Immune Function = Sourdough + Spelt Flour

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The cooler weather is arriving on the East Coast. This change is seasons brings about beautiful scenery and refreshing winds—both of which please the senses. This change also brings about more responsibility, though; I’ve been bringing inside my container plants from the balcony, closing the windows, and making use of my new wool coat with knit trimmings. I take care of the household first, but I still must make my own health a daily priority. It’s not difficult, and there are no excuses for making the necessary adjustments. I mean, if trees can drop their leaves and the regrow them all over again, not to mention more than the previous year, then I think I can merely maintain a healthy lifestyle to avoid any threats from old man winter. We all must take precautions, and be proactive.

Enter: comfort foods! These sourdough buns will take the stage, taking the spotlight for your healthy meals. Half of the flour is all-purpose flour, and the other half of the flour is organic spelt flour. Spelt has been used for centuries and provides a lot of health benefits. I’m keen on it’s high zinc content. Two ounces of spelt flour (or just about 1/2 cup of spelt flour) already contains about 16 percent of your recommended daily value. Sourdough helps us to absorb all this zinc. So spelt four, meet sourdough. Sourdough naturally has lactic acid, which makes conditions ideal for the appropriate pH levels that allow the enzyme phytase to excel. Phytase dissolves phytates, thus freeing up more minerals for our bodies to take up, such as zinc. We must have zinc to help our immunce system fight off infections. So let’s try to stave off the winter blues, and use our baking skills to help us stay rosey cheeked and bushy tailed!

Thick Sourdough Buns

modified from “Sourdough Buns;”

  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup water, approximately
  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup dried whole milk or Baker’s Special Dry Milk
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups organic spelt flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg
  • cornmeal (for dusting)

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  1. Feed sourdough starter and allow to rest at room temperature for at least 3 hours.
  2. Measure out the needed amount for sourdough, then place “mother” sourdough back in fridge (I store mine there and use/feed at least every two weeks). Mix all of the ingredients together—by hand, mixer, or in a bread machine or food processor—just until the dough comes together (it will remain slightly sticky and soft). Knead for about 3 minutes, then turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  3. Roll the dough approximately 1/3 to 1/2-inch thick. Cut it into 6-8 circles, 2 1/2-3 1/2 inches in diameter. Remember to dust your cutter with flour so it doesn’t stick to the dough.
  4. Dust a baking sheet or burger bun pan with cornmeal. Place each piece of dough on your sheet, spreading them out evenly; sprinkle the tops with cornmeal. Cover the buns and let them rise for 40 minutes.
  5. Bake the buns in a preheated 375°F oven for 25 minutes, or until they’re lightly browned top and bottom. Remove them from the oven. After cooling for 10 minutes, place buns in a cooling rack.

photo 2 (1)Feel free to experiment with the flour measurements. There is a risk, however, with adding more spelt flour and taking away all-purpose flour: your buns may not rise as much since spelt flour is a whole wheat flour.

I like to serve these buns for assembling sloppy joes, especially since lamb and beef are also good sources of zinc (over-achiever alert!). Use for breakfasts, too, by topping with poached eggs or spreading on butter and homemade jam. Open-faced sandwiches would be delicious, too!  Bon ap, to healthy immune function!

PS – Wine note: these buns are thick. Have a heavy wine partner that just as full and round, such as a White Rhone, California red Zinfandel, or Australian Syrah.


Antioxidants = Squash + Cloves

Stuffed Patty Pans

I’m sure I drink enough red wine to be comfortable with my antioxidant intake, but sometimes I might go through a dry spell, during which I’ll need to get my antioxidants elsewhere. Or sometimes there’s a flu going around the office, and I’m just a sitting duck, waiting for my turn to catch the cold and have 48 hours of misery. To take action, I’ll make a large, one-dish meal to add more antioxidants to my diet for a few days. Back off germs, you cannot get through this immune system!

So I’ve got Ikea meatballs in my freezer and they are simply amazing; only a few ingredients go a long way in creating this tasty treat. Meatballs don’t have to just go on pasta, though, nor do you have to douse them in a sugary sauce to incorporate them into your meal. Instead, chop up these little guys after cooking them and use them in stuffing! Brilliant! Use any meatballs or sausage meat for this recipe: Stuffed Patty Pan Saucers.

Patty pan squash is the perfect vegetable boat to take aboard handfuls of stuffing. These squashes come in a variety of colors, which are quite a site when corralled into a bin on the market tables. Their colorful skins are enriched with antioxidants, so make sure you do not shave off the skins of these beauties! Other squashes have similar properties, but I think that these spherical molds are perfect for holding stuffing (I recommend these scoops to help with pitting or hollowing out avocados, melons, or any other produce item). In order to boost up the antioxidant powers, the squash needs a sidekick in action. So patty pans, meet cloves! Cloves are one of the most healthiest spices for our bodies that are found as star ingredients in cuisines all around the world, from Indian to Greek. Clove oils are even used by medical experts to relieve pain and inflammation. Cloves can be added to both sweet and savory dishes, and add a burst of flavor when you use even just a little bit. In addition to the recipe below, sprinkle your cloves onto sauteed greens, potato bakes, Mexican hot chocolate, and more, to enjoy the benefits from cloves!

Get your oven mitts and baking sheet ready!

Finished Patty Pans

  • 1 1/2 lbs patty pan squash
  • 1/2 lb Ikea meatballs, or other beef meatballs or beef sausage
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon bacon grease
  • 1/2 tomato
  • 1/4 panko, or more if you like more of a crunch
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  1. Cook meatballs according to package instructions and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  3. Wash squash and slice in half lengthwise. Trim the bottoms of the squash halves so that the squash can sit flat without leaning or rolling around. Scoop out the insides and roughly chop up. Make sure that you scoop out enough so that there is only about a 1/4- to 1/2-inch shell of the patty pan squash; otherwise, the squash may not cook thoroughly in the oven. Place chopped up squash in a bowl, and place the squash shells onto a baking sheet.
  4. Chop onion and mince garlic. Heat bacon grease (or oil or butter substitute) in a pan over medium-low heat. Saute onion and garlic for about 7 minutes or until translucent. The point of this step is to add more flavor and depth to your stuffing.
  5. Roughly chop meatballs, and add to chopped up squash along with the onions and garlic. Chop tomato and add to mixture. Add 1/8 cup panko and the rest of the ingredients. Stir well.
  6. Fill the squash shells with the stuffing. I know you can put it all in the shells and use it all up! Push down on the stuffing and pack it in well… you got this! They’ll look so plump and beautiful!
  7. Top stuffing in shells with the rest of the panko. Put your picture-perfect baking sheet into the oven and set the timer for 40 minutes. If the shells are closer to 1/2-inch thick, add 5 more minutes to your baking time.

The smell of the cloves with beef and roasted vegetables will make your home smell oh so pleasant! Such a great recipe to have for guests as the shells can bake as you welcome your guests or as you prepare other items. Please remember your seasonal vegetables when creating this recipe, and feel free to adjust the stuffing accordingly. Bon ap, to antioxidants!