A New Food Culture
In response to reader demand, we made a goal to publish 52 recipes to support the 52 Healthy Changes. Because the recipes support the new food culture—the transformation from factory food-like stuff to natural foods—we call them breakthrough recipes. The breakthrough recipes aren't new—they're just healthier versions of traditional dishes. They maximize natural ingredients and minimize refined stuff, like sugar. Here are the recipes by category:
- Breakfast, 4
- Drinks, 1 (Green Smoothie)
- Breads, 4
- Salads, 5
- Dips, 2
- Fish, 2
- Meat, 3
- Soups, stews, and legume dishes, 10 (The best value in dining.)
- Vegetables, 9 (This is the critical issue—eating more vegetables.)
- Grain, 1 (Skip’s Chicken Rice Pilaf)
- Casseroles, 3
- Desserts, 4 (We look for flavors that depend on natural ingredients rather than sugar.)
- Miscellaneous, 4
Sometimes I’m surprised by how hard it is to improve a recipe, even though it’s based on a traditional food, so I fall behind. I work hard on this but may need to borrow a few favorite recipes from readers to complete the year. This week’s recipe goes with Healthy Change 27: Enjoy your candy a piece at a time; never bring a bag or box into the home.
Las Brisas is a popular seaside restaurant in Laguna Beach and they serve a great buffet brunch. I always finish with their bread pudding, a dish my Mom used to make, which includes a sweet sauce. I like it but I have to admit it’s pretty sugary. So my challenge here is a healthy bread pudding—meaning it doesn’t rely on sugar for flavor and has whole ingredients.
Bread pudding is a traditional recipe, so I looked in my Fanny Farmer 1896 Cook Book. Sure enough Ms Farmer had a recipe and it used only 1/3 cup of sugar, though the Vanilla Sauce added ½ cup.
To make a bread pudding from natural ingredients instead of refined sugar I included fruit—apples and raisins. Apples and raisins also go with the spices common to bread puddings—vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I added walnuts because I'm a Californian; if I lived in Georgia I'd use pecans.
Because bread pudding is custard, it’s sometimes cooked immersed in water to avoid over heating the eggs. Fanny Farmer used a “slow” oven. It seemed simpler to follow Ms. Farmer, so I set my oven at 275 F.
The result of my experiments was an easy-to-make healthy pudding. There’s no sugary sauce but I do like it with a little vanilla ice cream, Greek yogurt, cream, or whipped cream. The beautiful wife liked the result—she prefers it with a dollop of Greek yogurt, seen below—but thought the pudding tasted more like an apple pie, so we called it Apple-Bread Pudding.
Skip’s Apple-Bread Pudding
Ingredients: (Feeds 8)
- 3-4 slices of whole wheat bread (bread can be stale, but not moldy)
- 2 apples, peeled and sliced or diced
- 1 C chopped walnuts
- 1 C raisins
- 2 C milk
- 2+4 T butter
- 4-6 eggs (for more of a custard texture, increase the eggs)
- Optional: ½ C brown sugar or turbinado
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 rounded tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp fresh nutmeg
- ½ tsp salt (or less if butter is salted)
Directions: (Preparation: 30 minutes. Baking time: 50-60 minutes.)
- Turn oven on to 275 F. Warm milk in a saucepan just enough to melt butter.
- Peel apples, remove core, and thinly slice or chop. In a warm frying pan, sauté apples in 2 T butter about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to soften and caramelize.
- While apples are cooking, break bread into crumbs and mix with raisins and nuts in a 2-qt. baking dish. Stir sautéed apples into baking dish.
- Prepare custard mix by melting 3 T butter in warmed milk and beat in eggs, adding optional sugar, and spices. (Note: I forgot to add the sugar once and nobody noticed, though we all had a little Greek yogurt or ice cream with the pudding, so I made the sugar optional.)
- Pour custard mix over bread mixture in baking dish; press crumbs down as needed to moisten.
- Bake in a warm oven (275 F), 50-60 minutes, until top layer is nicely done but not dry.
Comments: Do you have a favorite dessert that isn’t too sweet and uses natural ingredients, like fruit? Please share it.