What are your best natural, whole foods recipes and meals?
August 14, 2006 6:20 PM   Subscribe

Please help us come up with "whole foods" recipes! We're actively searching for ways to cut processed carbohydrates, sugar, and chemical additives and preservatives out of our diet. Unfortunately this is harder than it looks...

It seems like everything has some kind of enriched wheat or refined sugar product now. I really want to reduce or eliminate the amount of these items from my diet, but I also need items I can make/eat quickly or take with me on the go. We have been eating a lot of grilled meat with natural seasonings and vegetables or veggie/grains salads for dinner. One of my favorites is a black bean and corn salad with other fresh veggies in lemon juice/olive oil/cumin/a squeeze of honey.

Breakfasts and lunches are a bit harder. Plain yogurt with honey & walnuts, shredded wheat with 1% milk, and salad with grilled tuna and veggies have been pretty much my only ideas. I really need your advice on other breakfast and brown bag lunch options that don't take years to prepare, or ways of making the same ingredients seem varied. Especially helpful would be more side dish options like the one above. Any tips and tricks for keeping a healthy, processed-free lifestyle going? Thanks guys!
posted by theantikitty to Food & Drink (28 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
posted by mr_roboto at 6:33 PM on August 14, 2006

Homemade hummus on whole wheat pita bread is simple, cheap, and delicious. I usually stuff in some tomato, spinach, sliced cucumbers, and shredded carrots, to brighten up the flavor and color and provide some extra nutrition.

Frittata is nice on the go: make it the night before, chill, and slice. Good for breakfast or lunch.

For breakfasts, brown rice and other cooked grains are surprisingly delicious and nutty warmed in the microwave with a bit of milk. Add fruit if you like, and eat 'em like porridge or oatmeal --- which is itself a wholesome breakfast, and delicious if you make it from steel-cut oats the night before.

Try using whole wheat flour instead of white and adding a bit of extra oatmeal and dried fruit to plain old oatmeal-raisin bars, to make a chewy breakfast bar. I use the Fannie Farmer cookbook, but any Mom-style cookbook will have a recipe. It does call for white and/or brown sugar, but you can cut down the amount some, or substitute a less refined sugar if you like.
posted by Elsa at 6:39 PM on August 14, 2006 [1 favorite]

Probably my favorite whole-foods cookbook is Laurel's Kitchen, which has great recipes ranging from simple to not-so-simple, and lots of nutritional information, mostly in appendices so it doesn't bog you down if you're just looking for something to make for dinner.

If you're newly cutting out processed foods, you might find it takes a little while to get used to this new mindset for food prep. Reading how others do this on a daily basis can be hugely encouraging. Two of my favorite cooking weblogs, Too Many Chefs and The Hungry Tiger, take a cheerful and usually simple approach to getting delicious and nourishing food on the table (and in the lunch bag) every damn day.

Of course, there's Vegan Lunchbox, although she uses more packaged food than I care for, and is assertively darling, but she makes tremendously appealing little lunches, and I do find her artistry inspiring.
posted by Elsa at 6:56 PM on August 14, 2006

Tomato soup (as I'm slurping away at some right now) freezes and reheats well. Make with chicken broth, tomatoes, onion, butter. I use a recipe that calls for a bit of flour, but as it's just a thickener I'm certain there are plenty without.

Pestos freeze well too and make for good vegetable dipping or dressing.

Chicken tikka masala and ropa vieja for dinner reheat deliciously for lunch the next day.

I rely heavily on pretty much all nuts. I eat tons of unsweetened locally made peanut butter, peanuts, walnuts, almonds. Soy protein powder has probably been processed to hell to get to its powdered state but I blend it with oranges, blackberries, peaches, strawberries, blueberries (etc.) to make smoothies. And it keeps in a covered drink container; just shake and drink.

Olives! Pickles! Edamame!
posted by birdie birdington at 6:56 PM on August 14, 2006

Could you invest in a bread machine? Then you can easily make your own breads for sandwiches and other yummy lunches.

Eggs can't be beat for breakfast, eggs with toasted homemade bread would be great. So would french toast from homemade bread.

Pancakes and waffles are pretty easy to make in large quantities, and then you can freeze them and toast to re-heat.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 6:57 PM on August 14, 2006

Oh, my goodness, I cannot stop. But I realize that you asked for recipes, so I'm tossing out a couple of casual, highly adaptable recipes.

In the winter, if I'm baking bread or have the oven going for any reason, I scrub a nice variety of vegetables --- potatoes, sweet potatoes, halved or sliced squash, chunked carrots, trimmed beets, onions, and even more delicate fare like asparagus or green beans --- then toss them in oil and salt and roast them. With a chunk or cheese and a piece of whole-grain bread, they make a lovely dinner. (Meat-eaters might find it even nicer with a roasted chicken or a chop or, um, something.) Chilled or warm, leftovers can be cut small and tossed with dark greens to make a savory and substantial salad, or served over brown rice, or with pan-fried polenta, or in a sandwich with hummus or baba ghannoush, or... you get it. For portability, they are excellent wrapped in a tortilla or lavash: rich in flavor but low in mess, and good hot or cold, with a smear of refried beans, a slice of cheese, or whatever meat you like, or on their own with a dash of hot sauce.

Does tofu fall under your definition of "whole food"? In the summer, I eat a lot of Mimi's artichoke dip, sometimes as a dip and sometimes as a sandwich spread. Some serving suggestions here [self-link].

Obviously, I love talking about food and cooking.
posted by Elsa at 7:36 PM on August 14, 2006 [3 favorites]

If you have access to a fridge during the day, salads make great brown bag lunches. From green salads topped with beans or lean meat and a homemade vinaigrette to whole wheat cous cous salads or 3 bean salads...there are a lot of options. Tuna salad with lots of onions, carrots & celery is also a good option. Cottage cheese with fruit is also a tasty & quick lunch.
posted by tastybrains at 7:48 PM on August 14, 2006

Check out the World's Healthiest Foods. They have a lot of recipes. Also, any of the Moosewood Cookbooks have great recipes that incorporate a lot of healthy, whole foods.
posted by jengineer at 9:13 PM on August 14, 2006 [1 favorite]

Boil some wheat kernels, until the wheat is soft/chewy. Add some nuts if you want. Drain and cool. Add a lot of chopped parsley, maybe some raisins or other dried fruit (cranberries?), and a sauce made from olive oil, just a little honey, and lemon juice.

Hey, spinach might be good in there, too. Also consider adding nuts at the end if you want them raw (but too many raw nuts makes some people break out).

Nuts: I've tried almonds and pecans, I think, with success.

You can also use bulgur (cracked) wheat, which is, I think, the original basis for this "wheat salad", but I like the whole kernels.
posted by amtho at 9:21 PM on August 14, 2006

Both chili and lentil soup can be made in large quantities, are extremely healthy and easily made with unprocessed foods.

When you tire of those there is a brand of whole wheat pastas that I've found in most grocery stores, I believe Anderson Mill is the name... it's in a blue and clear package.

And for snacks nothing can beat tamari-roasted almonds... available in the bulk grain section of health stores or easily made at home.
posted by Operation Afterglow at 11:22 PM on August 14, 2006

Side dish: "Easy Elegant Asparagus" -- from this Moosewood cookbook which you might find very useful -- Take enough asparagus to serve 2 people (maybe 20-40 stalks?) and blanch in shallow pan for no more than 2-3 minutes (to soften), then drain the water. Melt some butter (I prefer to use Earth Balance) with a few drops (or more if you like) of balsamic vinegar in it, then put it in the pan. Saute the asparagus for a couple minutes longer in the butter mixture and throw in a Tbsp or two of chopped toasted pine nuts. Delicioso! I usually make this with salmon and rice pilaf.

Breakfast: 1. Smoothie. Throw 100% juice (or water to reduce calories), some ice, some frozen or fresh fruit and some protein powder (I prefer rice protein powder b/c it is hypoallergenic), and anything else you want (plain yogurt, ground flax stored in the fridge, wheat germ, nutritional yeast, break open a multivitamin capsule, Greens +, whatever).. Sweeten with honey and/or liquid stevia extract. Put it in a big cup and take it with you.

2. Oatmeal, Clark's style (a health freak I dated years ago): Boil some water in a kettle. Meanwhile, in a bowl, place about 1-2Tbsp. each of raisins or cranberries, sliced almonds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, and honey. On top of that, place as many whole rolled oats (or oatmeal) as you like. When the water has just boiled, pour it on top of everything in the bowl so that the water line is just above the oatmeal. Preferably, put a lid over the bowl to keep the steam in and let it sit for about 2-5 minutes. Mmmm Mmm Mmm!

A Note about Stevia -- If you haven't used it before, use it kind of like you would use Sweet n Low. It is much more powerful than sugar.. A little goes a long way. Personally, I like to use a little Stevia in conjunction with real sugar such as honey because Stevia alone as the only source of sweetness just doesn't taste right (to me anyway).

Main dish : Kale Stew (this also came from Clark) -- great for next-day-lunch leftovers. Cook about 1-2 Cups of a mixture of brown and wild rices (Lundberg organic wild blend is the best). Meanwhile in a large pot place 1 can of black eyed peas (drained and rinsed), and some water or vegetable broth (maybe 1-2 cups), with optional dashes of dark sesame oil for flavor. Sprinkle in some sesame seeds and flavor it with Bragg's Liquid Aminos (to taste) and some nutritional yeast (~1-2Tbsp) for flavor. Do not boil -- merely simmer. Throw in the rice when it's done cooking, and then turn up the heat to medium or med-high as you throw in the chopped, washed kale (with stems removed). Cover until the kale has wilted to the level of crunchiness you desire (I like it to still be a little crunchy) and remove from heat. This is very flavorful.

Lunch: You could make sandwiches with REAL whole-grain bread (as opposed to the quote-unquote kind where the package merely says whole grain) with anything you like such as alfalfa sprouts, avocado, Vegenaise, sliced tomato and cucumber, etc. Not sure if you like cheese but pita pockets with sauteed portabellas (in some olive oil, balsamic vinegar and fresh rosemary/thyme) and feta cheese (with a little dijon mustard and alfalfa sprouts) are yummy. A side accompaniment could be, for example, a navel orange or a plum and a 1/2cup of pistachios or cashews.
posted by mojabunni at 11:28 PM on August 14, 2006 [1 favorite]

For breakfast, it's pretty easy to make your own yummy granola: nuts, dried fruit, oats (old-fashioned), other grains (*pre-cooked*), throw them in a bowl with some honey and/or spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.) and a bit of fat, spread on cookie sheet, bake until crispy, crumble.


A note on Stevia: just because something is semi-natural doesn't mean it's healthy.
posted by miss tea at 4:43 AM on August 15, 2006

You shouldn't have any trouble doing the traditional meat/veg/starch. For example, dinner last night was roasted chicken thighs, potatoes, and green beans. All totally whole foods, delicious and greasy with olive oil. Lunch will be the same thing.

My "brown-bag" lunches usually come in a plastic bag, inside which is a Rubbermaid-type lunch container that has last night's leftovers in it. It's much easier to think of a good lunch when you aren't constrained by "things that will travel well in aluminum foil and brown paper."

What mojabunni suggested is just, well, gross. There's nothing "whole" or "natural" about a lot of that stuff, and it tastes terrible. Why use "vegan mayonnaise" when real mayonnaise is a "whole food?" Tip: kale is tasty when you cook it for a long time in a soup with chorizo and garlic and potatoes. This is a traditional recipe that carries with it a whole culture and aesthetic, not some hippy-dippy crap thought up by someone who has an obsession with combining as many "health foods" as possible, with flavor as an afterthought.

If you haven't tried it (or tried it much), I gotta say, quinoa is awesome. It's totally underappreciated. It is a whole grain with more protein than brown rice, but it is easy to cook, delicious, and doesn't impart an overpowering flavor of its own. That's the problem with brown rice- it's slow to cook and has an overpowering flavor and texture that erases whatever seasoning you throw at it.

You don't specify why you want to eliminate refined sugars from your diet, but if it's for the effects of these on your blood sugar, keep in mind that refined sugars mixed well with fat should have the same effect as whole grains (well, without the accompanying fiber). That means that you should always consider chocolate as edible.

If you like whole wheat, make yourself a loaf every week. For a while I made a loaf of really heavy, wheaty bread every Sunday, then had a big thick toasted slice for breakfast every morning, slathered with butter and sprinkled with salt. [goes great with diet cola, ha ha]. That sort of bread is too dense and dry to make a decent sandwich, but it's great with butter or cheese. Here's my favorite recipe:

5 c whole wheat flour (600 g)
1 3/4 c lukewarm water
1 Tb golden syrup/honey/sugar
1 Tb kosher salt or 2 tsp regular salt
5 g (2 tsp) instant dry yeast (1 packet active dry yeast)

Heat the oven to 200 F. Put the flour and salt in a bowl and put the
bowl in the oven for about 7 minutes, to warm up the flour. Make sure
it isn't so hot as to kill the yeast.

Add the syrup to the water. If using ADY, proof in this mixture for 10
minutes. If not, add everything to the flour and salt.

Knead until smooth and just slightly tacky. I did about 5 minutes in
the Kitchenaid... so like 15 minutes by hand?

Dust the dough with flour (I used white flour for this) and roll into a
tight log. Pop the log in a standard loaf pan, cover with plastic, and
proof for 45 minutes in a warm place. The dough should expand by at
least 50%. Meanwhile, heat oven to 400 F.

Dust the top with flour. Bake for 45 minutes. Cover with foil and bake
for another 25 minutes. Take out of oven and cool in the pan for 10
minutes. Remove from the pan and cool on a rack for at least 2 hours,
until nearly at room temperature.
posted by rxrfrx at 4:50 AM on August 15, 2006 [3 favorites]

rxrfrx- WORD about the Vegenaise, Earth Balance etc. If the poster is eating whole foods that sort of pre-processed icky crap has no place in his diet.

I also forgot to mention that both Kashi and Ezekiel make a yummy whole foods crispy cereal, sort of like grape nuts.

Quinoa is also great as a base for tabouleh-type salads.

And I really recommend you look into joining a CSA next year.
posted by miss tea at 5:13 AM on August 15, 2006

Another soup recommendation. I'm not that big on cooking but I love throwing together soups and then freezing them for lunches etc.

Last night I made one with what was lying in my kitchen... was lovely! Here's what I had/did:

around 2 cups of Broad beans (fresh) with the pods removed
3 medium tomatoes, chopped into small pieces
2 medium potato, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 leek, sliced
handful of french beans, sliced into 4 sections or so
handful of runner beans, again sliced into a few pieces
1 carrot, chopped into small pieces
1tsp of cumin
couple of tbl spoons of coriander leaf
few sprigs of thyme.
salt and pepper to taste
tbl spoon of olive oil
1.2 litres of vegetable stock

So, chop your onions and garlic first. Dry your eyes then add to a heated saucepan with the olive oil already in it. stir about a bit (say 5 mins or so) on a medium heat

Now add the rest of your ingredients. Bring to the boil and then allow to simmer on a medium stove for about an hour. I usually blend my soups down but its up to you. I blended this one a wee bit, still leaving a few small chunks.

That's a weeks healthy lunching. Enjoy!
posted by twistedonion at 5:13 AM on August 15, 2006

So, chop your onions and garlic first. Dry your eyes then add to a heated saucepan

oops, should have re-read that before posting. Please don't add your eyes to the soup, just add the onions and garlic!
posted by twistedonion at 5:18 AM on August 15, 2006

I too endorse quinoa. It's both easy and delicious. Lately I've been making a lot of quinoa salads: toss some cooked quinoa with minced onion, red pepper, feta cheese, basil, and a simple vinaigrette. That version you can keep around in the fridge; if you want to add tomatoes (and I usually do) you want to add them later, so that the tomatoes never spend any time in the cold.

A storebought product we like very much is Ak-Mak crackers. Their ingredients: 100% whole wheat flour, water, honey, sesame oil, butter, sesame seeds, salt, and yeast. They taste good on their own and are excellent with cheese or topped with a homemade roast-vegetable spread.

For lunches, I like to bring slices of frittata, which are very nice at room temperature and can be made with any number of different vegetables to keep things interesting. Leftovers of course are also good. For breakfast, we often have a whole-wheat something with nut butter. And coffee, always coffee.
posted by redfoxtail at 7:57 AM on August 15, 2006

Oh, also, here's a simple and delicious method for greens from Marcella Hazan:

Get some greens -- spinach, kale, chard, turnip greens, mustard greens, whatever relatively sturdy dark green leaves strike your fancy. Wash and trim them, then parboil them for a moment or two in salted water. This flies in the face of everything you've heard about how all the nutrients and flavor escape into the water, but it's important to work with the way you're going to cook them later. Drain the greens and when they're cool enough, squeeze out the excess water. At this point you can squeeze them into a ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate, if you like. This is a handy way to store greens for a couple of days without using up ridiculous quantities of fridge space, too.

When you want to eat the greens, sautee some chopped onions over low heat, medium-low at the highest, in plenty of olive oil, s l o w l y. This will take ages, but not much attention. While that's going on, chop the greens to the size you like and set them aside, and also mince a couple of cloves of garlic. When they have turned a deepening rosy gold color, add the garlic and stir for a minute more.

Now add the greens and turn the heat up to medium-high. What you're doing here is coating the greens with the melded essence of the olive oil, onion, and garlic. If you start with raw greens, they will of course give off their liquid at this point, stewing the greens and diluting the oil. Bah!

Okay, taste for salt, add pepper, and you're done. Despite the length of my instructions, this is a breeze. You can also make this into a light vegetarian supper by adding cooked white beans or chickpeas at the end and heating them through.
posted by redfoxtail at 8:08 AM on August 15, 2006 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: After finishing my four-thousandth bowl of shredded wheat this morning, my taste-buds will thank you all. I like shredded wheat...just not every day.

Elsa, you're terrific! You sound very much like me. Thanks for all your suggestions -- recipes, blogs, and books.

I also loved all the new suggestions of grains. I've heard of a lot of them but needed an extra nudge to really try them out. Sounds like it's a trip to Whole Foods (the store) to me to find some of those more elusive grains. I don't think we have quinoa, wheat berries, et al at the regular store.

Crouton, I LOVE the idea of getting a bread machine. Oh, I'm such a sucker for the kitchen appliances. This sounds like the perfect occasion to buy myself a new toy. I'll have to poke around for good recipes that use whole wheat flour without turning out like aformentioned brick. I'll definitely try yours, RX.

As for Stevia...I've heard it but I haven't used it. Mostly because of all the panicky IT'S NOT FDA APPROVED blabber you always hear. How safe is it really?

Miss Tea, the CSA is a great idea. I have a friend that does one locally I can talk to. I was sold on it when she told me about it, but I never signed up. I suppose the only problem with this one is that you don't get to choose what they send you. Still, a great idea.

Thanks to everyone for all the suggestions. If there are more, please post em!
posted by theantikitty at 8:11 AM on August 15, 2006

*blushing* No, I'm just a blabbermouth who loves to cook.

redfoxtail has modestly refrained from mentioning that she's the author of The Hungry Tiger, the weblog I mentioned. It's reliably wonderful; take a long, hungry look at it!
posted by Elsa at 8:40 AM on August 15, 2006

theantikitty: I'll second the CSA.

This is in my lunch today, all from CSA produce I got this week:
* 1 ear corn, cut off the cob after cooking
* salad: heirloom lettuce, the best tomato I've ever had, cucumber
* sweet, amazing melon

I've also got a small brie-on-baguette toasted sandwich not from the CSA, yum.

And for dinner I'll be making stir fry from my other CSA veggies -- cabbage, green bell peppers, garlic, onions, carrots, beets -- and eating with brown rice and CSA basil.

The secret to non-brick like wheat bread: wheat gluten. White flour has more gluten, which gives it more springyness. If you add gluten to your wheat bread recipes, it will be lighter and rise better.

Also, you might poke around and see if there are any working grist mills in your area. There's a restored historic grist mill I sometimes go to near Portland. They'll grind fresh flour for you from scratch, but then you have to use it fairly fast or keep it in the fridge. I don't know what exists in the Pittsburgh area.

One of the main reasons commercially available flour is so enriched is that most of its nutrients are stripped out during processing to prevent it from going bad during months of storage and shipment. So then nutrition has to be added again after the fact. But if you get your own fresh-ground flour and use it quickly, you'll get a yummy, healthy less-processed alternative.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 8:42 AM on August 15, 2006

If you're having trouble getting whole wheat bread to rise, I would suggest

a) kneading it a bit longer to develop the gluten. A bread maker does come in handy here; when I have access to a breadmaker, I often let it do all but the last few minutes of kneading for me. Then I take the dough out, give it a few minutes of kneading, and bake it in my oven so I can get the shape I want.

b) a baking stone, especially if you (like me) are using a nasty little oven. In addition to enhancing the bottom crust and other magic, the baking stone regulates the oven's heat as the thermostat cycles on and off.

c) as soon as the bread goes in, crank the heat up another 25 degrees or so, just for a few minutes. This promotes oven-spring, that crucial first burst of in-oven rising time, by guaranteeing that your oven is in a heat-up cycle, not a cool-down cycle. (This trick came from Alton Brown. Swoon.) Don't forget to turn it back down, though, or you'll truly have a brick!

I'm not really presuming that you don't know these things --- forgive the tone! I'm also thinking of people who might read this thread in the future.

There are some fantastic cooks of all styles on MeFi, so the cooking threads are always fun! I always learn something and get some great ideas.
posted by Elsa at 9:16 AM on August 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

Stir some cold-milled flax seed into your morning yogurt. High fiber and high in omega-3 fatty acids. I also like to sprinkle some accross my salad at dinner.
My favorite breakfast cereal is Uncle Sam's. No added sugar, full of flax, also comes in 'with berries' version to persuade the kiddos.
Also, this is the third time I've recommended this book on AskMe, so I feel a bit self conscious linking again, but really this is the vegetarian Joy of Cooking: Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.
posted by Sara Anne at 10:21 AM on August 15, 2006

Elsa's tip (a) is deinitely key to going from crappy bread to bakery-quality bread. A bread maker, stand mixer, or food processor is invaluable. Kneading by hand can take 3-5 times as long as kneading by machine, and you still might not get the same quality of gluten development.

Also, two other important things to getting lighter textures:

1. Proof properly! You can get good oven spring but it doesn't matter if your bread isn't fully proofed (which can vary from 1.5x volume to 3x volume compared to your kneaded dough).

2. Let the bread cool before cutting! You won't get proper starch gelatinization if you let all the steam out. You gotta let that cool slowly.
posted by rxrfrx at 12:03 PM on August 15, 2006

Speaking of Whole Foods...they have recipes! I've made a few things from their recipes and can attest to their easiness and yumminess.
posted by echo0720 at 1:08 PM on August 15, 2006

What mojabunni suggested is just, well, gross. There's nothing "whole" or "natural" about a lot of that stuff, and it tastes terrible. Why use "vegan mayonnaise" when real mayonnaise is a "whole food?"

I completely disagree. Vegenaise is minimally processed and it tastes good and is better for you than regular mayo. I do agree that a lot of mayo substitutes are gross, however, like Nayonaise (blech). In my book, real mayo is NOT a "whole food."

I'm not sure what you think is so gross.. maybe the Bragg's or nutritional yeast or stevia since those are the most "health food freakish" ingredients that people raised on a diet of junk food would find disagreeable... but they are not gross. Bragg's tastes like soy sauce except different, and it's yummy.. A lot of people, such as my b/f who is totally not into health food, put it on everything as if it were Tabasco. Nutritional yeast is deactivated and has a pleasant flavor, but even if you don't want to taste it, you can add maybe 1-2tsp of it to a smoothie and you won't notice it.

I didn't get the sense that the poster wanted an extreme diet such as that of a raw foodist or anything, so I didn't assume that products like Vegenaise or Earth Balance would be totally out of question.

About Stevia... Uh, somehow I am not the least bit concerned that animals, which are smaller than ourselves and do not have bodies that function identically to our own, had kidney damage when given "extremely large doses of stevia." I consume literally a few drops of Stevia a month and that's about the same that most people would consume. Practically speaking, I doubt it makes any difference in my life at all.
posted by mojabunni at 2:25 PM on August 15, 2006

I have been going crazy lately for homemade chapatis. They are quick, easy, cheap and tasty as all get out. They keep and reheat decently, too.

Start with 2 cups (you don't need to be precise here) of sifted whole wheat flour, or chapati flour (which is stone ground, whole wheat flour) in a bowl. Add a blurp (1 tablespoon, roughly) of oil (veggie, corn, ghee, etc.). Add some salt. Or don't. Mix (I just reach in with my paw, and smush). Add cold water in small amounts. Mix. Do this until you have a soft ball of dough. If it gets too soft, add flour. Put a damp towel on top of the bowl, and set aside to rest for an hour or two.

For the next part, I use a setup of 2 plates, a spider (cast iron frying pan), a pair of grabbers, a rolling pin and a big cutting board. I also get out some ghee (clarified butter) to brush between the cooked chapatis, but this isn't strictly necessary.

Take your dough, and divide it into 10 balls. These go on one plate. After you've done it once, you'll know about how big they should be (a bit smaller than a golf ball). Flour your cutting board (I use a big spoon, and dump a spoonful on the side of the board to spread as needed). Take a ball, and roll it out, turning the bread. If it sticks to the board or the rolling pin, sprinkle more flour. They'll end up about 6" across. Put on plate. Repeat. I stagger them a bit, so they aren't in one stack.

Heat up your cast iron frying pan. If it is well seasoned, you don't need oil. If it isn't, add a *little*. You are at about medium flame. When it is good and hot (flick a tiny bit of water on it, and see if it sizzles and jumps off), put on your first chapati. In around a minute, you'll see it start to bubble up a bit. Flip it over. It should puff up within a few seconds. If it doesn't turn up your burner a bit, or don't worry, or, if you have a gas stove, put it directly over the flame for a few seconds until if puffs up. Put on second plate when done, and optionally brush a little ghee on top. Repeat.

You can put the finished chapatis in tin foil, and reheat them for about 15 min. at 400F (toaster ovens work well) in the foil, or remove and nuke for about half a minute for a stack of 3.

This is all much easier than it sounds here. You can eat them plain, wrap stuff in them, tear bits off and scoop stuff (the traditional usage) or anything else you wish. They travel well.
posted by QIbHom at 4:57 PM on August 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

Ooooh yeah. Good call on the chapatis. That's a downright tasty whole wheat flour product, and easy to make too.

(PS, how is mayonnaise not a whole food? It's eggs, oil, vinegar and salt. Use an extra-virgin oil, sea salt and a good wine vinegar, and that's totally unrefined).
posted by rxrfrx at 7:02 PM on August 15, 2006

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