me to an awesome creator God, for sure!!  But white flour is milled grain that has had the bran and germ removed (as well as the fiber, calcium and B-vitamins, to name just a few). The end product has an average nutritional loss of 70% over whole grains!  Not to mention that “white flour breaks down just like sugar in our bodies and can lead to many of the same problems as sugar.” So having said all that…I want to share my whole grain bread recipe with you!

Oat groats before being rolled into oatmeal

Oatmeal coming out of the grain mill, using the roller attachment

Bread is truly a staple of life – at least at our house.  From French toast, toast with eggs, sandwiches, grilled cheese, to bread crumbs and croutons, we eat a lot of bread.  It is a quick, simple and nutritious way to get breakfast and lunch on the table.  And it is a yummy side with soups and salads for dinner.  I make four loaves of whole grain bread at a time and freeze three of them in our deep freeze.  They last us about 3-4 weeks.  So though there is a bit of time involved in making the bread (though the longer I’ve made it the quicker it goes), I usually only have to think about it once a month.  This is a small task for the large benefit that it brings to my family’s nutrition.

I buy my grain (and sugar) in 25-50 pound bags from my local buying club.  I store it in 5-gallon plastic buckets, making it convenient to refill my smaller kitchen storage jars.  The grains I typically have on hand are Kamut, Hard Red Wheat, Spelt, Oat Groats and Soft Pastry Wheat.  I have a Jupiter grain mill that I purchased several years ago, again from our local buying club (hard to beat the bulk pricing that comes from lots of local people getting together!).  It grinds grain and rolls my oats.  This was definitely one of the best purchases we have ever made in regards to healthy eating!  It has ground hundreds of pounds of grain and is still going strong.  There are many benefits of freshly ground grain as opposed to flour that has sat on a shelf for months. Freshly ground grain spoils about as fast as milk that is left out, so it must be refrigerated or  frozen if not used immediately.

Jupiter grain mill

I mentioned that I try to soak my freshly ground grain in an acid.  So much has been written about this – so I won’t reinvent the wheel. Here is one resource in regards to this topic:

“Sprouting, soaking and genuine sourdough leavening “pre-digests” grains, allowing the nutrients to be more easily assimilated and metabolized. This is an age-old approach practiced in most traditional cultures. Sprouting begins germination, which increases the enzymatic activity in foods and inactivates substances called enzyme inhibitors.1 These enzyme inhibitors prevent the activation of the enzymes present in the food and, therefore, may hinder optimal digestion and absorption. Soaking neutralizes phytic acid, a component of plant fiber found in the bran and hulls of grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds that reduces mineral absorption.32 All of these benefits may explain why sprouted foods are less likely to produce allergic reactions in those who are sensitive.  Sally Fallon – Nourishing Traditions

I can assure you that the more you do a task, the easier it becomes.  And in the case of bread baking – the better it turns out.:-) I had so many ‘flops’ in the beginning.  But now I consistently am able to produce four beautiful loaves every time!  There is obviously a little more to whole grain bread making than I’ve had time to mention here (or that you would want to read in one post). Please let me know if you have questions! There are so many resources out there to help.  Here is another resource that I have found to be helpful.

Dough that has doubled in size

Soaked Grain Whole Wheat Bread

Recipe originally from Passionate Homemaking

Yield: 4 loaves

Ingredients:

3/4 cup water

1/4 cup  lemon juice or apple cider vinegar

3 cups water

11 cups ground flour, Kamut, Spelt, Hard Winter Wheat

2 cups rolled oats, not quick-cooking

1 cup raw honey

3/4 cup coconut oil or butter, melted

1/4 cup raw millet (though Adam is not a fan of this I just learned) :-)

1/4 cup flax seeds or chia seeds (I usually leave out – I’ve gotten mixed information about flax)

Soak the above for 12-24 hours

1/2 cup water, 115-120 degrees

1 teaspoon honey or sugar

2-1/2 tablespoon active dry yeast

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1-1/2 tablespoons salt

1 cup unbleached white flour, if necessary

3 tablespoons dough enhancer, (optional)

sunflower seeds, optional (I never add)

Directions:

1.  After soaking the first 9 ingredients for 12-24 hours, activate the yeast by combining the warm water, 1 teaspoon of honey, yeast and baking soda.  After activating the yeast (this will take about 3-5 minutes.  It will become bubbly and rise), combine it with the soaked flour mixture and add the salt, dough enhancer (I purchased mine through Pleasant HIll Grain Company) and remaining flour, if needed.  You can use freshly ground whole wheat flour as well, in place of the white flour.

2.  Knead for approximately 8-10 minutes, or until gluten is fully developed (bread will be like elastic). Remove to a greased bowl and cover with a towel.  Let sit in a warmed place (I use my oven, with the light on and heated just for 1 minute and then turned off) until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours.  Punch down and divide into 4 loaves.  Roll out with a rolling pin into a rectangle and roll up into a loaf (this makes perfectly shaped loaves with no air bubbles).

3.  Place in greased bread pans and let rise again until doubled (about 30-45 minutes).

4.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 30-40 minutes.  Bread is done when it is fully browned on all sides.  Remove from oven, rest in pans for 10 minutes before removing from pans.

5.  Cover with waxed paper to cool and keep soft.

Sourdough Crackers


There are two things that I try to stay away from in the foods that I feed my family:  partially hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup (or any corn syrup at all).  These are both foods that have been modified from their original form into very unhealthy food.  Now of course, there is no law that states we cannot eat these (thank you, Jesus!!!).  But as an attempt to be a good steward of the food choices I’ve been given, I try hard to stay away from them when I can.

But the bad news is that just about everything packaged has either one or both of these ingredients (even yogurt has HFCS!!). Including pretty much all crackers (sweet and savory), which my children dearly love.  So I’ve gone to making my own in the past year, when I have time.  I’ve made some really yummy graham crackers (not necessarily healthy, but at least no ‘non’ food ingredients).  I’ve also made some soaked whole grain crackers that turned out really well.

BUT…yesterday was my day to attempt sourdough crackers as part of the Sourdough e-Course through GNOWFGLINS.com.  And the reason I have to blog about them is because they turned out awesome!  They were beautiful, crunchy, and had a great taste (what more can you ask for in a cracker!).  I ended up making two different kinds:  rosemary and cheddar cheese.  The kids aren’t big herb cracker eaters, but they loved the cheese crackers which resembled the taste of Cheez-its.

And the best part of the process was that they were super easy to make.  The night before I mixed together:

1 cup of sourdough starter

a little over 1 cup of freshly ground Kamut flour

and 1/3 cup lightly melted palm shortening

I let that sit, covered, until yesterday afternoon.  I divided the dough into 2 sections and kneaded 1/8 teaspoon baking soda and 1/8 teaspoon salt into each one (adding Rosemary to one and grated cheddar cheese to the other).  I divided each of the two sections up and rolled out the four sections onto pieces of parchment paper.  I sprinkled celtic sea salt on the top, cut them with a pizza cutter and baked them on cookie sheets right on the parchment paper for about 20 minutes.  That’s all!  No extra flour needed, no mess, no waste!

And the end result was a super nutritious whole grain cracker that the kids and Adam ate for lunch and are currently enjoying for a snack. :-)