We bought a new bread machine a few months ago - our old one was laid to rest after launching itself off the kitchen counter as a result of some uncharacteristic brutal agitation during the kneading of homemade whole wheat pizza dough. This one is a Black & Decker Deluxe Breadmaker, available at Canadian Tire for $99.99 CDN (on sale for $79.99 when we bought it). All I can say is that I am a big fan of this new gadget, but I kind of wanted to use it for more than just pizza dough (although we have paid for the machine already in savings from not buying ordered-in pizza).
Baking loaves of bread, while delicious, wasn't really something I was keen to do. As anyone who has surrendered to the aroma of freshly homebaked bread will tell you, a loaf of fresh homemade bread vanishes faster than a vampire exposed to sunlight.
Tracking my calories means being aware of the caloric content of my food. I've learned that the average store-bought whole wheat English muffin is worth about 130 calories. So, as I was leafing through my revised edition of The Bread Machine Cookbook by Donna Rathmell German, I happened upon a recipe for English muffins. The recipe promises to yield 12 -15 English muffins, calculating out to approximately 135 calories each, but I thought, "If I make them just a little smaller, maybe I can have my English muffins and make them so I can shave off a few calories in the process." So I tried the recipe, with modifications to make them with half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose flour, and used a 2.5" diameter cookie cutter (instead of a 3" diameter cookie cutter) to yield a total of 21 English muffins, at around 85 calories each. I'm storing them in a brown paper bag in my fridge, because 1) I want them to last a little longer than 2 hours and 2) I've discovered that items in non-see-through storage in my fridge don't tend to disappear the way they do in clear plastic containers.
I've also ventured into the bagel making arena. My technique needs a bit more work, as the rolled together ends still tend to unravel a wee bit when I place the bagels in boiling water. My recipe, courtesy of Donna Rathmell German's original The Bread Machine Cookbook, is supposed to yield 16 bagels at about 125 calories each. Not bad! They are very tasty, and they disappear almost as soon as they come out of the oven. While they are small, when compared to the mammoth bagels that can be bought at the supermarket and at Tim Hortons, my understanding is that originally, bagels were not meant to be close to the size of one's head anyway.
I'm actually enjoying doing some baking again. There's something relaxing about working with dough (although I let my bread machine do most of the heavy work of kneading), and making something fresh and preservative-free for my family. The cost of making my own bagels and English muffins is a fraction of what I'd pay in the store for mass produced items. The ability to tweak the portion size to suit my desired calorie intake is a huge bonus for me too.
Don't they look great?
Oh, and this is the Habanero Black Bean Mango Salad featured in the Loblaws A Healthy 2009 Calendar. The PC Smokin' Habanero Barbecue Sauce is quite a lot hotter than I personally enjoy, but the salad itself is tasty at around 140 calories, 0.5 grams fat, 450 mg sodium, 30 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fibre, and 5 grams protein per ⅔ cup serving.