Eating healthy is something I’m trying to do more and more. I limit the amount of red meat I eat and try to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. But when it comes to baking, I’ve never been quite sure how to make desserts and other baked goods healthier. So the opportunity to review the Green Market Baking Book came along at just the right time! The subtitle of this cook book says, “100 Delicious Recipes for Naturally Sweet & Savory Treats,” and that is very true! Looking through the book, I found mouthwatering recipes like these…
- Spring Carrot Teacakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
- Honey Strawberry Shortcakes with Honey-Sweetened Whipped Cream
- Peach and Nectarine Upside-Down Cake
- Blueberry Ginger Sauce
- Chocolate Honey Tart
The recipes are divided by seasons so you can buy the ingredients fresh and locally. All the sweet treats are made with natural, healthy sweeteners instead of refined sugar and artificial sugar products. In addition to yummy sweets, there are also recipes for delicious savory items like breads, biscuits, muffins, frittatas, pizzas, and more, contributed by some of the best chefs and bakers across America. The book also includes dairy and gluten-free recipes, as well as low-fat and vegan options. The Tomato, Goat Cheese, and Basil Cornbread, Rosemary Buttermilk Biscuits, and Dill Ricotta Torte are a few of the savory recipes that sounded really wonderful to me! The author, Laura C. Martin, answers some questions about baking the healthy way in the beginning of her book and includes helpful information about ingredients used in the recipes (organic produce, natural sweeteners, grains and flours, butter and oils, and dairy). And each seasonal section of recipes includes tips on choosing the best, freshest produce. Near the end of the book, Martin also has some information and tips on freezing, canning, and drying produce, along with tips on growing your own produce. So, in addition to lots of yummy recipes that are good for you, this cook book also has a lot of very practical, helpful information about baking and eating healthy! I decided to make the homemade Granola Bars first because, in my continuing efforts to eat healthier, I have been trying to eat a granola bar whenever I’m craving a candy bar. It has been working pretty well, but I’ve been wanting to make my own granola bars because that would be even healthier. And these granola bars turned out great! They’re very easy to make and are sweetened with brown rice syrup, a natural sweetener which has the consistency of honey, but is not as sweet-tasting. The only ingredients I had to buy from my local health food store were the brown rice syrup and the whole grain spelt flour; I had most of the other ingredients on hand. These granola bars are thick and chewy and filled with lots of yummy, healthy things: chopped dried apples, cranberries, cherries, and almonds. And they’re so healthy that you can feel good instead of guilty about eating this treat! The recipe in the book says it makes 36 bars, which would be pretty small; I cut mine about double that size, into 16 chunky, delicious squares!
CHEWY GRANOLA BARS (Dairy-Free, from the Green Market Baking Book)
- 1/4 cup ground flax
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
- 1/4 cup whole grain spelt flour
- 1 3/4 cups total of chopped dried apples, cranberries, cherries (or other dried fruit), or chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup chopped almonds
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup brown rice syrup
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small mixing bowl, combine the ground flax and water to form a paste. Set aside. In a separate bowl, thoroughly mix together the dry ingredients. In a third bowl, mix together the olive oil and brown rice syrup. Add the flax paste. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and incorporate well. Pour the batter into an 11 x 7 1/2″ baking pan, pressing the mixture down firmly. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until edges turn golden brown. Let rest about 10 minutes until slightly cool, then cut into bars.
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