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Easy Whole Grain Focaccia

Valerie BoeseDo you eat whole grains? Eating whole grains can be easy in theory, but actually doing it, can be a challenge with today’s meals. I have been looking and I do not see very much, if any, whole grains in our everyday American diet. I think most people really don’t know what whole grains are, let alone know how to cook them. You probably think of whole grains as whole wheat bread, raisin bran cereal, or oatmeal. While these are whole grains, there are many more types of whole grains.

Let’s define whole grains: Whole grains contain the germ, endosperm and the bran. Types include brown rice, millet, bulgur, quinoa, barley and many more. I think most people believe they need to eat whole grains for fiber, which is partly true, but whole grains offer so much more than fiber. Whole grains are good sources of the protein, vitamins and minerals that our body needs to be healthy. For example, 2 tablespoons of wheat germ has 10 minerals, with six being trace minerals, two times the daily requirement for Omega-3 fatty acid (which raises the good cholesterol in your body and removes the bad cholesterol), and two times the daily requirement of vitamin E, plus 3 grams of protein, wow, all of this in just in two tablespoons.

Whole grains

I figure we are not meant to be overweight; this isn’t rocket science, we plainly are not eating enough of the right types foods to give our body proper nutrition, so we are always hungry, eating more of the wrong types of foods that make us eat more of the wrong types of foods, a vicious circle that can lead to obesity, diabetes, etc. We really need to think about adding whole grains back in to our diet, eating foods that will provide nutrition that will satisfy our hunger.

I made the change; I decided to start adding a variety of whole grains into my everyday cooking. I started with ground flax, wheat germ, millet, barley and bulgur. I found I could add wheat germ to pancake batter, meatloaf, hamburgers and homemade breads. I have been adding millet, barley and bulgur to my broth-based soups. I found flax is easy to add to fruit smoothies and cooked oatmeal. There are many more whole grains that I am excited to try. Cooking with new grains is an adventure; they offer new flavors and textures, making meals for my family tastier and healthier. Buying whole grains today is easy; they are now readily available in most grocery stores, in the healthy food aisle.

Check out one of my latest whole grain recipe, Easy Whole Grain Focaccia. It was easy to make using my bread machine. I took my white flour recipe and substituted ground flax, wheat germ and white whole wheat flour. White whole wheat flour is a grain that has been milled using white wheat, which tastes similar to bleached white flour, except, it is way more nutritious.

Whole Grain Focaccia transforms an old Italian favorite in to a healthy whole grain bread. The bread is topped with olive oil, sautéed red onions and rosemary. The smell of this bread baking in your kitchen is so amazing; the aroma of fresh-baked bread combined with the savory smell of rosemary is oh so wonderful. Try this bread with your next meal as is or top it with garlic butter, and toast it under the oven broiler. Yum!

Use savory ingredients, rosemary and red onion. Complete recipe follows.

Rosemary and Red Onion

Add yeast to warm water to let it work first.

Let yeast work in warm water

To make, add the ingredients to your bread machine and use the dough or pizza cycle; some bread machines note pizza for their dough cycle. When the dough cycle finishes, divide dough into two pieces. The dough may be a little sticky, lightly flour each half and press each on to a cookie sheet layered with a sheet of parchment paper or oiled well. Shape each piece of dough into an oval pressing it down and spreading it out on the pan, to about 1/2-inch thick. Then top each shaped oval piece with half of the red onion, rosemary and oil mixture.

Press dough out

Let rise in a warm place. I will turn on my overhead stove light and let it rise there for about 1 hour. You can tell it is done rising, when you put a small dent in dough with your finger, about 1/4 inch deep and the dough does not bounce back. Add to preheated oven at 375 F and bake for 1 to -15 minutes until golden brown.

Ready for oven!

Ready for oven!

Ready to eat ... Yum!

Ready to eat...Yum!

Tastes wonderful warm with butter.

Whole Grain Focaccia Bread

Whole Grain Focaccia
3/4 cup water heated to 105 to 110 F
1  1/2 teaspoons of yeast
1  1/2 cup white bread flour
1/2 cup whole wheat white flour
1/4 cup ground flax
1/4 cup wheat germ
4 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter chopped in several pieces
1 large egg
3 tablespoons olive or corn oil (olive oil is best)
1/4 red onion, sliced thin
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed

Add yeast to warm water and let set for 6 minutes.

Once the yeast mixture is done working, add to it flours, flax, wheat germ, sugar, salt, butter, yeast water mixture and egg to bread machine cannister. Set bread machine to dough or pizza cycle and let it run.

While dough is being made. Add olive oil to medium frying pan and add rosemary and red onion slices, heat on medium heat until onion is tender.

Once the cycle is finished, remove dough from bread machine canister and on a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into half. (Use two cookie sheets, cover each cookie sheet with parchment paper or cooking oil.) Lay one piece of dough on each cookie sheet. Pat each piece of dough in to an oval shape about 1/2-inch thick, top with cooked rosemary and red onion mixture. Let rise for about 1 hour.

Hint: The dough will be done rising when you slightly dent the dough about 1/4 inch with your finger and the dough does not pop back.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Bake for about 18 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.