Baking | Whole Wheat Gingerbread Men …christmas cookies with a heart

‘Gingerbread Men’
Stir a bowl of gingerbread, smooth and spicy brown,
Roll it with a rolling-pin, up and up and down.
With a cookie cutter, make some little men,
Put them in the oven, until half past ten.
Author unknown

Whole Wheat Gingerbread Men 1 Whole Wheat Gingerbread Men … I call them cookies with a heart even though I cut them out! There’s really nothing like cute little gingerbread men to bring a smile to your face. I’ve been making these for years, almost now a Christmas tradition.

Whole Wheat Gingerbread Men I love the deep cinnamon and ginger flavours that get heightened by earthy whole wheat flour. For 100% whole grain cookies, these are nothing short of amazing. Crisp, spicy and sweet! C.U.T.E. too!

Whole Wheat Gingerbread Men A few days ago, the husband said he was headed to a home for homeless girls as part of his company’s CSR, and asked if I could bake something. Yes! I instantly knew it was going to be these. He also asked me to try to make some goodie bags for the girls!

Whole Wheat Gingerbread Men I haven’t had SO MUCH FUN in ages. Actually ever since the kids grew up and kissed birthday parties and return gifts goodbye. This was even more fun than those days. Also very interesting to see the level of interest it drew out of the daughter.

Whole Wheat Gingerbread Men She began making the goodie bags in the car while I was driving her back from art class. She didn’t lose interest. For once. She continued to giggle stupidly, sing crazily, talk non stop to Coco while making the bags.

Coco-Santa

Whole Wheat Gingerbread Men They are slightly tedious to make as compared to normal cut out cookies. The stamping out of the hearts, the adding little heart sprinkles, and then the smile of course are a little involved! There was a time I used to make the little smileys in a flash. Now with more years under my belt, the eyes aren’t as sharp. So the smileys take a little longer, the little dragees rolling all over the place. Some have a mind of their own!

Whole Wheat Gingerbread Men Well, in the end, it was all very worth it. Just stamping out gingerbread men makes me happy. They promise to spread holiday cheer, sharing happiness with the nibblers! The kids got one each much to their delight since I was guarding the men with my life!

Whole Wheat Gingerbread Men I made a few extra for another special cookie occasion too. More on that very soon! So are you into cookie mode too? I certainly am. What are your cookie monsters munching? My cookies are pretty much whole grain now. I look back in guilt at the many years of plain flour that I baked with.

Wholegrain bakingThe internet is a wonderful place, and food blogs are the best! So much inspiration, food for thought and so much creativity you can build upon. These days there’s plenty of oats, barley, whole wheat and amaranth in my baking.

You can find more festive food here

Christmas food
Christmas Mince Fruit Pies
Pistachio & Craisin Cookies
Garam Masala Christmas Fruit Cake
Christmas Stollen {Dresden Stollen}
Strawberry & Vanilla Macaron Trifle
Pannetone
Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chip Wookies {Waffles + Cookies}
Apple Cranberry Almond Olive Oil Popovers
Christmas Stollen Pudding
Toasted Walnut Lindzer Cookies
Gingerbread House

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Baking | Millet & Whole Wheat French Fougasse … rustic bread with caramelised onions, walnuts, dehydrated tomatoes and mozzarella

“If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.”
Robert Browning

Millet & Whole Wheat French FougasseMillet & Whole Wheat French Fougasse … this bread is like music to my ears; a celebration of all things ‘breadily‘ good! Rustic, earthy, chewy … good to grain! Warmer days are here. Feels like we missed spring somewhere along the way and landed up in summer. The days can only get hotter as the mercury hits 32C. At times like these, yeast is my BFF, performs beautifully, making me want to experiment endlessly.

Millet & Whole Wheat French Fougasse We had a beautiful wholewheat soda bread that Sangeeta made while we drove from Pune to Baramati for the vineyard visit. I think I ate most of it, greedy me. It was bursting with earthy flavours of whole wheat and sun dried tomatoes. The whole wheat was stone ground and you could tell because of the texture. It had been given a good dunking of extra virgin olive oil too.

Millet & Whole Wheat French Fougasse Bread like this makes you wake up and notice how good whole grain can get. Plain flour just doesn’t cut it for me anymore. The more I see plain flour breads on menus across eateries and in stores, the worse I feel. Whole grain is good and it’s a good choice to opt for.

Millet & Whole Wheat French Fougasse 4Someone once told me that the luxury of plain flour bread is the way to go. You can eat salad and maybe soup on the side, other greens and veggies to tank up on fibre, and yet not feel guilty about ‘white bread’. I beg to differ.

BreadWhole grain isn’t a punishment. Get used to it gradually and it might be difficult to return to plain flour. It’s a choice you have, and a good one you might make especially if you have young kids with changing palettes.  Make a gradual change and you’ll be surprised at how they jump to fresh home made whole grain bread.

Dehydrated tomatoesSun-dried tomatoes are a wonderful addition to breads. My last experience of store bought ones from Fab India was pathetic. I didn’t have time to make some, so figured the Philips AirFryer could help a bit. I have now begun caramelising onions after Abha mentioned it to me one day! Great discovery! 1 tsp of oil for 1 sliced onion is all it takes, and a few minutes.

Millet & Whole Wheat French Fougasse In went sliced tomatoes tossed in olive oil, dried herbs, garlic and some sea salt. Can say YUMMM? Just wonderful… it took about 15-20 minutes as I experimented on different settings but was thrilled to get just what I wanted. I always have a batch bottled in the fridge now.

Millet & Whole Wheat French Fougasse The fougasse is as rustic as it gets. You will find a selection of French Fougasse, this flat French bread, on my blog as we love it at home. I began with a plain flour bread, graduated to part pain flour, part whole wheat, and this time did a version with some sprouted ragi flour / millet.

Millet & Whole Wheat French Fougasse Rustic, moorish, and delicious! If you are a new to whole grain breads,  the earthy flavours will gradually grow on you. It’s a dough that takes well to additions. Roasted garlic, roasted bell peppers, salty olives, sun dried tomatoes, caramelised onions, feta, fresh herbs, nuts {I particularly like walnuts in here} but let your imagination lead you.

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Baking| Whole Wheat & Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies … better late than never!

“Maybe now I`ll be able to have a couple of extra cookies or ice cream after dinner without feeling so guilty. Or, without my wife yelling at me.”
David Larsen

Whole Wheat & Oat Chocolate Chip CookiesEvery new year begins with indulgence as the daughters birthday is on the 2nd of Jan! We enjoy this guilty pleasure {’twas Chocolate Orange Almond Gateau this year}. Predictably, the next day I’m hit by New Year guilt pangs. It’s time to think everything on a healthier note, especially to give the year a good beginning blah blah blah…Whole Wheat & Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies High on my list is plain flour substitutes,  as in my mind ‘plain flour = empty calories’. Extended vacations with growing kids means 24 X 7 Cookie Monsters, A L W A Y S    H U N G R Y! For me healthy doesn’t necessarily mean knocking the butter out of the cookies during winter … butter has important work to do in this incessant cold weather we are braving.Whole Wheat & Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies

The primary difference between different types of flour are the quantity of the wheat germ and bran that are milled with the flour, and the type of wheat used for the flour, and the relative protein content of that wheat.  Whole wheat flour is simply wheat that has been milled into flour with some, or all, of the germ and bran still attached.  Additionally, different varieties of wheat contain different amounts of protein, and the more protein is contained in the flour, the higher gluten it has. {Source:Hubpages.com}

India is traditionally a country where whole wheat flour {aata} is found in virtually every home, and freshly made whole wheat flat breads {rotis, chapatis, parathas etc} often accompany main meals. Until a few years ago, the use of plain flour was limited to cakes, biscuits etc. Unfortunately that is changing as people fall for the disguised charm that plain flour offers, deceptively increasing the luxury in our daily bread, yet sacrificing important proteins in the process.Whole Wheat & Oat Chocolate Chip CookiesThankfully though, there are an equal number of adventurous foodies who try to experiment with whole grains. I am one of the latter though I do tend to keep on middle ground; a little bit of plain and a little of whole grain. Other than whole wheat, I often try including buckwheat and oat in my bakes. Quinoa is one whole grain I would love to try, but the price is exorbitantly high as it is an import from South America. So my oft used alternate  is oats which are extremely nutritious, containing more protein and unsaturated fat than any other cereal grain.

Whole Grains are Much More than Fibre
Whole grains contain all three parts of the grain kernel – the germ, endosperm and bran. Most often during the milling process the bran and germ are removed leaving only the endosperm. This results in refined grains. However, whole grains contain all three parts of the grain – this makes them a richer source of fibre, vitamins and minerals.

Whole Wheat & Oat Chocolate Chip CookiesOats : The Super Whole Grain
Oats have more protein, calcium and Vitamin E than other common unfortified whole grains (wheat, brown rice or whole corn grain) on a gram per gram basis. Only oats have a high amount of soluble fibre (beta glucan) compared to whole wheat or rice. {
Source: Quaker Oats}.

Whole Grains are Much More than Fibre
Whole grains contain all three parts of the grain kernel – the germ, endosperm and bran. Most often during the milling process the bran and germ are removed leaving only the endosperm. This results in refined grains. However, whole grains contain all three parts of the grain – this makes them a richer source of fibre, vitamins and minerals.

With all these inspired thoughts in my head, I set off to make cookies, or rather chocolate chip cookies for a healthier 2011! I made a small batch as I consciously stayed away from plain flour and knew not where I was headed. The resultant cookies were a shock to my system, and I now wonder why I even bothered to look at plain flour in my chocolate chip cookies for so many years. I have always included some whole wheat by default, but was taken aback to see that using whole grains alone still gave them a fabulous texture, and handsome bite.Whole Wheat & Oat Chocolate Chip CookiesTry these, they’re worth every bite even though they don’t look very pretty. The cookie mightn’t be as indulgent as a plain flour smooth cookie if thats what you make. For me, the transition from part whole wheat to whole whole wheat was like I had won the first prize; including oats and demerera sugar giving me the runners up too. I must admit I used my precious stash of Ghirardeli dark chocolate chips in hope that the Ghirardeli would make up for loss of flavour and quintessential chocolate-chip cookie indulgence. I was soon to eat humble pie because they just added to an already delicious cookie.With this new cookie under my belt, 2011 began to feel better already almost! To prove me otherwise, the pre-teen & the teen hit the kitchen this afternoon, shrugging off the cold, and indulged in piling the calories onto my so called healthy cookies. The daughter made delicious ‘Cookies & Cream Strawberry Sundaes‘ for themselves {low fat cream being small consolation}; the son playing the loyal slave. He knew he wouldn’t get a crumb if he displeased his elder sibling; even then wasn’t ‘allowed’ as much as a lick of cream off the spatula!!Cookies & Cream Strawberry SundaeSo much so for my inspired beginning … thankfully this was just 4 cookies. The rest retained their ‘healthy’ status!!

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

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