|A healthier holiday treat that would make a beautiful loaf to share with neighbors.|
While the holiday season is in full swing, our personal life also has Liv's dance season going strong. A number of days each week I fill my SUV with athletic girls decked out in candy cane striped socks and Santa hats with heavy bags filled assorted dance shoes over their shoulders as I transport them from school to the dance studio where they will spend the next 4 to 5 hours in intense dance rehearsals and technique classes.
|They don't always make the best choices... :)|
Fueling these girls is always a challenge. With the amount of energy they expend each day additional calories are needed to keep their muscles strong and their growing bones growing. Challenging them to make healthy choices rather than grabbing packaged goods has me always on the lookout for homemade granola bars filled with protein rich nuts, fruit smoothies supplemented with vitamins and handfuls of spinach (though I don't always tell them I add the spinach) as well as other easy to grab yet healthy snacks.
Eating Well has once again come to our rescue with this low fat, grain and nut filled bread all put together with a holiday flair. Those cranberries you stocked up on and stashed in your freezer find themselves featured in these mini loaves while orange juice and peel bring bright flavors to the whole wheat and spelt flours used to bind it all together. Still high in sugar, the loaf was healthy enough after a balanced lunch to make me feel good about serving it to the girls and they had no problems polishing off the plate.
On a side note, not only the kids loved this bread. My husband was just on his way to work as the bread came out of the oven and I sliced and wrapped a loaf up for him to take to "the office". He texted shortly after he arrived that the loaf took nearly 84 seconds to disappear having some of the guys asking if he had indeed brought any more.
Cranberry-Nut Mini Loaves with Flax
For years I had used orange zest from a jar. My friend Becky always took the time to zest her oranges and for the last few years with the addition of the handy microplane zester to my kitchen, I'm a fresh zester too. Becky is right... fresh really is better.
|I love my Microplane Zester|
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
2 Tbs freshly grated orange zest
1/4 cup ground flax meal
1 cup whole-wheat flour (we used spelt flour)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3/4 cup sugar ***
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, or pecans (2 ounces), divided (we didn't put nuts on top, added all to the bread)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat three 6-by-3-inch mini-loaf pans (2-cup capacity) with cooking spray.
Pulse cranberries in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Grate orange zest to measure 2 tablespoons. Squeeze juice, adding orange juice, if necessary, to measure 3/4 cup.
In a large bowl add the flax meal, whole-wheat flour (or spelt flour), all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; whisk to blend.
Whisk egg, sugar, oil, vanilla and the orange zest and juice in a medium bowl. Add to the flour mixture and mix with a rubber spatula just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in cranberries and 1/4 cup nuts. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans, spreading evenly. Sprinkle the loaves with the remaining 1/4 cup nuts. Place the pans on a baking sheet.
Bake the loaves until the tops are golden and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen edges and turn the loaves out onto the rack to cool completely before slicing or wrapping.
*** We've made this bread a number of times and I sometimes find it a little too sweet for my taste. As such, we have reduced the sugar to 2/3 cup successfully for a less sweet bread and used the Liv Life Note below.
Liv Life note: Many years ago my mom showed me this "sweet" trick... After spraying the loaf pans with cooking spray, place 2-3 Tbs of sugar in the pan and "dust" the sides with the sugar. After the bread is baked it's removed with a crunchy sweetened crust that the kids love! (I have to admit to loving it too...)