Whole-Grain Wheat Flour

I love bread! Especially soft, fresh white bread. I know it’s not good for you so I decided to explore whole-grain flour vs white flour.

White flour makes light and tender baked goods. There is something else white flour does in the process. It creates inflammation inside of us by pushing blood sugar up in a dramatic spike and then plummeting it down again. We should avoid this because our most devastating diseases, including cancer, are often preceded by years of subtle internal inflammation. Blood sugar spikes happen whether we use white flour in sweetened baked goods or in baked foods like biscuits, breads and pizza dough.

White flour has been stripped of  nutrients.

There are many varieties of whole-grain flour that we can use for baking, and all are nutritious and flavorful. While there are some baked goods that can handle a transition to all whole-grain flour, others will not. But even a portion of whole-grain flour added to a recipe will lessen its impact on blood sugar in a meaningful way, minimizing the effect. In addition, substituting at least some whole-grain flour makes baked goods less flimsy and more substantive, while adding flavor.

It can be a difficult transition to whole grains. The baked goods are denser. The easiest way to start is to substitute half with whole-grain flour and half with white flour.  Nearly every baked good can handle this substitution. It can make the transition easier if you love soft white bread like I do.

Substitute

Whole-wheat bread flour, made from hard wheat, is best for pizza crust, bread,  and some pancakes. Whole-wheat pastry flour, made from soft wheat, is better for muffins, biscuits, popovers, scones, waffles, pie crusts, cakes and many pancakes. When you use hard wheat it is chewier. When you use soft wheat it is more tender.

When baking with Whole-wheat flour you will need to adjust the amount of flour  in your recipe. Three cups of all-purpose flour becomes about 2-3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons of whole-wheat flour; in this case, the total flour has been decreased by 2 tablespoons (1/4 cup=4 tablespoons).

Batters made  of all or mostly whole wheat will benefit from a rest before baking. This will improve the flavor; it will also lighten the texture, making it smoother, and give the flour needed time to absorb liquid in the batter. A rest can be as short as a half hour or as long as over-night in the refrigerator.

To achieve a light texture when using whole grains mix the batter only enough to combine all the ingredients.

Appreciating whole-grain flour in baked goods may require some time for our palettes to appreciate it. But over time I have learned to enjoy the dense breads and treats I have baked. Knowing that I am putting something that is helpful and not harmful to my body makes me feel good.

You can start by buying your whole-grain wheat flour at your local supermarket, King Arther Flour has been making flour for 200 years and have a high quality product. Or you can purchase whole wheat berries and mill the grain yourself which is what I do. I love the smell of freshly milled flour.  (I will demonstrate my wonderful mill on a future post).

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Live More Sustainably In 2012

To live more sustainably in 2012, you may wonder where to start. I have made a list of things I want to explore and implement in 2012.

* Making Your Own Cleaning Products

*Lower Your Food Bill by Cooking From Scratch

*Canning and Preserving

*Gardening and Composting

*Recycling

*Solar Energy

* Herbal Remedies

*New Uses for Old Items

Can you think of anything you would like to explore in 2012 to help you live more sustainably?

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My Love For Old Stuff

I love old stuff! When I was a little girl once a week at least Mom and Dad would go to a couple local thrift shops. Back then the shops were not as nice and organized as they are now. They were dirty and cluttered.

The best part was I was allowed to touch things. You never knew what you would find buried in the piles of old stuff.

My Mom would buy curtains or knick knacks. Take them home and clean them up. My Dad would buy a tool. Maybe another hammer…he would say you can never have to many hammers. I guess with 5 kids borrowing them…lol.

I have been going through all my old things. It’s hard to part with some items. May need that some day….I will lose 10 pounds and those jeans will fit again…Yea right! Or I have some emotional attachment to the item.

Since deciding to Simplify my life, I have been able to start letting some things go. The old clothes that even if they did fit again they would not be in style. Last week I was finally able to let go of the family encyclopedia set. I have been carrying those darn things each time we moved.

Vietnam Veterans Of American  came and picked them up free of charge. They also supply you with bags. Goodwill has many drop box locations around the city. I must say I feel lighter now that they are gone.

So instead of hanging onto items I don’t use, I can donate them and maybe someone else will use them.  What items do you have trouble parting with? Today I will dig a little deeper, maybe get rid of the old 8 track player and tapes!

The website for Vietnam Veterans of America: www.PICKUPSFORVETS.org or call 800-535-3834.

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Sucanat

I love sugar! No denying it. I have tried to live without it. But really…who wants to live without the sweet deliciousness of sugar? So I went on a quest to find something better than white processed sugar.

Sucanat which stands for Sugar Cane Natural. It is essentially dried sugar cane. The sugar cane is “green cut.” This means the fields are not burned and the leaves and tops of the cane plant are left in the field. The sugar is minimally processed and once the sugar cane is harvested it is pressed to squeeze out all the cane juice.

This juice is then clarified, filtered and evaporated. This removes excess water. The syrup is then crystallized and a sugar with a molasses flavor is produced. There are also vitamins, minerals and trace elements from the sugar cane plant.

I use this instead of sugar in my recipes. It is a one for one replacement for sugar.

Sucanat contains iron,calcium,vitamin A, vitamin B6, potassium and chromium. The vitamins are normally stripped away during the refining of the sugar cane. It tastes great! Makes me feel a little better when I indulge my sweet tooth.

You can purchase sucanat at your local health food store or if you are like me and love to do my shopping on the internet you get it for a good price on Amazon. Let me know how you like the sucanat! Happy Baking!

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Simplifying My Life

I have been trying to decide what my first post should be. After a bit of soul-searching I have decided on Simplifying My Life. That is the journey I am on and thought it would be fun to share and document it.

I was raised by parents who lived very frugally. They were both raised in” The Great Depression” and passed down those ideas to me. I have always been a big couponer. I have learned to stock pile, budget and store my food.

Then one day I was watching my Granddaughter she asked me for a Poptart. I told her we were out and she became very upset. I understand her love for Poptarts, they have always been a favorite to me. I know…that’s not good. The brown sugar frosted ones call my name.

I had decided not to buy them anymore because I kept eating them too. The desire to have them was very strong. It made me think. Really think. What am I feeding my beautiful little Granddaughter? The next time I went to the store I looked at the list of ingredients and didn’t even recognize most of the things listed.

That day I decided to step it up in my own life. Teach my Grandchildren a different way. Some would say the old way. So I hope you will join me on my journey to  Simplifying My Life.

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