Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Phony Egg Claims

I came upon an article today that was distressing. This article about eggs that was pretty good, she didn't quote many actual studies but it was a decent piece. At the bottom she said that:
As for fortified eggs from hens whose feed is enriched with extra omega-3 fatty acids-- a fat that is good for your heart, your brain and your joints -- they may not be all that they're cracked up to be. Lab tests commissioned by the Center for Science in the Public Interest found that some of the eggs, said to have come from hens that had eaten feed rich in omega-3s -- contained less of the beneficial fat than advertised.
This was shocking to me as I have been using (a lot) of these high omega 3 eggs in my baked goods. They do cost more & I have been passing that cost to my customers believing that I was baking a healthier product. So it sounds to me after doing more reading that they need to do some more studies before it can be proved that high omega 3 eggs are better for you.

I have been buying most of my eggs from a local vendor at the market. His chickens are truly cage free (or pastured) & are treated more like pets. So I'm supporting the local economy, getting a great fresh product, and the chickens are very happy. It seems to me that happy free range chickens would produce healthier eggs than conventional chicken "farmers" who stuff the chickens in little cages, feed them hormones & antibiotics to keep them producing.

Here's a great article from Mother Earth News (yes does sound a bit hippy:) On the last page they reference several studies that support the health benefits of pastured eggs over conventional. Here's a few:

  • A 1999 study by Barb Gorski at Pennsylvania State University found that eggs from pastured birds had 10 percent less fat, 34 percent less cholesterol, 40 percent more vitamin A, and four times the omega-3s compared to the standard USDA data.
  • In 2003, Heather Karsten at Pennsylvania State University compared eggs from two groups of Hy-Line variety hens, with one kept in standard crowded factory farm conditions and the other on mixed grass and legume pasture. The eggs had similar levels of fat and cholesterol, but the pastured eggs had three times more omega-3s, 220 percent more vitamin E and 62 percent more vitamin A than eggs from caged hens.
These studies are enough reason for me to pay a few more dollars per dozen eggs.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Malted Banana Chocolate Chunk Muffins

I'll admit in the spectrum of healthy breakfasts this isn't in the bran muffin category. But it's not down with the doughnuts either!

These muffins are very yummy. Most of the sweetness is from the barley malt (in malted milk powder). Although sweet enough to be considered a treat they are 100% whole grain and full of healthy ingredients like fresh bananas, dark chocolate chunks, and cage free eggs.

Ingredients: fresh bananas, belgian dark chocolate chunks, organic stone-ground barley flour, organic stone-ground spelt flour, organic stone-ground white whole wheat flour, malted milk powder, cage free eggs, organic cane sugar, buttermilk powder, canola oil, melted butter, baking powder, vanilla, salt

Nutrient information- 1muffin: 277 kCal, 43g carb (2g fiber, 22g sugar) 10g fat (4g sat fat, 3g monounsat fat, 1g polyunsat fat) , 6g protein
  • keep in mind these muffins have a lot of dairy which is high in natural & unrefined sugar
  • **approximate calculation- not actually tested**

Loaded Potato Bread

So you read this and thought: potatoes don't belong on a healthy food blog. Well yes they do. The USDA says:
Potatoes are an important source of complex carbohydrates. In addition, they contain vitamins C and B 6 , iron, potassium, and trace minerals such as manganese, chromium, selenium, and phosphorus. Potatoes are low in sodium, are virtually fat free, and provide fiber when the skin is eaten.
Here's another article I ran across about why potatoes are healthy. So great eat some baked potatoes right. Well eating them in whole grain bread is another great idea. I've had grocery store (not fresh, blahhh) potato bread so I wasn't expecting the addition of fresh mashed potatoes to be a big deal.
  • Potatoes give the bread a soft & moist texture.
  • Eggs add a bit more rise
  • Fennel lends a subtle herby note
  • Sesame seeds top it off with a nutty crunch
Of course it’s 100% whole grain. To experience the full effect try it for yourself!

Ingredients: organic stone-ground white whole wheat flour, mashed potatoes, Mississippi honey, eggs, buttermilk powder, canola oil, sesame seeds, egg white, roasted sesame oil, salt, yeast, fennel

Friday, March 07, 2008

All about the fiber

I'm introducing my Double Yum (bran) Muffins. Bran in parenthesis b/c some people are afraid of healthy things like (bran). Males age 14-50 need 38g fiber/day and females that age need 25g fiber/day according to the US dietary guidelines. These muffins with 6g fiber will help you get there. Let's quickly review why we need all this fiber.

According to the American Dietetic Association fiber is important because it:
  • lowers bad (LDL) cholesterol
  • helps our GI move things along normally
  • slows digestion & makes us feel full
  • can prevent & help manage these diseases: Diabetes, heart disease, & diverticulitis
  • may prevent cancer
These muffins are really good & good for you. They are have a roboust whole grain taste with bits of sweet and tart apricots. The addition of fresh spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, & cloves) kicks the flavor up a notch. With a double dose of bran: high fiber wheat bran and heart healthy oat bran, not to mention the additional fiber from the dried apricots & flax seed.

Ingredients: organic stone-ground white whole wheat flour, dried unsulfured apricots, oat bran, succanat, wheat bran, organic stone-ground spelt flour, cage free eggs, blackstrap molasses, canola oil, dried buttermilk powder, flax seed, mechanically pressed palm oil, organic cane sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, cloves

Nutrient information- 1muffin: 204kCal, 8g fat (1.5g sat fat, 3g monounsat, 2.5g polyunsat) 33g carb
( 6g fiber, 14g sugar), 6g protein
**approximate calculation- not actually tested**

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Fats can be very confusing

Today I was not supposed to be spending hours researching the best fats to cook with. But my plans to be productive were altered when I was stumped by a recipe. I'm working on a new muffin recipe for the market. I am going to have Double Yum (Bran) Muffins in less than a month. So I'm starting to work up a recipe. This usually begins by me selecting a recipe after searching for a lengthy time period. Then I change it so much it becomes more my recipe than anyone elses. So this recipe is a "6 week bran muffin" (I will not have the batter around for 6 weeks:). Because I do so much baking it will be handy to have a batter that is good for longer than a week.

So my recipe calls for shortening. Normally I would say no way and switch out for canola oil- my choice for heart healthy cooking. But this is a longer sitting batter so maybe some shortening might help the texture of my muffin. I have some Spectrum organics "mechanically pressed organic palm oil" . They call their product " a healthy, trans-fat free alternative to traditional shortening". Is it? As someone that has had some nutrition classes I know saturated fats are healthier than hydrogenated fats found in conventional shortening. I searched a good bit and the best I could find was Dr. Andrew Weil saying that palm oil contains vitamin E and is better than the evil palm kernal oil. And this product has 6g sat fat/ 1Tbsp. So in the quantity that I'm using it in my recipe each muffin will have 0.75g sat fat. That is really not much at all.

If you read my post on butter being not so bad for you then you understand my confusion over the choice of fats. In the nutrition realm it is agreed on that Trans fats are bad bad. I don't use any of those. Saturated fats are out of favor, but in baking they have their place. Butter is great for flavor and texture; too much of it is too many calories... weight gain... lots of health problems in general. And there is some conflicting research out there concerning what fats are the best for you. Chocolate has a high quantity of saturated fats and it is "good for you". There is a good bit of research showing that omega 3 fatty acids are good for our hearts, brains, ect. So I am choosing to use fats that are high in these: such as canola oil and flax seed.

I'm using canola oil for the remainder of the fat in the recipe. I chose that oil because it has a good amount of omega 3 fatty acids. The spectrum website is slightly confusing on this matter. Of course they would like me to buy their walnut oil for my baking (considerately more expensive than my canola) but their is little difference in the omega 3 fatty acid content of walnut and canola oil. I can tell you this because of several hours I spent digging up the facts! The USDA database rules again!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Grillin on a Sunday!

This is food related b/c we were on our way to the reservoir to grill with some friends when Barley (aka Hearth Leaven Loaves's beloved mascot) decided to show out. This picture is especially funny when you compare it to other pictures of Barley. I put one in just for comparison sake of course. This is his puppy expedition pack, a Christmas present from Auntie Becca! Anyway he looks so different with the wind blowing his ears & abundant fur back, and with his eyes all squinty.

So we took Barley to the reservoir to grill with friends. We all had a great time and enjoyed the gorgeous weather. I really hope the good weather follows us into April to kick off the market right! I'm working on new recipes right now. I have most of them listed on my current products page. I don't have posts for most of my new products b/c I'm still trying perfect my recipes. They should be appearing soon.