Food energetics (and a delicious bread recipe)

For those of you who travel frequently for work, you know how exhausting a week-long conference – even a good one – can be.  By day three, it can be difficult to muster up the energy to attend the twelfth networking event of the week.  Luckily for me, it was during this third-day stretch when I met Rebecca Patt, vice president of business development for , a leading restaurant, food service, and hospitality search firm.  I had just walked into the evening’s event, grabbed a glass of red wine, and quickly scanned the room seeking solace in a warm face and a table on the outskirts of all of the activity.

Within five minutes of talking with Rebecca, I discovered that she lives about 15 minutes from me in Pennsylvania, is a fellow foodie with a blog (), and is originally from Atlanta (as many of my favorite people  are).  I had hit the networking jackpot!

We’ve been able to enjoy some meals together since, and last week, Rebecca invited me over for a trip to the farmer’s market and a seasonal dinner.  What we made was very simple – we were inspired by the Asian pears at the market, and put together a pear, spinach, walnut and goat cheese salad with a homemade honey dijon vinaigrette  dressing.  We threw some eggplant and red peppers, topped with lots of herbs from her beautiful garden, on the grill, and enjoyed a nice dinner on her porch.

Food energetics is the idea that when we eat food, in addition to the nutrients we consume, we are taking in all of the energy associated with that food – from where and how it grew to who cooked it and who you are enjoying the food with.  Our veggies that night were locally grown, we enjoyed cooking the food together, and we ate slowly over a delicious bottle of wine and engaging conversation.

My clients frequently ask me for weight loss tips.  Is there a secret way to losing weight and staying healthy?  Yes!  Eat real, whole foods that nourish you , and make sure the way your food was grown, handled and prepared brings you positive energy.  Slow down.  Enjoy it.  That’s it!

This week I am going to give another one of Rebecca’s recipes a try.  This recipe is based on some of the bread recipes in by Nancy Baggett.  Rebecca says the book “transformed her into an enthusiastic bread baker of her school of slow-rise, no-knead variety.  This bread has a crunchy crust all the way around, a moist interior, and lots of complex flavors and whole grain goodness.”

I can’t think of a better way to reduce stress than to take the time to prepare this recipe and enjoy its warm and crunchy texture.  The complex carbs in the bread will also raise your serotonin levels.  I can’t wait to try it – give it a shot and let me know how it goes!

Rebecca’s Homemade Bread Recipe

1 cup cooked multi-grain hot cereal (I use Bob’s Red Mill 5-grain mix)

2 cups unbleached all-purpose white flour

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1 1/4 tsp. salt

2 TBSP honey

3/4 tsp. fast-rising yeast

1 1/4 cups plus 2 TBSP. ice water

3 TBSP vegetable oil

1/3 cup milk

FIRST PHASE:

1. Cook a yield of one cup multi-grain hot cereal. Cool and store in the fridge for later step.

2. Thoroughly mix together flour, salt, and yeast

3. In another bowl, thoroughly mix together ice water (remove ice), oil, and honey

4. Stir both mixtures together until it is blended and hard to mix by hand — takes a couple of minutes of mixing. The dough should hold together, but barely.

5. Spray, brush, or cover the mixture lightly with oil

6. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for 3 to 10 hours.

7. Let rise at room temperature for 12 to 18 hours

SECOND PHASE:

1. Vigorously stir the dough, and thoroughly mix in the cooked cereal and milk.

2. Oil a 9×5 loaf pan.

3. Turn out the dough into the pan. Brush, spray, or cover the top lightly with oil and cover the pan with plastic.

4. Cover the pan with plastic and let rise for 2 to 3 hours. Or you can refrigerate it for 4 to 48 hours and then set it out until it returns to room temperature. If the dough rises above the pan rim, stir it to deflate.

BAKING:

1. 15 minutes before baking time, place a rack on the lower 1/3 of the oven and preheat oven to 375.

2. Make a few 1/2 inch deep slashes across the top of the dough with a knife, or a line down the center.

3. Bake for 50 minutes.

4. Cover the top with foil to prevent overbrowing, and bake for 30 to 45 more minutes, until a skewer inserted in the center comes out with just a few dry crumbs or a thermometer inserted in the center reads 205 to 208 degrees. Err on the side of longer baking.

5. Cool pan thoroughly on a wire rack, then remove loaf and let cool. The bread slices much more easily when cool, if you can wait that long!

6. Use or freeze within 2 to 3 days.

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