Hot cross buns are a delicious Good Friday morning tradition, but conventional recipes are packed with unhealthy ingredients. Given my weakness for cinnamon morning buns, I had to convert a recipe to obtain the health benefits mentioned in my book. These rolls are packed with nutrient dense foods and the baking process takes advantage of the microbes in starter to alter the content of the dough, resulting an an anti-inflammatory, heart healthy, low glycemic, nutrient dense morning bun with little-to-no gluten.
To serve for breakfast on Good Friday, begin these Wednesday. For Wednesday you’ll need:
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 stick butter
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup starter
2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup almond flour or almond meal
1 t salt
Bring the milk to a boil. Once it begins boiling, remove from heat and add the butter. I slice mine into approximately 7-8 pieces to ensure that all of it melts. Set aside until completely cooled. (This is important because we’re adding the starter in the next step and the scalding milk can negatively affect the microbial activity.)
In another bowl, combine the honey, starter, flours, and salt. Stir to combine. When the milk/butter mixture is room temperature, add it to the flour mixture and stir to combine. You can fold it over a few times in the bowl to ensure that everything is fully combined, but it doesn’t really require any kneading. It will be a very sticky dough, but shouldn’t be runny. Cover the bowl and leave to sit overnight.
The next morning (Thursday if you’re planning these for Good Friday), the dough should have risen a bit. Now we’re going to add the fun stuff and shape the dough into buns. Today you’ll need:
1 green apple, finely chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
1/4 cup currants OR 1/4 cup raisins, finely chopped
2 t cinnamon
zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon
Add all of this to the dough while it is still in the bowl. Stir to combine, then remove it to a clean counter-top. Knead until the dough holds together well and the apple bits stop popping out each time you fold the dough over.
Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Depending on how you want the end product to look, you can divide those among two pans (for rounded buns) or you can place them all in a single pan (for roll-like buns.) You can use 9×13 (greased) baking dishes or (parchment lined) quarter size sheet pans. Shape your rolls and place them in the pans. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise for 24 hours.
If you know you’ll have a busy morning tomorrow, you can also make your frosting today. Combine 4 ounces cream cheese with 1 T butter and 2 cups powdered sugar. Add the seeds from 1 vanilla bean, 1 t vanilla extract, and 1 t cinnamon. Mix until creamy and store, covered, in the fridge.
Friday morning, brush the tops with an egg wash and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown on top. (During this time, you can make the frosting or if you made it yesterday, you can bring it to room temperature so it’s ready.) In a piping bag (or a plastic baggie with the corner cut off), pipe crosses on top of each bun AFTER they are completely cooled. If you put the frosting on too soon, the crosses will turn into a huge mess. Serve and enjoy!
(These also store really well so if you don’t have time to bake, let cool, and frost on Friday morning, consider bumping everything up a day to begin Tuesday night. Shape Wed morning, bake Thursday morning, frost Thursday night and serve Friday morning. You’ll need to store them in an airtight container to preserve freshness.)
Earlier this year, my book The Vintage Remedies Guide to Bread was released. Of all of the books I’ve written, it is probably my favorite because it covers the fascinating story of how bread has gone from the staff of life to a processed poison. The bread that consisted of the majority of our ancestor’s diets was healthy, low glycemic, anti-inflammatory, nutrient dense, delicious, and contained little, if any, gluten. You can read more about the health benefits of ancient bread and modern myths about bread that are addressed in the book here.
Once I mastered a basic and healthy loaf, I knew everything we made had to be altered to be healthier. While doughnuts are a rare family treat, they’re enjoyed when we have them. This better alternative takes advantage of all of the benefits of ancient bread with all of the flavor of a dietary splurge. With the holiday season upon us, we’ll be indulging in these treats at least once or twice! Here’s the recipe, taken from The Vintage Remedies Guide to Bread:
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup starter**
1 t salt
1 t vanilla
2 T butter, melted
**Details about the starter can be found in the book or in our distance learning programs.
Combine the starter, milk, flour, butter, sugar, and salt in a bowl. For breakfast doughnuts, you’ll want to begin these in the morning the day before. Let the mixture sit 10-12 hours.
Later that evening, add the eggs and vanilla. Stir to combine. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until it is about 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Cut into shapes with a doughnut cutter. Place the doughnuts and holes on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp dish towel. Store the dough in the fridge to rise overnight.
In the morning, fill a frying pan with 1-2 inches of melted coconut oil or a heat-stable oil over medium heat. Add the doughnuts, frying 1-2 minutes on each side until lightly browned and cooked through. (If you’re not sure whether they are cooked or not, remove the first one and break it open to see. If the edges are dark brown but the insides are still doughy, you may need to turn the heat down to medium low.)
Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain the excess grease.
Optional: While the traditional doughnuts are fantastic just as they are, a modernized doughnut glaze elevates them to a new level of healthy goodness. To make a plain glaze, combine 3 T melted butter with 2 T hot water and 1 t vanilla extract. Whisk in 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and continue whisking until there are no lumps. Place the doughnuts over a wired cooling rack; dip the doughnuts in the glaze then place to dry on the rack. For chocolate coated doughnuts, combine 3 T butter, 1/4 cup chocolate chips, 1 t vanilla extract and 3 T hot water. Whisk in 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar and frost the tops of the vanilla glazed doughnuts.
When you’ve finished carving the turkey, don’t throw out the best part! The bones and leftover bits can be used to make some amazing homemade turkey stock. Turkey (or chicken) stock is incredibly nutritious and delicious. It’s a must have when making risotto or soups, or any nourishing sauces and gravies. Turkey stock is just as nutritious as the bone broth you always hear about, but with the added nutrients and flavors of a few herbs and veggies, it’s even more of a nutrient powerhouse–and the flavor is greatly improved with the flavors from the veggies and herbs.
And of course, the best part is that it’s simple to do. You can toss it together and let it simmer while you relax with the family. Here’s how:
In a large stockpot, toss the turkey carcass minus any leftover stuffing. If you have a large chef’s knife, it’s best to chop the bones open, but it’s not necessary. Add one chopped onion, a chopped carrot, and two stalks of celery, also chopped. Add about 8-10 whole peppercorns or a teaspoon of pepper if you don’t have whole peppercorns. (Note: You won’t be adding any salt.) Then you’ll need about 1/4 cup of fresh herbs or 1-2 T dried herbs. I usually go with an antioxidant rich Italian herbs blend, but you can use a combination of any of the following: rosemary, thyme, parsley, oregano, bay, and tarragon. If you tie these together with a string, you have a bouquet garni, or a traditional stock flavoring packet. Fill the pot to about 3 inches from the top with filtered water and heat to a gentle simmer. Cover and keep the heat warm enough to simmer, but not hot enough to boil over. Keep simmering for 2-4 hours then remove from heat. When cooled, strain the liquid. You can store the stock in the freezer or the fridge. It will last up to 10-12 months in the freezer or about a week in the fridge.
One thing I love about essential oils is that you can use them to make so many homemade staples. It’s difficult to find a truly natural toothpaste as so many options are either ineffective or contain ingredients that we wouldn’t want to put in our bodies. This simple tooth cleansing option features breath freshening peppermint oil, calming lemon oil, and cleansing clove oil.
3 T baking soda
1 T fine table salt (kosher or coarse salt won’t work)
1 T xylitol
2 T coconut oil
1 drop peppermint essential oil
2 drops lemon essential oil
2 drops clove essential oil
These ingredients are specifically chosen for maximum effectiveness. While the general scientific consensus may still by in favor of conventional flouride-containing toothpastes, this natural alternative contains ingredients that have been found in various scientific studies to prevent tooth decay and fight oral bacteria. Because the oils will be used in dental care, it’s important to ensure that the essential oils are organic and of excellent quality. Naturally, I strongly recommend staying on the side of caution and using J&M Botanicals’ essential oils for your homemade toothpaste.
Who said pizza has to be bad for you? With whole grain flour and a salad on top, this pizza is the ultimate lunch time fare. The combinations of flavors and textures make this quick meal as fun to eat as to prepare. Better yet – the recipe requires less than 10 “hands on” minutes!
3 cups whole wheat flour (I like the “100% whole white wheat” version available by Kind Arthur Flour for its mild flavor and smooth texture)
1 T honey (optional)
1 T olive oil
1 t crushed garlic
1 t red pepper flakes
2 t baker’s yeast (or 1/3 cup natural starter for those of you reading VR Guide to Bread)
1 – 1 1/2 t sea salt
1/2 cup shredded hard cheese such as Parmesan or Romano
1 -2 cups arugula
basic lemon vinaigrette (3 T olive oil, 2 T lemon juice, dash salt, 3-5 drops of honey)
In a stand mixer with the dough hook (or a bowl with a spoon) toss all ingredients except for the cheese, arugula and vinaigrette. Add a 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 coups of water. Mix until just combined into a smooth but firm dough. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and leave for 30-45 minutes. When you return, divide the dough into 4 portions and set aside. Preheat the over to 500 degrees – or your hottest setting. Return to the dough, flatten each portion into a thin round. Drizzle with olive oil (about 1/2 teaspoon) and cover with 1/4 of the cheese. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown. Remove, toss the arugula with the vinaigrette and top each pizza with 1/4 of the mixture. Slice into four pieces and serve fresh from the oven before the arugula wilts.
Think you’re enjoying a guilty pleasure? You’re not! This easy lunch provides a substantial amount of dietary fiber, which helps to reduce your risk of colon cancer, lower cholesterol, lead to better heart health and even help you lose weight. Studies show that consuming dietary fiber before a meal or during a meal lead to better digestive health and contribute to weight loss! The whole wheat is providing you with many B vitamins, contributing to better cognitive functioning, including attentiveness and emotional health. It also provides plenty of protein, as does the sprinkling of cheese. Arugula is a great source of calcium, building stronger bones, vitamin C enhancing immunity, and potent phytonutrients that help to prevent cancer! Furthermore, it provides you with a serving or two of green vegetables – did you know that arugula is not a lettuce as it appears, but a cruciferous vegetable, in the same family as broccoli?