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healthy baking

Healthy Baking

Why it’s perfectly good to bake delicious goodies

I love to bake and believe it is an essential part of a beautifood diet. Sound surprised? Stay with me. I have always said food is for beauty, love and enjoyment. I never think of it with only my food science & nutritionist hat on, I think of it with my cook and mothering hat on bringing together a table of family and friends for love and conservation. I think about my kids going to school and being accepted and for having snacks that are nutritious and delicious and won’t get traded.

Stress is a worse de-beautifier than eating a spoonful of sugar

If you don’t have easy access to beautiful baked goodies you will most likely weaken and eat packaged, highly processed foods or crave sugar dense or salty treats too often. There is nothing wrong with an oatmeal and apricot cookie with a cuppa for a mid morning snack or at the end of the day if you eat fresh minimally processed foods throughout the day. Remember, stress is the worst cause of elevated cortisol levels (your stress hormone) which affect for example your immune system, blood sugar levels, sleep, and abdominal fat. As a result producing fine lines, dull skin, a muffin top, and thinning hair to name a few no-so-attractive attributes. In a stressed state your body dumps non essential functions and demands you eat sugar laden foods to allow you to fight or take flight as if you were still living in the primitive ages…..think about it. In case you are wondering WHO recommends adults consumer no more than 40g (10 tspn) of sugar a day.

A better way bake

The ability to make wholesome and healthy biscuits, bars, batters and cakes + savoury crackers, pastry and dough is essential because those items can be a major part of our daily diet. So if we are going to eat them – let’s make it beautiful using wholesome, clean, lower sugar, nutrient rich ingredients. Let’s move away from the learnings of our old school home economics days, traditional British heritage or parents habits and start to reduce the amount of refined white stuff (wheat flour and sugar), SWAP in healthier fats and oils, enrich our mixes with a variety of grains and meals of seeds and nuts and add vegetables to our cakes and pizza bases. Everything in moderation including moderation I say!

Where to start?

  • Stock your pantry with the right ingredients. See my Pantry Makeover
  • Find some fabulous recipes. Start here in the Beauty Kitchen. Take a look at Jude Bleareau’s new book Wholefood Baking or Catherine Saxelby’s new book on Ancient Grains – Wholefood recipes for the modern table.
  • Set aside 30-60mins per week to bake some biscuits and savoury crackers to add to your recipe repertoire and keep your jars stocked. Start to experiment and gain confidence in the kitchen. I’m mastering vegetable pizza bases at the moment.
  • Experiment. Take some of your fave biscuit or cake recipes and work out how you can †˜beautify’ them. Eg Chocolate chip cookie recipe
  • Swap the refined wheat flour with a wholemeal spelt flour + almond meal (2:1) If nuts are not allowed replace the meal with say oat flour to †˜soften’ and decrease the protein level of the spelt flour that creates a tough or hard bite.
  • Swap the white sugar with rapadura. Reduce the quantity by 20%.
  • Use softened butter not margarine.
  • Add in a tablespoon or two of sesame or chia seeds
  • SWAP the choc bits for raw dark chocolate (less sweet, no numbers etc) – if they don’t come in bits, just chop it into chunks
  • Lower the chocolate level and SUB in organic sultanas or chopped dates.
  • If the mix is a bit dry, add a spoon or two of water at the creaming butter stage or melt the butter so you increase the liquids in your mix.
  • Ditch the bleached (with chlorine) silicone baking paper & cups and get toxic free natural parchment. Same goes for teflon baking pans & those pliable silicone moulds.

What’s in store for you?

For months now we have been researching all things flours. What’s available, whether it’s gluten free, how much protein (critical for cell structure / crumb in a baked goodie), what the key nutrients are, what it can be used for, its flavour profile, where to buy and price comparisons. It will be ready soon as a Baking Guide to Flours.
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