Today I'll post my progress on the food goals I made at the beginning of the year. It's helpful for me to check back every so often and see how I'm doing.
Here are the four areas of food/cooking that I want to change/learn/ improve on this year along with my current progress.
1)Learn to use my new grain mill.I'm eager to begin grinding my own wheat as soon as my grain order arrives!
Progress: The Nutrimill is really easy to use. I've only ground wheat berries so far but it has been successful. I'm finding that with grinding my own flour, a baking project takes significantly longer. I can only do one thing on the counter at a time in my small kitchen so I use the grain mill, then clean it up and put it away before moving on. Because of this, I've started grinding several extra cups of flour each time. I've been freezing it so it's ready to go for the next baking project. This is working great. I assume that since I'm freezing it right away, I'm still getting the nutrients from the fresh flour. Does anyone know anything more about this?
I special ordered a bag of Hard White wheat berries from my local health food store. They don't carry them normally and I get a ten percent discount for buying a big bag. Based on their bulk prices for wheat berries, I will pay several dollars more from them than from ordering from Azure Standard, but with no extra shipping fees. So I feel like it's a good deal. My order should be in by the first of next week. They already carry Hard Red and Soft White varieties so I've been buying that as I need it.
2)Begin soaking grains.Start with bread and basic grains and beans and as I'm successful and produce a finished product that we both enjoy, branch out to include other baked items.
Progress: I've successfully made soaked bread and tortillas. The main issue I've had is planning for the soaking time. This will take practice to get it into a routine. The last couple of times that I've cooked beans, I've soaked them with a little lemon juice or vinegar overnight. I haven't soaked rice or oatmeal yet. As I become more comfortable with using natural sweeteners and such, I'll try some other soaked baked goods.
3)Drastically reduce our consumption of refined sugar products. I would like to eliminate them altogether but realize that may not be totally realistic right away. My husband has a major sweet tooth and we both love our chocolate! I've already reduced the amount of desserts we eat and will continue to make more healthy options available. My plan for this is to use Rapadura and honey for baking. We've been quite satisfied with the muffins and cookies I've prepared with Rapadura in the past.I just need to stick with it and make this a habit!
Progress: This has been the hardest step so far! To be honest, I've cut back on the amount of baked goods that I prepare rather than experimenting too much. This is good for the waistline! Muffins and quick breads made with whole cane sugar or honey and whole wheat pastry flour have turned out great! I need to keep working on finding a good cookie recipe that is "healthy". I've made a few kinds that were good but not great. Sometimes the rapadura or whole cane sugar seems to not dissolve and gives a "grainy" texture which I don't really care for. My husband thought they were good and had no trouble eating them!
4)Eliminate high fructose corn syrup! This is in almost everything! Even canned beans. I make most of our foods from scratch already so where this affects us the most is with salad dressings, ketchup and barbecue sauce. I've already purchased some ketchup without HFCS and it is pretty good. More expensive, yes. But we don't eat a lot of ketchup so that shouldn't be too much of an issue. I'm going to experiment with some homemade salad dressings and barbecue sauce to find one or two that we really like!
Progress: I've made some homemade blue cheese dressing(my husband's favorite). We really don't care for too many vinaigrette-type dressings on a regular basis. We're more creamy dressing people.:-) The homemade dressing turned out good; next time I'll make it a bit thicker. I haven't had a need for barbecue sauce yet. I'm amazed at what all contains HFCS! We haven't been totally perfect with eliminating this from our diet yet but I'm much more aware now and certainly consuming less than we were before.
So as far as my food goals go, I've taken some baby steps and made a little progress but still have a ways to go. It's good that I still have 9 more months in 2009 to get better in these areas!