We’re already making our way through the new year, which means it’s time to make good on those resolutions you were so excited about at the end of 2021. For some, resolutions might revolve around getting fit. For others, it might be cooking more or improving your diet. If any of those sound familiar, you’re not alone.
According to a survey conducted by consumer reporting company Statista about 2021 resolutions, 44 percent of respondents said that their resolution was to save more money and 39 percent wanted to improve their diets. Happily, cooking at home is one way to do both of those things.
While you’re busy researching recipes for your new favorite one-pan dinner, consider also making household staples in the comfort of your own kitchen, like bread. You might be thinking, “That’s too advanced for me!” Trust us, it’s not, thanks to a nifty appliance called a bread maker.
Making bread at home might sound intimate, but it’s not! Well…it doesn’t have to be, but you don’t have to just take our word for it. Shop TODAY spoke with Bob’s Red Mill’s Food Innovation Chef Sarah House to get her tips on navigating a bread maker and the benefits of using one.
What are the benefits of using a bread maker?
Aside from the money you’ll be saving in the long run, House said bread machines make healthy food more accessible. “It takes the belief that a lot of people had — that you have to know how to bake bread, you have to have been baking it for years — it takes that out of the equation so it’s much more accessible. You can buy the machine. You can put the ingredients in there and just set it and forget it. And then you have a really great homemade loaf of bread,” she said.
If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to eat healthier or eat more whole grains, making your own bread at home is a great way to do that since you get to choose the types of flours that work best for your diet and any other ingredients that appeal to you, she added.
Beginner tips for using a bread maker
Read the manual. You’ve got a bread machine and you’re so excited to use it for the first time. Before you get to clicking every button just to find out what it does, House recommends reading the manual. Not only will it tell you how the machine works, but it will often include recipes or specific notes for certain settings that you’ll want to pay attention to.
Start with the basics. If it’s your first time using a bread machine, House recommends starting with a basic recipe. (Maybe one that you’ve found in the user manual, wink wink.) She says an easy recipe is a good opportunity to get comfortable with your machine, figure out how it works in action and make note of any quirks.
Check on it during the mixing and proofing cycles. Once your bread has been in the mixing cycle for a minute or two, House recommends opening the lid — most machines are programmed to stop mixing when the lid is open — and scrape down any excess flour that is clinging to the sides, so you don ‘t end up with pockets of flour on the outside of your finished loaf.
For wheat- or gluten-based bread, there’s usually two proofing cycles, house notes. In this case, you’ll want to check on your dough right after the first mixing cycle and before the first proofing cycle begins. Sometimes it can become uneven during the process, so you’ll want to take that opportunity to level it so you get an even loaf at the end.
Take the paddles out (if you want to). House started by noting that this is more of an advanced tip, but says you can take the paddles out of the machine that are used for mixing before the second proof cycle starts. You’ll have to remove the dough first, then the paddles, put the dough back in and then reshape it before starting it up again. If you’re not quite comfortable with that yet, don’t worry. They’re designed to be left in there throughout the baking process. Just be sure to remove the paddles after your loaf is done and before you slice it.
Take out your loaf as soon as it’s done. You might want to let your loaf cool in the pan when it’s done, but House warns against that. “If you let it cool in the pan, you’re going to get a lot of condensation from that heat evaporating and the excess moisture. That’ll give you a soggy loaf,” she said.
Hand-wash the pan and paddles. Even though some parts may say they’re dishwasher-safe, House recommends washing them the traditional way because detergent, long cycles and water pressure can contribute to degraded coating.
Use quality ingredients. You’ve spent all this money on a brand-new bread machine, so be sure to invest in quality ingredients, too! “One of the most upsetting things when you’re baking bread is if it doesn’t rise and you don’t know that until you’ve already used your ingredients. So get some fresh yeast when you start on your new bread baking adventure!” she advised.
Buy a bread bag. Homemade bread doesn’t last as long as store-bought bread when left out because of the lack of preservatives. House recommends buying a bread bag to keep your loaf from drying out the way it would if left unwrapped in a fridge. Which leads into her next tip…
Keep your bread chilled. Store your bread in the refrigerator or freezer to inhibit mold growth. While you can certainly leave your bread on the table for a few days, it’ll last longer if stored in a cool place and won’t start to stale as quickly. When you’re ready to eat it, you can take it out and pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to defrost it or set it out in the morning for use throughout the day.
What to look for when shopping for a bread maker
Now that you’ve got all the tips you need for nailing your first bake with a bread maker, it’s time to actually pick one! Before you begin your search for the perfect machine, House pointed out a few things you should be paying attention to:
The shape of the loaf. While most bread machines have a traditional rectangular bread pan, some have more of a cylindrical pan which will end up with the dome on the side instead of the time. “It’s not a big deal. It’s gonna make a sandwich or French toast or whatever you’re wanting to make,” she said. “But if you have strong feelings about how you want your bread loaf to look, that is the first thing I would consider.”
What do you want to make with it? If you know what types of bread you want to make, like a gluten-free loaf, you’ll want to look for a machine that has the setting for that. House added that there are machines that have additional mix cycles to make things like cake or jam, but they tend to come with a higher price tag. So if you’re thinking about buying one of those, evaluate if you’ll actually use those settings and if it’s worth shelling out the extra bucks.
Think about the size and weight of the machine. This is especially important if you plan on storing it somewhere that will require you to move it to the counter before use. If so, be sure that it’s a weight you can easily handle.
Take notes of the handles. Like House noted in her tips for beginners, you want to remove the loaf as soon as the bake cycle is done, so try to choose handles that will work best for you. Some machines are designed with two handles — one on each side — and others have one handle across the type like a bucket.
Choose good quality materials. House recommends choosing a machine that has a really good metal pan and paddles on the inside and plastic or plasticized metal on the outside. “Just make sure that it’s solid — that if you push on the side, it’s not bouncing in and out,” she told us.
Don’t forget about the programming panel! While you’re checking all of these other things, take a look at the programming panel, too. You’ll want something that is easy to read so you always know exactly what’s going on in the process.
Expert-recommended and top-rated bread makers
Zojirushi Mini Breadmaker
House has worked with Zojirushi bread makers for over a decade and praised the high-quality loaves she consistently gets from them, calling it their preferred brand. “I even bought one for my dad for Christmas a few years ago and he uses it, too,” she laughed.
If you have only one person at home or just want to make a smaller loaf, this Zojirushi mini bread machine will help you produce perfect one pound loaves. It even has those other settings House mentioned some machines could have, such as ones for cookie or pasta dough, cake and jam.
Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus Breadmaker
If you want to make a larger loaf, this Zojirushi model is made to produce a hefty two-pounder. The LCD display makes it easy for you to pick your setting, with options varying from whole wheat and gluten-free to sugar-free and vegan. There’s even a rapid setting that can produce a white or whole wheat loaf in just under two and a half hours.
Cuisinart 2 pound bread maker
An Amazon bestseller in the “bread machines” category, this bread maker comes fully loaded with a dozen preprogrammed menu options and three crust shades to choose from so you can customize your loaf to your liking. The viewing window on the top makes it easy for you to keep an eye on it throughout the process to ensure everything is going according to plan and keep you excited for the finished product.
Hamilton Beach Bread Maker Machine
Make anything from French bread to your favorite jam with this bread maker machine. You can even use it to prep dough for other delicious baked goodies like pizza, cinnamon buns or dinner rolls. One reviewer, who claims to have been baking bread for over 70 years, called it “a product that lives up to expectations and promises.”
Easter Expressbake Breadmaker
If you’re pressed for time, this Easter bread maker has an express bake option that will produce a fresh loaf in less than an hour. Aside from 12 bread settings and three crust settings, it also has a 13-hour programmable timer so you can set it and forget it.
Amazon Basics 2-Pound Non-Stick Bread Making Machine
If you’re new to bread machines and aren’t ready to invest in anything too fancy, this Amazon machine is just over $60 and has over four stars from 1,900+ verified reviewers. It has an express bake setting that will leave you facing a fresh loaf in 90 minutes. It even comes in black or white so you can choose the one that best matches your kitchen aesthetic.
KBS Large 17-in-1 Bread Machine
With the most extensive list of features in this group, this bread machine has 17 different settings, a 15-hour timer, a one-hour automatic keep warm timer, three crust settings and three loaf-size capacities. It even has a detachable fruit and nut dispenser that releases those ingredients at the most optimum time during the process, according to the brand’s description.
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Guiding the way to thrive
Jan Juc naturopath Rebecca Winkler has always found joy in the practice of cooking nourishing meals for others.
That pastime spilled over into developing recipes and it was during lockdown that her culinary passion led her to become a qualified plant-based chef and a raw dessert chef.
Now the mum-of-two has expertly thrown all of her skills into the mix to achieve a long-held goal of producing a book.
Released as an eBook, with a print version to hopefully follow, 14 Day Whole Food Feast is a comprehensive two-week meal plan designed to nourish the body and delight the tastebuds.
Within its pages are recipes for whole food snacks, lunch and dinner meals, lunchbox ideas, and time-saving tips.
14 Day Whole Food Feast by Rebecca Winkler is available now as an eBook.
“My motivation was both personal and professional,” Rebecca says.
“On a professional note, I found so many patients were having difficulty finding family-friendly, whole food recipes to help them navigate various dietary needs.
“The recipes are easy to follow, a shopping list is provided and time frames are taken into account so slower cooked meals or more time-consuming recipes are saved for weekends.”
Rebecca says the eBook can function purely as a recipe resource or be followed meticulously for a 14-day reset.
“Food prep guidance is given at the start of each week in order to get ahead and be organized as possible.
The eBook includes lunch, dinner and snack ideas, as well as shopping lists and naturopathic advice.
“Dinners are often incorporated into leftovers for lunch the next day and naturopathic guidance is provided around ways to maximize your time by incorporating regular exercise and practicing self-care.”
The idea for the book began to brew in 2019 during a solo trip Rebecca took with colleagues which gave her the space to establish a clear vision for the content she wanted to share.
“I began developing and refining recipe, enlisting a beautiful photographer and graphics team to allow my dream to be realised.
“The long-term plan is to release a number of other eBooks and, eventually, print a hard copy, real-life book to be loved and to splash your chocolate and bolognaise sauce on. The kind of recipe book that you find yourself grabbing time and time again.”
The eBook is filled with nutritious recipes and much more.
So, what are some of Rebecca’s personal favorites featured in her carefully curated eBook?
“Ooh, that’s like trying to choose a favorite child,” she laughs.
“I know it might seem boring, but the slow-cooked bolognaise with hand-made gluten-free fettucine is an absolute favourite.
“We make it weekly in my house and every time my kids exclaim ‘this is the best bolognaise ever’.”
The slow cooked beef pie, kafir lime chicken balls and whole food cranberry bliss balls are also hard to pass up, she says.
Rebecca avoids listing ideal ingredients for people to incorporate into their diet, instead saying the most beneficial ingredients are those that make you feel at your best.
“Not everyone tolerates grains, some don’t tolerate fruit, others have difficulty digesting meat and protein.
“My advice is to listen and take note of how your body feels when you eat.
“Are you bloated, do you have pain in your gut, loose stools, headaches or fatigue?
Rebecca is a qualified naturopath, as well as being a plant-based chef and raw dessert chef.
“I am more inclined to advise people to source good quality ingredients, grow what they can, and cook from scratch as much as time and money allows.
“Eat three meals a day and snack only if you are hungry, growing, pregnant or exercising.
“Try to consume 30-35ml of water per kg of body weight. Add plenty of vegetables, fresh herbs, variety and colour.
“Our gut flora thrives on variety, so mix up your veggies, fruits, grain, legumes and proteins. Eat the rainbow.”
To get the most out of the eBook, the author suggests reading it from cover-to-cover and choosing a 14-day period where you are at home and have minimal social engagements.
Rebecca is passionate about naturopathy which she describes as a holistic, comprehensive view of the body in its entirety and “a wonderful adjunct to Western Medicine for patients as it ensures medical due diligence is exercised, adequate diagnostic testing where appropriate and an individualized approach to restoring health”.
Rebecca’s advice is to “eat the rainbow” when it comes to healthy food choices.
She says many of her clients are seeking ways to regain optimal health following extended periods of lockdown during the pandemic.
“There is no doubt that most of us found ourselves allowing more in alcohol and comfort foods over lockdown, which is nothing to feel ashamed about.
“In such a difficult, confining and overwhelming time, we sought comfort where ever it may lie for us.
“This is not a failure, it was merely a way for so many to cope. I never judge anyone’s choices, I merely try to support, understand and listen.
“Often we already know what we need to do to rebuild or move forward, simply sharing and being heard without shame or judgment is therapeutic.
“I cannot describe to you the genuine joy that seeing people thrive provides.”
14 Day Whole Food Feast retails for $19.95 and on the Rebecca Winkler website. Discover more and contact Rebecca via her Facebook page, Instagram @rebeccawinklernaturopath or email [email protected]
Get to know farro and other superfood whole grains
By Casey Barber, CNN
Quinoa has reached a level of superfood status not seen since the great kale takeover of the aughts. Equally embraced and mocked in pop culture, it’s become the symbol of the grain bowl generation. It’s not the only whole grain that’s worth bringing to the table, however.
The world of whole grains is wide, and if quinoa and brown rice have been the only grains on your plate, it’s time to expand your palate. Here’s an introduction to whole grains, along with tips for cooking and enjoying them.
What’s a whole grain?
The term “whole grains” encompasses all grains and seeds that are, well, whole. They retain all their edible parts: the fiber-rich outer bran layer; the carbohydrate-rich endosperm center, which makes up the bulk of the grain itself; and the inner core, or germ, which is packed with vitamins, protein and healthy fats.
On the other hand, refined grains such as white rice and all-purpose flour have been milled to remove the bran and germ, stripping away much of the fiber, protein and vitamins, and leaving only the starchy endosperm.
“A lot of people don’t realize that whole grains contain several grams of protein in addition to vitamins and antioxidants,” said Nikita Kapur, a registered dietitian nutritionist in New York City. With every serving of whole grains, “you get a ton of minerals, B vitamins and fiber, which is especially important for good health.”
So-called “ancient grains” fall under the umbrella of whole grains, though the phrase is more of a marketing term than a marker of a more nutritious option. Ancient grains refer to whole grains like millet, amaranth, kamut and, yes, quinoa that have been the staple foods of cultures for several hundred years. They are not hybridized or selectively bred varieties of grains, like most modern wheat, rice and corn.
And though quinoa has gotten all the press as a whole grain superfood, there’s good reason to try others. Trying a variety of whole grains isn’t just a way to mix up your same-old side dish routine. It’s also a chance to get a wider portfolio of minerals and more into your diet.
“Suffice to say, we need to have a more diverse plant-based diet” to get the full complement of recommended nutrients in our meals, Kapur said, “and we can’t get it from the same 10 or 20 foods.
“One grain might have more manganese, another more zinc or magnesium, and another more protein,” she added. “Try one as a pasta, one as a porridge — you do you, as long as there’s a variety.”
Familiar foods like oats, corn, brown and other colors of rice, as well as wild rice (which is an aquatic grass), are all considered whole grains, but there are many others you’ll want to add to your regular repertoire.
Some whole grains to get to know
amaranth is a tiny gluten-free grain that can be simmered until soft for a creamy polenta-like dish, but it also makes a deliciously crunchy addition to homemade energy bars or yogurt bowls when it’s been toasted. To toast amaranth seeds, cook over medium heat in a dry pan, shaking frequently until they begin to pop like minuscule popcorn kernels.
Buckwheat is gluten-free and botanically related to rhubarb, but these polygonal seeds (also called groats) don’t taste anything like fruit. You might already be familiar with buckwheat flour, used in pancakes and soba noodles, or Eastern European kasha, which is simply toasted buckwheat.
Faro is the overarching Italian name for three forms of ancient wheat: farro piccolo, or einkorn; farro medio, or emmer; and farro grande, or spelled. The farro you typically find at the store is the emmer variety, and it’s a rustic, pumped-up wheat berry that’s ideal as a grain bowl base. Or make an Italian-inspired creamy Parmesan farro risotto.
Freekeh is a wheat variety that’s harvested when unripe, then roasted for a surprisingly smoky, nutty flavor and chewy texture. Freekeh’s taste is distinctive enough that it steals the spotlight in your meals, so use it in ways that highlight its flavor. It’s fantastic in a vegetarian burrito bowl paired with spicy salsa, or in a warming chicken stew.
kamut is actually the trademarked brand name for an ancient type of wheat called Khorasan, which features large grains, a mild taste and tender texture. It’s a good, neutral substitute for brown rice in a pilaf or as a side dish. Or try this high-protein grain in a salad with bold flavors like arugula, blood orange and walnut.
millet is a gluten-free seed with a cooked texture similar to couscous. Teff is a small variety of millet that’s most frequently used as the flour base for Ethiopian injera flatbread. Try raw millet mixed into batters and doughs for a bit of crunch, like in this millet skillet cornbread recipe, or use either teff or millet cooked in a breakfast porridge.
How to cook any whole grain
While cooking times vary for each grain, there’s one way to cook any whole grain, whether it’s a tiny seed or a large, chewy kernel: Boil the grains like pasta.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a handful of kosher salt. Add the grains and cook, tasting as you go, until tender. Small grains like amaranth and quinoa can cook fully in five to 15 minutes, while larger grains like farro and wild rice can take anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour — so keep an eye on your pot and check it frequently.
Drain well in a mesh strainer (to catch all those small grains) and either use immediately or allow to cool slightly, then refrigerate for later meals. Cooked whole grains can also be portioned, frozen and stored in airtight bags for up to six months.
If you want to cook your whole grains in an Instant Pot or other multicooker, this chart offers grain-to-water ratios for many of the grains mentioned here.
The CNN Wire
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Casey Barber is a food writer, illustrator and photographer; the author of “Pierogi Love: New Takes on an Old-World Comfort Food” and “Classic Snacks Made from Scratch: 70 Homemade Versions of Your Favorite Brand-Name Treats”; and editor of the website Good. foods Stories.
Travel: A quaint county seat with Mayberry charm | Lifestyles – Travel
I finally ventured out for my first road trip of 2022 earlier this month. It’s been way too long since I took a little trip and it was long overdue. My last little getaway was in Chicago the week of Christmas. The day I returned I wasn’t feeling very well and an at-home test confirmed that I had COVID — again.
The first time was in November 2020 and it was a severe case that landed me in the hospital with pneumonia and difficulty breathing and then many months of recovery. Luckily this time around it just lasted a couple of weeks. At the same time I was pushing through COVID we were in the process of moving. And my Dad, who had tested positive for COVID not long before me, passed away. So, it’s been a heck of a start to 2022. A getaway was much needed.
It was a brief 24 hours in the Indianapolis area, but as always I packed a bit in and had a lot of good food. On our way down we stopped off in Rensselaer for lunch at Fenwick Farms Brewing Co. and took a little walk to check out the murals that are part of the Ren Art Walk. That evening I attended a media opening of the newly reopened Dinosphere exhibit at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.
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It’s a place I adore and still enjoy visiting even though my kids are teenagers and young adults now. I love being greeted by the huge Bumblebee character on the way in from what is probably my favorite action move, “The Transformers.” The largest children’s museum in the world has so much to see and I’ve loved having the chance to explore it both with and without my kids.
After the event it was a quick overnight at Staybridge Suites in Plainfield, and in the morning we headed to Danville. Danville is the county seat of Hendricks County. I adore county seats with downtown squares and this is one of my favorites. On an earlier visit there we were in town for the Mayberry in the Midwest festival, which had lots of activities related to the classic TV show “The Andy Griffith Show” that was set in the fictional town of Mayberry.
Danville definitely has that charming, inviting, friendly small town vibe that feels like it could be a sitcom setting. We ate at the Mayberry Cafe where old episodes play on television screens and the menu is full of down-home, made-with-love comfort foods, with a specialty being “Aunt Bee’s Famous Fried Chicken.” I tried it and it was very tasty. The whole place made me smile like Opie after a fishing outing with his dad.
This time our dining destination was The Bread Basket. I had tried their desserts at a few events, but it was my first time dining in. It’s located in a house that was built for the president of Central Normal College in 1914 and is cute and cozy. It’s a breakfast and lunch spot, so plan to go early and be prepared for a wait during peak times (but it’s well worth it).
My Dilly Turkey Sandwich on fresh wheat nut bread with an Orchard Salad was delicious. I loved that they had a combo option where you could pick a half sandwich and half salad or cup of soup. But the desserts are the real star here. I stared at that dessert case for several minutes — and I wasn’t the only one.
I was seated next to it, and watched intently each time they removed a pie or cake from the case to cut a slice. I tried the Hummingbird Cake, which was a perfect treat without being too rich, and then noticed another that was so unique I had to get a slice to take home — the Blackberry Wine Chocolate Cake. If you go there and are overwhelmed with choices, go with this. You won’t regret it.
After lunch, we made our way over to the Hendricks County Historical Museum & Old County Jail, which is just off the square. For someone like me who loves history, this was a wonderful stop to incorporate into our day. It was built in 1866 and used as a jail all the way up until 1974. You can go into the old jail cells (two on the female side and four on the male side) and tour the sheriff’s home.
An exhibit has information and artifacts from when Central Normal College existed (later Canterbury College). There’s also a temporary chronological exhibit about music and musicians, featuring many Hoosier hitmakers.
After the visit, I took a breezy little walk around the square, where I was reminded that there is a nostalgic old movie theater. The historic Danville Royal Theater dates back to the early 1900s and shows current movies for just $5 a ticket.
It was then getting close to dinner time, so we decided to eat before we headed back home. A place in the nearby town of North Salem had been recommend to me and I am so glad we took time to visit. I chatted for a few minutes with Damiano Perillo, owner of Perillo’s Pizzeria. He’s a native of Palermo, the capital of Sicily. The food is authentic and almost all of it is made fresh daily, including their garlic rolls, marinara and alfredo sauces. The New York-style pizzas are perfection.
They even have a nearby garden where they grow many of the fresh vegetables and herbs used in their dishes. They have gluten free pastas, too, and the lady at the next table had some and was raving about it. We also tried the homemade Sicilian cannoli and the limoncello flute, and trust me when I say to definitely not skip dessert.
There was one last food stop. Although we had just eaten, I realized we’d be driving right by Rusted Silo Southern BBQ & Brewhouse in Lizton and just couldn’t pass it up. I made my husband pull in and pick up some food to go. We got the brisket and their house made pimento cheese, chorizo and kielbasa and took it home. I was introduced to it last fall and there is a reason they have been voted Best BBQ in the Indy area four years in a row. I loved hearing about how this eatery located next to a railroad literally stops trains in their tracks to get food from this award-winning BBQ joint.
All three of these places — The Bread Basket, Perillo’s Pizzeria and Rusted Silo are ones that you should absolutely include in your itinerary if you happen to be in the Indianapolis area.
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Guiding the way to thrive
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