Lighter Chocolate Chip Bread

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Chocolate! What is not to love about it!!!

This recipe is a spinoff from the original recipe for Cinnamon-Swirl Chocolate Chip Bread by Sally’s Baking Addiction. The first time I baked this bread, I must confess I felt like I was transported to a great pastry shop somewhere! The smell of chocolate and cinnamon permeated the entire house and had my kids dash to the kitchen wondering what was baking!

Original Recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction

Original Recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction

To top it off, I took some of the bread to work that morning (yes, the bread still slightly warm…needless to say, everyone raved about it and I obviously gave credit to Sally. I knew after the first loaf that this recipe was going to be keeper, but I wanted to find a way to “healthify” it up a little!

I thought cutting down the sugar content was quite easy to accomplish. Sally’s recipe calls for 1/2 cup of sugar with cinnamon to use in the cinnamon layer. Personally, I could do without it! So, there it is – my first calorie-saving switch was to eliminate the cinnamon sugar layer and instead use 1 teaspoon of cinnamon in the batter!

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Calorie-saving tip #2 – replace some of the oil with unsweetened applesauce! I substituted half the oil with the applesauce and you wouldn’t miss much of the moistness! Next time, I am going to try it with pureed prunes instead of applesauce to see how it turns out! I would imagine it will result in an equally delicious loaf with darker color! Yum!

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Final nutrient-boosting tip (#3) – substitute 3/4 cup of the all-purpose flour with whole-wheat. Yes, yes, white flour baked goods are delicious, but at least I feel a bit better knowing almost half the flour is whole-wheat! 🙂

"Lightened Up" Version - Can you tell the difference except for chocolate chip topping vs. chopped chocolate?

“Lightened Up” Version – Can you tell the difference except for chocolate chip topping vs. chopped chocolate?

This recipe is pretty simple to put together. As usual, measure out the dry ingredients, whip up the wet ingredients and fold in the dry into the wet making sure not to release your stress during the mixing process! 🙂 Gentle does it! My recommendation is to save your stress release for another bread recipe that calls for extreme amount of kneading! Gentle mixing results in a lighter bread that is not tough! And oh, another word of caution…this bread takes a long time to bake – almost an hour! So, you have to be patient!

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Enjoy!

Lighter Chocolate Chip Bread

  • Servings: 12
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Ingredients
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup mini or regular semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 egg at room temperature
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce-oil mixture (I spooned in applesauce halfway up a 1/3 measuring cup and topped with oil)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Optional:
2 tablespoons of sweetened coconut flakes
1 tablespoon of chocolate chips

Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 350F; Spray a nonstick loaf pan with cooking spray on all sides and set aside. Alternatively, you can lay a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan and spray over the sides of the pan. Parchment helps to remove the loaf easily from the pan.
2. Measure out the dry ingredients and sift into a medium bowl.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the egg. Mix in the sugars till all lumps are broken down. Stir in the buttermilk, applesauce-oil combo and vanilla.
4. Slowly stir in the dry ingredients, along with chocolate chips taking care not to overmix.
5. Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Top with some sweetened grated coconut (optional) and additional chocolate chips.
6. Bake for about 50-55 minutes till the bread is baked all the way through (confirm with the usual toothpick trick!).
7. Remove from oven, let cool in the pan completely. If you are in a hurry like I was the first time I baked, let cool for 10 minutes in the pan and carefully remove taking care not to scorch yourself (not advisable). Transfer to a cooling rack.

Bread will stay fresh in a tightly closed container at room temperature for about 5 days.
Enjoy!

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Whole Wheat Zucchini Chocolate Chip Quick Bread

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Don’t you agree zucchini is one of the most underrated vegetables? It has a mild flavor that works well for slicing it up to enjoy with your favorite dip. It’s flavor could be amped by sautéing with garlic and other seasonings. It could be grated into pasta sauces and quick breads as a way to increase the nutritional value without altering the taste.

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Although my kids will eat pretty much any veggie, there are few veggies that I need to be creative with so I don’t have to listen to too much whining. 🙂 Zucchini is one of them! However, this quick bread with grated zucchini and chocolate chips was a winner! Yes, tiny specks of green did give away the hidden secret, they still continued to bite into the bread! This to me means a winning recipe.

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The original recipe is from King Arthur Flour website. I modified it only slightly by replacing some of the flour with ground flax. I did not add any nuts in this attempt, but I would love to throw in some chopped walnuts or pecans in my next batch.

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Give it a try! I think you will enjoy it!

Whole Wheat Zucchini Chocolate Chip Quick Bread

  • Servings: 12 slices
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Ingredients
2 large eggs
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flax
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups shredded, unpeeled zucchini
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Thoroughly whisk eggs, honey, oil, brown sugar and vanilla.
3. Sift together, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Stir in ground flax.
4. Add the dry mix to the wet ingredients, stirring till well combined.
5. Fold in zucchini and chocolate chips.
6. Transfer batter into a 9″ x 5″ lightly greased and floured loaf pan.
7. Bake for 50-55 minutes till top the bread is baked through.
8. Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Then, remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack. Slice and serve or store well covered.

Crispy and Chewy No-knead Bread

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I love freshly baked bread. It is one of my favorite things to create in the kitchen, especially in the colder months. The recipes I have tried in the past have all been the kneading type with lots of all-purpose flour. So, when I came across a recipe online at http://www.the-baker-chick.com which in turn referenced another posted at http://www.simplysogood.com, I thought it’s worth the try since it involved very minimal time commitment.

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This recipe is very versatile meaning you can mix in various things. Janet at Simply So Good gives you a whole bunch of options. In my version, I added a heaping tablespoon of harissa sauce. It infused the bread with bit of heat and a touch of caraway flavor in addition to giving it an orangish tint.

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Replacing half the all purpose flour with whole wheat and adding in a bit of ground flax made the bread a bit more wholesome. It is a little denser than the white bread variety (which I would make next just for comparison), but packs a lot of flavor. I brushed a slice lightly with olive oil and toasted in a pan and it was delightfully crispy and chewy. Whether you are looking for a no-knead bread recipe option or something different for a change, this recipe is a definite keeper.

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One caveat – this dough needs to be proofed for a long period, typically about 12 – 18 hours or so. I proofed mine for about 19 hours and it was great. So, if you are like me, feel free to mix up the dough on impulse and let it do its thing!

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Crispy and Chewy No-Knead Bread

  • Servings: potentially could serve just 4 🙂
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Ingredients
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup ground flax
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1 heaping tablespoon harissa sauce, optional
1 1/4 cups room temperature water

Preparation
1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in 1/4 cup of warm water and set aside for 5 min till frothy.
2. In a large bowl, combine all flours and salt.
3. Add yeast mixture and remaining water to the flour mixture and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula till a “messy” dough forms. If using harissa or another add-in item, stir it in while adding the water and yeast mixture.
4. Cover with a plastic wrap and keep on the counter top or in a cool oven for 12-18 hours or more till the dough bubbles up and more than doubles.
5. At the end of the proofing time, remove the bowl from the oven and set oven to 450F.
6. After the oven is preheated, place a pizza stone or an oven proof ceramic container in the oven to preheat for 15-20 minutes at least.
7. Invert a large cookie sheet and place a sheet of parchment paper on it. Empty the dough onto the parchment paper and with heavily floured hands gently mold the dough into a dome shape (mine was about 8 inches or so in diameter).
8. Open the oven and quickly slide the parchment sheet with the bread onto the pizza stone. If using a ceramic bowl, slowly invert the dough into the container.
9. CREATING STEAM EFFECT – I used a heavy stainless steel bowl to cover the dough while baking so the moisture from the sticky dough could act as the steam. If you don’t have a similar set up (or if not using a ceramic dish with a lid), you could preheat a broiler pan on the bottom rack of the oven while preheating the pizza stone and add about 2 cups or so of hot water as soon as you slide the dough onto the pizza stone.
10. Bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove cover and continue baking for another 15 minutes or so till the bread sounds hollow when tapped.
11. Carefully remove from pan and loosely cover with a kitchen/bread towel.
12. Serve toasted or untoasted with spreads of your choice or just a dip of olive oil and garlic.

Whole wheat chocolate chip muffin

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Of late, I am trying to have on-hand at least one “to-go” type of food item for those days when everyone at home is running around like a hamster trying to get ready to start the day.  One of my ultimate favorite is Swiss-style muesli (aka overnight oats, chia pudding). Store bought granola bars (and their friends and family) are convenient but they are usually packed with lots of refined sugars and other unnecessary ingredients that are used to extend their shelf-life. So, I have been thinking of alternatives to help us eat a litter healthier.

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This is where this recipe fits in. I am not saying these whole wheat muffins are totally healthy at all. They are definitely carb-heavy. Each muffin has about a tablespoon of added sugar (which equates to about 12 grams/48 calories of added sugar in each muffin plus whatever is in the chocolate chips). American Heart Association recommends less than 100 calories from sugar for women and 150 for men. On the other hand, 12 muffins use up only 2 eggs and 1/4 cup of butter, so I guess that may qualify them to be low-fat? 🙂

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Having said that, I think these are probably better for you than most of the regular muffins that one might get at a grocery store, school/office cafeteria or at a coffee-shop. If you are used to super moist and light muffins, be forewarned that these muffins are on the denser side due to the small amount of added fat and the denseness of whole wheat as compared to all-purpose flour. However, these are quite soft and full of flavor (especially with the hint of orange flavor in them) and I hope you will enjoy them as much as we did.

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Whole wheat chocolate muffin

  • Servings: 12
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Ingredients
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup prune puree (homemade or store bought)
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup 1% milk
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flax
1/4 cup cocoa (I used Dutch processed)
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. In a large bowl, blend butter, prune puree and sugar until well mixed and light.
3. Add eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition.
4. Add vanilla and orange zest.
5. Mix all the dry ingredients, except chocolate chips in a medium bowl.
6. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients alternating with 1% milk.
7. Slowly stir in chocolate chips.
8. Pour batter into a 12-muffin pan lightly sprayed with non-stick cooking spray or lined with paper liners.
9. Bake in the preheated oven for 16-19 minutes and test for doneness.
10. Let cool and transfer to airtight storage container.

Whole wheat pasta in spinach and ricotta sauce

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! I really had all the intention to develop a complete St. Patrick’s Day dinner menu with a green color theme – including a mint, avocado or pistachio based dessert! But, alas, time just slipped by too fast!

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In an attempt to at least pull together a wholesome main entrée, I looked around my kitchen for appropriate ingredients. We enjoy pasta, so I decided to take the route of a pasta dish served with a pan grilled tilapia filet.

This recipe uses whole wheat pasta (pick any type you choose – spaghetti, rotini, penne….), frozen spinach, reduced fat ricotta, bit of garlic, sundried tomato, paremesan and white cheddar. For the meat/seafood component, you could go either with chicken, fish or shrimp to get the optimal flavor. I don’t think beef will be a good match for this pasta dish. Just my opinion! 🙂

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This pasta, as you can see from the picture, is very green! If green is not a favorite food color in your household, I would like to urge you to still give this a try. Spinach combined with garlic and ricotta results in such a delicate flavor, you will soon overlook the color. The color did not bother my family even a bit, and I must say, I will certainly prepare this dish again. I hope you will give this recipe a try and let me know your feedback.

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Whole wheat pasta in spinach and ricotta sauce

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients
8 oz whole wheat pasta
8 oz frozen spinach
3 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
3/4 cup low fat ricotta cheese
1/4 cup (or slightly more) cooked pasta water
1 tablespoon olive oil plus additional tablespoon
1/4 cup thinly slivered sundried tomato
1/4 cup grated white cheddar or mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Preparation
1. Prepare pasta according to directions. Drain, reserving about 1/4 cup of pasta water.
2. Thaw frozen spinach, squeezing out excess water.
3. Heat a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and lightly brown the garlic.
4. Blend spinach, garlic, ricotta and reserved pasta water in a blender or food processor till smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Pour the spinach sauce over cooked pasta. Add white cheddar or mozzarella cheese and sundried tomato and toss to mix.
6. Transfer the pasta/sauce mixture to an oven-proof baking dish and sprinkle parmesan cheese over it. Drizzle about the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.
7. Place the dish under the broiler set at medium high/high heat and broil for about 5-7 minutes till cheese is melted and top is lightly golden.
8. Serve immediately with grilled chicken or fish.