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What We’ve Been Eating

So we’re about a week and a half into the Clean Eating experiment here at home, and it’s going pretty well so far! The family has enjoyed all of the food I’ve made so far, and Nick and I both agree that we feel so healthy eating this way.

I will confess that I have my days when I wish I could just make some mac and cheese or grill up some hot dogs for the kids for lunch. Or have a frozen pizza stashed in the freezer for an “emergency” (aka, I lost track of time and don’t have a clue what to make for dinner).

I’ve been experimenting with some new foods, creating some new “recipes”, and trying to figure out how to bake bread. Honestly, with everything I’m trying to change about our food, I kinda feel like I’ve been at this a lot longer than a week and a half!

Sample Snacks:

Hard boiled eggs

Popcorn

Cheese Sticks

Homemade granola bars (I’ve done a couple of different versions, involving oats, peanut butter, maple syrup, whole wheat flour, sunflower kernels, eggs, chopped apples and dried fruit. I basically just mixed ingredients, pressed into a pan and baked.) 

Apples & Peanut Butter

Fruit & Yogurt

Sample Meals:

Make Your Own Salad night (this ended up being a big hit with the boys!)

Chicken Salad in lettuce wraps

Quinoa, chicken and avocado

Chicken, brown rice, and broccoli

Make Your Own Yogurt Parfaits (we did this for lunch yesterday and the boys loved it!)

Chicken and Mozzarella on homemade bread, baked open-faced in the oven, served with a salad

Salad, brown rice and sausage (pictured below!)

I’ve tried my hand at mixing up some salad dressings and one in particular has become a favorite (especially of Nick’s)! I mixed together some olive oil, vinegar, maple syrup (why Nick loves the dressing!), garlic and rosemary. So tasty!

Ok, now I’m having bread issues and would love to hear some tips and tricks! I’ve been baking my own whole wheat bread and have tried a couple of different recipes and always have  the same result…. the bread doesn’t rise all the way! I have a new jar of yeast, so unless there’s such a thing as a “bad batch”, I don’t think that’s the issue. I’ve been checking the temperature of the water I dissolve the yeast in and it’s been right on. I’m kneading the required amount of time.

So here’s what happens – the dough does it’s doubling in a bowl just fine, and then I transfer it to the loaf pans and it looks promising and starts to rise and  then it stops. So I end up with half-risen loaves! The bread tastes good, but I’m annoyed that it’s not as big as it should be. So what am I missing? Some secret rising ingredient? I did a quick Google yesterday and I read on one site that whole wheat flour sometimes inhibits yeast growth, but then I see pictures of homemade WW bread and it’s nice and big! What gives?!

  • September 11, 2012 - 11:21 am

    Nicole - We’ve been “Clean eating” for about two months now and the best thing I’ve found is that there are hot dogs made by oscar meyer that are without all the chemical additives like nitrates. They’re labeled as uncured all natural. We found them on sale (still more than the cheap BAR-S brand) at Hy-Vee for around $4. That was the one thing my kids were really upset that we couldn’t eat, so I researched and found those and the Applegate brand, but those a little more around $5 a pack. So basically it’s not something we eat all the time but every once in awhile I allow the treat of Hot-dogs.

    Oh and I totally wish some night’s there was a frozen pizza in our freezer!!ReplyCancel

    • September 11, 2012 - 11:26 am

      Helen - Ah, sweet! I’ll have to look for those, Nicole! Thank you!ReplyCancel

      • September 11, 2012 - 11:31 am

        Nicole - You’re welcome! Our Hy-vee (off Noland) has a lot of all natural foods, compared to like price-chopper. Just takes a lot longer to shop because your checking the labels on everything. Plus anything that you don’t see in a Hy-vee but want them to carry all you have to do is ask and they will start carrying it.ReplyCancel

  • September 11, 2012 - 2:48 pm

    pam - does your bread recipe have any white flour in it? it might help to see the recipe. i think that the whole wheat can “tear” holes in the bubbles and therefore not allow it to rise as much, which is why I think you don’t use only whole wheat in bread. so it depends on your recipe.ReplyCancel

    • September 11, 2012 - 2:49 pm

      pam - but also, it COULD be a bad batch of yeast. i tried making a “fool-proof” bread recipe (after a lot of experience baking bread) and it just wouldn’t work, no matter what, and it was because all of my yeast was bad.ReplyCancel

    • September 11, 2012 - 4:02 pm

      Helen - Both of the recipes I have tried only call for whole wheat flour, water, yeast, dry milk, oil and brown sugar.

      There was one I saw (but didn’t try) that called for some sort of “booster”, but I didn’t know what it was or where to buy it!ReplyCancel

  • September 11, 2012 - 7:59 pm

    kdliberty - Best Recipe I know and the only one my Mom could get to make right. However, it can NOT be doubled.

    One Loaf Recipe for Children

    1 cup warm water
    1 Tablespoon Karo or Honey
    1 Tablespoon yeast
    1 Teaspoon salt
    2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

    Mix first 3 ingredients and let stand 10 to 15 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and squeeze between fingers, hand over hand until all is mixed and dough begins to turn loose from fingers. May need to add more flour. Turn on to floured board and knead well. Shape immediately into loaf or let rise once or twice (recommended). Bake at 350 for 45 to 50 minutes.ReplyCancel

    • September 12, 2012 - 9:02 am

      Helen - Thank you for the recipe, kdliberty!ReplyCancel

      • September 12, 2012 - 4:15 pm

        kdliberty - You are welcome! -KaraReplyCancel

  • September 11, 2012 - 8:49 pm

    andrea - For the bread, it could be one (or a combo) of a few things:

    Does your recipe call for some sort of sugar? If so, does it need a little bit more? The yeast needs something to eat to make the bread nice and poofy.

    We have had our best luck mixing a combo of whole wheat and white “bread” or “high gluten” flour as the activating glutens help the bread puff up better and not be so dense.

    You can also try adding more yeast than the recipe calls for. We’ve done that before. (Using 2 tablespoons instead of 1 1/2 that the recipe calls for.)

    If you use water that is too warm it can kill off the yeast, leading to lack of rise. (Though, since it’s rising well once, I doubt that’s it.)

    We keep our yeast in the fridge to help keep it fresh and keep it from dying.

    Since it’s poofing up nicely in the first rise, but not the second, I’d guess that it’s likely a lack of “food” for the yeast. Try subbing a cup of bread flour for a cup of the wheat flour, or adding extra sugars or yeast.ReplyCancel

    • September 12, 2012 - 9:03 am

      Helen - Huh! I didn’t know the sugar could help (the recipes both call for 1 tbs of brown sugar).

      It sounds like I need to try adding in a bit of regular flour. I had hoped it would be possible to make 100% whole wheat!ReplyCancel

  • September 13, 2012 - 10:57 am

    Lauren - I don’t think you necessarily need to add any white flour. You may need to add vital wheat gluten (can be found at Walmart or grocery stores) and wheat germ. Those should help. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • September 13, 2012 - 4:12 pm

      Helen - Is the wheat gluten in the baking section? I’ll look for it when I shop tomorrow! Adding the white last night only gave me marginally better rise, so I’m thinking it’s the yeast I bought (and the jar is almost empty, so I’ll be buying more of that too).ReplyCancel

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