Chocolates are delicious and so are chips and they are probably the tastiest way to pacify a rumbling tummy between two meals... That and zillion cups of tea was a regular snack-ritual for me until our son was born... As in other aspects of life, motherhood completely changed my perspective on snacking soon after our little one started table food... His stomach is so little, I thought, on top of that if I let him snack on non-essentials then how will that little tummy ever have space for all the veggies and fruits that he needs... Ever since I have tried to be mindful of what goes into his tummy and into ours in general.
Thus over the past couple of years, the French fries have been swapped out for baked sweet potato fries, sometimes spinach fritters or even roasted escarole leaves, simple puffs have been replaced by veggie-flavored whole grain ones... and if you ask me, the answer to a sweet treat has consistently been flavored yogurts or whole wheat muffins or slices of quick breads with nuts and dried fruits... While I was a stay-at-home-mom, all this healthy-whole-food-business felt simple and doable.. but once I joined work it felt a little stressful to continue the routine. Time was scarce and I had to make the best of it... So obviously I had to discount on the time that I spent in the kitchen... This meant, every meal had to be pre-planned and the snacks either had to be very simple or else planned and prepared well in advance...
Over time I have learnt that a steady stock of nuts, fruits, cheese, eggs and yogurt go a long way... With these at your disposal, a cheese omelette or these 2-ingredient pancakes are just a flip away, these healthy snack options always at hand and a delicious yogurt parfait just a few scoops away. And in case (as it happens sometimes)... the baking bug comes crawling at your door, you can always peek into one of the cookbooks, suitably adapt a recipe to match the ingredients in hand and bake a quick bread or a muffin to add to your emergency snack kit...
So the other weekend I decided to try a version of Annabel's Apple cake from the book First Meals Revised: Fast, healthy, and fun foods to tempt infants and toddlers. I must admit that my first two attempts were miserable.. thanks to my keenness of trying to make every morsel healthier for the family ! Anyway through my experiments I learnt that swapping yogurt for eggs and beetroot puree for butter does not always work. While tweaking a recipe one has to keep the other ingredients in mind and in this bread it is crucial to keep in mind that on baking apples and beetroot both emit a lot of moisture hence it is best to keep the batter a little dry and let the fruits and veggies do their work while the bread is baking. Also beetroot by itself might not taste so great in a cake/bread..... But when mixed with an adequate amount of cocoa and nutmeg it does wonders to the bread...
With all this in mind I baked my bread yet again this weekend and on my third attempt I finally got the bread I had envisioned... a sturdy tasteful whole grain loaf with layers of apples and nuts and goodness of veggies in every bite..
Apple and Beet Quick Bread
Prep time: 1 hour Cook time: 35-40 minutes Yield: a 9×5 inch loaf
- ⅓ cup baked beetroot, puree
- ¼ cup plain yogurt
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup + ½ tablespoon sugar
- ½ cup demerara sugar
- 1 medium sized egg
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ taspoon ginger powder
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 medium sized apples
- 1 tablespoon bread crumbs or 1 tea biscuit like Marie
- juice of ½ lemon
- 3 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 3-4 tablespoon walnuts crushed
- Cut a medium sized beet into two and bake it at 375°F with cut sides down for 45 minutes. Once the beet is cool enough to handle, peel and puree the roasted beet. We'll use ⅓ cup of the puree to substitute a part of the fat from the original recipe.
- Peel the apples, cut them into thin slices and place in a bowl. Toss the slices with ½ tablespoon of sugar, lemon juice, walnuts and the bread crumbs (or crushed tea biscuit) and keep aside.
- Put the pureed beet, yogurt, olive oil and sugar(both demerara and white sugar) in a blender and blend until the sugar crystals dissolve completely.
- Pour out the liquid mixture into a deep medium sized mixing bowl and beat the egg into the mixture.
- Now add all the dry ingredients (the flour, cocoa powder, salt, ginger powder, nutmeg powder, baking powder and baking soda) into the mixing bowl. Gently mix all the ingredients taking care not to over-mix.
- Preheat the oven to 400° F and grease a 9\times;5 inch loaf pan.
- Pour in third of the batter, then half of the sliced apple mixture, then a third more of the batter followed by the rest of the apple mixture. Finish with the remaining third of the batter. (At this point the batter is quite sticky and you might be tempted to add some liquid to it. Resist however or else the bread might become very soggy.)
- Finally bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes then reducing the oven temperature to 375 °F bake for another 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- When mostly cool remove the loaf from the pan, then cool further before slicing.
This loaf stays well in the refrigerator for atleast a week.