We’re a little ashamed to admit this, but we want to be honest with our readers (and, let’s face it—we’re only human, and sometimes-irrational women) -- this week has been filled with quite a few tears followed by uncontrollable spurts of laughter.
Waking up on Sunday morning, we plopped ourselves on the sofa in our PJ’s with our morning cups of coffee in hand, turning on something that makes everything right in the world again. CMT’s country music videos. Don’t judge us. And we also cuddled with the cats. Thank you, estrogen.
So, with that out of the way, let’s talk about food, shall we?
Comfort food has continued to play an essential role in our menu this week. With our emotions running high and the weather taking a sudden turn from sunny and glorious to rainy and overcast, we’ve been in need of some meals to nourish the soul. With Lisa being a southern girl from Kentucky and McKenzie being a northern girl from Canada, our ideas of comfort food are different, to say the very least.
When McKenzie’s feeling homesick for Alberta, she craves steamed carrots from her Grandma’s garden, paired with good old-fashioned meat and potatoes. When Lisa envisions a meal at Granny’s house in Kentucky, it’s a big bowl of pinto beans with a hearty serving of warm cornbread. McKenzie’s first taste of cornbread wasn’t until about four years ago when she sampled it at Big Sky Café in San Luis Obispo (and Lisa doesn’t even consider it cornbread – cornbread shouldn’t be sweet!), and her first taste of biscuits and gravy wasn’t until about three months ago at Emmer & Rye in Seattle. Shocking, right?
For McKenzie’s fellow Canadians, probably not. For Lisa’s fellow Southerners, it’s appalling. So, for a special comforting Sunday brunch, Lisa cooked up her own version of biscuits and gravy. While it may not sound like the kind of meal dietitians would normally recommend, it was just want our bodies needed – and our portions were reasonable too. For extra nourishment, the biscuits were made with whole grain flour and flaxseeds. See, we really are dietitians.
Whole Wheat Biscuits
Makes 6 large biscuits
1 cup whole wheat bread flour
1 cup white bread flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup kefir or buttermilk
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, flax seed and salt. Pulse a few times to blend. Add the putter and pulse until the butter is in pea-sized pieces.
Pour the flour mixture into a mixing bowl and add the kefir or buttermilk. Gently stir with a wooden spoon, just until moistened. The dough will be loose.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 3 – 5 times, just until the dough comes together. If you knead the dough too much, the biscuits will be tough.
Press the dough out into a disc, about 1 inch thick. Cut the biscuits to your desired size (we use the rim of a drinking class to do this). Place the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush the tops with melted butter, if desired.
Bake the biscuits until golden brown, 15 – 18 minutes. Serve warm, with sausage gravy.
As if that comfort meal wasn’t enough, we’ve been giving Martha Stewart a run for her money in the baking department. Nothing is quite as comforting as a house that smells of freshly baked cookies or a warm pie out of the oven. We love baking at home because we know exactly what we’re putting into the recipe, and subsequently, our bodies.
These are our favorite cookies.
Chocolate Cherry Walnut Oatmeal Cookies
Make 12 large cookies or 24 small cookies
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon sea salt
10 tablespoon (1 ¼ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup sugar
½ (packed) dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or the seeds from 1 vanilla bean)
1 cup old fashioned oats
½ cup dark chocolate chips
½ cup chopped dried cherries
¼ cup chopped walnuts (or other nuts of your choice)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl to blend. In a large separate bowl, beat butter and both sugars until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture and oats and stir until blended. Stir in chocolate chips, cherries, and walnuts.
Drop batter by rounded tablespoons onto the baking sheets. Bake cookies until edges are light brown, about 16 minutes. Cool on the cooking sheet for about 5 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool completely.
Another great thing about baking at home is you can portion out an appropriate serving and freeze the rest or give the extras away. What neighbor or friend doesn’t appreciate homemade goodies?
Lastly, we’re firm believers in allowing yourself to have a treat now and then. If you banish all indulgences from your diet completely, you’ll be more likely to binge on them when you finally give yourself the go-ahead.
Our social calendar continues to stay busy this week, including fish tacos and chicken tortilla soup later tonight. Hopefully, we can maintain our composure long enough to share more of our healthy tips and stories with you.