Cooking From Scratch (AKA No More Processed Foods!)

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  • I don't know that I will ever be as ambitious or dedicated to making everything home made, but I am interested in doing more. One drawback is that I'm finding it to be kind of expensive and also high in calories. I have a blog where I do "healthier" recipes, and a lot of times it's hard to reduce/replace and still maintain the integrity of the recipe. I often substitute a large portion of the sugar with Stevia (tastes great and takes out a lot of calories and carbs), and use I Can't Believe It's Not Butter a lot instead of regular butter, things like that.

    I was looking at buying graham crackers for my DD today, but man are they pricey! I saw the post that someone gave a link for home made graham crackers. I think I'm going to try that.

    Is anyone familiar with agave? I bought some (again, pricey), but I don't know anything about it. Now that I'm reading the back of the bottle, there are different kinds? I bought "amber" and it says it's a good replacement for brown sugar and molasses. I'm sure if I google it I will find info but sometimes hearing it from people who have tried it is better. I'm wondering what the ratios are for substitution.

    I was reading the other day about making bread in the crock pot. Anyone tried that?

    I'm not ready to go full out home made, but I'd like a good starting point. When I first started this healthy journey of mine I changed just one thing at a time, and it worked really well. I'm thinking the same ideas would apply with this. If I were to start basic, what might be a good thing to do?

    Thanks for reading my ramble!
  • Here's a good one, Lisa...pancakes!

    6 C. flour (use whatever proportion you like of white flour / wheat flour; experiment to see what your family likes best)
    2/3 C sugar
    2 T. baking powder
    1 T. baking soda

    Mix and keep in an airtight container in a cool dry place. To prepare, mix one cup of this with 1 egg and 3/4 C milk.

    This is easy to customize for your family's preferences. You can increase or decrease the sugar, vary white and wheat flour proportions, and add in banana, blueberries, pecans, or even some chocolate chips. It's cheaper than store bought and takes no time at all. Plus, you can pronounce everything in there .
  • Thanks, Cassie. I bought some graham flour (didn't even know there was such a thing) and Sara and I are going to try making home made graham crackers. Hope we don't mess it up too bad! lol If you'd like to see the recipe, click here.
  • Thanks for the recipe, Lisa! I will put that on my list. What I remember from last time is I didn't roll quite thinly enough, so they were more like cookies...but still good!

    Here's a website I found this morning; very cool. The search is a little balky; you need to select the category instead of just typing in the product name, but the info is good:

    Oh, and to answer your question, I do use agave. I use it to cook with but I'm not fond of it in my tea. It is still sugar, but from what I understand, it has a lower glycemic index than most other types of sugar. One of the trade offs I choose to make is real sugar in my morning tea...2 teaspoons. I use turbinado sugar; not sure if that makes too much of a difference, but it is less processed. That's pricey to bake with, so I use regular sugar for that, but I make sure it says pure cane sugar, because if not, it's probably made from sugar beets, which are likely GMO, and I don't know the details of how they were altered. Pure cane is the same price as the other in my store.

    Happy baking!! Enjoy the time with Sara and feel good about teaching her good stuff!
  • Just finished homemade, they are sinful. Not a health food, but at least the ingredients are all natural and I snuck wheat flour into the crusts . They are time consuming enough that I won't do it on a regular basis, but worth it for a treat!

    I made brown sugar cinnamon per the recipe but I can see using crushed fruit in the summer.

    I also used something I just discovered in the store (it has probably been around forever; I'm just not real alert sometimes)...Land O' Lakes makes sticks of butter mixed with olive oil.

    I have gone back and forth for years on the butter versus margarine thing. I hate that the butter is just saturated fat (though even that doesn't seem to have as bad a rap as it used to), but I hate the laundry list of ingredients in margarine. This seems like it splits the difference, so the only drawback is that it's not reduced calorie. Oh well, can't have everything, I guess! It bakes well and tastes fine (and it was $1.99 lb this past week on sale ).
  • Home made poptarts? oh wow! I have to buy my husband poptarts every week when I do my grocery shopping. Maybe I'll try that someday for a treat. Can you link me to the recipe or post it here?

    Sara and I did not make our graham crackers today, but we will one of these days. Was a lazy day for me most of the day today. Felt good.
  • Lisa, here is the recipe:

    As I mentioned, I subbed in some wheat flour (1 C., I think?). I didn't use a food processor for the dough; I just cut in the butter with a pastry blender. I also just drizzled the glaze instead of icing the whole pop tart.

    They are time consuming and not low cal by any stretch, but they are fresh and free of additives and very nice for a special treat.

    I am hesitant to post the link because the blogger also has a catering business that can be accessed via his blog and may therefore be considered advertising here, but if you do a search for "the candid appetite," you will find it. He is a very talented young man! The recipe on the site also has pictures, which are very helpful.

    Cinnamon Brown Sugar Pop-Tarts

    Taken and adapted from the Food Network Magazine.

    Use this recipe as a base recipe and fill them with whatever flavors you’d like.

    Yield: 9 toaster pastries
    For the pastry:

    2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small chunks
    4 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed

    For the filling:

    1/2 cup brown sugar
    2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

    1 large egg, whisked with a tablespoon of water, to brush pastries with

    For the glaze:

    3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
    4 teaspoons milk, plus more as needed
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


    Preheat the oven to 350.

    In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour and salt; pulse a couple times to combine the ingredients. Throw in the cold, diced butter, and pulse 10 more times or until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about the size of peas.

    With machine running, add ice water through the opening on top of the lid, in a slow, steady stream, one tablespoon at a time, just until dough holds together without being wet or sticky. It should form a ball and come away from the sides. It is very important to not over process the dough. A way to test the doug is by squeezing a small amount of dough together; if it is still dry and doesn’t come together, add a bit more water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Divide the dough in half, and place each half on a piece of plastic wrap. Shape into disks and tightly wrap in plastic. Place the disks in the refrigerator and chill for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

    To assemble the toaster pastries: Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and allow it to thaw for a bit. This will help you roll out the dough, and make it easier to work with. Place one piece on a lightly floured work surface, and roll it into a rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. Trim the sides of the dough so that it measures 912 inches in size. Repeat with the second piece of dough. Cut each piece of dough into thirds and then each third into thirds again. You should end up with 9 rectangular pieces, each measuring 34 inches. Using a ruler will make this process easier.

    Beat the egg with a tablespoon of water and brush it over the entire surface of the first dough pieces. This will be the “bottom” of the tart; the egg will help glue the lid on. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center of each rectangle, making sure to leave about 1/4 inch of space on the edge. Brush the second dough pieces with egg wash as well, and place a second rectangle of dough atop the first, using your fingertips to press firmly around the pocket of filling, sealing the dough well on all sides. Crimp the edges with a fork all around the edge of each rectangle. This will ensure the tarts do not open up during baking.

    Gently place the tarts on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick the top of each tart five times with a skewer or tooth pick; this will allow the steam to escape, so that the tarts will become light and airy instead of flat pop-tarts. Brush the tops with extra egg wash. Refrigerate the tarts, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. This will allow the butter in the dough to chill and firm up causing a flakier crust.

    Remove tarts from the fridge and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until they’re golden brown, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Let the tarts cool on the pan for about 5 minutes, and then transfer them to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before glazing.

    To make the glaze, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until it reaches a spreading consistency. It should be thick but not too thick. Use a butter knife or offset spatula to glaze each tart. Allow the glaze to harden before eating. Store them in an airtight container. To reheat, place in a350 oven and heat for 10 minutes. Or you can pop them in a toaster to warm them for a few seconds. Enjoy.
  • Thanks for the poptart recipe, Cassie! It looks really involved, but like you said it would be a nice treat, and it would be really fun for me and Sara to do together. I have a blog of healthier recipes with pics and instructions and stuff, and I can see it evolving into recipes clean cooking too. I've become inspired by you ladies here on FitDay. This could be fun! Although, I think things like this do have to be a treat every once in a while because I have a tendency to not be able to stop at just one, and it would wreak havoc on my daily calorie goals. lol
  • I made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies the other day using whole wheat flour, whole grain oats and no oil or butter, just unsweetened applesauce in place of the oil and butter. They turned out so good!!! I don't have the recipe with me, but I found it when I googled "whole wheat chocolate chip cookie recipe". I think it was a Betty Crocker recipe. I never use oil or butter anymore in recipes, it is always unsweetened applesauce. I can't tell the difference.
  • zahut, thanks for posting that; great idea! Plus I have been making applesauce like a fiend since we went to the orchard last month .


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