At few weeks ago, I finally stopped and bought some whole wheat flour from Farmer John at the Farmers’ Market. Farmer John, of Butte Mill Flour Company, grows hard red winter what outside of Niwot, and stone grinds it himself. I’d been eyeing his flour for some time, but just haven’t done much yeast baking in the past few years, opting instead for the much more forgiving quick breads. But with my summer of ‘training’ for the body fat loss contest I’m doing, I’m avoiding refined flours in anything I eat at home. So the time was perfect to give his flour a try.

I decided to be really brave and just go with all whole wheat flour, something I normally wouldn’t even consider doing — there were too many whole wheat and rye flour bread attempts when I was younger that resulted in much unpleasantness. But I thought the mashed potato trick I discovered a while ago might help out, so I had a small bit of confidence in the experiment. I referenced a recipe on the King Arthur Flour site, and went from there. In addition to a mashed sweet potato, I decided to add a small bit of oat bran, flax seeds and wheat germ.

Whole Wheat Bread Ingredients

Whole Wheat Bread Ingredients (Apologies for the fogginess – pictures taken during an unplanned camera lens fingerprint phase.)

I made the first batch after a particularly tiring weight lifting workout, and had no intention of spending 15 minutes kneading bread. So I decided to see how the bread machine would do with it on the dough setting. (I planned to bake it in the oven.) The answer was, ‘interestingly’. At first the mixture was way, way too dry, so I added water during the first part of the mixing until the dough could actually move around. Then I decided that maybe it was too much water. But I decided I’d just let it run through the dough cycle and see what happened.

Totally not the right texture

Totally not the right texture

Well, it was a sticky, sticky mess. So I tried to knead some flour into it. (So much for giving my arms a rest). But I discovered that whole wheat isn’t really the best kneading flour. I couldn’t get past sticky even after adding another 3/4 cup of flour. Being stubborn and wanting to stick to my no unrefined flours rule, I decided to put it back into the bread machine for another dough cycle. I don’t know why, it just seemed like something to do. (I was totally winging it at this point, obviously). I let it go through most of the cycle, but took it out just a little early, and dumped the entirely wrong-textured dough into a couple of bread pans and put it in to bake.

Still not the right texture - oh, whatever!

Still not the right texture – oh, whatever!

Amazingly, when it was done, it had a pretty nice texture, and tasted quite good. It was robust – definitely not your soft ciabatta or French bread taste or texture, but my husband and I finished both loaves off in about six days, so clearly it was good enough to warrant a repeat.

Wholly Whole Wheat Bread

Wholly Whole Wheat Bread

I tried making a second batch the next weekend. I used slightly less flour and water, left the wheat germ out (I thought it tasted just a tiny bit too wheat germy the first time), and used butter instead of olive oil to give it a richer taste. Things went pretty much the same as the first time, except I just added the extra flour to the bread machine before the second dough cycle instead of even trying a kneading phase. I used my large loaf pan instead of making two loaves, so that I would hopefully have taller bread, but that turned out to be a mistake. It took a very long time for the bread to get anywhere close to completely baked because of its denseness. In fact, I actually ended up slicing the bread, laying the pieces on a baking sheet, and finishing it off at a lower temperature as if I were making biscotti. (Note to self – excellent Plan B for any future too-moist bread products.) I think making two shorter loaves was an unintentional wise move the first time around. But this one did taste really good.

I can’t really recommend this recipe to anyone, but should you wish to have a bit of a whole wheat adventure, here’s the amounts I used for both rounds:

Round 1:

3 c + 3/4 c stone ground whole wheat flour
11 oz sweet potato – cooked and mashed until smooth
1/4 c oat bran
2 Tbsp wheat germ
2 Tbsp flax seeds
2 Tbsp olive oil
1+1/2 c water
1 pkg yeast (mine was specially recommended for whole grains and had 25% more in the package
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp salt

Round 2:

2 c + 1/2 c stone ground whole wheat flour
11 oz sweet potato – cooked and mashed until smooth
1/3 cup oat bran
2 Tbsp flax seeds
2 Tbsp melted butter
1+1/2 c water
1 pkg yeast (mine was specially recommended for whole grains and had 25% more in the package
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp salt

Put all ingredients in the bread pan and run through the bread cycle. Keep an eye on it, and add additional water and assist mixing with a spatula as needed. Add the additional flour, mix it in a bit with a spatula, then run through another bread cycle. Towards the end of the second bread cycle, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Put dough in two bread pans brushed with olive oil, and bake about 35-40 minutes. The bread is done when it is firm and crusty on top (you can check the temperature with a thermometer as well – it should be 190 degrees).

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This past Friday my husband and I had the pleasure of attending a farm dinner at Three Leaf Farm in Lafayette. Three Leaf Farm is owned by Lenny and Sara Martinelli, owners of Three Leaf Concepts, which is responsible for an array of great restaurants in Boulder County (Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant, Aji Latin American Restaurant, the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, Zucca Italian Ristorante, the Huckleberry, the Naropa Cafe, and now the Chautauqua Dining Hall). The farm was established to provide local produce to the Three Leaf Concept restaurants. But the farm doesn’t just grow produce — they have several goats which provide milk for cheese, a large number of chickens for eggs, several bee hives on the property, and even a newly built barn with farm-owned as well as boarded horses.

The same six goats in several pictures. Because I think goats are adorable!

The same six goats in several pictures. Because I think goats are adorable!

The farm tour is one of my favorite parts of farm dinners. I love hearing about the different tactics used to control weeds and pests without pesticides, and how Colorado farms deal with the dry climate. Farm manager Chase Morris shared a wealth of information as well as some pretty amusing anecdotes about the day-to-day operations at the farm. It’s always very cool to hear how passionate the farmers on smaller farms are about their product. And the chefs at each restaurant have really embraced the produce from the farm as well. I loved hearing about a day when there wasn’t enough time to harvest what the chef from Zucca wanted for that night, so he harvested it himself! And you truly can’t beat the opportunity to hold a pygmy goat! (The picture above is of one of the owners of the farm holding the goat. As soon as I got the goat into my arms, he took one look at my hair and said – hey! STRAW! – and began eating it, therefore not providing a good photographic opportunity.)

Gorgeous Appetizers

Gorgeous Appetizers

The chef for this farm dinner was Rachel Best, of Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant (one of our favorites in Boulder). The food began with some wonderful appetizers: Avalanche Lamborn Bloomers Cheese on Flax Crackers with Strawberry Rhubarb Compote, Raw Broccoli Shooters with Macademia Nut Cheese, and Raw Sweet Pea Hummus on Baby Red Romaine with Radish Sprouts. The cheese was unbelievably good and the broccoli shooters were fantastic as well.

View from my place at the table

My place at the table

After appetizers and the farm tour, we and our fellow diners moved to the table for dinner. The table was beautifully set, and there was even a trio playing live music throughout dinner. I’ve mentioned this before when reviewing various dinners we’ve gone to, but it’s always so fun to have dinner with a bunch of people you’ve never met before, to talk and laugh through dinner, and then find that three hours have gone by in what feels like half that time. The group where we sat covered a wide range of food topics, as well as the Midwest climate compared to Colorado, water rights, college majors and dining halls, and travel.

Looking down the table

Looking down the table

But on to the food! The first course was Zucchini Fritters with Carrot-Hempseed Pesto and Pickled Golden Beets. The entire dish was great, but I couldn’t get past how awesome the pickled beets were. Yes, they seem simple, but I really think they were the best ones I’ve ever had. Very, very thin, with the perfect vinegary taste.

Zucchini Fritters with Carrot-Hempseed Pesto and Pickled Golden Beets

Zucchini Fritters with Carrot-Hempseed Pesto and Pickled Golden Beets

The bread served was Gluten Free Teff Rolls with Colorado Honey Butter. The rolls were so good that I bought some teff flour the next day to see how easy it was to bake with (haven’t tried it yet, though). I’ve actually been amazed lately with the great quality of a lot of gluten-free products I’ve tried, and these rolls were great as well.

Gluten Free Teff Rolls

Gluten Free Teff Rolls

The salad course was Farm Greens with Quinoa, Haystack Mountain Cracked Pepper Chevre with Basil Vinaigrette and Tempura Pearled Onion.

Farm Green Salad with Quinoa, Haystack Mountain Cracked Pepper Chevre with Basil Vinaigrette and Tempura Pearled Onion

Farm Green Salad with Quinoa, Haystack Mountain Cracked Pepper Chevre with Basil Vinaigrette and Tempura Pearled Onion

For the main course we had Seared Trumpet Mushrooms, Turnip-Cauliflower Puree, Roasted Radishes, Sautéed Kale, and Rosemary Pistachios. I thought this course was especially attractive.

 Seared Trumpet Mushrooms, Turnip-Cauliflower Puree, Roasted Radishes, Sauteéd Kale and Rosemary Pistachios

Seared Trumpet Mushrooms, Turnip-Cauliflower Puree, Roasted Radishes, Sautéed Kale, and Rosemary Pistachios

By the time dessert arrived, it was so dark that I had pretty much no hope of getting a decent picture. So you’ll have to put some imagination into viewing the picture of the Brandy Custard with Apricot Puree, Lemon Pound Cake, Toasted Almonds, and Cocoa Nibs.

Brandy Custard with Apricot Puree, Lemon Pound Cake, Toasted Almonds, and Cocoa Nibs

Brandy Custard with Apricot Puree, Lemon Pound Cake, Toasted Almonds, and Cocoa Nibs

Three Leaf Farm has four additional dinners scheduled for this year. The price for the dinner we attended was $80, and included wine pairings for every course. This is considerably less than a lot of local farm dinners are lately, so was quite a great deal, in addition to being a wonderful time.

Today is the two year mark for my blog. I celebrated with some dog walking at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley (I volunteer weekly), a salmon burger and romaine salad, rowing at the gym, and then some blueberries, strawberries, and mango with yogurt and All Bran (which really was quite good). Here’s to another year!

birrthdayfour

I made an interesting and embarrassing discovery yesterday. Worse, because it uncovered a mistake that I have made more than once.  Somehow I had gotten it into my head that a gram of protein is 7 calories, when it is in fact 4 calories. The same as carbohydrates. (Alcohol is 7 calories per gram). Needless to say I thought it was INCREDIBLY easy to get 40% of my calories from protein even without meat. That’s because I wasn’t. My 100 grams of protein is much closer to 23% of my calories from fat, not 40% as I had reported in my post Body Fat Loss Contest – Weeks 1 & 2. That is all.

Tomorrow will be four weeks in my body fat loss contest. It’s still going well, and this time I actually have some decent results to show for it. I have a body fat scale at home, and while they aren’t completely accurate, I ‘calibrated’ mine to the best of my ability the day the contest started, so I’m treating it as if it always measures an average of 1.35% lower than it should. So I weigh a few times to get the same measurement twice (usually only 2-3 times), and then add 1.35%.

Taking all of these measurements with a grain of salt since they are all using a home scale, as of one day before the official 4 week mark, I have lost 3.8 lbs, and about 2.45% body fat. My calculations show that I’ve lost just under 4.6 lbs of fat and gained just under 0.8 lb of lean mass. I’m very pleased with the fat loss, but the lean body mass gain is much less than I was hoping for. I’m a bit over halfway down to the total weight I want to be, and don’t want to go lower for both bone density and maintainability reasons. So that means I need to kick up the muscle building a bit. The reading I have done tells me that, horrifyingly to the average American woman, this requires eating more calories than you burn. Because your body needs extra fuel to build muscle. Logically that makes sense. You are adding weight, it’s just a different kind than you normally add when you overeat dessert or snack foods while not working out. But it’s still a pretty unnerving thing after all the lifelong mental conditioning for losing weight – especially to a person who has struggled with their weight. So I’ve got some more balancing to figure out for the next couple of months.

A couple days during week three, I felt as if I had a lot of extra energy. I was hoping that would continue, but sadly, during week four, which was a busy week schedule-wise, that surplus energy feeling went away. And my sense that semi-sweetened yogurt tastes sweet on its own has lessened, which I find somewhat odd.

My workouts have consisted of a full body weight lifting session three days a week, two days of harder cardio training, with seven to eight one minute all-out/two minute recovery intervals, with a five minute break and then 20-30 minutes of more steady cardio, and then a day where I just take a long walk. I’m still struggling with feeling like my lower body has recovered enough to handle the squats and lunges I do, but the rest of my weight lifting is going well. I’m concentrating on only doing about six reps at higher weight in the interest of building muscle mass over muscle endurance. Diet-wise, I’m still eating whole foods with no refined ingredients (aside from protein bars or shakes), but giving myself one meal a week where I eat out and split a dessert.

Bring on weeks 5-13!

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