My Friday morning ritual involves a bitter cappuccino paired with a sweet and flaky Scottish oat scone. In my current work situation I do a lot of grocery shopping at my local food coop (PCC Natural Markets), so I like to treat myself on Friday mornings after my shopping. […]
A cold and rainy trip to the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle with the boyfriend plus a late breakfast equals one hungry lady. One thing led to the next and soon we were pulling into the parking lot of Ivar’s Restaurant at 4:00pm on a Saturday afternoon. Famished, we made our way inside and made a delightful happy hour discovery! Nabbing a table by the window, looking out onto the lake, we ordered a pint as we scanned the menu. A cup of smoked salmon chowder and complementary mesquite cornbread muffins were soon heading our way. The chowder was exactly what I needed to thaw my cold fingers and fill my belly, but the highlight of the meal was the muffins. I unfolded the cloth napkin in the bread basket and picked up a warm muffin. The slightly sweet and smoky scent of the mesquite flour filled all my senses as I took my first bite. Heaven. That’s the only word that can possibly describe that bite.
I didn’t waste a minute upon leaving the restaurant to search for a recipe. I had coincidentally recently discovered the joys of mesquite flour, which is a high-fiber gluten-free flour that comes from the pods of the algarrobo trees in northern Peru. It is often used in combination with other flours and even a small amount can impact the flavor in a great way. I highly recommend playing around with it! Although not a common flour, it can be found in many health food stores or food coops.
In an attempt to up the nutritional value of the muffins, I used whole-wheat pastry flour (higher fiber content, but still a fine texture) instead of all-purpose.
MESQUITE CORNBREAD MUFFINS
Recipe adapted from Ivar’s Seafood Cookbook
Makes one dozen muffins
- 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 cup mesquite flour
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, not packed
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon fine grind cornmeal, divided*
- 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 3/4 cup nonfat milk
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Whisk together both flours, both sugars, 1/4 cup cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, butter and milk.
- Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir until combined.
- Divide the mixture among 12 lined or greased muffin cups. Sprinkle the remaining cornmeal over the top.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Let muffins cool for 5 minutes in the tin, then transfer to a cooling rack.
*You can use a coarser grind if you prefer
To make vegan, substitute:
- 3/4 cup plain soy yogurt or 3 Tablespoons flax seeds plus 9 Tablespoons water for the eggs
- 1 cup light flavored oil (ex: light olive oil, canola oil, safflower oil, etc.) for the butter
- 3/4 cup unsweetened, plain soy milk or any milk alternative for the nonfat milk
To make gluten free, substitute:
- 1 cup sweet potato flour, 1/2 cup sorghum flour, plus 1/2 cup tapioca flour for the whole-wheat pastry flour
While doing my weekly meal planning on Sunday, I asked my boyfriend if he had any ideas. I’ve pretty much been living out of my America’s Test Kitchen vegetarian cookbook lately, so I decided to branch out for a night. And what does he suggest? Waffles! I […]
Portion control. This is a phrase that you may have heard before, but unfortunately is made difficult to heed when eating out. It is a common occurrence to receive a plate piled high with food and to leave the restaurant feeling stuffed to the brim. I know this feeling well because it is much easier to overeat when you have a pile of food in front of you. On a recent trip to Chipotle (my guilty fast food pleasure), I left feeling WAY too full and wishing that they offered half portions. This is not only Chipotle, but almost every other restaurant and fast food joint. Our idea of a single portion has become extremely distorted as restaurants continuously increase the size of their portions. This can make a healthy diet a little difficult.
Overeating every once and a while might not seem like a big deal, but when it becomes a more and more common occurrence (especially with the increasing trend of eating out multiple days a week), it can lead to more serious health effects, such hypertension and type 2 diabetes. This is particularly true to high fat, high calorie meals.
So what can you do to battle this portion distortion?
- When you eat out, right when your food is delivered, divide your food in half and push one half to the side. Enjoy one half of your plate for dinner and take the rest home for leftovers! This way, you avoid overeating and you get two meals out of one! If you think you may give in to temptation, ask for a to-go box right when you get your food, so you can put away half of your plate right away.
- You can share a plate with someone. This is also a great way to cut down on the cost of eating out!
- Not only can a large portion contribute to overeating, but so can being extra hungry. Prevent those ravenous feelings by enjoying a little snack in between meals. Something as simple as an apple with peanut butter or baby carrots and hummus will help to tide you over.
What exactly is one portion size? Check out ChooseMyPlate to look up specific portion sizes based on your age and on the food group!
The grocery store can be both an overwhelming and a wonderful place. People bustling up and down aisles, options upon options from floor to ceiling, and colorful packaging touting too-good-to-be-true health benefits. Hint: If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably isn’t […]
Or should I say, sneaky manufacturers? Sugar is often in the spotlight for its lack of health benefits (empty calories) and its possible contribution to health ailments. What are empty calories? Empty calories come from solid fats and/or added sugars. These provide calories, but minimal […]
The grocery store can be an overwhelming place. Options upon options line the shelves, so how do we know what to choose? Something as simple as bread can have a whole aisle to itself! It can be time consuming and frustrating to try and pick out the “best” product. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you find what you’re looking for!
First of all, to get the most bang for your buck, you should look for a 100% whole-wheat bread. Sounds easy enough, right? Unfortunately, labels and packaging can be misleading. Packages may tote “made with whole-grains” or “multi-grain” or the bread may be a nice dark brown color that appears packed with good nutrients. None of these things actually indicate that the bread is 100% whole-wheat or 100% whole grain.
Why should you buy whole-wheat? Whole-wheat flour is made from whole-grains, which contain the bran, germ, and endosperm (all parts of the grain). In contrast, refined wheat flour only contains the endosperm. According to the Whole Grains Council, “without the bran and germ, about 25% of a grain’s protein is lost, along with at least seventeen key nutrients,” with only bits added back during enrichment. Whole grains are packed with fiber and several B vitamins and minerals. According to MyPlate, whole grains may:
- Reduce the risk of heart disease
- Reduce constipation
- Help with weight management
- Help prevent neural tube defects during pregnancy (if fortified with folate)
As you can see, whole grains are an important part of your diet!
- The first ingredient listed on the ingredients list should be “whole-wheat flour”
- Look for bread that has 2g or more of fiber per slice*
- Bread can be high in sodium, so look for less than 200mg of sodium per slice*
- Bread can also be high in sugar, so look for less than 4g of sugar per slice*
*Make sure to check the serving size at the top of the nutrition facts panel!
FUN FACT! Did you know that sourdough bread can help improve your gut health? Sourdough bread is packed with beneficial bacteria! It contains probiotics like those found in foods such as yogurt and kefir.
Want more information on the labeling of whole grains? Click here!