Tag Archives: Healthy Baking

Mid-week Wanderlust and Daydreams

Some mid-week serendipitous resonance earned me a few moments of day-dreaming, and you a bonus blog post.

I got off early from work, and instead of scurrying back home, I stopped at a neighborhood café (which you must check out if you live/visit Bangalore, for its quaint charm and cream of mushroom soup!). Ordered myself some soup and presently there was the aroma of sizzling garlic, which can warm even the coldest day. And this is how it came to pass, that I found myself, in an island of calm, in a busy city in the middle of the week, reading Bill Bryson’s “Neither Here Nor There” and day dreaming of the Northern Lights.

“I had an itch to roam.
I wanted to wander through Europe, to see movie posters for films that would never come to (my country), gaze wonderingly at billboards and shop notices full of exotic umlauts and cedillas and No Parking sign O’s, hear pop songs that could not by even the most charitable stretch of the imagination be a hit in any country but their own, encounter people whose lives would never again intersect with mine, be hopelessly unfamiliar with everything, from the workings of a phone box to the identity of a foodstuff. I wanted to be puzzled and charmed, to experience the endless, beguiling variety of a continent where you can board a train and an hour later be somewhere where the inhabitants speak a different language, eat different foods, work different hours, live lives that are at once so different and yet so oddly similar.
I wanted to be a tourist.”

On wanting to share the extract with you, I stumbled across the Homesick Wanderlust blog, proving yet again, that technology like the internet can unite, more than it can divide.

Apart from listening for resonance, eating better is a part of my ‘go slow’ new-year resolution. Hence, sharing with you the recipe for a whole-wheat carrot cake, baked a couple of weeks back, to make the most of the seasonal ‘spindly red carrots’ (duly inspired).

IMG_20150110_172525349Grease a nine inch baking pan, and get some buttermilk going by adding a teaspoon of lemon juice to about 3/8 cup of whole milk. Grate 1 ½ cup of carrot. Whisk together a cup of whole wheat flour, about a teaspoon of baking soda, a pinch of salt, and some cinnamon powder and nutmeg (1 combined teaspoon). Using your stand/electric mixer, whip together 2 small eggs and ¾ cup of Demerara sugar. Add the buttermilk and ½ teaspoon of vanilla. Fold the dry and wet and add the carrots. Sprinkle on some optional almond. Bake for 30 minutes and check for done-ness.

Easy, right? We will not mention the spring-form tin which I failed to fit properly, resulting in carrot cake batter oozing across my kitchen counter. Not when we are thinking positive thoughts.

A good book to read, a café to eat at, a blog to visit, a cake to bake, and inspiration to day dream – now that you have several choices, what is it going to be? Am returning to Paris, where I left Bill attempting to navigate the traffic.

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Whole Grain Banana Bread

This was made as a healthy snack for my niece’s lunch box. But most it went into the tummies of various family members after Sunday lunch. Not that I complained too much about its popularity. 🙂

Whole Grain Banana Bread
Whole Grain Banana Bread

Eating this bread made me feel virtuous – all the whole wheat and walnut spells health and happiness, regardless of what the waistline thinks.

Adapted from Whole Grain Gourmet – which has a gorgeous bunch of healthy recipes I want to try

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup mashed over-ripe bananas
  • 1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts and 1/4 chopped almonds

Prepare a loaf tin by greasing and flouring.

Whisk together flour, cinnamon and salt.

In the stand mixer, or by hand, beat the butter, honey and sugar for a couple of minutes. Lightly whisk in the eggs. And the vanilla and the banana. Gradually add in flour mixture, pausing in between to scrape down the sides if using a stand mixer.

Heat the water and add the baking soda. Gently beat into the batter. Mix in the chopped nuts.

Pour into the tin and bake for about 50 minutes checking for doneness.

I garnished mine, before baking with almond flakes, and some demerrara for that special crunch.

Whole Grain Banana Bread
Whole Grain Banana Bread

I remember being undecided about adding chopped chocolate (the original recipe calls for 1/2 cup chocolate chips) or some sunflower seeds that I had handy. I don’t recall if I added either, neither or both.

Let me know what you go with.

Homemade Granola

A BIG objective behind my cooking/baking obsession is to discover the perfect healthy and tasty snack, which I can munch tons of. And with this brilliant master move avoid the gym forever (working out is the antithesis of pootling). While the wonder snack remains elusive, homemade granola comes real close.

Homemade Granola
Homemade Granola

This batch was baked on special request, for the niece’s school snack box. Her portions have big handfuls of chopped dried fruits, which I left off on mine.

Add them to your morning cereal, crumble into some fruit, or have them straight up. These truly deserve a permanent spot in your kitchen, and the simplicity of putting together a batch ensures that you can bake them every couple of weeks (sans the drama associated with a baking adventure).

I based the batch on David L’s recipe (halving it and subbing the ingredient I did not have at hand) + I followed the granola making tips from theKitchn. 

  • 2 ½ cups oats
  • 1 ½ cups nuts*, chopped
  • 7/8 cup seeds**
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 3/8 cup (about 3 tbsp) applesauce***
  • 1/6 (I eyeballed half of 1/3) cup golden syrup
  • 1/8 (i.e. half of ¼) cup honey
  • 1 tablespoons vegetable oil

 *I used a mix of almonds and walnuts. You can pretty much use whichever nuts you have in stock or like. Granola is uber-flexible and fairly forgiving, in my experience – as long as you get the ratio of dry and wet ingredients right and follow some basic tips

** Again, the mix is up to you. Use one or combination of seeds. I went with musk melon, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

*** I made an applesauce batch which is a fairly easy process. Coarsely chop a few apples and pressure cook (for 4 whistles) and let cool. Strain through a sieve to remove peels and seeds.  Not up for apples and adding another step to the recipe? Mash a ripe banana – I have done this in the past. The banana flavor disappears on baking.

  • Mix the oats, nuts, seeds, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl
  • Warm the fruit puree, golden syrup, honey and oil in a small saucepan
  • Pour the wet into the dry ingredients and mix well
  • Pre heat the oven to 150 c. Grease a baking try (with high sides) – mine measures 11 ½ by 9 inches and scoop the mix into it. Flatten with a spatula/back of a large spoon. Pack it in well, else (and I know from experience) granola burns!
  • Bake for about 40 minutes. Check for burning occasionally, and turn around the tray a couple of times (if your oven has hot spots like mine)
  •  Cool and store at room temperature

After it was cool, I added some chopped dates for that bit of additional sweet. And as mentioned, I jazzed up the remaining, for my niece, with chopped dried fruits. In went dried apricots, figs, and raisins. That kid ‘doesn’t like raisins, she LOVES them’ (in her words), so yeah, I was quite liberal with the stuff.

Wholewheat Banana Carrot Muffins

My sister-in-law (at this point, you must be wondering how many sisters-in-law does this woman have! Well, many. Sisters in law are a rich source of friends for a girl, and I seem to have been blessed with a steady supply) – SG’s sister – makes wonderful banana muffins. (Her husband, in turn, dishes out the best homemade pizza ever, which I will duly feature one day.) For a while now, have been meaning to ask SIL for the recipe and I promise I shall. In the meanwhile, let’s settle for an oh-so-healthy version of the muffins.

Wholewheat Banana and Carrot Muffins
Wholewheat Banana and Carrot Muffins

Recipe from Love, Food, Eat – a great go to blog if you are looking for wholesome nutritious but yet delish eats.

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups grated carrot
  • ½ cup almonds, chopped
  • ¼ cup oats
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1tsp cinnamon powder

Wet Ingredients

  • 2 ripe bananas mashed into a paste
  • ½ cup olive oil*
  • 1/2 cup yogurt (curd)
  • 1 cup brown sugar**

*I was running low on olive oil, so I subbed half of it with ghee.

**I got feedback that it could do with tad bit more sugar – so perhaps a little more sugar or honey next time. Of course, you can do what Ovendurful recommends and add some golden syrup.

  • Mix the wet ingredients in a large bowl
  • Mix the dry ingredients in a small bowl
  • Fold in the dry into the wet in batches
  • Preheat the oven to 170 c. Scoop the batter into a greased muffin.

Choosing the make smaller muffins, I got about 18. If you go for larger scoops, the batter should yield 12. Let me know how many you get.

Oh yes, I added almond flakes to pretty up my second batch.

These make for a wonderful snack on the go. Half of them went into my niece’s school mid-morning snack box this last week.  The only problem with such healthy baking and eating is that, overcome with the self-righteous feeling, I end up binging on stuff I would not have touched other-wise. Well, you win some and lose some.