Archive for the ‘Nutrition’ Category

Baking with honey

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Last week, I mentioned that I use honey to replace regular white or brown sugar in all of my recipes. Since it’s difficult to find recipes for doing this, I thought I should elaborate on the why and how’s of doing this.

The primary reason that I don’t use white or brown sugar (which, by the way, is basically just white sugar with a bit of molasses added back in for flavor and color) is because they are highly processed, at very high temperatures and with the use of chemicals, that render them absolutely useless for nutrition of any kind. Although there are many foods that have only a very small nutritional benefit to them, sugar is one that I would actually consider to be on the negative end of the scale. It’s not just a 0 on the scale, but maybe a -5.

The reason is that sugar not only doesn’t offer any nutrients, but it also skyrockets blood sugar (which then drops significantly after, leaving you with a greater desire for sweets and carbs, and ultimately creating a vicious cycle of instable blood sugar levels), temporarily stuns the immune system so that it is not effective in fighting illness, uses our bodies precious nutrients and energy to digest and deal with the sugar (such as Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, Potassium, Magnesium, Manganese, Chromium, Zinc and possibly others) and gets no new nutrients in return.

So why do I choose honey instead? Well, it has a lower glycemic index, thus messing with your blood sugar less, is not heavily processed, and in it’s raw (unpasteurized) state, actually contains many minerals and vitamins. Yes, it is still sugar. You cannot gorge yourself on honey just because it isn’t white sugar. Yes, it can still compromise your immune system, and if you are fighting an illness, I would not recommend it (use Stevia instead). However, given the option between the two for those times when we would like a sweet treat, I will take honey anyday!

I could go on, but I will get off my soapbox for now, and just give you the scoop on substituting honey for sugar in baking!

Basically, honey is slightly sweet than sugar, so you can use it at a slightly less than 1:1 ratio. When I am using a small amount, such as 1 Tbsp in a loaf of bread, I will just keep it 1:1. But if a recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, I will reduce it to about 3/4 cup.

Since honey is partially water, being a liquid, you will also have to adjust the liquids in your recipe. I have read a few different ideas about how much you need to reduce the liquids by. Usually it is suggested to reduce the liquids by 1/4 to 1/2 cup per cup of honey used. I usually find it sufficient to reduce by about a 1/4 cup only, but it sometimes depends on the recipe and the texture that you are looking for (firm cookie dough vs runnier sweet bread batter).

For instance, if I am baking a loaf of pumpkin bread that calls for for 1 1/2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of milk, I might use a little over a cup of honey (maybe up to 1 1/4 cups), and about 2/3 cup milk. It sometimes takes a bit of experimenting to perfect a recipe.

Also, it is wise to turn your oven down slightly when baking with honey (by around 25 degrees), because honey browns a bit faster than sugar. You just need to keep on eye on your baking the first times that you try it. Of course, if you also bake with alternative flours, as I do (I primarily use spelt flour, but also sometimes use barley, kamut and rice flours), then you need to be aware that baked goods made with these flours can take longer to fully bake through, but can still brown faster with the honey, so a longer time in a lower temperature oven is your best bet. I have come to learn that baking in an unconventional way is a bit of an art form!

That said, it also becomes easier the more you do it. I barely think about how to substitute anymore these days. It has become (almost) second nature. I only purchase honey, in gallon tubs, and keep my granulated sugar for guests only. We have come to love the taste of honey sweetened, whole grain baking!

Check out Tammy’s Recipes for some other great kitchen tips today!


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Gleaning is a wonderful way to get things for free! And last week a friend introduced me to a place just brimming with organic apples, free for the picking. It’s in a large public park in our city, out in the country a bit. In a far off corner, she discovered that there was a small grove of apple trees.

Not ones to miss out on an opportunity like this, we both packed up our toddler and baby and headed out for a morning of apple picking. I’m sure we were quite a site, her precariously perched up on these ancient branches, and me attempting to catch and juggle the apples as she threw them down (or just shook the tree so much that they came tumbling down all at once!). I wish I had remembered my camera to take a picture of us, or of our 3 year olds munching on apple after apple, or trying to feed them to my little baby (probably wouldn’t have done much harm, he could have only gummed it, I suppose).

I didn’t think to pull out my camera until most of the apples had already been made into applesauce, but my darling hubby reminded me that I should post about my find. This pic is the remaining apples after I made several litres of applesauce, and my daughter had probably eaten more than 10 herself.


Aside from them being free, the best part of it all was that they organic, untouched and virtually unknown to anyone! I guarantee, we’ll be back next fall!

It got me thinking about what else could be had through gleaning. One thing that we try to take advantage of (in fact, my husband practically counts down the days until they’re ripe) is local wild blackberries. In our area, blackberries grow like weeds (literally, we actually had a small bush in our backyard that I had to get cut down before it started to take over the whole garden area). We go picking as much as we can during the 3-4 weeks that they are in peak season, and freeze whatever we don’t eat fresh or in a scrumptious blackberry crumble (steaming hot, tart and sweet at the same time, with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. Sigh… I can’t wait for summer again) .

Is there anything in your area that grows naturally that you could glean? Berries are a common one, and many parks have old apple trees that people just don’t realize are there or free for the picking. Depending on where you live, what about rhubarb, nuts, other tree fruits (cherries, plums), even herbs (of course, you need to know exactly what you are looking for so you don’t pick the wrong thing, but they often grow wild- when we visited Rome we learned that Palatine Hill is covered in a variety of cooking herbs!).

Don’t forget to check out all the other frugal tips at Frugal Fridays, hosted by Biblical Womanhood!

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It’s upon us (cold and flu season, that is). On Tuesday night, I got run over by a nasty head cold and I am still slowly recovering. Since I’m nursing and don’t want to take medications or pass my cold to my kids, and I have an allergy to pseudoephedrine (the common decongestant in medications like Nyquil and NeoCitran- it makes my heart rate drop significantly), I felt pretty desperate to deal with it quickly.

Besides, it’s so difficult to function as a mama to young ones when your head is pounding, your nose running, and you’re struggling to breathe. So, I pulled out all my natural home remedies. We’re talking rummaging through my cupboards, my books, scouring google, and doing every natural thing I’ve ever known to do, even if it would help only minutely. Seriously, even minute improvements sounded exciting at that point!

Here’s what I did:

  • drank oodles of liquids
  • tons of fresh lemon juice (high in Vitamin C), and some fresh grapefruit juice this morning (again, Vitamin C)
  • nearly drowned myself in steaming hot tea- because it was soothing, and because the steam and vapors helped to unclog my nose and give my throbbing sinuses a bit of a break
  • Breathe Easy tea by Traditional Medicinals– same idea as above, but this tea is specifically made for the purpose of decongesting (I buy mine at the Walmart pharmacy, but most health food stores carry it, and some grocery stores in their natural section)
  • ate as much garlic as a married woman should ever eat. Actually, I’ve heard that it works best if you can just swallow pieces of raw garlic, but I couldn’t bring myself to. Instead I put it in everything I ate, and even roasted an entire bulb of it to eat with goat’s cheese on toast (very yummy, I must say).
  • a hot shower (very hot and steaming) with drops of eucalyptus essential oil in it (I put the plug in and let the water pool at my feet)
  • hot compresses on my sinus and head to help relieve the sinus swelling
  • took a B vitamin complex, as well as an E, C, and A complex
  • 2 drops of Oil of Oregano under my tongue, 3-4 times a day
  • Trimedica Silva Solution throat lozenges (they actually have homeopathic colloidal silver in them)
  • today I made chicken noodle soup with a ton of veggies (especially leeks, onions, garlic) and homemade chicken broth

End result? It’s not gone, but I’m impressed with how much better I feel today than I did yesterday. I had some energy this morning, so I decided to make hay while the sun shone and ran around trying to put away laundry, tidy the bedrooms, clean the kitchen, make a real lunch and more bread and get prepared for dinner, etc. before I crashed. Now it’s the afternoon and I’m fading a bit, but such is life. I’m sure I’ll feel better tomorrow. :)

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This household loves smoothies!!!! My husband’s affectionate nickname for me (especially when he wants a smoothie, hmmmmm :) ) is the “Smoothie Queen”. Last Christmas I was incredibly blessed (and spoiled!) with a Vita-Mix blender to help support our habit (our daily smoothie habit, that is). I’ll try to share some of my favorite recipes as I think of them or make them.

Raspberry Pina Colada

1 cup plain yogurt

1/2- 1 cup of coconut milk (depends how much you like coconut) or 1-2 large Tbsp of coconut paste

3/4 cup frozen raspberries

1 cup frozen pineapple

2 frozen bananas (broken into 1/4 pieces, they blend easier)- my daughter added an extra 1/2 banana today and it was fine

honey to taste (1-2 Tbsp.) or Stevia (2-3 packets?)

enough water to get it all moving- probably at least a cup, depends on your blender

any superfoods you want your family to have (ie. flax oil, bee pollen, green foods, ground flax seed, ground sesame or pumpkin seed, etc.- there are so many to choose from! I don’t use greens in this smoothie because it ruins the nice color)

Serves 2-3 (my husband and I have a good sized glass, and my almost 3 year old has only a little bit less than us- the 5 mth old gets it vicariously through his milkies)

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Pancake morning!

Keeper of the Home has moved- click here to find my new blog site!

I should have said to make pancakes with maple syrup in my kitchen tip post! We’ve been on a restricted diet the past few weeks, trying to help my husband detox (he had a serious illness this spring and summer, but that’s a whole other story), so everyone was so excited this morning when I finally made pancakes again! And not just any pancakes, but a delicious recipe from Nourishing Traditions, where you soak the flour overnight in buttermilk or yogurt to start to break down the phytic acid and predigest the grains (this aids in the digestion of grains and the absorption of their nutrients). On a side note, if you’re interested, you can read this short article that tells you about the concept more in detail.

Anyways, after not having had them for awhile, and having some really amazing grade B, organic maple syrup on hand (one of the yummiest splurges ever- grade B has a much stronger maple flavor!), they were such a hit with my husband and daughter! I think she managed to put away 6 of them!


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