Fat Chance

Sneaky and Not-So-Sneaky Fiber

Magazine's pic. It's a normal-sized pie, despite scale of that fork!

 Only two more days until blessed February begins and Sugar-Free January takes itself off for another year. My hub is already planning the Chocolate Banana Dream Pie he'll make to celebrate. From an old issue of Eating Well magazine, this has been a personal favorite of his ever since its appearance. I'm thinking of marking the occasion with an ice cream sandwich, but all in all, skipping sugar for a month wasn't too awful--especially after reading Fat Chance and giving myself a good scare. Not only did I manage to lose a few pounds without any more exercise than I was putting in in other, sugar-full months, but I'm hoping I struck a few blows in combatting future insulin resistance.

Cutting sugar was one side of the equation, and the other was increasing fiber. Not fiber found in pills and supplements, but fiber found naturally in food before it's processed out: whole wheat; vegetables and fruits which have not been pureed into mush or smoothies; more brown rice instead of white; and so on. If you too are looking to sneak more fiber in with your family, I have a few suggestions:

1) Mix white pasta and rice with brown, whole-grain varieties. With spaghetti, I found I could replace 1/3 of the standard noodles with whole-wheat and no one noticed, as long as it was covered by a yummy, thick sauce. With rice I've gradually upped the ratio until we're at half-brown and half-white. I just increase the water and cooking time to compensate.

2) Make your own pizza crusts and add in 1/3 to 1/2 whole wheat for the white, all-purpose flour. I've done bread machine dough and the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day version, and both are well-received. (More on my latest artisan baking adventures below.)

3) To replace or supplement processed cereals, make ahead and freeze muffins and waffles. Most recipes can be modified to replace up to half the flour with whole wheat with no harm done. I usually shake in some wheat or oat bran and flaxseed meal, as well. Sugar can also be reduced by 1/4 to 1/3 in just about any recipe.

4) Lasagna and spaghetti sauce hide a multitude of sins. I'm not a big fan of juicing or pureeing vegetables into palatability because that destroys the fiber in them, but I'm not above some grated carrot or chopped spinach or minced mushroom.

5) Pick your sugars wisely. We are a dessert-loving family, and for the most part I don't try to make dessert into something it's not, but I do tend to make oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies more frequently than Toll House, and I'd rather everyone have fruit pie than cake. Juice boxes and sodas are special-occasion items, and non-homemade sweets are rarely worth it.

Anywho, that's the latest from the fiber front. But I did try out my slightly-less-whole-wheaty variation of the healthy Artisan Bread In 5 recipe linked above and found it successful, both as a bread and as a pizza crust. The reduced amount of whole wheat gave the bread a more crackly crust, which I liked, but my husband and son both preferred the full-on whole wheat! It looks like we'll be alternating the two recipes.

If you want to try my variation, I took the basic (white) Artisan Master Recipe and, instead of 6-1/2 cups all-purpose flour I substituted:

1/2 cup rye flour
2-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp vital wheat gluten.

I then followed the recipe, increasing the rising and resting times by 15-30 minutes to let the dough develop.

The loaf version were just fine. I did struggle with the pizza crusts sticking to the dinged pizza peel:

This is not a "liberal" amount of cornmeal because the dough totally stuck

I had to smoosh/scrunch the darned crust off the pizza peel onto the baking stone, resulting in all the toppings either falling off or rearranging:

The kids still ate it. Pepperoni-"Striped" Pizza

My next pizza I decided to slide into the oven on parchment paper. Then, after a few minutes of baking and setting up, I pulled the paper out. Worked just fine, except I totally forgot to pull out the paper until the end, so the crust was not as "restaurant-crunchy" as the doomed pepperoni pizza's. Still, it was quite tasty. And this one was a Tostada Pizza inspired by CPK, for some extra extra fiber!

Have a fibrous week!

Favorite 2012 Reads for the Foodies in Your Life

According to Goodreads, I read eleven food-related books in 2012, not counting the couple I tried and abandoned. If you find yourself on December 19th (or later), with no ideas in the pipeline for the foodie in your life, consider a book! (Or, alternately, if some of your recent kitchen-gift concoctions have gone woefully awry...)

You may have seen some of these at the Bellevue Farmers Market, those times we hosted Readers to Eaters. They can also be found at the wonderful University Book Store Bellevue, which gift wraps in the loveliest papers and ribbons for free. They also ship media rate gratis, so if your recipient doesn't mind lateness, that option is still open for you. For friends with ereaders, these books can be found in the usual cyber places, and University Books now sells Kobo ereaders.

And now, without further ado, my 2012 favorites:

Best Memoir

Le Billon undergoes food culture shock after moving to France. The book combines memoir with cultural studies with parenting. I can't say it changed what I fed my family (though it did cure us of car snacking for about three days), but it made me wish I could start over with my kids, food-wise. I posted a more complete review here.

Best History

Granted, I only read three food histories this year, but this one was the most consistently informative and fascinating. Pretty self-explanatory. Pair it with your favorite peanut butter and you're set! As promised, here is my extensive Goodreads review of it.

Best Exposé

An astonishing, informative, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful book about the tomato in general and the conventional tomato industry in Florida, in particular. Halfway through I was vowing that, should I ever find myself on the East Coast, I wouldn't touch a single conventionally-grown tomato, in protest of the dreadful working conditions; rampant lethal pesticide and fungicide use; and--let's face it--awful hardness and lack of flavor. By the end, however, Estabrook had me feeling optimistic about the dreadful working conditions, at least. Not only had major fast-food chains and Whole Foods signed on to pay a wee bit more for fairer worker treatment, but nonprofit private groups were improving worker housing and job conditions. With the momentum going that way, I imagine the other grocery store chains will follow eventually. The things may still taste like big, watery NOTHING, but at least no one would be poisoned, enslaved (not kidding) or dying, so that I could have chunks of the big, watery NOTHING in my winter salad.

A couple interesting facts I learned about tomatoes in general:

1. They were declared a "vegetable" by the Tariff Act of 1883 to protect American farmers from Caribbean imports.

2. "All varieties of cultivated tomatoes that have ever been bred contain less than 5% of the genetic material in the overall tomato gene pool" (p.12). Yes, all those different sizes, colors, shapes, and flavors found even at the best farmers markets are very similar at the DNA level--inbred, feeble, and vulnerable to just about everything.

3. An acre of FL tomatoes receives 5x as much fungicide and 6x as much pesticide as a CA tomato.

Your best bet? The local farmers market. If you didn't know already, tomatoes grown in soil and picked when ripe have the best flavor. And you can ask the farmer himself about how he treats and pays his workers.

Best Scary Book

This one doesn't really count because it's not available until December 27. I suppose Lustig and his publisher figured no one wanted to hear this news before Christmas. Per my earlier post, this is quite the book. I swore off sugar for all of two days before succumbing to Christmas cookies and some kind of almond cake, but I vow to try again in January.

In other news, I roasted my Skagit River Ranch turkey, and we're taking on the 13-Meal Challenge again. The tally so far:

1. Fancy turkey sandwiches.

2. Turkey a la King.

No post next week, but do enjoy your holidays!