Widmayer Wellness LLC

Encouragement in Your Wellness Journey

Category Archives: Cooking and Baking

When You Don’t Like Banana Bread

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I like my bananas green.  Well, almost green.  There is nothing worse than biting into a mushy banana or putting an almost mushy banana on cereal and then pouring milk over it. I prefer to eat bananas on the non-ripe side.  I will use a yellow banana in a smoothie; but once they start to get brown, I’m done.  I try to buy only what I need, but leftover, yellow-brown bananas are always hanging around my kitchen.  And I hate throwing them away.

Yes, I hear you. Make banana bread, you say.  Trouble is, I’m not a fan of banana bread either. I mean you have to use mushy bananas, so there’s that.  And they get so sweet, the taste, even in bread, is overpowering.  What’s a girl to do?  Today, I decided to bake banana bread but find a recipe that toned down the banana flavor.  I had some ideas—maybe sour cream, yogurt, or lime essential oil. After exploring recipes online, I found ideas that supported my thinking, and the baking began.

To give credit where credit is due, here is link to the recipe I started with: https://reluctantentertainer.com/sour-cream-banana-bread/

What did I change? I used Einkorn flour, so I added an extra ¼ cup for a total of 1 ¾ cups of flour.  (I typically add an extra ¼ cup when using Einkorn.)  I followed the rest of the recipe as given, except I stirred in three drops of Lime Essential Vitality before I put the batter in the pan.

I used a 9 x 5 Pampered Chef stoneware pan for the baking.  The recipe said the batter would fill the pan about ¾ full.  Though I followed the recipe, I’d say I had a bit more batter than that. Maybe that’s why it took so long to bake.  I baked the bread at 350 for 50-55 minutes as directed.  I checked it prior to that.  It required more baking time, and the top started to get overdone. I turned the oven down to 325 and then to 300 and baked about 5 more minutes after each temperature change. I also covered the pan during the last 10 minutes so it wouldn’t be black on the top by the time it was baked through.  If I was doing this recipe again, I would bake it at a lower temperature from the beginning.

How did it taste?  I have to say, despite the adjustments in the baking time, the sour cream and Lime Vitality did what I had hoped they would do!  The bread is delicious.  The lime is not overpowering. You might even be able to add 4 drops, but it depends on how strong you like the oil  flavor to come through.  I suspect the sour cream is what cut the banana flavor the most.  If you wanted more lime flavor, you could add another drop of lime to a glaze to spread on top. Just mix a glaze using confectioners sugar and water or milk.  Stir in a drop of lime.  Drizzle over bread.

This recipe was a bit more work than the recipe I usually use; however, the flavor made it worth it.  Hopefully, I have found a recipe that will save those mushy bananas from being wasted.

Muffins and Sugar Cookies with Einkorn Flour

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I love baking in the fall.  I love muffins, quick breads, and Christmas cookies!  A “breakfast” muffin or sugar cookie with a light glaze of frosting, accompanied by an early morning cup of coffee, is one of my favorite things cooler weather.  And then my health care professional told me to limit or cut out wheat.  What’s a girl to do?  Just so we are clear, I am not allergic to wheat.  It’s just not the best thing to put in my body.  I had already been experimenting with baking options because I love muffins and have to have sugar cookies at least once a year.  I had tried coconut flour and other types, but I didn’t like the flavor so I gave up.  Then, Young Living introduced Einkorn Flour.  I have been using it ever since.

Containing 1% gluten, this may not be the product for you if you are allergic to all wheat; however, if you are just looking to eat healthier, even when you are eating sweets, Einkorn Flour is a great choice. Einkorn flour is Heirloom wheat that has not been modified. You can read more about that at Gary Young’s blog here.

If you do any research on baking with Einkorn flour, you will find most resources say that it can be used the same as traditional flour and your recipe amounts will not change.  From my experience, this works okay; but muffins, for example, are less dense and occasionally come out a bit gooey in the middle. After a few near misses, I decided to add a bit of extra flour to my recipes.  Typically, if the recipe calls for 1-2 cups of flour, I add an extra 1/8 –¼ cup.  I make muffins frequently, so I am getting pretty good at it; but I only attempt scratch cookies once a year.  I wondered if I could make a decent Christmas cookie with Einkorn.  I decided to try my sugar cookie recipe with Young Living’s Einkorn Flour.

I started out by following the recipe exactly.  I used a basic Traditional Sugar Cookie recipe from Betty Crocker.

I chilled the dough and then took it out.  I was ready to roll!  I spread a generous amount of Einkorn flour on my counter so I could roll out the dough.  What a sticky mess!  I was afraid that this would be the result, but I wasn’t ready to give up.  I scooped up my prepared dough, along with all the flour I had spread on the counter, and kneaded it together.  That made my cookie dough less sticky.  Then, I spread more flour on the counter and tried again.  This time, the dough rolled out perfectly, and I was able to use the cookie cutters to make perfect trees, bells, and stars.  The cookies also tasted great.  Just as I found with the muffins, this cookie recipe needed a little extra flour to make it work.  Next time I make this dough, I will just increase the flour amount in the recipe, probably by ½ cup.

I am no expert baker, and you will have to experiment with your own recipes; but I can tell you this.  Adding a little extra Einkorn flour to your recipes when you are substituting for traditional flour will probably make them turn out a lot more to your liking.  And you don’t have to wait until Christmas to bake these cookies.  Halloween, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and Easter are all right great times to eat cookies. Trade your bells and Christmas tree cutters for  pumpkins, hearts, shamrocks, or bunnies. But don’t wait! Start now! Who doesn’t love a round, cut-out sugar cookie in the summer with a glass of sweet tea?  And when you make those summer cookies, try a bit of Lemon Vitality essential oil in your dough.  Yum!

HOW DO YOU USE LAVENDER VITALITY?

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Many people like lavender flavor in sweet or savory dishes, and you can peruse the internet and find many recipes. If you don’t have a lavender garden in your back yard, you can use food-grade lavender oil in your recipes. However, there are a few things you should know before doing substitutions.

  1. Choose safe products from reliable resources. One choice is Lavender Vitality.
  2. Lavender oil, or any oil for that matter, is going to add a much stronger flavor to food than flowers or herbs, so adjust your recipe. It might take experimentation. One drop goes a long way. I learned this the hard way. Start low and slow.
  3. If one drop is too much, try the toothpick method. Dip a toothpick in the oil, and then stir the batter with the toothpick.  I know it doesn’t seem like much, but you will be surprised at the flavor.
  4. Essential oils should be added near the end of the recipe by folding them in. When mixing a cake or cookie recipe, the oils may lose a bit of their therapeutic value during the heating process, but you will still get the flavor.
  5. In a stove top recipe, remove the pan from the stove and let the hot ingredients cool a bit before stirring in oils.
  6. If liquid ingredients are part of the recipe, you may want to combine the oil with another liquid before adding to ensure more even distribution.
  7. If using more than one essential oil flavor, definitely start with the toothpick method.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started.  Add Lavender Vitality (or another favorite Vitality Oil) to:

  • A simple syrup recipe to blend with ice tea
  • A milkshake or smoothie
  • Homemade Ningxia popsicles or Ningxia shots
  • Whip cream topping your dessert or smoothie
  • Yogurt
  • Cookie or cake recipes, especially mixed with lemon
  • Vinegar and oil-based salad dressings
  • Hot cocoa
  • Candy recipes
  • Marinades
  • Syrup for waffles and pancakes
  • Potato and pasta salads

RECIPES

Honey Lavender Lemonade

  • 6 lemons, juiced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 drops Lavender Vitality oil
  • 10 cups ice water
  • Lavender sprigs, optional

Combine lemon juice, lime juice, honey, and Lavender Vitality in a large glass pitcher. Add water to taste. Stir until well mixed. Chill. Garnish with sprigs of lavender.

Lavender Rosemary Salad Dressing

  • 2/3 cup Safflower Oil
  • 1/3 cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • ½ t sugar (optional)
  • 1 drop (or to taste) Lavender Vitality
  • 1 drop (or to taste) Rosemary Vitality

Combine ingredients in a mason jar.  Shake before use.  Store at room temperature.

Beginning the Search for Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread

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Today, I tried two gluten-free recipes for pumpkin bread.

The first one was from Dr. Axe. The only thing I changed in this recipe was I substituted safflower oil for the melted coconut oil.  I didn’t want my pumpkin bread to have a coconut taste.  Since it already had a bit of coconut flour, I opted to use something else for coconut oil.  I didn’t substitute another kind of flour for the coconut flour because the reading I have done suggests you need at least some of that for texture. I used 3 eggs, and I omitted the pumpkin spice.

When you mix this together, it is a very heavy/dense liquid, not like my typical recipe.

The good:

  • It doesn’t taste “gluten-free”
  • The loaf is solid and baked evenly
  • It was easy to make
  • It came out of the pan easily after about 10 minutes. (I sprayed with PAM.)

The less than good:

  • It was slightly overdone. I baked it at 350 for 45 minutes. (I used Pampered Chef stoneware loaf pans.) I think I could have baked it less than the 45 minutes at a lower temperature (325,) but that could just be my oven.  Every oven is different.  I will try 50 minutes at 325 next time I make it.
  • With only ¼ cup of maple syrup for flavoring, this bread is less sweet than I am used to. While that might be good for my diet, I think I would prefer it a little sweeter.  I’m not sure how that would affect the consistency.  It requires experimentation. I might try ½ cup of brown sugar or ¼ maple syrup with ¼ brown sugar.  I like mixing sugars.

The second recipe is from Sweet Phi.

The good:

  • It tastes good. It is just sweet enough.  Having said that, my own original, flour recipe called for a mix of white and brown sugar, and I think I’ll do that with this recipe next time.
  • The loaf is baked evenly and rose higher.
  • It came out of the pan easily.
  • It was easy to make.

The less than good:

  • This loaf tastes undercooked even though the sweetness and pumpkin taste are good. It is much too soft and mushy. I don’t know if this is because it needs to cook more slowly, like I suggested for the above recipe, or because it needs more flour.  Based on my previous experience in using Einkorn Flour to bake, I will add an extra ¼ cup of almond flour the next time I make this. I will also reduce the temperature to 325 when baking.

Both of these are edible and so, overall, my experiment was a success.  I will probably try both recipes again the next time, making the adjustments I mentioned.

Now, here’s hoping the gluten-free sugar cookies I am baking tomorrow turn out as well.