Tag Archives: Food

the perfect bread recipe

In my quest for eating better it’s hard to abstain from certain favorite foods.
A staple in my diet has always been bread. I love german bread, the crunchy crusts and the rich taste (seriously, you have to try german bread!).
As a result of my changed diet however I’m trying to stay away from gluten, lactose (often added to bread) and empty carbs as much as possible.
I had already switched to grain/seed bread but I wanted to try and see if I could find a recipe for baking a nice grain bread at home. I love baking at home and it would give me full control over the ingredients. I looked up some recipes and found a winner quickly!

easy grain bread. little home by hand blog.

I deviated very little from the original recipe but since the source is in German, here’s my translation:

  • 500ml lukewarm water
  • 600g flour ( I used half whole spelt flour, half normal spelt flour)
  • 200g seed of your choice (I use a mix of oats, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and flax seeds / linseed)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (can be substituted with honey or other sweeteners)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 packages dry yeast (in german packages that would be enough for 1000g flour)

Dissolve yeast in the warm water with the sugar. Add the flour, seeds and salt. Mix throroughly (the dough is quite wet) and let rise for 30 minutes. Form into a bread shape or fill a loaf pan with the dough and bake at 200°C (ca. 400°F) for 45-60 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
Yes, it really is that easy!

easy grain bread. little home by hand blog.

Let the bread cool before cutting and enjoy a filling homemade bread!

So why is this better than storebought bread?
a. The taste of freshly baked bread is divine
b. I used spelt flour instead of wheat flour. Spelt flour is not gluten free but it is much easier to digest than wheat for most people. I also like the taste better.
c. No additives, no added lactose
d. You get to choose the seeds you like best in your bread

The recipe resulted in quite a large bread, so I froze half of it and ate the other half within 6 days. I don’t know how long it keeps but it was fine for the week.
Ultimately I want to try making my own sourdough starter but right now this recipe feels like a great start!

easy grain bread. little home by hand blog.

 

healthy eating – lunch

Here’s part 3 of the healthy eating series (read up on part 1 – research and part 2- breakfast).

As a reminder, this was my resolution:

  • drastically reduce sugar intake and sweets
  • eat less empty carbohydrates (white flour products like bread rolls, pasta, etc.), switch to whole grain products where possible and find alternatives to wheat
  • eat a more plant based diet, fruit and vegetables first, everything else second
  • continue to buy local fresh produce
  • grow my own salads and vegetables again on my balcony with a better plan on what I want to grow and actually need
  • build up a collection of tried and trusted healthy recipes that we can return to again and again
  • use less dairy products

LUNCH

What did I change?
I am eating lunch at the office where there is a variety of hot lunches to be had as well as salads, desserts and rolls. I’ve never been much of a meat eater so I usually stuck to pasta, potatoes, anything baked with cheese or fries. I also almost always got a dessert, most often pudding.
Since doing my research I felt I could now make some informed choices and plans for lunch. I especially liked the 5 a day campaign by the WHO (in the US it’s called fruits & veggies – more matters). It basically tells you to eat 5 hand fulls of fruits and veggies a day, ideally 3 helpings of veggies and 2 of fruits. One fruit portion can be substituted by a hand full of nuts.
True to my resolution I am now trying to stay away from the carbs and especially the fries and the foods drowned in cheese (saturated fats). Instead I pick whatever veggies are offered and fill my plate with them. Since I have no say on the menu this is easier on some days than others. I still eat pasta or potatoes when they come with a veggie side or sauce. I try to stay away from fatty sauces and I eat fish whenever it’s on the menu. Often I have a little bowl of salad with my hot meal.
With the salad I choose organic olive oil and balsamic vinegar as a dressing instead of heavier premade dressings. Instead of dessert I get a glass of freshly pressed orange juice with my lunch, which serves as one portion of fruit for my 5 a day plan.
I realize these choices are highly dependent on the environment and may not be possible for everyone but I think we all need to work with what’s there and make the best food choices available to us.

I also always take a 20-30 minute walk after lunch. I need to get out to breathe a bit of fresh air and stretch my legs before sitting down at the desk again. It’s refreshing and especially in spring gives your body a chance to soak up some sunshine and much needed vitamin D.

How did it work?
Man, staying away from fries and cheesy gratins was hard! When you get there hungry those hot, fatty foods look mouthwatering. The veggies and salads look much less appealing and filling.
But I promise once the withdrawal period is over it gets so much easier! It took about two or three weeks for me not to crave fatty foods any more and I now easily and happily choose the veggies. It helps to tell yourself how much better you’ll feel when you make the right choice and how proud you will be of yourself!
Sure I still have days when I crave a certain thing on the menu and sometimes I get weak and give in (it’s ok, we need to love ourselves).
When you switch from fatty foods and lots of carbs to a veggie based diet at first you feel like those still leave you hungry, like they are not as filling. I found that too subsides after a few weeks as your body adjusts to it. Instead I now feel pleasantly full after a meal whereas when I eat fries or heavy foods now they make me feel tired and bloated.
I used to have an afternoon low after lunch when I would get very tired and sleepy and concentration was impossible. Changing my eating habits has made this afternoon slump disappear almost completely!
Overall I feel much better with this diet and that’s enough encouragement to stick to it.

What’s planned?
Honestly I think lunch is fine for me like it is now. I could say I planned to do more home cooking to take to work but I know myself and it ain’t happening any time soon ;)
I’ve found what works for me and the challenge will be sticking with it. It’s a choice to make every single day and while it gets easier and easier with time the temptations are still there. I’m looking at you, chocolate pudding dessert with cherry compote.

Stay tuned for the next part which will be afternoon snacks!

spring fever

Spring is here and as always, I am so excited to get out and grow things! We’ve had unnaturally warm and sunny weather in the past few weeks and the balcony is already coming alive – sorry US readers, I’m just telling it how it is. We had the never ending winter last year!
spring balcony gardening. little home by hand blog
spring balcony gardening. little home by hand blog
My seed order has arrived and I’ve started most of them. This year I will be growing tomatoes (a personal variety from a friend of a friend’s garden in Spain), peppers, lots of salads, sugar snap peas, spinach and kale. That’s the plan anyway. The hardy herbs, mints and strawberries are waking up from their winter sleep too.
spring balcony gardening. little home by hand blog
spring balcony gardening. little home by hand blog
New on the list this year are flowers, I will be trying violets, nasturtiums and snapdragons to brighten up our little space. The calendula seeds I mixed in here and there last year have survived the winter and this little guy was the first splash of color to surprise us a week ago.
spring balcony gardening. little home by hand blog
To start seeds I have three ‘classes’ of plants: Some are started indoors and kept inside until the end of May. These are the delicate tomatoes and peppers as well as some flowers. I have set up my DIY light box again, which has served me very well in past years.
There’s also a little poly greenhouse on the balcony (just a shelf with foil cover) which acts as a cold frame where I grow the salads, kale and some flowers. Others such as the peas and spinach can be started our in the open directly.
spring balcony gardening. little home by hand blog
spring balcony gardening. little home by hand blog
There’ll be updates on this little balcony garden frequently throughout the growing season.
What are you growing this year?

healthy eating – breakfast

Here’s part 2 of this series, ‘healthy eating’, View part 1 ‘the research’ here.

After doing all that research I and finding out how certain foods work within the body I was finally at a place where I knew enough to plan how I wanted to change my diet.

This was my resolution:

  • drastically reduce sugar intake and sweets
  • eat less empty carbohydrates (white flour products like bread rolls, pasta, etc.), switch to whole grain products where possible and find alternatives to wheat
  • eat a more plant based diet, fruit and vegetables first, everything else second
  • continue to buy local fresh produce
  • grow my own salads and vegetables again on my balcony with a better plan on what I want to grow and actually need
  • build up a collection of tried and trusted healthy recipes that we can return to again and again
  • use less dairy products

All the changes are more easily explained by going through the day so I am going to split this series into morning, mid day, afternoon and evening eating.

healthy eating. my personal journey

MORNING

What did I change?
For breakfast I used to eat some form of cereal with milk or yogurt, then a bread roll with cheese at the office followed more often than not by some sort of pastry. In the last few years I had already gradually switched from sugary cereal to first chocolate muesli and then fruit muesli.

I started finetuning by switching to a muesli with no added sugar, but lots of seeds and nuts and some raisins for sweetness. This was a definite improvement but after a few weeks it was confirmed what I had long suspected – I am lactose intolerant, meaning I should cut out milk completely. I then tried a variety of milk substitutes – soy milk, almond milk, rice milk. None of them really appealed to me, so right now I’m skipping the muesli altogether.

Instead I buy a seed and grain bread at the market every weekend. I used to hate these multi-grain breads as a child but they are growing on me. Lots of fiber and they do keep you a lot fuller a lot longer. As a topping I switched from cow milk cheese to goat milk cheese (yum!).

I am notoriously the first person in the office to declare I’m hungry come mid day so until lunch instead of pastry I eat an apple every day. With apples we try to buy old varieties because the newer ones are all grown to contain lots of natural sugar. Old varieties are tarter but I find they taste a lot fresher and juicier.

I drink tea in the morning and have stopped putting sugar in it. It’s hard for a few days but once you get used to it it starts to taste completely normal without sugar. In fact, I once had a yogurt at work and it tasted overly and not at all pleasantly sweet to me after this sugar abstinence. When I do need to sweeten something I use agave nectar instead.

How did it work?

It’s going great! I like the grain bread, I love the goat cheese and I have come to crave my daily apple. It’s funny how the body adjusts to a changed diet, it gets used to getting certain foods. Just like I found when I started drinking lots of water every day that I started to be thirstier. It’s like the body saying ‘whoa, you get it! Now let’s start talking to each other again’.

I miss milk but I feel so much better without it, it makes a huge difference. I used to have some stomach trouble in the evenings and that is all gone. My big revelation was when I had not had milk for a week and then got a craving for a big mug of chocolate. A few hours later I got stomach cramps and spend the evening curled up on the couch with my hot water bottle. It really hit home then and I have decided to cut out milk completely.

What’s planned?

I want to get back into baking my own bread with spelt flour and some grains and seeds so we’ll see how that goes!

I also really want to try green smoothies. I’ve read so much about them and I think they would be a great addition to my breakfast.

Come summer I will incorporate fresh fruit and berries in my breakfast as well.

healthy eating. my personal journey

***

So much for breaktfast! Lunch, snack time and dinner will each have their separate posts coming up. Let me know what you have for breakfast in the comments!

***

*Am I shamelessly reusing old photos for these posts? Absolutely! When does the light come back again?

spring!

So, my mood has increased exponentially in the last few days because it is actually, finally, spring around here! Warm wind, sunshine and the earthy smell of nature waking up.
All the better because I had a day off today and spent a wonderfully relaxing morning on the balcony, soaking up sunshine and the “Call the midwife” series by Jennifer Worth (SO good). I literally feel like a new person, and this even though I spent all day Sunday scratching old wallpaper off the walls of a friend’s new house and should logically feel tired and sore today.
spring. tidytipsy
spring. tidytipsy
spring. tidytipsy
The balcony is coming to life with a few flowers I picked up at the nursery and the sight of them cheers me up no end. Some tomato and pepper seedlings are thriving indoors in my trusty light box. I can’t wait for nature to really take off this year!
spring. tidytipsy
Ok, here’s something I meant to blog about last year but never got around to: Ever since coming across vermicomposting on a stay in Canada four years ago I had been meaning to try it. So well over a year ago, despite all funny looks of our friends and relatives (vermicomposting is virtually unknown here) we set up a worm bin and bought a few small red worms at a nearby fishing shop, crossing our fingers they’d be the right type of worm.
worm bin. tidytipsy
worm bin. tidytipsy
I started off well, feeding them reguarly with heaps of kitchen scraps and wet newspaper. And then…I kind of forgot about them. I guess there is no excuse for neglecting animals in your care, even if they are only worms but there you go. The bin was in a hard to reach area and out of sight and the worms didn’t exactly complain about being hungry. The box never started to smell and it just sat there, through summer and fall and winter until I mustered up the courage to open it this weekend and take a peek.
Well, you can all breathe a sigh of relief if you were feeling sorry for the worms because I am happy to report they are alive and well and in the course of a year have reduced a full box of kitchen scraps to this:
worm bin. tidytipsy
Wonderful, rich compost which my tomatoes and peppers will love (and they’re still working on the egg shells apparently)! Awesome job, wormies, and I promise to feed you again and not forget you for another year!

growing

Though I haven’t talked about it in detail yet, I have started quite a few seeds indoors again for the coming balcony gardening season. Seeing as I started a bit late last year, I made sure to be early this spring.
Our new balcony is huge, but faces southeast instead of southwest, so time will tell if the sun hungry veggie plants will be ok with that.
I’ve sown some hardy seeds in the containers outdoors already…lots of mints, some kohlrabi, lettuce, peas and such. We’ve been having a very cold spring so far though, so nothing much to show for it yet.
But indoors! Hard to believe that in only a few weeks my tiny, fragile pepper seedlings have grown from this:

to this:

As you can see, they’ve outgrown their light box already, so I am now keeping them near our sunniest window until it is warm enough to move them outside in the day.
The light box has again worked great.

I ordered a special sort of pepper this year, called Pimientos de Padron. They are small green peppers which are tossed in a pan with olive oil briefly and then sprinkled with coarse sea salt and eaten as Tapas in Spain. I love them and hope they will grow well. There’s also a few tomato plants again and I will be sowing broccoli and zucchini later this month.
I’ll try and update throughout the season again and I am already getting very excited to grow and harvest :)
Other than that, I am insanely busy and my weekend at the sea feels so far away already. There’s a new post on my photo blog with more beach portraits and a couple of projects are going on at the same time. I’m still sewing whenever I get the chance, but haven’t made time for photos yet. Might as well add that there’s some not so happy stuff…an aunt of mine died last weekend after a long illness and we’re alternating between being sad and feeling relieved that she is no longer suffering.
Sometimes a single day holds so many different emotions it makes me dizzy.

eating in

The peppers are coming in and the salad is thriving in all this rain.

We picked each and every tomato that was ready and are still amazed at our bountiful harvest.

I have to say our gardening went great but we failed with cooking (again). We left all those tomatoes to ripen until we had so many of them that we couldn’t eat them all. So we made tomato cream soup with basil and parmesan chips, which turned out to be one easy way to a delicious meal! We even had a generous portion left to freeze.

The lone first pepper went into a small side salad with feta cheese. Easy and yummy.
I think working on our cooking skills will be a winter project.
On to something else completely: Our apartment hunting is really stressing us out. We saw a lovely apartment on thursday and sent in our details to the agent. They had us as their first choice but pressured us to make the decision right away, hand them over a lot of money cash pretty much right away and move in next week – no negotiation. We had some hectic talks with our landlady who was very understanding and we initially said yes, though feeling completely overwhelmed. But after sitting down and hectically weighing the pros and cons and looking at the map we found out that the nicely sized balcony was not in fact facing southwest (as indicated in the offer) but northwest! Add that the rest of the apartment was facing north and my priority of having sunlit rooms and a balcony to grow food went out the window. So we called everyone again and cancelled and just went to bed, pretty much drained emotionally and physically.
Boy will I be glad to have this search be over. Finding a nice, affordable place that meets our criteria is proving to be quite the challenge.