It’s time to channel your inner hedonist, the one who eats a few bites of naturally exquisite food just because it beckons, while her strict alter ego plans a rigorous exercise regimen. Maybe you’re familiar with the strident voice that says, “As you age, metabolism slows down.” “Swimsuit season is two months away.” “How much will I need to jog to burn off that cheese?”
Look at it this way: if you eat healthy balanced meals 90 percent of the time then two meals a week can be dedicated to savoring lovely decadence. Furthermore, just because ingredients are luxurious, doesn’t mean they are bad for you. I asked my organic coworkers to chime in with some of their latest favorite splurges, and here’s what they shared.
• Carol pulls me over to the Kerrygold butter seasoned with garlic and herbs. She sautés a sliced organic onion in a 1/4 stick (2 tbsp.) of this delectable butter, cooks an organic Blackwing buffalo burger, places it on a whole grain Ezekiel bun, and tops it with the flavorful onions and Pepperdew spicy artisan goat cheese. Yum. Kerrygold herb butter is also delicious on beer bread.
Caraway, Flax or Irish Soda Beer Bread
Using beer allows you to make this quick yeasty bread without the lengthy rise, proof, and knead process. You could also add currants, and after it bakes glaze with confectioner’s sugar mixed with milk to create Irish soda bread. Or substitute flaxseeds for caraway to add healthy omega 3s. It only takes 10 minutes to whip up, plus baking time!
3 cups flour (½ whole wheat bread flour and ½ unbleached spelt flour)
12 oz beer of choice
2 tbsp. organic sugar
1 tbsp. blackstrap molasses
4 tsp. non-aluminum baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. caraway or flaxseeds
1 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350° degrees. Spray 9” x 5” loaf pan with cooking spray and dust with flour. Combine all ingredients thoroughly with a rubber spatula. Bake for 60 minutes until the top is crusty golden and has a hollow sound when you tap it. Serve warm with soup or salad. Slice for hearty toast the next day.
• Seth, our former café chef, chimes in on the artisan Pepperdew goat cheese. He heats the cheese, surrounds it with organic roasted red peppers, Santa Barbara garlic stuffed olives, and freshly chopped basil, and serves with toasted Ezekiel pita points.
Toasted Pita Points
Wicked easy to make and also perfect for guacamole, hummus, or any kind of bruschetta. Simply slice a whole package of Ezekiel whole wheat pitas into triangles, put in plastic bag, pour a tablespoon of grapeseed oil in there, sprinkle garlic salt, pepper, basil, and any other favorite green herbs. Seal bag and gently turn over until well coated. Spread out in single layer on cookie sheets and bake at 350 for about ten minutes until crispy. Watch carefully so they don’t over brown.
• Brian, one of our café chefs, likes to prepare a classic. He wraps a nice hunk of Brie in puff pastry, washes with egg white, and bakes until shiny golden. Pure elegance!
With full awareness that this is a healthy eating column, I offer a wholesome version of British chef Nigella Lawson’s Guinness Chocolate cake. Many love watching her down-to-earth, Demeter-style kitchen show because she seduces us with hearty food. Naturally, I am including modifications to Nigella’s cake—organic ingredients, whole grain flour, and lower fat—and the result is a moist, rich, absolutely delicious cake. The presentation is great for a St. Patty’s celebration, as it resembles a frothy dark beer.
Chocolate Guinness Cake
One 9-inch cake (12 - 16 servings)
1 cup Guinness stout (Wolaver’s organic brown ale)
10 tbsp. unsalted butter (5 tbsp. unsalted butter and 1/4 cup grapeseed oil)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (Chatfield’s non-Dutched)
2 cups sugar (1 3/4 cup organic sugar)
3/4 cup sour cream (1 cup Nonfat sour cream)
2 large organic eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (pure)
2 cups flour (I used 2 1/3 cups whole grain spelt flour)
2 1/2 tsp. baking soda
For the topping:
1 1/4 cups organic confectioners' sugar
8 oz. cream cheese at room temperature (lowfat works fine)
1/2 cup heavy cream (organic half and half or coconut milk does the trick)
1. For the cake: heat oven to 350° degrees. Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Spray non-stick spray and dust with a mixture of cocoa powder and flour so the cake isn’t white. In a large saucepan, combine beer and butter. Place over medium-low heat until butter melts, then remove from heat. Add cocoa and sugar, and whisk to blend. Let cool for 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile in a small bowl, combine sour cream, eggs and vanilla; mix well. Add to beer mixture.
3. Combine flour and baking soda.
4. Add dry to wet ingredients, and whisk until smooth but don’t over mix. Pour into buttered pan, and bake until raised and firm, 50 - 60 minutes. Place pan on a wire rack and cool completely.
5. Remove cake from pan and place on a platter or cake stand. Let it rest for 24 hours.
6. Frosting: Mix confectioners’ sugar to break up lumps. Add cream cheese and blend until smooth. Add half and half, and mix until smooth and spreadable. Then ice top of cake only, so that it resembles a frothy pint of beer.