The simple idea of clean eating is based on the feeling that the industrialisation of our food chain has resulted in many once-natural ingredients being pumped full of artificial additives to make them more economical, ultimately resulting in less nutritious food.
Over the past few years, I’ve been trying to follow an “eat clean” ethos. This means taking the below ideas as my guiding principals for general eating, while at the same time being realistic and not forgetting that life is all about balance.
You can eat anything, as long as you make it fresh (or someone else does)
Ice cream, cookies and doughnuts are all good – just make them yourself. Perhaps you’ll find an amazing four-ingredient cookie recipe (Google it!) or discover a local baker who has skills you never imagined. However you do it, you’ll think more about what you eat, enjoy it more and cut down on the junk.
Avoid long ingredient lists
The telltale sign of “dirty” food is a long list of ingredients that have either been added to the main ingredients for the sake of increasing shelf life or to actually substitute the natural ingredients altogether.
A good habit to develop is to check the ingredients list on whatever you pick up at the supermarket and choose the item with fewer ingredients. While a long list is not itself a sign of poor food, it often offers a hint.
If the manufacturer has chosen to substitute raw brown sugar with a mix of 42% high-fructose corn syrup, xylitol (E967) and acesulfame potassium (E950), your wellness is probably not their top priority.
At home, a device that has made the biggest difference to my everyday eating is my bread machine. Sure, you can make bread by hand – every night, for six hours – but for the rest of us, this appliance means you can literally throw the ingredients together in two minutes before you go to bed, set the timer and wake up to the smell of freshly baked bread every day. It really is that simple.
My bread maker not only paid itself off well within a year, but it changed my life!
No need to knead
I’ve been out doing some research. One standard loaf of sliced Hong Kong supermarket bread lists 17 ingredients including anti-caking agents, emulsifiers, antioxidants, preservatives and treatment agents such as sodium ferrocyanide, mono and diglycerides of fatty acids, ascorbic acid, calcium propionate, calcium sulphate, calcium phosphate, amylases and starch acetate.
Do you want bread that can sit on a shelf for 14 days without getting mouldy? Or would you rather eat a loaf with just a few ingredients (olive oil, sea salt, flour, honey and yeast)?
I’ve been playing around with variations on basic bread machine recipes. Over 100 loaves later, I’m ready to share my bread recipe with you.
Making bread using a bread machine
- ¾ cup filtered water
- 1¼ cups strong (bread) flour
- ¼ cup mixed seeds
- 1½ tsp active yeast
- 1½ tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp honey
Simply put all the ingredients in the machine bowl in the above order (ensuring that the yeast doesn’t touch the salt or water) and hit “go”.
- Yeast is a living thing, so keep it in the freezer or chilled and be aware that older yeast is less potent. If your yeast is older, you may need to add an extra ½ teaspoon to get the same effect. Test your yeast if you’re not sure about its age by adding a pinch to ¼ cup warm water with a sprinkling of sugar – it should dissolve and bubble in five minutes if it’s still good to use.
- Use whatever mix of flour you prefer, as long as it’s labelled “strong” or “bread” flour. Others have lower protein (gluten) and won’t rise well. I mix 75% strong white with 25% wholemeal.
- This recipe is for a half-size loaf, so you may have to adjust it for your machine.
Once you’re comfortable with this entry-level recipe, let us know and maybe Tom will even share some of his sourdough starter with you to step up to the next level!