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CELERY IS THE NEW TOAST
November 24, 2006
 
Today, without fail: we have been without my super-healthy and delicious Whole Wheat and Oatmeal bread for almost a week. To bridge the gap, I baked a quick batch of Whole Wheat and Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins and doled them out to Q every day, one at a time. But Thanksgiving is over and I seem to have stopped fainting. I can bake bread today.

But I won't be eating it, which -- come think of it -- is probably why I've taken my time replenishing our stash. The Standup Doc and I are working on a very low-calorie diet that consists primarily of vegetables and protein. Half an apple here and there, or a small orange, and I can cook with a bit of olive oil, but it's mostly vegetables and chicken or fish.

You can get used to anything -- I have come to feel that my new regime is a delicious one. I never used to have White Bean Soup for breakfast, and now I have it all the time. You can't even see my omelets for all the vegetables piled into them. Life is good.

The Whole Wheat Oatmeal Bread makes the best toast I've ever had. A cup of tea and some of that amazing toast was a fine breakfast. I am not quite prepared to ponder the thought that it won't be my regular breakfast ever again -- never is a long time. Maybe it will be my breakfast sometimes. Whatever -- I don't have to worry about what's going to happen ever or never: ever and never are not now. We live life one day at a time, not ever and never. A lot of things become easier to contemplate if you think of life that way.

And so I've discovered something, just for today: you can spread some peanut butter on a few stalks of celery and take it up to your office with a nice cup of tea. The celery crunches agreeably, and the peanut butter is warm and substantial.

It's the new toast.
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The Standup Doc has a lot to say about nutrition and wellness, his favorite topics. He is Anil Maheshwari,M.D.; his web site is clear and easy to manage. Besides, he's a standup comic. Visit him at http://www.drmaheshwari.com/.
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Whole Wheat and Oatmeal Bread

Take 1/2 cup warm water and 1 tsp instant yeast; combine in a cup and let stand while you combine, in a big bowl or the bowl of your mixer, with the dough hook attached:
1 cup milk
1 cup boiling water
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup honey
Add yeast mixture. Beat together until smooth.
Add, a bit at a time, beating each time:
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
1 cup uncooked oatmeal (not instant; quick or old-fashioned is fine)
1/2 cup wheat germ
If using a mixer, continue beating as dough becomes elastic, adding more whole wheat flour as needed to make a substantial dough that is not sticky. You can also add some flax seed or more wheat germ at this point. If you're kneading by hand, turn the mixture onto a floured surface and knead in as much whole wheat flour as needed to make a heavy, elastic and not-sticky dough -- the test is that you can rest your hand on it for thirty seconds and it doesn't stick when you take your hand away.

Place it in a greased bowl -- to cheat, just spray the inside of the bowl with nonstick spray. Spraying the top of the dough lightly with the nonstick spray is a good idea, too. Cover with a tea towel and set somewhere warm: on top of the stove, over by the coffee pot, in front of the fireplace or near the radiator. Let it rise for 1.5 hours, or until it's about double the size it was. Take your fist and punch the thing right in the middle, so the air puffs out. This is really fun, so do it a few more times. The dough will lose a fair amount of its volume.

Divide it in half and shape each half into the kind of loaf you want: round or baguette, or put each into a loaf pan sprayed with nonstick spray. Today I think I will shape a larger number of smaller loaves, since Q is the only one eating them now. Cover again and let rise in a warm place for about an hour. Bake in a pre-warmed 375 degree over for about half an hour. Turn out immediately onto a wire rack and lay the loaves on their sides to cool.

Makes the best toast in the world. But celery's not bad, either.

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Scared of yeast? Don't be. But, if you're pressed for time:

Whole Wheat and Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins

Spray muffin tins with nonstick spray. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Mix, in large bowl:
1.5 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oatmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1.5 tsp cinnamon
Then mix, in smaller bowl,
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup canola oil.
Dump liquid ingredients into dry and mix only until blended; don't over-beat. Add:
1 cup frozen blueberries (not thawed)
Fill 1 dozen muffin cups 1/3 full. Bake at 425 degrees for 15--20 minutes.
Makes twelve wonderful muffins.
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