Alexandra Williams, MA
These rolls are a great place to start if you’re new to using yeast. Or scissors!
I adapted a recipe found in “New Complete Book of Breads.”
1 egg, room temperature
¼ cup sugar
½ cup mashed potato or reconstituted potato flour
¾ cup milk, room temperature
1/3 cup unsalted butter
½ tsp salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
¾ oz (1 pkg) yeast
1 can Blue Diamond Honey Cinnamon Almonds
3 Tbs melted butter
cinnamon sugar for sprinkling on top
In a mixer, blend the egg and sugar. Add the potato, milk, softened butter, and salt. Mix together. Add 2 cups of the flour and the yeast, and mix for one minute. Gradually add the rest of the flour, using the dough hook (if you have one; otherwise by hand).
When the dough comes clean off the sides of the bowl (add flour if necessary) and forms a ball around the dough hook (about 5 minutes), cover the bowl and put in a warm place to rise until it’s doubled in size (45-90 minutes).
Once the dough has doubled, cut it in half and form into two 12-inch logs. Cut each log into 12 pieces, rolling each piece into an oval. Using kitchen shears, cut two ears into each roll. As you probably don’t want your bunnies to look like goblins, I recommend you blunt the pointy tips of the ears. Brush the rolls with the melted butter, cover with wax paper and leave them for a second rising until they’ve doubled (about 30 minutes).
While they’re rising, preheat the oven to 400º, then turn it down to 350º after you put the rolls in. Just before you put them into the oven, stick one almond into each bunny as a tail, then sprinkle the rolls with cinnamon sugar. Stick the almond tails in deep enough that they don’t come out during baking. A few of mine kind of squeezed partway out, which caused my boys to make quite a few NSFW jokes about the bunny butts. Bake 10-12 minutes. Makes 24 rolls.
This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds, which is a partnership I’m proud of.
Alexandra Williams, MA
Pssst – if you don’t live in California, read this anyway, as you can probably buy one of the 1.5 millions cases of Sustainability in Practice (SIP) wines near you, which might cheer you up about missing the event.
What is SIP?
When a winery achieves this certification, it means they are committed to practices that support workers and the environment, as well as contributing to cleaner processes. As we’re in a major drought in California, these vintners, ranchers and farmers are leading the way in trying to work with, not against, the land and weather, as no crops will be sustainable if we don’t do something now.
Every time you buy a SIP-certified bottle of wine, you are putting your money toward growers who share your (and my) preferences for sustainable practices. You are casting a vote to keep these vintners in business. By drinking wine! Can you say “win win?” If you’re into social media, you can even use the hashtag #ispySIP. And if you have no idea what a hashtag is, and wonder why I’m co-opting the pound sign, no worries – just ask your local shop if they carry SIP certified wines.
Besides me, who now wants to say, “I spy with my little eye…. wine?”
Earth Day Food & Wine Weekend
Let’s say you are somewhat close to Paso Robles in Central California and want to come to the event April 18th. Held at Castoro Cellars, it’s a food and wine experience that’s high class and low key. Heck, you can wear your flip flops and “I Love California” t-shirt while dancing to the Cali Funk tunes of Proxima Parada if you want. Guess where much of your admission money goes? To educational scholarships for relatives of farmworkers and Spanish education programs. Drink Well and Do Good should be their motto. But it’s not, because I just made it up.
For the record, this is not a sponsored post. They are giving me free admission, but I’m writing about this because one of the organizers is my friend and I know what a fun event it will be. For example, on their Facebook page, I just saw reference to locally grown onion, Gruyere, bacon quiches that will be at the event. Besides, they know the difference between “borne” and “born.” The editor in me is savoring this grammatical knowledge. You know, like a good glass of wine.
Photo credits: Earth Day Food and Wine
Alexandra Williams, MA
So when Almond Breeze Almondmilk contacted me about creating a recipe, the only question I had in my mind was “how will I ever whittle it down to just one recipe?” But I persevered and somehow managed (first world problem, eh).
I’m a vegetarian with a friendly attitude toward vegan ingredients, so this recipe is appropriate for almost anyone. Well, except my younger son, who has luckily outgrown his allergy to soy, yet still hates tofu. But it’s the rare teen who likes tofu anyway, I think. Try it and see if you enjoy this smoothie as much as I do. I usually drink my smoothie while driving, with a piece of multi-grain toast balanced precariously on top of my glass. My older son makes fun of me for this “mom habit.”
1 handful of ice cubes
4 ounces silken tofu
2 teaspoons agave syrup
2 tablespoons flax meal
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 ounces Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla Almondmilk
Makes 2 shakes, though I tend to just drink some of it, then refill my glass before getting in the car to drive to work. That’s my polite way of saying I rarely share.
This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk, which is a perfect match to my mind.
Alexandra Williams, MA
Before you try to guess the five ingredients (well, three, since I mentioned two above), you’ll want some good nutrition news about the Flatout Bread ingredients. The two flatbreads that I tried at the breakfast (but didn’t use for this recipe) were Core 12 and Red Pepper Hummus, both of which are powered by chickpeas. The flatbread I used for this salmon recipe is full of navy beans. Yes, I want to break out singing the Village People song. All three flavors have 12 grams of protein and 8-10 grams of carbohydrates.
As I am currently studying for my Nutrition Specialist certification, I am also aware that these flatbreads have 0 trans fat, plus the macrominerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium, and the micromineral iron. I have had anemia in the past, so am always on the lookout for iron. As well, they are made from whole beans, which is a fiber and protein benefit for a non-meat eater like myself.
Okay, time for the recipe, and I really do hope you’ll try it. When I created this recipe I tried to choose only ingredients that added flavor and benefits.
Curried Salmon and Cantaloupe Protein UP Sea Salt and Crushed Black Pepper Wrap
First off, I chose the salt and pepper wrap (even though the red pepper hummus is my favorite) because it already had salt and pepper in it, so I didn’t need to add any to the recipe.
½ pound salmon
4 oz organic sour cream
¾ tsp red curry paste
6-7 fresh basil leaves, cut into pieces
½ cup cantaloupe, cubed into small pieces
Grill the salmon, then cut it into small pieces. While it’s cooking, mix the red curry paste and sour cream together in a small bowl. You may be tempted to add water to the curry paste, but resist, y’all, resist, as the cantaloupe has plenty of water and you will cry in frustration if your wraps become soggy. Add the unseasoned salmon to the curry mix and stir them together.
Lay out two Flatout Sea Salt and Crushed Black Pepper flatbreads on a cutting board, then spread the salmon mixture over them, covering the flatbreads fully. Then sprinkle the cut cantaloupe over the top, followed by the basil. Roll the flatbreads up tightly, starting at the long end, then cut into one-inch sections. That’s it. Eat them. One suggestion – be liberal with the basil, as this recipe is not as exciting without it.
Even though these three new ProteinUP flatbread flavors won’t be in stores for another month, you can try their other wraps and pizza crust using this .50 off coupon:
Then in a month you can return to get the Core 12, Red Pepper Hummus, and Sea Salt and Crushed Black Pepper and create your own flat, flatter, flattest, flatout love recipes.
This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Flatout.
Alexandra Williams, MA
Special K sent us some brownies (how did they know I have a son who has chocolate brownies as his preferred food group?!), and I guess they have angels working in their chocolate department, because the brownies are named Divine Fudge and Heavenly Caramel. Whether their status is due to the fact that they have real cocoa in them, or are only 80 calories per brownie, I don’t know. I just know that they were a yummy afternoon snack and I didn’t feel guilty about eating one. And yes, it is possible to satiate the desire for a sweet treat with just one.
In 1908, when the chocolate bar was introduced, it was .6 ounces. By 2002, the smallest version of that chocolate bar was 1.6 ounces. In 1995, the average serving size for a brownie was 3.2 ounces. In the past twenty years, the typical brownie serving has doubled in size. But our bodies want us to live in the past. In other words, we can satisfy our chocolate cravings by eating a Special K brownie that goes back to 1908 by being only .7 ounces. The good news – no corsets involved.
I’m currently studying for my nutrition specialist certification, and know that the majority of the population will indulge in a sweet snack nearly every day. I also know that the majority of the U.S. population is weight-conscious. The 80 calorie Special K brownies might be the solution for you, just as they were for my son.
And if you’re expecting guests, you can put one on the pillow instead of a chocolate mint. About the same size; about the same calories, but without the melty mess. Not speaking from personal experience of course – cough, cough.
For further info about both the Heavenly Caramel and Divine Fudge, visit www.specialk.com, or find them on Facebook or Twitter. And of course, you can always just head to your local grocery store and check them out for yourself.
For further info about getting chocolate mint stains off a pillow, ask your mom. Don’t ask me – I wasn’t successful.
This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Special K Brownies.
Alexandra Williams, MA
If you’re over 50, this book will bring back memories of holiday food; some good, some best left in the 70s (Consommé Noël made with turkey broth, beet liquid, onion juice and sherry anyone?).
The Swedish Tea Ring is easy to make, delicious, and popular. Basically it’s a gussied-up cinnamon roll.
1 ¾ to 2 cups flour
2 ½ Tbls sugar
1 packet (¼ oz) yeast
¾ tsp salt
¼ cup milk
2 Tbls water
2 Tbls butter
1 egg at room temperature
In a mixing bowl, combine half the flour, and the sugar, yeast and salt. In a saucepan, heat the milk, water and butter to 110º, then stir into the flour mixture, beating till smooth, then beat in the egg. Gradually add the remaining flour until the dough is stiff. You can then either use a dough hook or manually knead the dough until it’s smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes. Put it into a greased bowl, cover it and let it rise until doubled in size.
Swedish Tea Ring
2 Tbls softened butter
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsps cinnamon
½ cup broken walnuts
½ cup raisins
Roll the dough into a 7 X 15 inch rectangle. Spread the butter over the dough, then sprinkle on the sugar, cinnamon, walnuts and raisins. From the long edge, roll up tightly, then shape into a ring on a parchment covered baking sheet with the sealed edge down. Tuck one end of the ring into the other, and pinch to seal. At 1-inch intervals, cut 2/3 of the way through the ring with scissors, twisting the cut sections slightly to separate. Cover and let rise until almost doubled in size. Bake at 375º for 20-25 minutes.
If you want to frost the ring, recipe is below. Also, my boys don’t like walnuts or raisins, so sometimes I’ll make two rings and leave those ingredients out of one. It still tastes perfectly delicious, though I prefer the regular recipe.
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
¾ tsp vanilla or lemon juice
1 Tbls water
1 Tbls heavy cream (you can do 2 Tbls water if you don’t have cream)
Spread over warm (not hot) Tea Ring. You can add candied cherries (which seem to have been the rage in the 70s), but I don’t, as they all get picked off and ditched on the plate by everyone I know anyway!
When I went away to college, I went on a junk food cereal binge for a while, just to find out what I’d been missing. That phase didn’t last long.
When my kids were born, one of them had food allergies, so I taught myself to cook from scratch. I’d been teaching group fitness for over ten years by then, so was very interested in learning as much as possible about food, nutrition, and realistic snack habits. Now I teach in the exercise studies department at a university, and have to help students learn to make food choices that are in their best interests and will help them reach their goals.
When I was asked to try out the new Special K® Chewy Snack Bars, I was all for it, as I like to find options for my students. Some snack bars are too big, too heavy feeling (especially during exercise) or too high in calories. The four new flavors – Berry Medley, Salted Caramel Chocolate, Salted Pretzel Chocolate, and Blueberry Bliss – are 100 kcals per bar, which is good. Generally speaking, we burn about 400 kcals per 45-minute cardio class, so the math sounds good to me.
I love oats, and am glad to see that the first ingredient for all four flavors is rolled oats. For my personal taste preferences, they are a bit too sweet, yet they are perfect for my university students. And it would seem that my boys (who are now college-aged) like them too, as several of the boxes are nearly empty. The two fruit flavored bars have a bit of real fruit in them, though I prefer the salty-sweet combination in the Salted Pretzel Chocolate bar.
Fall Quarter is now over, but by the time Winter Quarter starts, these bars will be available nationwide, as they will be officially out in January 2015. As I always carry a quick snack in my fitness bag for students who “forgot” to eat before class, the timing is just right.
This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Special K Snack Bars.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsps baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup canola oil
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup milk
1 cup creamy peanut butter
6-8 crushed candy canes
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Mix the flours with the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat the oil, sugar and eggs together for 2 minutes. Add in the milk and stir to blend.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix just enough to blend. Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for about 10 minutes before covering the loaf with the crushed candy canes. Finish baking for another 50 minutes or until the loaf springs back to the touch. Let it fully cool, as the candy topping will be very hot.
After eating it, I think it would have been better to put the candy cane bits into the bread rather than on top.
WOATS has three flavors of oatsnacks, and I have pretty much plowed through two Peanut Butter Graham Slam bags. They also have Cookies ‘N’ Dreams and Nuts About Berries, but I haven’t tried those yet. The company was founded by a 16-year-old who wanted oat snacks in a soft version that was kind to his braces.
Depending on the month, you might find some peanut snacks in the UrthBox. A subscription snack service that sends non-GMO, organic, vegan, gluten-free, and diet versions, I actually found a number of snacks that my picky high-schooler loved (vegan brownie, anyone?). My favorites were the barbecue quinoa crisps, Rogue blue cheese popcorn, and black rice crackers. I noticed they’re offering $10 off right now with the code CRUNCHWEEK.
We just learned about a brand-new company called Thrive Market. They offer nonGMO, organic and natural foods at 30-50% BELOW retail, with free shipping. It’s a member site like Costco, but cheaper and only healthy products. We recommend you join. For every membership Thrive sells, they give one away to a needy family through non-profit partners such as The Boys & Girls Club. We signed up as an affiliate because we believe in it so strongly. Sign up via this link and you’ll get 3 months’ free membership, plus 15% off your first order. Working my “shop my values stocking stuffer plan” via their company.
Also, if you want a 25% discount for the month of December at the Peanut Butter & Co. online store, use this case-sensitive code: YUMSQUADLOVE
I was a bit hesitant to accept them at first, as we are extremely
picky discerning when it comes to recommending lifestyle philosophies. After looking through both books, I can see why Hildmann is so popular. He isn’t a zealot, yet shares his passion. He details how and why he became a vegan in a straightforward way that feels inviting rather than browbeating. The best part? He agrees with so much of what we say! Hahahaha. Don’t we all think someone is clever when their philosophies are close to our own?
Quotes such as, “Vegan for Fit isn’t a diet, but rather a healthy way of eating,” and “The recipes…weren’t in any way influenced by the food industry.” And my fitness favorites – “It doesn’t matter what shape you’re in; you can start now-even if you just walk around the block at your own pace… Starting slow and then building up is the key to success. My workout plan serves primarily to increase my feeling of well-being.”
He recognizes that vegans can be the worst advocates for veganism. For example, when Hildmann discusses his transition from vegetarianism to veganism, he acknowledges the “all or nothing” mentality that puts many people off. “What makes me really sad is this ‘I’m a better vegan than you’ phenomenon.”
The people who took his 30-Day challenge have realistic Before and After pictures and results, and Hildmann includes the downsides as well as the upsides when he shares those results.
The actual recipes. Once he gained my respect, I was ready to check out the food. The pictures and ingredients looked really enticing and surprisingly achievable for me (based on the ingredients I keep in the house). I tried a few of them, and they were super tasty. Except for green bell peppers. I’ll never like green bell peppers.
To get a well-rounded feel for Hildmann, I sent him some questions, which he answered in more detail than I was expecting. To put the interview into context, you should know that his dad’s death was a catalyst for his transformation from overweight, junk food eater to healthy chef.
How old were you when your Dad’s death caused you to make a life change, and what was your life like prior to his death? Were you already into fitness?
I was 19 years old when I watched my father die of a heart attack. You can’t even imagine the pain I felt because I always looked up to my dad. Before it happened the doctors didn’t tell him to change his diet in a specific way; they prefered to open up his ribcage for open-heart surgery and after that was done, pump him full of pills to lower his cholesterol. I was also worried about myself because at that time I was severely overweight at 230 pounds and my cholesterol was critically high. I always loved sports, competed in Triathlon and swimming from an early age, but I always struggled with keeping my weight consistent. Yo-yo dieting was what I did, so the weight always came back in the off-season. And I loved what many young people love: burgers, fries, steak, chips and ice-cream. One day I went to the doctor for a check-up and he did a blood test. When he got the results he told me “Attila, if you keep eating what you’re eating, you’ll end up just like your father!” I had to change something so I did some research and cut out all the foods that contained cholesterol and worked myself up to a vegan diet. Instantly I felt better, my skin got clearer, my energy level went up, I had more power and the fat around my hips melted away. It was the best decision in my life!
Can you share some of the specific steps you took to get from the Before to the After?
The first step was to forget about the clichés that I had in my mind about healthy vegan eating. At first I was afraid about belonging to a group of hippies that eat nut roast for Christmas and preach to people that meat-is-murder. It all began in my head. And I just wanted to try it out as well, as I always like to challenge myself. But I fell into one trap that many new vegetarians and vegans fall into which is vegan junk food. Although it may not contain cholesterol, soy pudding, soy ice cream, fries with ketchup and vegan burgers with meat alternatives still do contain a lot of calories and I ate way too much of that in the beginning. Back in 2000 I hated vegetables. So first I learned how to cook so that I could make them tasty and delicious for myself. Working out is always a good idea but 80 percent of my weight loss success is due to sticking to a balanced vegan diet!
What do you recommend as the first thing someone should do who’s a carnivore, yet is curious about the benefits of being an occasional vegan?
You don’t have to go all the way and change your whole life! One vegan dish per week or a day is a great step toward a healthier life. It should be fun – don’t force yourself into something. If you start to like it, that’s great, and you can incorporate more vegan dishes into your diet plan. About 600,000 Americans die of heart disease every year; that’s one out of four deaths. We have to start somewhere. Make baby steps and pat yourself on the back for doing them.
Why do you prefer veganism over vegetarianism?
At first I was a vegetarian, but even that increased my cholesterol level. I also like the aspect that you save lives by eating completely plant based — it is so good for the environment, climate and the planet! Vegan foods touch so many levels of my well-being, it’s absolutely incredible.
Do you have any simple recipes for people who are time-pressed?
I have a lot of easy, quick to make recipes in my books. You can order them on amazon.com. There are also free recipes on my website attilahildmann.com. I love to make vegetable pasta with a spiralizer and serve them with a quick Carbonara sauce made with almond butter, smoked tofu and parsley. And I looove sandwiches: whole wheat bread, lettuce, some hummus, roasted peppers and some pesto and you are good to go. It’s really that simple! Vegan cooking is even easier and less expensive than cooking with animal-based products!
I’m not trying to persuade anyone to become a vegan or buy these books; I’m just sharing my opinion. But if you are interested in knowing more, you might want to enter the giveaway, as we are giving away one copy of each.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
My life for the past month has been highly stressful due to family medical issues, so one of the ways I de-stress is to bake (which would explain last week’s post about vanilla sugar cinnamon rolls).
A few of the commenters for that post noted that cinnamon rolls didn’t seem like a health food, so I will address that issue while I’m here a’bakin’. For some people, sugar or butter might be an issue. For others, the calories. And there are many people who cannot have flour. For those people it’s true that cinnamon rolls might not be a healthy choice. I am lucky because I have no food allergies, and can eat anything I want (I do not EVER want Marmite or Bovril). I am also realistic about knowing that most people do better with a variety of foods that include items such as rolls or brownies. By “better” I mean they will have a healthier overall diet if they approach food from a “choice” rather than “restrictive” perspective. We never want anything more than the one thing we’re told not to have. As we teach and preach, most foods are okay for most people most of the time in moderation.
I say this not in defense or to persuade you to eat fake food made of nasty ingredients (calling your name Twinkies); just to explain why I think my homemade, organic ingredient cinnamon rolls are so super delicious and belong on our healthy aging blog.
Sadly, the rolls are all gone. And my son brought his new girlfriend over for the first time. And he and she both love chocolate. Beloved son + new girlfriend + chocolate + need to de-stress = coffee brownies. I tweaked a recipe from “Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts.”
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter (I use Organic Valley)
3 large eggs (we raise chickens, so we have a direct supplier)
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract (I use Fair Trade Nielsen Massey)
½ tsp almond extract (I squeeze unsuspecting almonds till they sweat, then gather it)
1/8 tsp salt
4 tsp dry instant espresso powder (I use King Arthur – don’t use granular instant coffee unless you like crunchy blobs of coffee stuck to your teeth)
2 ¾ cups granulated sugar (I use Wholesome Organic Raw Cane)
½ cup all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur or Hodgson Mill Organic Naturally White Unbleached)
1/3 cup whole wheat flour (King Arthur or Hodgson Mill)
Preheat oven to 425°. Line an 8 X 8 pan with parchment paper (or just butter a glass pan).
Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside when melted.
Beat the eggs, vanilla, almond extract, salt, coffee, and sugar at high speed for 10 minutes (no, it’s not a typo). On low speed add the chocolate mixture and beat just till mixed. Then add the flours and beat again just till mixed.
Pour into pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. The crust will be crispy, while a toothpick inserted into the center will come out a little wet, but these babies are DONE. Let them stand (or sit in the fridge) for 6-8 hours before serving. Of course, I didn’t follow that advice. I served them an hour after baking and no-one died or complained. But waiting patiently does make them easier to cut. Whatever.
P.S. The whole wheat flour makes them magically extra healthy. And if you break one in two, half the calories fall out. This is due to sciencey science. Sort of like truthiness, but more fat-free.
While on the topic of health, we have a giveaway that ends soon. Five people will win all of these prizes from Garden of Life. They are leaders in being USDA Organic Certified and Non-GMO, so we extra-special like them, and so will you.