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January 4, 2012 5:07 AM   Subscribe

So, I got a KitchenAid stand mixer for Christmas this year...yay! But I'm also trying to get back to healthy habits* after overindulging over the holidays. Other than whole wheat bread (proven recipes welcome) is there anything healthy I can make with this thing? Should I spring for the pasta maker attachment to try whole wheat pasta? *Not a diet! Not a resolution!
posted by JoanArkham to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
You can always use the whisk attachment to beat eggs, or you can make nice sweet potatoes (mashed/whipped). I would imagine that winter squashes, turnips, etc would behave very similarly, and would be healthier than just straight up white potatoes.
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:21 AM on January 4, 2012

Despite the name, Chocolate Covered Katie has a blog that has lots of healthy recipes and healthy desserts. I love her mock chocolate chip cookie dough made with chickpeas and a bit of peanut butter, and any sweetener you like (splenda, stevia, agave syrup, or just sugar).
posted by shortyJBot at 5:35 AM on January 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Pizza dough? Does that count as healthy?

I've had some luck using "White whole wheat" flour in bread recipes to get in the whole grains. It doesn't seem to just be a lump as much as whole wheat flour does for me. I also add some ground flax seed meal.

My pizza dough recipe is from "The Baker's Apprentice"
posted by mgogol at 6:52 AM on January 4, 2012

As far as the pasta maker attachment goes, I'd advise against it unless you've worked with one in the past and you make pasta a lot anyway.

We make pasta with a hand-crank machine about twice a year, (squash-filled ravioli in the fall, fresh linquini in the spring) and it's enough to remind me why we don't make pasta more often. It's an undertaking.

I used the pasta attachment on my brother-in-law's kitchenaid a couple of months ago and found that it was _very_ difficult because it rolls at a constant speed. If for any reason you have to slow down or stop it's not just a matter of, you know, not cranking: you have to flip the switch. It doesn't sound like much, but this one difference adds enough friction to the workflow to turn pasta-making from an enjoyable if difficult family occasion into something that is just pure frustration.

If I had to use the machine every day I'm sure I'd adapt, and I'm sure you would, too, but for the money I feel like it's definitely not worth it for occasional use.
posted by gauche at 6:55 AM on January 4, 2012

We have the pasta makers (roller style, not the extruder) attachment that I managed to score [NIB] off craigslist for $40. I'd say it's very much worth it at that price. At the full price, which i forget at the moment, I'd say you'd have to make a lot of pasta for it to be worth it.

But if you're asking if it's better than rolling out pasta by hand --> yes.
Does it work? --> yes.
Well? --> yes.
Very well? --> yes.
Does the pasta taste better than storebought --> obviously yes.
Do most people make enough pasta to justify it's space/cost --> probably not.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:51 AM on January 4, 2012

Regarding what gauche said: I've had no trouble keeping up with the rolling speed, but it is a bit of an... adventure.

I can see how a hand operated machine would allow one a bit of a margin of safety that isn't available with a machine that's going to roll that bit of dough out, whether you're ready to catch it or not.

I will say that I successfully made pasta, without overworking any of it, the first try. *shrug*
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:53 AM on January 4, 2012

I guess I may have missed the portion of your question that mentions "healthy things to make". I will say the shredder/slicer attachment, if you don't have a food processor, is really good for shredding veggies for various dishes. It makes coleslaw/shredded carrots/sliced cucumbers/etc SOOO much easier. Easily our most used attachment.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:13 AM on January 4, 2012

You can whip egg whites with it... Souffles? Oatmeal pancakes?
Other than bread dough, I only use mine for terribly unhealthy things.
posted by chickenmagazine at 8:45 AM on January 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

There is also a grinder attachment for the kitchen aid mixer that might also be of some use.
posted by majortom1981 at 9:19 AM on January 4, 2012

Made from scratch cookies and cakes are not necessarily un-healthy. Think of it this way- it takes time and planning to bake something from scratch, whereas buying a preservative filled treat doesn't take anything but a quick grab off the shelves. If you limit yourself to sweets that are baked only by you, you will be eating less sweets and they will be better quality. I know this to be true because it is a rule that I easily follow.

Don't bother with sugar substitutes or low fat options. You will only eat more of the treat, trying to appease your craving. A few bites of a real pound cake (made with butter and sugar) can satisfy you right away.

The best part about making your sweets from scratch is that you will be so proud of what you create that you will want to share it. What happens for me is that I get a bite or two of a rich, satisfying treat and then the rest goes to family, friends and co-workers who jump up and down with joy.

Enjoy your stand mixer, enjoy your treats. A balanced lifestyle is a healthy lifestyle.
posted by myselfasme at 9:44 AM on January 4, 2012 [5 favorites]

Last time I checked, the powered pasta attachment was about $100 in stores. You can get a counter-mounted manual model (and we're talking about cranking pasta here, not hard ice-cream) for around $40-50 at kitchen stores.

Also, you'll find that most whole-wheat bread recipes resemble a regular bread-flour recipe with the substitution of not more than half (often less) of the bread flour with whole-wheat flour. Sometimes there's a protein boost (dry milk or a bread protein product) because, I'm told, the wheat germ is sharp and tends to slice up the gluten chains, making for more dense bread otherwise.

Pizza dough is great to make in a Kitchenaid, though--and you can make pizza as healthy or unhealthy as the occasion calls for.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:40 AM on January 4, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks, all! Will definitely try pizza dough...and probably skip the pasta maker.

I agree about a small amount of something really good as a treat...and I've been thinking of getting a tea cake pan for portion control. I was just wondering if there are KitchenAid uses beyond the obvious cakes and cookies.
posted by JoanArkham at 10:48 AM on January 4, 2012

A couple of years ago, I received several KitchenAid attachments. The kit that was given to me included the sausage stuffer and the food tray as well as the grater/slicer, grinder and strainer.

Grater/Slicer: I rarely use this attachment. The set up and clean up just isn't worth it to me for the amounts that I normally slice or grate. I have a hand grater for when I need some grated cheese. If I need vegis sliced, I usually can do it by hand more easily. This is useful if I am cooking LARGE batches, however.

Grinder: I do use this a couple of times a year to make sausage. The problem is that we'll typically make a batch of sausage and then promptly eat it all with friends at a big brunch. The advantage is that you can control the fat content and experiment with flavors. You could also use it to grind up nuts for use in baked goods. If I was doing a bunch of tea rings, nut breads or cookies for a holiday or event, I'd use this instead of a hand chopper.

Fruit/Veg Strainer: I use this through out the summer and fall. I mostly use it for prepping fruit for making jam. I found that this speeds up my jamming process quite a bit and reduces some of the seeds from the berries. I use this with the food tray so I can really roll through the food quickly. So, anything that needs a fruit or veg puree would benefit from this tool. Think jam, tomato sauce, smoothies, ice cream, sorbet, etc.

Ice Cream Maker: Just got this for Christmas. Will be putting it to use with some of that pureed fruit from the strainer above this summer for ice cream or sorbets.

Pouring Shield
: I wish I remembered to use this more often. It would keep things a bit cleaner.

Cover: Does help keep it clean if you leave it out on the counter like I do.

Can Opener: I don't see it listed on the KitchenAid site anymore. I found this to be a waste. It worked well for a while but then stopped locking down properly. I went back to using a hand opener and am much happier.

We don't have the pasta attachments.
posted by onhazier at 11:53 AM on January 4, 2012

I agree with gauche, mostly, about the pasta attachment. I got it after I had worked with a hand-crank machine where I could stop and start as I screwed things up. I mean experimented. Having cut my teeth on that I was comfortable with the KA attachment but I don't know that I'da learned as well w/o it.

My darling wife and I have the ice cream attachment, and while we have had the same sort of homemade ice cream issues you asked about in the past we have overall been happy with it. Might be worth it if it'll let you get rid of a specialized machine.
posted by phearlez at 2:09 PM on January 4, 2012

With the ice cream maker you can make sorbets if you don't want ice cream. The pasta attachment is fun, especially at first, and gives you a lot of control over what your pasta is made from. I definitely prefer the flavor to dry pasta.

There is a paddle attachment that is evidently really great for shredding cooked meats, like chicken.

Beat egg whites in the summer and make a nice pavlova with fresh fruit.
posted by Hylas at 3:37 PM on January 4, 2012

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