Monday, May 9, 2011

Whole Grain Baking

I read a recent article over at Frugal Girl about trying to make baking healthy (the url might not be linking because I'm figuring out a Korean browser), and it got me thinking about my take on baking. On the one hand, I'm all about practicality and what's doable-- home made sorbet is [usually] better than buying ice cream, but I'm not going to try too hard to make it healthier. On the other hand, healthy baking doesn't need to be hard or taste worse.

My experience with whole grain baking is this: I was comfortable making white flour food before I got comfortable baking with whole grains. But I don't think this has to be the case. The recipes I learned growing up used all purpose flour, and you can't just substitute whole wheat flour for white flour, or apple sauce for sugar and oil, and hope for the best. Our baking forefathers made choices. These choices are imprinted on our tastebuds, and on our expectations of those recipes. So I don't mess with the brownie recipe we've always used. Nor do I stop baking brownies.

At the same time, I find the assertion that whole grains are important-- whether wheat, corn, barley, or rice-- pretty compelling. That food that has spent a long time-- a year, more?-- on the shelf or in the warehouse, is not the same as fresh food. Whole grains seem to be closer to what they were in nature (though probably still not terribly close. Anyway).

Whole grains turned out to be surprisingly easy to introduce-- though we're nowhere near eating all whole grains in baking. One help was the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking book (, because the recipes were designed for whole grains. Rather than tasting dry and stereotypically "healthy", they just taste good.

So, with an n of one, I sometimes ask if my health (or Eug's health) has improved since we started eating more whole grains. I'm not sure. I'll probably need to ask again in 50 years. But we're super lucky in the sense that we don't have to think about our health all that much, and I think having time to cook has a lot to do with that.

So this post is more like a long comment to say that you don't necessarily have to give up your grandparent's best-loved recipes to be healthy, but maybe one way to bring us into better touch with our food (and maybe our health) is to find great, healthy recipes to pass down to our kids.


Debbie said...

I am glad the brownies are safe! Remember when we tried to make them for Granny?

Concrete Gardener said...

Heh- I seem to have blocked that from my memory; but then, she always asks me to make them for her and I always take it as a compliment... Mmmm... Hehe. How bad was it? :)