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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Multi-Grain Bread

Okay, so I'm pretty sure I told you guys that my absolute favorite homemade bread was a toss up between my Mom's homemade bread and the Honey Oat Bread that I posted awhile back.  I'm here to tell you that I found another recipe that is going to give them a run for their money!  While I still love both of those, this new recipe for a multi-grain loaf is absolutely incredible. 

I really wanted to find a recipe that used more grains and felt a bit "healthier" for us.  I searched all around town for a whole grain loaf of bread that had a lot of texture and nutty-ness. I found a local bakery that had a high fiber, nutty loaf that matched the texture I was looking for....but it was almost $7 a loaf! I'm willing to pay that once in awhile to get a good loaf of bread, but we can't afford to buy that to use as our normal supply.

I searched the web to find a bread that would satisfy my cravings and came upon a recipe for multigrain bread that was posted by Sara at Our Best Bites.  She used a 7-grain mix, but my grocer didn't have it stocked.  I chose an 8-grain instead and I have already used a 10-grain mix, as well. (Because obviously I've already made like 6 loaves of these bad boys!) Both turned out great!  However, I think I preferred the 8-grain over the 10-grain for the simple fact that it seemed "nuttier". 

 I know it seems like more grains would give you nuttier bread, but that's not necessarily the case.  The more grains they put in the mix, the more fillers get added, like oats, corn grits, and soybeans. Both mixes I used contained flaxseed (which I wanted), but the 8-grain had sunflower seeds too, whereas the 10-grain didn't.  Basically, what I'm trying to say is that the 7, 8, and 10-grain mixes all work to make wonderful bread, just be sure to check the bags to see what types of grains you prefer.

Just as an example on how yummy this bread is...a few of my siblings came and stayed with us for a weekend about 3 weeks ago.  I made 4 loaves of this bread the night before they arrived.  (I made 2 regular and 2 with cinnamon raisin. Yum! But I'll get to that in a bit...)  When they left on Sunday, we only had 1 loaf left! My thirteen year old brother, Paul, went especially nuts for it.  He really liked it smeared with my Raspberry Chia Jam!

The following week, I made another batch and froze the loaves.  When I knew my Mom was bringing Paul down to swim in the pool at our apartment, I pulled out a loaf to have thawed and ready.  That evening he ate half of it by himself!  Last night he was here again and asked me quietly if I had "that bread" again.  Looks like I may need to make another batch soon! :)

**I know the directions may look pretty intense at a glance, but it really is a simple bread to make!
I just tried breaking it down into steps that were easy to follow.  You can do it! :)

Multi-Grain Bread
Adapted from Our Best Bites


1 1/4 cup 8-grain hot cereal mix, dry (I used Bob's Red Mill brand)
2 1/2 cups boiling water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup honey
4 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup old fashioned oats, for rolling


1. Measure out 1 1/4 cups of the dry cereal mix into a medium bowl.  Set aside.
Bring the 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil, then pour over the cereal mix. Stir until moistened.
Set aside to rest for 1 hour.

2. While that is resting, in a large bowl, combine the all-purpose flour and the whole wheat flour.
In a small bowl, melt the butter completely, then allow to rest and cool until needed.

3. Once the hour wait is over, pour the honey, butter, and yeast into the mushy cereal mix and stir until well combined.

4. Add the mush mixture to the large bowl of flour and stir 3 or 4 times.

5. Add the salt.

6. Continue stirring, creating a lumpy mass of floury dough.
Pour onto a clean counter and begin kneading. (It will seem way too dry at first, but keep kneading!)
It will begin to take the form of dough and may become sticky, but do your best not to add more flour. (You can if you absolutely need to, but only a light dusting at a time.)

7. Knead for at least 5 minutes!

8. Transfer dough to a well oiled boil, cover, and let rise for 1 hour.

9. Punch raised dough down and divide into two equal portions.

10. Using your fingers, press one portion into a rectangle (about 1/2 inch thick).
Starting at a narrow end, begin tightly rolling the dough into a log.

11. Turn the seam to the bottom, then pinch the ends and tuck them under. 
Lightly spray the loaf with oil.

12. Sprinkle the oats on the counter and roll the loaf in the oats.

13. Place in a greased loaf pan.

***Repeat steps 10-13 with the remaining portion of dough.***

14. Adjust the oven racks to the middle position, preheat the oven to 375 degrees, then cover the loaves with greased plastic wrap and allow to rise 30-45 minutes.

15. Place in the oven and bake until golden brown and thermometer reads 200 degrees (mine took about 40 minutes).

16. Transfer pans to a cooling rack and let rest 5 minutes.

17. Gently remove bread from the loaf pans, return them to the cooling rack, and let rest about 2 hours before slicing. (If you can wait that long!)
Be sure the loaves are completely cool before wrapping to store.

(I have wrapped them in 2-3 layers of plastic wrap, then a layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil to freeze them. Then, when I'm ready for one, I take it out of the freezer, and place it (still wrapped) in the fridge or on the counter to thaw overnight. Works great!)


This gives you an idea of what the 8-grain hot cereal mix looks like.

After mixing it with the boiling water and letting it rest for an hour, it should look something like this:

Some people don't test the temperature of their bread, and you may not like to.  You certainly don't have to.  I do like to check mine though.  It makes it much less stressful.  You don't have to worry about cutting into a golden brown loaf of bread, only to have it heavy and gooey inside. If a thermometer reads at 200 degrees, you know it's done!

Doesn't that just look delicious!!?
I wish I had something other than the camera on my phone, so I could do it a little more justice! :)

Now, I told you before that I have made some as cinnamon-raisin loaves.  It makes wonderful cinnamon-raisin toast!  When you are at step 10 (pressing it into a rectangle), just melt some butter and spread it over the rectangle (just enough to coat it), then sprinkle it heavily with a mixture of ground cinnamon and cane (or granulated) sugar.  Next, sprinkle on the raisins!
When you begin to roll it into a log, be sure to keep it nice and tight, so it stays together after it's baked. :)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Lotion Bars & Lip Balm

When I first heard of lotion bars, I thought they sounded...interesting, to say the least.  I wasn't sure if I would like using a solid bar as a moisturizer, but I figured I could handle giving it a try if it was healthier for our bodies.  I experimented a bit, making a few batches, and tweaking it along the way.

I came out with lotion bars that my husband and I both love!  The bars are in a solid state, but when you rub them between your hands, they warm just enough to coat your skin, creating a moisturizing barrier.  Because of the oil & wax, they do feel a little greasy at first. However, after a few minutes, it's all soaked in and your hands (or whatever you're moisturizing!) is so soft!  Another great thing about these lotion bars is that it doesn't wash away the second you wash your hands.  It seems like I can apply regular lotion to my hands all day long, but as soon as I wash my hands (which is a lot), it's all gone and needs to be applied again.  Not with these lotion bars!  I can use these bars, wash my hands, and the water just beads up, protecting my skin from drying out quickly.  Love this stuff!

You have the option of not adding any essential oils, but I will tell you that the smell of cocoa butter is fairly strong when you do that.  Personally, I love customizing the bars and having a variety of types & scents to choose from.  I have a selection of essential oil blends, so I chose a few and made various types of lotion bars.  These are just a few that I did:

*Muscle Relief (for my husband's back/shoulder pain)
*Tea Tree/Lavender (for healing)
*Goodnight Blend (for a restful sleep)

When I was making these bars, I decided to try the mixture as a lip balm, too.  It was great!  I actually love how it feels when you apply it, giving that moisture barrier, but not feeling heavy or sticky.  Just keep in mind you will want to use essential oils that are safe for your face.  I'm not that educated with EOs so I would suggest doing some research yourself rather than me giving you advice. :)

You can buy the empty lip balm containers on Amazon, as well as any shape of silicone molds for your bars.

I used a kitchen scale to measure the ingredients, which worked perfectly, but if you don't have a scale, measure it out as best as you can.  Just keep in mind, the more coconut oil, the softer the bars will be, and the more beeswax, the firmer they will be.  It worked best for me to have equal amounts of the three ingredients.  1:1:1 Ratio


20 g. organic cocoa butter, raw, unrefined
20 g. organic beeswax
20 g. organic coconut oil, cold-pressed, unrefined
essential oils, optional

1. Measure out your ingredients.

2. In a double boiler (or a glass bowl set over a sauce pan of water-just don't let the water touch the bottom of the bowl), heat over medium-high heat.

3. Let it heat and melt down, stirring occasionally.

*If you are putting the same essential oils in the entire batch, you can stir them in as soon as it's all melted.

*Since I made different types, I poured it into my molds (I used silicone cupcake liners) and dropped the different essential oils in each one, then stirred them up.  It's important to work quickly.  It sets up fast!

*With the leftover mixture, I just put the essential oil directly in the bowl, then used a clean, glass medicine dropper to fill the lip balm containers.

4. Once it's completely melted, remove from heat and pour it into your molds (see notes above about adding essential oils).  If you find that the mixture is setting too quickly, return it to the heat and melt again.

5. Leave them on the counter and let them cool completely until firm.

6. Once set, you can pop the bars out and store them in containers or use them right away!

My hubby and I have one on each side of the bed to use before we go to sleep.  I also apply mine throughout the day if needed, but he prefers to only use it at night so he doesn't have to deal with the greasiness.  He gets a little irked when his hands don't feel clean, so even though these lotion bars soak in quickly, he can't stand the feeling of it on his hands.  He says if he uses it at night, the greasiness is gone by the time he wakes up so he doesn't have to worry about it. :)

If you want my advice...try them.  Even if you don't like "greasiness", I think you will be pleasantly surprised on how great these lotion bars are.  You really only have to deal with the greasy feel for a couple minutes, and the benefits of how great these bars work make those minutes totally worth it! 

They are awesome for any dry spots.  Hands, elbows, knees, even your feet!  
Perfect timing since the flip-flops are back again! :)

Check these out!