Buttermilk Bread–Updated–>Buttermilk Wheat Bread!

So we really loved the Buttermilk Bread!! This is without a doubt the easiest and best bread for toast or sandwiches! It holds up well as thin slices for sandwiches and nice thick ones for toast!  But I wanted to play with it a bit to add a bit more ‘health’ to it–and it worked!

#Smart Choices Healthy Living Buttermilk Wheat Bread

Buttermilk Wheat Bread–just as good as the Original!

Take a look at the original recipe for instructions but switch the flour to

3 cups white bread flour

3 cups white whole wheat flour

Use all the same proportions and directions for the original one.

#smartchoiceshealthyliving.com#buttermilk wheat breadEven with the wheat flour it still rises really nicely!

I used a big loaf pan with a springform so I could make it higher for sandwiches. It really rose well–almost too well! I baked this one just a little less (375*F for 30 minutes) since it was a longer loaf.

#Smart Choices Healthy Living Buttermilk Wheat Bread
Buttermilk Wheat Bread–just as good as the Original!
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The Smart Choice Method-Guideline #2: Get as Natural with your food as possible

One of the biggest things that makes a difference, in my opinion anyway, is getting back to eating food in its most Natural state. Wouldn’t you rather eat this freshly grown tomato than one from a can?   This one is from my garden, grown without chemicals or pesticides.  No preservatives were used to extend its life and it tastes like a tomato is supposed to taste!

Guideline #2: Get as natural as possible with your food (eat as close as you can to its natural state)

Once I made the decision to “clean up my diet” the first thing I did was to really start reading labels. I was amazed at how many ‘preservatives’ and chemicals were in most products claiming to be good for you. Sugar, salt and fat are hidden in plain site–but under many names most of us don’t realize they are there.  Start reading labels of what you are eating. Part of the problem is that its not illegal to list sugar as 3 different types to get ‘sugar’  off the top 3 ingredients to make it look healthier. Learn how to read labels to discover what is really in there.

Take a look at frozen meals. Now I am not saying you need to eliminate them totally, just be aware of what is there. Guidelines are fuzzy because if a ‘nutrient’ falls below a certain number they can round it down and call it zero. So much for honesty in labeling. Look at  your label–if its high in sodium they might boost the potassium to ‘balance’ it out. The trouble is that the sodium is still there affecting your body.

My method to deal with it was to  make as much of the food you eat from scratch. Yes, it does take a little more time and effort but that is part of eating healthier by planning ahead (Guideline #3). When you can take the wholesome parts and create your own meals based on what you like to eat (Guideline#4), and they are ready to eat, you are more likely to eat healthier less processed food. 

One of my easiest things to make? Oatmeal. I love oatmeal! Don’t use the prepackaged ones, they are loaded with sugar and stuff. Use real oats, the old fashioned ones are great for on the stovetop–they cook in just minutes and you can use either water or milk as the liquid and add in any fruits you like. Top with a little maple syrup or honey and you are good to go. When it got warm I switched to “refrigerator oatmeal” which bumped up the nutrition with Greek yogurt and fruit.  Now that it is cooler again I switched to “Crockpot oatmeal” which uses steel cut oats.

Another thing that is super easy? Vegetables! Spend a half hour (or less) prepping carrots, peppers, celery etc and keep it in containers so you can grab and snack. I eat them with hummus, peanut butter, salsa or even plain. By having them ready to go I eliminated heading to the pantry for chips and processed snacks.

No matter what you choose to do, the idea is to eat real food, the kind that does not need a label to know what it is. Try to eat fresh fruit and vegetable, lean meats (if not a vegetarian) and dairy/eggs in their most basic form and experiment with recipes to keep your food ‘clean’ from chemicals and additives. When you do use canned or frozen food, read your labels to understand what you are adding.

Let me know what you think. Do you think eating less processed food and more fresh food makes a difference?

Smart Choice Recipe: Buttermilk Bread

#smartchoiceshealthyliving.com#buttermilk bread
Homemade Buttermilk Bread

Homemade bread–there  really is nothing better! I love to make bread–the smell of the yeast, the feel of the dough–its just very soothing.  My newest love–Buttermilk Bread. Honestly I had only really used the buttermilk in biscuits or in Irish soda bread. I saw this recipe on a post from Fullbellies. I became intrigued enough to try it.It is essentially their recipe with just a couple minor changes.

Buttermilk Bread

1 cup water

3 Tbs butter

1/2 cup water

1 package active dry yeast ( or a shy Tbs if from a jar)

1 cup buttermilk

2 Tbs honey

1 Tbs sugar

2 tsp salt

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

6 cups bread flour

1-In a small sauce pan heat water and butter and allow butter to melt. Set aside and cool.

2-In a small bowl dissolve yeast in water, set aside.

3-I use a Kitchenaid mixer with the paddle blade but just use a large bowl if you don’t have a stand mixer. In bowl add buttermilk, honey, sugar, salt and vinegar, mix on low to combine. Add butter water and yeast water to mix.

4- Start adding flour 1 cup at a time until combined. At 5 cups it will be stiff, switch to the dough hook if using the Kitchenaid mixer,or start kneading in the remaining cup of flour by hand by putting the dough on a floured surface.

5-Knead for about 5 minutes (either by hand or with dough hook)–it should be smooth and elastic at this point.

6-Placed in a large bowl (glass works best) coated with nonstick or butter and allow to rise in a draft free spot for about 45 minutes. Cover with a dish towel.

#smartchoiceshealthyliving.com#buttermilk bread

It is ready to work with when it is doubled in size.

7-Punch down and turn onto a floured surface. Divide in two and roll out/stretch with your hands to get out extra air bubbles.

Starting at the end closest to you and roll up, tucking ends underneath. Place in a bread pan coated with nonstick or butter. Cover and allow to rise another 30-45 minutes. Halfway through rise time preheat the oven to 375*F.

#smartchoiceshealthyliving.com#buttermilk bread

8-Melt 1 tbs butter–optional but it gives it a nice crust- and brush on tops of breads. Bake  in preheated oven for about 45 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool in pans 10 minutes and then cool completely on a wire rack.

9-Slice using a serrated knife and enjoy!!

#smartchoiceshealthyliving.com#buttermilk bread

Homemade Buttermilk Bread

 

Smart Choices Review: Crockpot Oatmeal

I Love Oatmeal! Yes it is weird but I really do–hot, cold, cookies, breads or whatever, it just has the power to draw me in.

Imagine when I saw this recipe from The Yummy Life!!   It combines Oatmeal and Pumpkin and its pretty much a leave it alone recipe, perfect!

I did make some minor changes, just for preferences, and I used the double boiler method since I had originally planned to do this overnight so I wanted to see how long it should actually cook to avoid drying it out.

Crockpot Oatmeal and Pumpkin Bake

1 3/4 cup 1% milk ( or milk of your choice)

1 1/2 cups water

1 cup steel cut oats (NOT old fashioned or quick)

1/4 cup maple syrup (or honey or sweetener of choice)

1 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix, unsweetened)

1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce (I used my homemade kind)

1 tsp pure Vanilla extract

2 Tbs pumpkin pie spice (it seems like a lot but it isn’t)

1 Tbs chia seeds

1 Tbs ground flax meal (seeds)

 My suggestion is to combine all dry ingredients together first then add the moist ones–I think the pumpkin pie spice would blend in easier this way–mine took a bit of whisking to get it off the top of the milk/water. If you are using the  Crockpot/slow cooker directly spray with non-stick spray just for easier clean up–my bowl  cleaned up really easy.* I put my recipe into a Corningware oval bowl and put it inside the Crockpot. I had put in water before I started mixing the ingredients to start heating it on high. When I put the bowl in I had to add just a bit more water to get it to come  halfway up the side of the Corningware one. Cover and walk away after you turn it back to low heat. Mine was done in about 4 hours , it might take less if you don’t use the chia seeds (they are really good absorbers). Cooked through but still moist.

You can top it with many options at this point–I added just a drizzle of maple syrup and some chopped walnuts but I could see adding brown sugar or honey as a sweetener or almonds for a bit of crunch.

Yes its THAT good!

And it warms up great the next day! I had put it in my Mason jars and it the fridge overnight. I warmed it for about 45 seconds , added just a touch of milk, stirred and heated for another 30 seconds (this was for about a 1 cup portion). I added a drizzle of maple syrup…..delicious second round.

Review: Definitely worth making again! If I did it overnight I would probably use a ‘delay timer’  so it turned on it the night rather than get up early. I also work night shifts so it would actually be perfect to set up when I get home and have ready to go when I get up. Hey–that’s a great idea!

*for easy clean-up–if you use the double boiler method, and you put the oatmeal away in portions, use the hot water in the crockpot to clean up–just dump it in the second bowl and it cleans up super easy!

Peanut Butter–the Smart Choice review

I love peanut butter!! It truly is one of my go to foods and comes with me to work and on vacations–really!

Why do I like peanut butter? Despite having some fat (about 72% in ratio to protein and carbs for a regular one) it is primarily healthy fat. It  has a decent amount of protein (about 4 grams/Tbs) as well as some important vitamins and minerals;Vitamin E, niacin & folic acid and magnesium. When pared with a whole grain bread it fills you up for a while which helps slow down the jump in glucose levels and keep you ‘steady’  until your next meal.

According to this Livestrong article “Peanut butter is rich in mono and poly-unsaturated fats, which are the “good,” cholesterol lowering fats. While these fats have heart-protective benefits, they also are what make peanut butter a high calorie food. So, as with most delicious foods, moderation is key. A general guideline is to try to limit yourself to 2 tbsp, which weighs in at about 180 calories.”

But the confusing thing is that there are so many “peanut butters” to choose from: regular, “Natural”, dehydrated (aka peanut flour), flavored, reduced fat….you get the idea. Well, I have tried a few and I am happy to share with you  what I have found.

OK– starting with the Basics

Skippy Natural

OK, maybe just a little bit basic. “Natural” in that there are no artificial ingredients, but more than just peanuts. It is pretty much your basic full fat, creamy peanut butter. “No need to stir”–generally but not always. Its a good basic, maybe just a little on the sweet side but very spreadable and does not rip your bread apart. Melts really easy on toasted breads.  This is great for use in baking since it blends and melts so nicely when combined with baking ingredients.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 2 Tbsp (32 g)
Servings Per Container 13
Amount Per Serving
Calories 190
Calories From Fat 140
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 16g 25%
Saturated Fat 3.5g 18%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 150mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 3g
Protein 7g
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 0%
Iron 4%
Vitamin E 10%
Niacin 20%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet
INGREDIENTS: ROASTED PEANUTS, SUGAR, PALM OIL, SALT.
Naturally More

OK–this is really a natural PB–you really do need to stir this one! I probably stirred this for about 5 minutes until it was fully combined.  You can really taste the peanut flavor! It was also like old fashioned peanut butter–it sticks to the roof of your mouth!  Although PB normally has good fats the addition of the flax seeds adds a bit more nutrition. I like flax seeds, just not whole ones. I think if they were ground I would’ve liked it better.  It did spread easy and melted nicely without the runny-ness of the Skippy  Natural.

Ingredients are a little more than just peanuts also: soy protein, flax seeds, evaporated cane sugar, salt and molasses.

Update: After I tried this I put it in the ‘fridge (optional) upside down…I really like it now!! Very creamy texture with the oil fully incorporated. I also figured out a way to deal with the whole flax seeds–use chia jam!

Next–Dehydrated, Reduced Fat and Powdered Peanut “Butter”

PB2 and PB2 Chocolate

This is probably the easiest to use for adding into recipes, smoothies, oatmeals. It is a dehydrated peanut butter, essentially a peanut flour. It has about 85% less fat than peanut butter so it is a great option for those looking to watch calories without loosing the option of having peanut butter. You can rehydrate it to use as a spread but I have just added it to things at this point. It does add the PB flavor to what it is added to without having the ‘gloppy-ness’ when you add it to a smoothie. It has become something I add to all my fridge oatmeals for added protein and taste.

Nutrition Facts

PB2: Powdered Peanut Butter

Ingredients:

Roasted peanuts, sugar, salt.
Serving size: 2 Tablespoons (12 grams)
Servings per container: 15
Calories: 45
Calories from fat: 13

Value and % Daily Value*

  • Total fat 1.5 g 3%
  • Saturated fat 0 g 0%
  • Trans fat < 0.01 g
  • Cholesterol < 0.01 mg 0%
  • Sodium 94 mg 4%
  • Total carbohydrate 5 g 2%
  • Dietary fiber 2 g 8%
  • Sugars 1 g
  • Protein 5 g
  • Vitamin A < 1%
  • Vitamin C 0%
  • Calcium <1%
  • Iron 0%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Chocolate PB2

Ingredients:

Roasted peanuts, cocoa powder, sugar, salt.
Serving size: 2 Tablespoons (12 grams)
Servings per container: 15
Calories: 45
Calories from fat: 10

Value and % Daily Value*

  • Total fat 1 g 1.5%
  • Saturated fat 0 g 0%
  • Trans fat
  • Cholesterol
  • Sodium 70 mg 3%
  • Total carbohydrate 6 g 2%
  • Dietary fiber 1 g 4%
  • Sugars 3 g
  • Protein 4 g
  • Vitamin A <1%
  • Vitamin C 0%
  • Calcium <1%
  • Iron 2%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Better’n Peanut Butter

I’ve had this one in both the dehydrated and the spread form. The spread form has a slightly gritty texture but you get used to it easily. It is not as ‘peanutty’ as I would like but it spreads well and melts nicely on toasted breads without being runny. It has less fat than the traditional so I can understand the difference in taste. Right now, I use this one almost every day. As you can see it it not really a true peanut butter based on the other ingredients.

  • 85% Less Fat
  • 40% Less Calories
  • No Cholesterol
  • No Preservatives
  • No Refined Sugars
  • Natural Soy Lecithin
  • Non GMO Peanuts
Regular Creamy
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 2 tbsp (32.0 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories

100
Calories from Fat

18
% Daily Value*
Total Fat

2.0g
3%
Sodium

190mg
8%
Total Carbohydrates

13.0g
4%
Sugars

2.0g
Protein

4.0g
Fiber

2.0g
Vitamin A 0% Vitamin C 8%
Calcium 4% Iron 2%
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

Low Sodium

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 2 tbsp (32.0 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories

100
Calories from Fat

22
% Daily Value*
Total Fat

2g
4%
Sodium

95mg
4%
Total Carbohydrates

13.0g
4%
Sugars

2.0g
Protein

4.0g
Fiber

2.0g
Vitamin A 0% Vitamin C 8%
Calcium 4% Iron 2%
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet
Ingredients: PEANUTS (AS DEFATTED PEANUT FLOUR AND NATURAL PEANUT BUTTER), TAPIOCA SYRUP, PURE WATER, DEHYDRATED CANE JUICE, RICE SYRUP, VEGETABLE GLYCERIN, SOY FLOUR, SALT, TAPIOCA STARCH, NATURAL FOOD FLAVORS, PAPRIKA & ANNATO, CALCIUM CARBONATE, LECITHIN, VITAMINS E & C (ANTIOXIDANTS).
Flavored Peanut Butters and Nut Butters
 Peanut Butter and Co
These are actually my daughters and I have tried them but they are generally too sweet for my taste. I have found as I have gotten older that I just don’t like (or tolerate) the high sweetness. That being said, the PB& Co has a variety of flavors: Cinnamon Raisin Swirl, Maple, White Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Honey and Spicy to name a few. They are nice for a change of pace but I see them as a treat more than a staple in my life. You can find all the nutrition data here, but these are an example. The Speculoos Cookie Butter is just that–ground up cookies and blended to be spreadable.
https://i0.wp.com/ilovepeanutbutter.com/media/nutritional/17010001_nutr.gif

https://i0.wp.com/ilovepeanutbutter.com/media/nutritional/17010006_nutr.gif

and who can forget Nutella? Nutella is a Hazel nut based spead with cocoa. It is very rich and I really do view this as a treat rather than something to eat daily. It is very thick and does spread nicely. Very chocoaltey taste, you really can’t taste the hazel nuts at all. Still, for once in a while…its pretty good.

https://i0.wp.com/www.nutellausa.com/images/nutritionfacts2.gif

I tried to copy the ingredients but it was blocked but the first one is ….sugar.

SO–what to do with all these choices?  Which is the best for you, what tastes best, what to buy? Alas, it really is highly personal and depends on your needs and dietary restrictions.  I would say to try a few and see what you like. I will continue to use my PB2 on a regular basis and probably vary the rest based on what I am using it for–baking or eating or adding it to a smoothie/oatmeal.

All the nutrition facts came directly from the individual sites. The images are my own.

Can you recommend any of these or can you suggest another brand or version?

Chia Jam– the Smart Choice version

I love jam and preserves–love all the bits and pieces of fruit….but I really dislike how sweet it normally is and how the sweetness can overpower what it is served with. I may have found a solution to my dilemma!

I originally found the ‘recipe’ on one of the health/fitness pages on Facebook (I can’t remember which one) but then started experimenting with flavors and amounts.  I think the key to a great Chia jam is making sure what you are using has enough juice for the chia seeds to absorb and do their job.

I’ve tried plain blueberry, plain strawberry and a mix of berries. So far this one is the winner!

Triple Berry Vanilla Chia Jam

2 16 oz containers blueberries, rinsed and stems removed

1 16 oz contained strawberries, hulled and diced

1 8 oz container blackberries, rinsed

3-4 Tbs chia seeds

3-4 Tbs pure maple syrup

1 Tbs pure Vanilla extract.

Once you have all the berries cleaned you can put into a large pot, preferably nonstick, and heat on medium heat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After about 5 minutes some of the blueberries should be releasing their juices, continue heating another minute or two and then remove from heat. I like to mashed some of the berries at this time but you can leave them in bigger pieces if desired.

 

 

 

 

 

At this point add in the chia seeds and return to low heat for another 5 minutes or until liquid is starting to absorb. Remove from heat and stir in the maple syrup and vanilla. Allow to cool in pot slightly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The chia seeds absorb the liquid and appear like berry seeds. The mixture will be a medium thickness at this point.

                          Using a wide mouth canning funnel keeps the jars cleaner while allowing you to see what is going on.

Viola– a nice Jam without all the sweetness. I love it on English Muffins but it can go pretty much on anything.  I’m still experimenting with other flavors and combinations–looking forward to trying them out and sharing.  Oh–these last a long time in the fridge  and I have not tried actually canning them for storage but follow manufacturers advice for specific jars/bottles. (You can actually store in clean former jelly jars as well, no special jars needed!)