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Over the past year, I’ve been slowly switching my lifestyle to a healthier one- except in one area. My baking. But in the last few months, I’ve decided to switch over to a healthier, more organic more wholesome way of baking. Here’s why and what it means for the blog moving forward.
- Note: I’m not a doctor, nutritionist and am not giving medical advice in this post. This post is 100% my own opinion. This post is just about my own personal journey on a way to a healthier lifestyle.
We’re gonna get a little real today. Hope that’s ok.
We’re about to enter a new decade. Holy moly…. what?! Of course that got me thinking of where I was in 2010 and where I am now. Over the last ten years, I have slowly improving my diet. From eating “low calorie frozen meals” to completely organic food. Yes I was a Diet Coke fanatic in my 20’s. I even got to a point in college that I couldn’t start my day without one before heading off to class.
Now as a farm kid, born and raised, who always had to start her days off as a kid with a glass of milk I obviously hit a low point. I just didn’t know it. I grew up on grass fed beef, vegetables grown in our own backyard, and eggs we would collect ourselves. I ate pretty healthy, I just didn’t know it.
But in the last five years I started learning more about why we needed to be eating an organic and less processed diet. One that is rich in whole grains, less processed sugars, and chock full of organic products.
I cut the Diet Coke from my life after college, started skipping the Lean cuisines for lunch and making my own. But I still hadn’t gotten on the “Organic Food” train yet. I mean it’s so much more expensive, right?!
I remember going to the grocery store and seeing those organic apples at twice the cost of the non-organic apples. So why on earth would I spend my lowly teacher salary on those more expensive apples? But over the years I kept making small changes to improve my lifestyle.
I have completely switched over to using makeup made from pure ingredients – I love and use this makeup and skincare company –> 100 percent pure. I have started incorporate more probiotics into my diet → loving this probiotic right now. And slowly switching out my household products to a healthier, more green product that uses zero fragrances, and other harmful chemicals.
And now I am proud to admit I eat 100% organic.
My baking. It’s the one area I had yet to change over. When it comes to my baking. I bake A LOT. Shocking I know. For example, when I was testing recipes for my cookbook I bought generic bulk ingredients. Switching over to using organic ingredients for baking has been the last change and the hardest.
I figured, if I’m living a 90% healthy lifestyle, using good for me makeup, better cleaning products then it’s ok to still use that generic white flour in my baking and cheap butter.
So now why the change?
New Years resolution Heather? Maybe something like that. But also it comes down to my own health and comfort. But a few recent events in my life have made me realize that it’s not enough.
This past Thanksgiving after way too much food and fun, I suffered 4 days of dealing with terrible stomachache (to put it mildly) I have been told for years that I suffer from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and I am lactose intolerant. Trust me, I’ve seen the specialists. A “sensitive gut” is something I have lived with since I was kid.
But this time, it was way worse than ever. So bad, that I called in sick from work on day and went to Urgent Care. She told me, “You need to go to the ER”. That’s not what I wanted to hear at all. In the end after a round of testing, CT scans – I was told all is fine. But I thought, really? You just have a sensitive gut. This isn’t news to me. My father suffers as well. He tells me his grandmother he said did as well. It’s just life. But I figured it was the kick in the pants I needed to make the switch.
In addition, I recently had two classmates die (one due to colon cancer) from health related issues. I am only 38 years old. I am losing classmates due to health reasons?
And then my future father in law suffered a heart attack recently. He is doing OK, thanks to his amazing doctors but his diet of course has to change.
So anyways, I’m not here to preach to you about why everyone should be eating healthy and using organic ingredients. But just my reasons why I’ve decided to make a few changes here on the blog. There’s a lot of research as to why we should be all eating organically. Eating more whole grains. Less processed food, and consuming less sugar. I’m sure you’ve heard and read the research too.
Why It Took Me This Long To Switch
Well the #1 reason. The cost. I love to bake and do it frequently. I bake a lot more as well due to the blog. So I figured I’d save some dolla dolla bills ya’all and then hey if the readers wants to make it healtheir – that’s on them.
I figured I’m already skipping the boxed mixes with god knows what is in them. That’s good enough right? And just enjoy in moderation – you should be all set. But the more I learn about what is being done to make our bag of white flour, sugar, butter, etc. I had to make the switch. Once. And. For. All.
And I couldn’t in good consciousness live this more healthy lifestyle and still present a cake to my guests that I know uses anything but the best possible ingredients. Or follow up my hard workout after a long day of eating healthy with a cookie made with bleached white flour and processed sugar. I wanted to know what I was eating, and giving to my loved ones is made with the best possible stuff.
What does this mean for the blog? (aka my baking goals for 2020)
Well, don’t worry all my tried and true recipes will still be here. But I will be:
- Using Organic Ingredients– The same tried and true recipes, but using using 100% organic ingredients for my baking. I will still be creating recipes using eggs, sugar, and flour. However, I will be testing the recipes using organic, grass fed butter. Organic pasture raised eggs, organic and whole wheat flours, and organic cane sugar. I will always make note of these ingredient uses in the recipes. But you can still use regular white flour and sugar of course if you need to.
- Using More Whole Grains – I will be exploring more whole grains! From using white whole wheat flour to more alternative grains like rye and spelt flour.
- Baking With Less processed sugar – This will mean recipes using sweeteners such as coconut sugar, honey and maple syrup. I will not be using sugar free alternatives as I do not believe this to be healthier.
- Creating more allergen free recipes – dairy free, egg free, wheat and grain free. This is going to be a challenge for me for sure. But I believe everyone deserves dessert! One of my most popular recipes around the holidays is this egg free pumpkin pie. I made it in a pinch once because I ran out of eggs. But it’s eye opening to see how one recipe is so loved because it helps so many to be able to enjoy dessert. These allergen free recipes will still be using wholesome, real ingredients.
- Baking and focusing on sourdough – This has always been something I’ve wanted to explore. There are many great benefits to baking with sourdough and I can’t wait to explore this.
What this does not mean:
- I am not becoming a “diet” baking blog. I will not be suddenly creating “paleo” or “keto” recipes. If a recipe happens to fit that dietary need …great. But that will not be my intention. This will be more of a focus on real, less processed and more wholesome ingredients.
- I will not be using artificial sweeteners. I do not believe in using artificial sweeteners just to lighten up a dessert. I understand if a person can’t have sugar, but I believe those fake sugars are doing more harm than good. They have loads of chemicals and are void of nutrition. And personally my “sensitive gut” just doesn’t respond well to them, anyway. I’d rather use organic cane sugar and enjoy my dessert in moderation.
I have always believed baking from scratch, and not a mix has always been the way to go. I always believed it’s healthier than using a mix. I suppose this is just the next step. So I am aiming to make this a wholesome baking site – real ingredients and less processed.
So I hope you stick with me as I make the switch to baking less processed. You all mean so much to me. This blog has grown in the last few years into a dream come true for me and I know I have you all to thank for that.
Ok that’s all for now..but here is a little research if you want to read on 🙂
In case you’re curious if you should also make the switch.. Here is a little research I rounded up from the world wide web.
Baking With Less White Sugar
I’m sure we all know the obvious reasons. The calories, of course. However I figured if I ate in moderation I was all set. But in fact there are quite a few reasons as to why we should be switching to all natural sweeteners, like honey or switching to organic sugar.
But refined sugar (aka white granulated sugar, powdered sugar, and brown sugar which is just white sugar with molasses added for color) is basically been processed so that it is devoid of vitamins and minerals.
Of course sugar is still sugar. It’s still calories. Even the less processed better versions aren’t chock full of nutrients. Yes the salad is still the better option! So yes, we still need to eat in moderation. This is about nourishing our bodies and knowing we are using the best possible ingredients that have undergone the least amount of processing and fewest chemicals.
So one of my goals for this year is to explore baking with organic cane sugar, honey (especially raw honey), coconut sugar, and maple syrup.
Baking With Whole Grains
I know that baking with whole grains is better for me. It has more nutrients, of course. Using refined white flour has been linked to all sorts of things – obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease,- the list goes on. (Source: The Dark Side Of White Flour)
But when it comes to baking, baking with white flour just can’t be beat. So I was using unbleached flour, which I figured was good enough. But I think it’s time to step things up a notch.
In case you’re curious. Your bag of white flour is usually either:
- Unbleached – bleached naturally
- Bleached – has been chemically treated (chemicals such as chlorine dioxide and peroxides that have been banned in the European Union). It’s basically the same as bleaching your clothes in the laundry! Um, no thanks.
Apparently your flour on the grocery store shelf has also been “bromated” which helps with making your baked goods rise and with dough’s elasticity. Bromated flour has been treated with potassium bromate, which has been considered a category 2B carcinogen and banned in other countries, such as the UK and Canada since 1994. So try to use unbleached and unbromated flour if you can, such as King Arthur Flour. (source: Happily Unprocessed)
Whole grain flours use 100% of the wheat kernel which means they retain all of their minerals and nutrients. So my goal is to explore baking with all the different whole grain flours – oat, spelt, amaranth, rye, and whole wheat flours.
I’ve been doing a lot of reading and research on sourdough bread baking. In the past, it just seemed like a cool science experiment that led to some tasty, delicious results. But I wasn’t quite ready to take on this refrigerator pet that needed to be tended to once a week. I have a tendency to kill house plants, so I probably didn’t need this in my life too.
But baking with a sourdough starter has a lot of amazing benefits. It is higher in nutrients than traditional bread making made with commercial yeast.
Sourdough bread has gone through a long fermentation process that has helped break down the gluten in the bread so this means it’s easier to digest (even for those that are gluten sensitive!)
It also reduces phytic acid, which occurs naturally in whole grains, and can interfere with vitamins and minerals being absorbed and used by your body. The sourdough fermentation process actually breaks down this phytic acid leaving more nutrients in the bread that can be absorbed by your body (aka a more nutritious loaf of bread!) – (Source: A Better Way To Thrive)
So my goal is to explore baking with sourdough starters this year!
So there you go. My baking goals for 2020. Now I’m curious what’s yours? Let me know in the comment section!