Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Better Holiday Baking

Some Quick Updates

Did you hear the news about Dr. Mehmet Oz? Wow! He has always spoken against GMO's on his show. Now he's changing his tune!  It seems like he has either been payed off or threatened. This is the second time he has done this.  First he spoke out against certain vaccinations and then he recanted. This is why I never trust main sources of information. There is always someone or some organization looming over what information is shared. Media sources have to keep their investors happy. The truth hurts too many powerful businesses!

Also, I have featured Dr. Burzynski on this blog. Remember him? He has helped many people overcome brain cancer. After 30 years of fighting with the medical establishment he has finally won the legal battle. Check out the article here.  

Better Holiday Baking

Baking cookies and treats has always been a favorite activity for me around the holidays. I never liked how I felt after I ate them, however. I originally titled this post Healthful Holiday Baking, but I really wouldn't call it health food. Now more than ever, the cleaner I eat, the more I react to over indulgence. Sweets and treats really should add up to no more the 5% or one's total diet - less if possible.  In my household I restrict having treats to once or twice per week. That said, I still like to bake and give them away to friends. (It will be sheer punishment to bake them and not eat them. I can't have gluten in my diet anymore.) The question arises then: Is there a way to make holiday treats a little more healthful? These are some tips I have found for better baking.

Mill your own flour.  
The best thing you could do is to mill your own flour. Who knows how fresh (or old) flour is after having been milled, processed, packed and shelved? You can know exactly how fresh your flour is (and what's in it) if you mill it yourself. Blendtec has a good mill, but there are several others on the market as well.

Use Ancient Grains.  
I just mentioned that I have recently become gluten sensitive. I already had been moving toward more gluten free foods, but I would indulge every now and then. Now that I know that I need to avoid gluten, everything has really become complicated for me. I'm trying to find the right balance of foods and pinpoint allergens so as to avoid them. I really try to provide as much gluten free foods as I can in my home. My family will oblige me only so far. The best alternative to this problem is to use the ancient grains that have not been tampered with. Lofty biotech scientists with their grandiose plans to save the planet (I honestly think they are more apt to be responsible for crop failure and mass starvation!) have done a lot to destroy our food sources, not to mention pollute the environment and damage our health. (Gee, I wonder why the media won't touch that topic!) Thankfully, there is an effort among some others who are concerned about the effects of all the genetic tampering to grow and harvest ancient wheat grains that over thousands of years have not caused all the problems modern day wheat does. If you are interested in getting the absolute best wheat flour you can, get it from this source.

Use organic, eggs from free range chickens.
My son likes eggs every now and then. If he is going to eat them I would rather he eat the best eggs I can get my hands on. Organic isn't enough in this regard. Are the chickens over-crowded? Do they see the light of day and are they able to roam free? Are they free of hormones and antibiotics? What kind of food do they eat? (If you eat meat, I suggest you use this screening method as well.) I purchase eggs from a nearby family  that raises chickens on their property. If you live locally, you can find them in Laytonsville - Brink road between routes 108 and 124.

To make your baked goods vegan, try using Ener-G egg replacer. It really is hit or miss with this product. I've had some successes and some flops.

Use coconut oil or organic Earth Balance.
Of these two types of oils, coconut is superior. The draw back is that it may change the flavor of your food. If you want something buttery, use Earth Balance. It is gluten free, free of trans-fats and vegan. This product should be consumed sparingly just like sugar or treats. Earth Balance recently introduced a new product that I absolutely love - Coconut spread. Coconut oil is less likely to be fattening because of the medium chain fatty acids. The spread tastes more like butter. I did not detect a coconut taste to it at all! Love it!

Use aluminum-free baking powder.
Can I take a moment to sing the praises of Rumford? I wish more companies would feel the responsibilty to provide the most healthful products possible, like Rumford. They have taken the effort to provide quality products like reduced sodium and aluminum free baking powder. They also have GMO free cornstarch. Read more about their products here

Use organic natural sugars.
Sugar is sugar is sugar. Is it good for you? The answer is always a resounding No. It stifles your immune system, creates acidity in the body and can cause lethargy, depression and contributes to many other conditions. Which is why it should always be very limited in one's diet. My friend sent me this YouTube clip that I thought was really cute. Remember the polar bears ad of some well known soda company? Here is a good spoof on that ad. Please watch it! It is so good. A word of warning, the chain saw scene may be disturbing to a child. Do not use artificial sweeteners, they are worse for your health than the sugars they are trying to replace.

Okay, now that I've totally trashed sugar, here are some sugars I would use for baking treats. I would use coconut palm sugar, date sugar, turbinado or sucanat. Of these choices, coconut palm sugar would be the best. 

Replace milk with dairy free options.
I will use eggs in a cookie recipe but I draw the line with dairy. There are a thousand reasons not to consume dairy products. One of the main ones being that proteins found in dairy can trigger the onset of cancer. Here is a clip with Dr. Mark Hyman, MD and 6 reasons to skip dairy. There are so many tasty non dairy alternatives these days that it is easier to eliminate dairy products. My husband and I drink coconut milk and our kids like almond milk. Most recipes will work using non-dairy alternatives. Here is a guide for substituting dairy in baked goods.

How to prevent over-indulgence.  
The key to prevent overindulgence is to not let up on your raw food intake. Keep up with your green smoothies, salads and fruit and vegetable juices. Fill your plate with healthful cooked and raw plant based foods first and then once you're full, move on to the dessert. I find that after a full day of eating this way, I can hardly have an appetite for anything else. It really does fill you up. And when you do indulge, you'll be better able to bounce back to your original diet plan. 

For gluten free recipes I recommend The Daily Dietribe and for vegan cooked and raw recipes, I like Chocolate Covered Katie.

Happy Baking!