Tuesday, January 19, 2010

These are a few...

In line with this weeks theme, I'd like to share two of my favorite things. Most of my very favorite foods tend to be healthy, though I do have my weaknesses, as you will see.

My favorite Fast-n-Easy Breakfast: Parfait of a Domestic Goddess

I love this breakfast so much that, with the exception of a weekly special brunch I try to do in my household, I eat it every day. It's just that good. Here's what goes into it:

-A few (or several, depending on you, the eater) tablespoons of honey*-flavored Greek yogurt. Yes, it has to be Greek.
-A few tablespoons (or several) of BRM Meusli**
-Diced fruit, or fresh berries (optional)

Why Greek yogurt? Because Greek yogurt has a deeply satisfying, creamy texture and amazing flavor. It's higher in protein per serving than regular yogurt, too. It takes fewer tablespoons of Greek yogurt to make me feel full. Its consistency is closer to sour cream or creme fraiche. This is because Greek yogurt has much of the extra liquid drained out of it, unlike regular American yogurt which can become runny after just a few days in the fridge. Look for Greek yogurts that are probiotic and contain live cultures.

**Meusli could be substituted for granola if you want something with more crunch to it. If you'd like a gluten-free option, try nuts, sunflower seeds, and/or flax seeds.

*Fig-flavored Greek yogurt is also delicious, but sometimes harder to find. If you don't like sweet yogurt at all, plain may be more your style.

Best perk: It takes about 20 seconds to throw this breakfast together and about 20 seconds to clean it up when I'm done!

My favorite brownies, a few notches healthier: a few pointers!

The key to brownies that make every woman in the neighborhood jealous of your baking prowess is, hands-down, using a from-scratch recipe. You can find oodles of them at foodtv.com, or just google them. You'll know which one is right for you.

First, be sure that the recipe requires unsweetened baking chocolate. Real chocolate makes it worth it (unbeatable flavor, and antioxidants!). It should also call for real eggs, butter, flour, and sugar.

How I upgrade it so it's not quite as unhealthy:

1. I go for unsalted butter. Yes, all that extra fat is still there, but if it's all natural sweet-cream butter with non-processed fats, it's not quite as bad for you as the boxed stuff. You can add a pinch of salt if needed.

2. Use less sugar. In the stages where you're mixing the butter, eggs and sugar, start with half of what the recipe calls for, and just add a little at a time from there. Do a lick-the-spoon test until you're pleased.

3. Use whole-wheat pastry flour instead of your run-of-the-mill (ooh, pun!) bleached and enriched white flour that you usually would. Gluten-free and oxalate-adversaries may be able to find a good GF alternative at bobsredmill.com

4. There is a trick to baking with whole wheat flour! It has a much heartier texture, and absorbs moisture more efficiently. Because of this, you will need to use much less than the recipe calls for. Probably about 3/4 of what the recipe calls for. Again, start with half of what is called for, and go from there. The batter should be spreadable, and still moist.

5. Bake at a temperature about 10-15 degrees cooler than called for, as whole wheat browns faster.

6. Try to find an unrefined cane sugar if you can. If not, no worries, just don't eat these brownies all the time (tempted though you may be to do so!)

I know you may be hesitant, but trust me: These brownies are amazing. I made them once for my neighbors and I had all the men in the neighborhood begging me to make them several times a week. No lie.

A tip for our reader, Sara, who commented last week that one of her favorite things is fried chicken!

-Try to use pasture-fed or free-range chicken. Chickens that get to graze have healthier meat than grain-fed, rich in Omega-3's
-Why not try coating your chicken in 1/2 melted (but not browned) butter, 1/2 olive oil. You'll cut down on the amount of fat you're used to when frying without compromising taste.
-Experiment with peppers or flavors in breading.
-Try non-fried cooking alternatives. My favorite for bready chicken is baking it on a pizza stone. Perfect crispiness for my taste.
-Dry the outside of the meat with paper towels before doing anything else. Sounds weird, but it'll keep the juiciness inside the chicken while it bakes.

All this talk about food is making me hungry. Until next week!

Peace, love and produce---Hippie

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