When Christmas celebrations are over and New Year's Eve is just days away, we all face an important challenge that only gets bigger and bigger by the moment: Deciding on our New Year's resolutions. As important as those promises to ourselves may be, however, there is no real mystery over what we'll resolve. In fact, I'll bet you can easily guess the two most common goals.
That's right! In the coming year, a majority of people will want to eat more healthfully (or lose weight). And most of us will also want to manage our money more wisely and save more.
Not surprisingly, few people keep up their resolve. Some surveys show that as many as 80 percent of resolutions are abandoned by February!
So, how do you stick to yours? I think success comes from approaching goals realistically; making small, achievable changes in your daily life that eventually become habits and add up to bigger successes. And the best way I know to both eat smartly while saving money is to prepare nourishing food at home.
The recipe I'd like to share is a perfect example of that approach. My whole wheat bread with dark chocolate and cherries is not only delicious but also low in fat (which contributes fewer than a third of its 188 calories per two-slice serving) and a decent source of dietary fiber (2.69 grams per serving). Not only that, but the chocolate and cherries are also excellent sources of the antioxidants health professionals say we should include in our diets to help safeguard us against illness.
Better still: The bread is fun to make and a great activity for a cold or rainy weekend afternoon. And the delicious results will cost you far less than anything similar from an upscale bakery.
The bread is also admirably versatile. I like to toast a slice and enjoy it with my morning coffee. You can soak slices in a mixture of beaten eggs, egg whites, and some reduced-fat milk, then pan-fry it with nonstick spray, to make amazing healthy French toast. I've even been known to eat some of this bread at the end of a meal! (Here's a fun tip: Top a toasted slice with a scoop of low-fat frozen yogurt for a satisfying impromptu dessert.)
The recipe also lends itself to many variations. If you want an even lower low-fat version, double the amount of cherries and leave out the chocolate chips. Or try substituting other dried fruit, individually or in combination, cutting up larger pieces into morsels about the size of cherries or raisins.
Any approach you take, I think you'll be more than happy with the results -- and with the money you save. Here's to a healthy and prosperous 2018!
WHOLE WHEAT BREAD WITH DARK CHOCOLATE AND DRIED CHERRIES
Makes two 9-inch (22.5-cm) loaves
For the sponge:
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) lukewarm water, 80 F (27 C)
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 mL) whole wheat flour
For the dough:
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3/4 cup (185 mL) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (185 mL) whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup (250 mL) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup (250 mL) pitted dried cherries, rehydrated in warm water for 15 minutes, thoroughly drained
Nonstick cooking spray
First, prepare the sponge: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, stir together the yeast, water and honey until the yeast has dissolved. Stir in the all-purpose and whole wheat flours just until a soft, loose dough forms. Cover with a clean towel and set aside at warm room temperature for 20 minutes.
Next, prepare the dough: Add the all-purpose and whole wheat flours, the salt and the olive oil to the sponge. Fit the stand mixer with the dough hook and attach the bowl containing the dough. Mix on the second-lowest speed for 1 minute. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Continue mixing on medium speed until the dough looks fairly well developed and elastic, 8 minutes longer.
Add the chocolate chips and the rehydrated drained cherries to the mixer bowl. Continue mixing at medium speed until thoroughly combined, about 2 minutes longer.
Remove the bowl from the mixer, cover with a damp kitchen towel, and set aside to rest for 10 minutes.
Divide the dough into two equal pieces. On a lightly floured work surface and with clean hands, gently roll and shape each piece to make an even ball shape. Cover the balls with a damp kitchen towel and leave to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Evenly spray two 9-inch (22.5-cm) loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray.
With your hands, shape each ball of dough into a 9-inch (22.5-cm) loaf shape and transfer it to a prepared loaf pan. Cover the pans with a damp towel and leave at warm room temperature to rise until doubled in volume, about 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C).
With a sharp knife, lightly score three evenly spaced diagonal slashes across the top of each loaf. Put the loaves in the preheated oven and bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes.
Carefully turn the loaves out of the pans onto a wire rack to cool. To serve, slice with a sharp serrated bread knife.(c) 2017 WOLFGANG PUCK WORLDWIDE, INC. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.