Sunday, June 12, 2022

Hybrid-Sourdough Pitas


Adding commercial yeast with my sourdough starter in homemade breads gives us the softer, fluffier products we enjoy. The 3 year old starter enhances the flavor and keeping qualities while contributing digestive benefits.

The recipe is based on one from  Laura Norris Running.

Pita Bread

(8 Pitas)

In bowl of electric mixer with dough hook in place, mix together water, yeast and honey. Let sit for 20 minutes.
6 ounces warm water (100 degrees F)
2 teaspoon dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon honey
Add sourdough starter and flour. Beat on high speed 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl.
1/2 cup sourdough starter 
2 cups whole wheat flour
Add salt and oil. Beat on high speed 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl.
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
With mixer running on low speed, slowly add all purpose flour, a tablespoon at a time. Mix 6-8 minutes more until dough leaves side of bowl.
1/2 cup all purpose flour
Turn dough into bowl greased with olive oil spread. Cover and let rise 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 F. Place a baking stone on top rack of oven. 
Punch dough down. Divide into 8 balls. On floured surface, roll each ball to 1/4 inch thickness (1/8 inch for flat breads). Transfer to parchment paper. Carefully transfer the rolled pita doughs on paper to the preheated oven onto the bakers stone. (I do this using an inverted baking pan). 

Bake for 8 minutes. Turn oven to broil and brown 1-2 minutes (checking frequently).

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

More Food in Jars


To-go or for show-meals, sides or snacks packed in jars are convenient and visual.

We first found jars useful for picnics. Meals, salads and desserts served in different size jars were personal and convenient for packing. Packed with the dressing or sauce on the bottom, a salad or meal can be shaken or inverted onto a plate for eating.


Individual desserts and parfaits can fit into small jars.

This pumpkin bread for two was baked in a 1 cup jar.

Here's overnight oats with yogurt and fruit.

I loved serving the side salad with layers of Jobs Tears (a millet) for a class on Whole Grains Sampling Day.

Each jar lid was labeled with the Whole Grains Council logo.

The "Jarcuterie" activity at the West Virginia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Conference was such a fun participatory event. We were given snack jars to assemble with choice of vegetables, fruit, cheeses and nuts. This was a great idea for the young, encouraging dairy, vegetable and fruit consumption and making a healthy snack or meal. I did not photograph my creation, rather ate as I created. The fun umbrellas, edible straws and tiny shaped cutters would prove fun for young and old.

(Photo courtesy of Sharon Maynard).

Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate & Walnuts

(6 servings) (3-8 ounce mason jars) 

Beat egg and sugar in mixing bowl.
1 egg
5 tablespoon sugar

Mix dry ingredients.  Stir in chocolate and walnuts.
6 tablespoons all purpose flour
6 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon cardamon
1/2 ounce unsweetened chocolate, 100% cacao, ground
2 tablespoons walnuts, ground

Alternately add dry ingredients and applesauce-pumpkin mix to egg-sugar mix.  
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cup pumpkin

Grease mason jars with an olive oil spray.  Fill 1/2 full with batter (6 tablespoons batter per jar)  Bake at 350 F. for 35 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.


Thursday, May 5, 2022

Nourishing My Bones


Weight bearing exercises, dairy, protein, fruits, vegetables and trace minerals-this prescription is a mouth full. I'll break it down.

There's more! For the young, include weight bearing exercises in the biweekly exercise regime and don't deprive oneself calories. Seniors might need to increase the protein. This senior aims to do that.


Dairy foods provide protein and are the primary source of calcium and Vitamin D-essential for bone health. To achieve the 1200 mg of calcium recommendation for my age group, that means eating 4 servings a day. I'll drink my glass of milk with breakfast, lunch and dinner and include a calcium rich food (yogurt or cheese) in a meal or snack. My milk and yogurt are nonfat to balance my calorie needs.


Bone health specialists recommend rather high protein requirements for my age group-ranging from 1.2 grams-1.8 grams per kg body weight. That's 60-80 grams of protein to meet my daily goal. 4 servings of dairy provide 32 grams of that goal. Vegetables, fruits and whole grains provide another quarter to third of that goal, leaving a balance of 5 ounces of protein. While the protein content of legumes, nuts and some whole grains is good, the serving size averages 1/2 cup to provide the equivalent of 1 ounce of meat. Lean meat, poultry, seafood and eggs will fill at least 1/2 of my protein needs.

Trace Minerals

The trace minerals highlighted by bone health specialists include:

  • Magnesium, manganese and copper (found in whole grains, seeds and potatoes)
  • Iron and fluoride (found in meats, poultry and seafood)
  • Phosphorous (found in dairy, seafood, lentils and poultry)
  • Potassium and Vitamin K (found in fruits and vegetables)

How does all that information translate into a dietary pattern? 

  • For breakfast, lunch and dinner include a high quality protein source, dairy, fruit/vegetable and whole grain source. (1 fruit/vegetable for breakfast, 2 for lunch and dinner)
  • Sound familiar? For my generation, that's a school lunch menu. For the recent generations, the My Plate diagram. 
  • I'll focus on achieving a 2-3 ounce portion of high quality protein at both lunch and dinner. 
  • To maintain and not increase my weight, I'll continue drinking non fat milk. For non-dairy milk connoisseurs, choose plant milks or fortified foods that compare in protein, vitamin D and calcium content. (compare the nutrition facts). Those with a lactose intolerance can choose lactose free milk.                                                                                              
  • Vegans may consider the assistance of a licensed and registered dietitian in planning a meal pattern.

PhD and Registered Dietitian Jackie Buell. who spoke at the West Virginia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Conference in April, highlighted optimal weight bearing exercises to include deadlifts, overhead presses, back squats and jumping chin-ups with drop landings. I will refer to my fitness instructor in my bi-weekly classes or physical therapists at the local Health Works for the exercises best for me. 

Twice a week, year round I join my fitness class friends and leader  for classes filled with weight bearing exercises, dancing, percussion, balance, stretching and more. If it’s over 35 degrees, we’re outside. Colder than that-we go inside Marilla Center. When the pool opens, we’ll be in the pool for water aerobics.Though I can’t flip the tire yet, I know the class has been good for me.

Here are more meals that fit my dietary pattern.

Grilled Cheese on Whole Wheat, Tomato Soup, Grapefruit & Milk

Greek Yogurt, Wheat Berries, Fruit & Nuts

Teff, Shrimp & Vegetables, Fruit & Milk


Sunday, April 10, 2022

Whole Grain Meals with Little Processing


I cook the seeds in the instant pot (countertop pressure cooker) for 30 minutes.  1/4 cup of dry grain berries expands 2-3 times to serve 2-3 meals.

These are wheat berries, locally grown in Preston County, WV. I soak them overnight in twice the water, then cook, drain and refrigerate to accompany a simple breakfast or mid day meal.

Here's two. First a breakfast bowl with Greek Yogurt, fruit and nuts. 

That's a healthy plate, with fruit, protein, whole grain and a healthy fat (nuts).

Here's lunch, with vegetables, protein, whole grain and a healthy fat (olives).

The whole grain berries are low cost, less than 20 cents a serving. They're a good source of B vitamins, fiber, iron, protein and minerals. The chewy, nutty and sweet berries afford great tastes and textures in both cold and hot foods (soups, casseroles, stuffings and more).

Research associates a diet rich in whole grains with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

Click here for more information on minimally processed foods. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

A Whole Day for Whole Grains with Life Long Learners

It was a "Whole Day for Whole Grains" when life long learners gathered for a lunch compiled of 7 different whole grains. The menu on this last Wednesday of National Nutrition Month featured:

Sorghum and White Bean Soup over Cheesy Polenta Bites

Ezekiel Flour Cookies

Posters and recipes for 10 whole grains lined the walls. These were planned for a larger event in 2020 which cancelled during the COVID stay at home order.

Favorite Whole Grain cookbooks were shared. Take home bags held local grain samples from Davis Brothers Inc. and the Vegetable Garden.

Retired dietitian Cindy Gay and Licensed Dietitian Tiffany Mihaliak greeted and served 16 life long learners. When fed and seated, Cindy shared a PowerPoint presentation reviewing gluten free and gluten containing grains, unique nutrients in each, where grown in the United States, a fascinating fact about each grain and cost per serving .Examples of things to make with each grain were shared. Guests were asked to pick out one new grain to prepare at home.

New this year were 2 grains, Kernza wheat grass, a perennial developed by the Land Institute in Kansas and Fonio, a millet (an ancient grain but one new to the presenter). 

What changed since 2020? The price of quinoa went down. Previously it was one of the highest priced whole grains, second only to wild rice. The cost of quinoa per serving is now about 50 cents-mid range. Interesting in comparing the cost of all the whole grains that the price per serving ranged from a low of 18 cents per serving to a high of 75 cents per serving. This is reasonable compared to other foods in the US grocery cart.

The presenter learned that C4 grains-Amaranth, Corn, Millet, Sorghum and Teff- have reduced environmental impact (Increased photosynthesis, more efficient using nitrogen and water). 

New in the slide show ere cooked cereals made with teff and amaranth and pastas made with farro and teff.

The cookies made with Ezekiel Flour have 5 whole grains. The link for the flour (comprised of 4 whole grains) is above. Adding oats with the flour brings the variety of whole grains to 5. Here is the cookie recipe:

Ezekiel Cookies

(28 Cookies)

Combine flour, oats, flaxseed meal, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
1 ¼ cups Ezekiel flour
½ cup rolled oats
¼ cup flaxseed meal
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Add egg and vanilla and beat well.

½ cup butter, softened
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla

Add flour mixture to butter mixture 1 cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Add coconut and chocolate chips. Stir until just combined.
¾ cup unsweetened coconut

¾ cup dark chocolate chips (60% cacao)

Drop by tablespoonful onto parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake at 350F. for 10-12 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet 1-2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool further.



What new grain did the learners plan to cook at home? Amaranth, Sorghum, Teff, Grits were among the choices.



Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Celebrate the Flavors of the World with Whole Grains


Sorghum is an energy efficient whole grain rich in antioxidants. Costing only 50 cents a serving, sorghum is a nutrient dense ingredient. Combine with vegetables, dried beans and spices to create a satisfying nutritious meal.

Originally cultivated in East Africa, sorghum is valued for resistance to drought and heat. This soup combines the grain with kidney beans, most commonly used in that region and a local spice blend called Pilau masala.

Pilau Masala

Grind in spice grinder.
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds
Combine ground spices with cinnamon.
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
This recipe is based on one in the book "Spice" by Dr. Stuart Farrimont.  
Whole grains originated in many parts of the world.
Most whole grains can grow in the United States. The "sorghum belt" in the United States extends from South Dakota to Texas.
This is sorghum grown nearby in Preston County, West Virginia.

Next Wednesday I will be hosting a class for the university's Life Long Learners celebrating "Whole Grains for a Day". The soup I serve features sorghum, combined with local white beans and spices familiar to many in our area. Here is the soup:

Sorghum and White Bean Soup

(4 1/2 cups)

Combine sorghum and beans with 3 cups of water in countertop pressure cooker. Cook for 30 minutes. Release steam and drain. 
1/3 cup sorghum (dry volume)
1/3 cup white beans (dry volume)
Heat oil in saucepan. Add raw vegetables and saute for about 10 minutes.
4 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery stick, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
Add seasonings and stir for 60 seconds.
1 1/8 teaspoon basil
1 1/3 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 teaspoon pepper
Add cooked and drained sorghum and beans.
Add tomatoes, water and bouillon. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
1 cup diced tomatoes in juice
3/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
1 low sodium vegetable bouillon cube
Stir in spinach just prior to service.
3/4 cup spinach , stems removed
This recipe is based on one from the Whole Grains Council

March is National Nutrition Month. This year's theme embraces global cuisine.