Spring Break & Whole Wheat Bread

Well, Spring Break flew by faster than expected which by now, is to be expected. Time just gets away from me so easily these days. Isaac is now 15 months old, and I still can't believe how fast my little guy is growing up. Manuel was such a big help to me this week, especially all the time he spent taking care of Isaac while I ran errands, went to appointments, and caught up on some shopping, all of which I have been needing to do by myself for some time. And yet somehow, still not everything I had set out to do actually got done. So is life! We got our gym passes this week for the Holladay Fitness and Rec Center which is conveniently right down the street from our place. I am really excited to start working out again and getting back into shape. Tuesday I went and accompanied one of the youth in our ward who was competing in a regional competition for his trumpet solo. He did well and is now on to the state competition which I will also be accompanying him for next month in Highland. Thursday was spent at the Family Fun Center in Sandy where Isaac had a blast with his cousins. My sister and I met up there, where she had a coupon in which we paid the age of the child, meaning we only paid $1 for Isaac to play all day. We ended up staying for about 4 hours and I have never seen Isaac have so much fun! I even put him in some roller skates which was a funny sight to see. I'll have to post pictures soon. Friday I got my hair cut, which was well overdue. A simple trim with some long layers added in and a final thinning out was all I needed. The rest of the days were filled with minor chores and repairs around the house. Overall, it was a fairly productive week yet in the end, I still wish there could have been some more time to spend with Manuel before he went back to school.

And now for the yummy bread recipe. This is a whole wheat bread recipe I got at an Enrichment Night activity in my parents' ward before I went off to school. It's a home storage recipe so it makes 4 loaves, but I may try cutting it in half the next time since I don't have the freezer space for 4 loaves! I made this on Sunday for the girls I visit teach, and even though it was my first time making a yeast bread on my own, it turned out really well! I also love how healthy the recipe is. Instead of using sugar to sweeten it, it calls for honey. And instead of butter, canola oil. It is such an easy recipe and has very little prep and cooking time. I decided that I am going to be making this bread instead of buying bread from now on. It's healthy and was so easy to put together in my KitchenAid mixer with the bread kneading attachment.

Easy 4-step Whole Wheat Bread

(I) In a bowl, mix:
6 cups hot water
1/2 cup oil - Canola is best (measure first)
1/2 cup honey (use the same measuring cup)

*Measuring the oil first and then the honey makes it easier to get all the honey out of the measuring cup.

Add together:
2 Tbsp. salt
2 Tbsp. dough enhancer (keep in the freezer)
3 Tbsp. yeast (keep in the freezer)

Mix a little at a time:
12-15 cups whole wheat flour

*Add only enough flour until the dough comes away from the side of the bowl when mixing.

(II) Mix on medium speed:
Set timer for 10 minutes (kneading the bread.) While dough is kneading:
1) Prepare the 4 loaf pans (spray with oil, non-stick spray, etc.).
2) Clean and oil down the cutting board or counter top.
3) Grease hands and knife.

(III) Prepare dough:
1) Take dough out of mixing bowl and place on well-oiled board.
2) With hands, roll out dough into a square. Cut dough into 4 equal pieces with an oiled knife.
3) Take each smaller piece, and pat out any bubbles. Form into a square.
4) Roll up into a long roll, and fold 3 times. Squeeze seams together, and place in the oiled pans.

(IV) Raising and cooking the bread:
1) Heat oven to 150 degrees, then turn the oven off. (The oven should not be warmer than 160 degrees.)
2) Place pans in oven to rise for 30 minutes. (Bread should raise barely past rim of pan.)
3) Set oven to 350 degrees and set the timer for 28-32 minutes. (Make sure bread crust is not too brown.)
4) Take out of pans and cover with towel. Let cool on rack for 1 hour before slicing.

Enjoy the recipe, it's delicious! Love to all our friends and family!


Healthier Eating & The Great World of Food Blogging

As we started off the new year, it was a goal of mine to eat healthier to lose some weight. Many of you are aware of my love for cooking and baking which can make this quite difficult! I decided that along with that goal, I was going to make a real effort to start cooking healthier meals for my entire family, especially now that Isaac is eating more and more everyday foods along with us. With the challenges our country now faces with rising numbers of obesity, especially among children, I want to make sure that what I feed my children is wholesome and healthy. I want my children to have a love for food but also a good, healthy relationship with the kinds of things they put in their bodies. Now don't get me wrong, I don't consider myself a crazy health nut by any means nor do I intend on being one of those moms who deprives their children of every kind of sweet treat or processed snack all of the time, but I want to encourage my family to make smarter decisions when it comes to food and to have healthy options at hand. So, with my recent culinary adventures, here are some of the changes I have made to my typical weeknight meals:

1. Using leaner cuts of meat
2. Using reduced-fat cheese and other low-fat or non-fat dairy products
3. Incorporating more variety of fruits and veggies
4. Using olive oil or a canola oil spray to save on unhealthy fats and extra calories
5. Experimenting with spices and other natural flavorings to make meals more interesting
6. Watching more carefully the food labels and making sure not to buy products containing high fructose corn syrup, additives or preservatives
7. Buying canned fruits that are stored in their own natural juices rather than heavy syrups
8. Buying canned vegetables that are labeled "no salt added" to better control the amount of sodium in our meals
9. Using and eating whole wheat pastas, breads, and grains that are high in fiber and don't contain any high fructose corn syrup
10. (a) Making sure we eat a wide variety of foods including, fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, poultry, fish, beans, etc. and drinking more water and less sugar-filled juices and (b) Using healthier cooking methods such as baking not frying, etc.

So far, the most challenging part of cooking healthier meals has been looking for less expensive, quality ingredients that don't contain the additives, preservatives and high fructose corn syrup that are shockingly common in so many foods these days. It is incredible to me to see these ingredients showing up in foods you would never think contained them. Therefore, it's important for me to look for foods that contain more naturally occurring sweeteners, ingredients and overall fewer ingredients on their listings.

Many of the recipes I've been using recently have come from healthy food blogs and websites I've found through friends' suggestions or my own online research. Here are some of my new favorites:

1. www.skinnytaste.com
2. www.eatingwell.com
3. www.cookinglight.com
4. www.healthygirlcooking.com

My apologies to The Pioneer Woman for not making my list, you rock, but I've gotta get healthier! I'll still keep you on my Bookmarks tab bar though for now :)

If any of you out there have good suggestions for healthy recipe sites, I'd love to hear from you! I'll have to post some of the recipes I've made so far as well as some pictures. Some have been great, a few not so much, but it's a learning process and I'm figuring out ways to adapt the recipes and remember what didn't work so I can make changes the next time I try the same recipe. It's been fun, and I'm always discovering ways to create shortcuts and cut down on prep/cooking time so I have more time to spend with my awesome husband and adorable little boy!

Until next week, love to all our family and friends!