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I’m on a mission to lower my “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. I already eat really well, and I can’t bring myself to consider the “proven to lower cholesterol” margarines so there’s not a lot to play with.  Oats, lots of oats, and oat bran, linseeds, and macadamia oil are just about the limit of the adjustments I can make.

So this is my new favourite bread.  It has lots of oats.  And some linseeds. And it is easy enough for me to make even on weekday workdays. And it tastes really really good, as toast and as sandwiches.

The Recipe:

It takes 24 hours, but only about 15 minutes work over all that time.  Oh, and you need a sourdough starter.

Before I go to bed:

  • Take the sourdough starter out of the fridge.
  • Mix 1 ¼ cups of unbleached bakers flour, 1 ¼ cups of water, and 1 ¼ cups of starter.  (I use my tank water, which has no chlorine or additives in it).
  • Put half of it back in the jar in the fridge.  You should be left with 1½ cups of fed starter, to put in a bowl covered with a clean cloth on the kitchen bench for the night. By morning it should be frothy, like the picture.

Next morning:

Mix in:

  • ¼ cup crushed linseeds
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ¾ cup oat bran
  • teaspoon treacle
  • teaspoon salt

Let that lot soak in while you cook ½ cup steel cut oats in 2 cups of water.  Be careful – it will tend to overflow if it is on too high.  Just simmer for around 5 minutes until you have a thick porridge.  Cool a bit, then add to the mix.

Stir in a cup of unbleached bakers flour to make a thick dough. Tip another half a cup of flour on your benchtop and have another half a cup ready.  Tip the mix out onto it, and with floured hands knead in the flour.  Add as much more flour as you need to prevent the dough sticking.  It should only take a few minutes, you should use most of the flour, and you should end up with a ball of soft, springy, not too sticky bread dough.

Put a good dollop of macadamia (or olive) oil in a large bowl, swirl the dough ball around in it to coat, cover the bowl with a clean cloth, and leave out on the benchtop for the day to prove.

When I get home at 5.30

The dough will be two to three times the size it was when I left.  I tip it out onto the benchtop (it’s already oily so no need to flour) and knead very briefly – a minute or so – then put it in a oiled baking tin. Slash the top with a sharp knife, cover with the clean cloth again and leave again.

At 7.30

The bread will have doubled in size again.  I put the loaf in the middle of a cold oven, turn the oven on to medium hot, and bake.  It takes about 40 minutes in my oven.  I know when it is done when the crust is nicely browned and it sounds hollow.
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If you’ve been following the Breakfast Challenge series at all, you’ll know that “my current favourite” breakfast is usually only the current favourite for a few weeks.

Partly that’s because what is best, in taste and in health and in cost, is always based on the fruits and nuts and grains and vegetables that are in season.  And partly it’s because I get bored fast, and it’s too easy to avoid boring breakfasts even on very busy school and work days.

So this is unusual.

This is my current favourite breakfast for weeks now, one that I have been regularly going for several days in a row.  I like it for all the usual reasons – tasty, easy, fast, cheap – but not least because I can feel it doing my cholesterol good.  Besides oats and oat bran, which are full of a kind of soluble fibre that reduces cholesterol, they have macadamias, which work as well as the “clinically proven to lower cholesterol” fake food margarines  based on hydrogenated sterols that are being so aggressively marketed these days.

Really good for crazy busy mornings, because I can make a batch that lasts for a few days and grab a couple on my way out the door.

Sadly, it’s coming to the end of the macadamia season, so I’m making the most of it.

The Recipe:

Turn the oven on high to heat up.  You want a hot oven.

In a food processor, blend together:

  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup oat bran
  • ½ cup plain raw macadamias (if possible, freshly cracked)
  • a teaspoon of grated lemon zest

Blend until it is a coarse meal, like breadcrumbs, then add

  • 2 dessertspoons of honey
  • 2 dessertspoons of macadamia or rice bran oil
  • 2 dessertspoons of lemon juice

Blend a bit more just to combine.

You should be able to squeeze the mixture together, with wet hands, into little balls about half the size of an egg. If you need to, add a tiny dash more of any of the liquid ingredients and blend again till they will hold together. Put the balls on a greased biscuit tray and flatten them with a fork.

Bake for around 6 to 8 minutes until they are golden.  Cool on the tray (they will crispen up as they cool).

They will keep for a few days in an airtight jar.

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Blueberries are right in season up here in northern NSW, and with three major ingredients (blueberries, oats and yoghurt) in my superfoods list, this week’s Muesli Bar Challenge recipe blitzes the healthy criteria.  It is also really easy – literally 5 minutes to make then 25 to bake.

Oat bran is specially healthy, loaded with the kind of soluble fibre that stablises blood sugar,  iron that helps blood carry enough oxygen, protein, and Vitamins A and C.  Blueberries are another of those dark coloured fruit that, like mulberries, contain phytonutrients that are protective against a whole range of chronic conditions caused by free radical damage, including cancer, inflammation, diabetes, and infections. And yoghurt has the calcium benefits of dairy foods along with probiotic bacteria that would be very good for you except that they probably don’t survive the baking!

The Recipe

Turn your oven on to heat up.  Grease an 8 hole muffin tray.

In a bowl, mix together:

  • 1 cup of wholemeal self-raising flour
  • ¾ cup of oat bran
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder

In a food processor, blitz together:

  • 2 eggs
  • 4 dessertspoons of raw sugar
  • 1 dessertspoon of lemon juice
  • ¾ cup plain low fat yoghurt
  • 2 dessertspoons of macadamia or other light flavoured oil

Fold the wet mix into the dry mix, then fold in ¾ cup of blueberries.

Bake in a medium oven for around 25 minutes until the top is golden, they bounce back to the touch, and a skewer comes out clean.

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