Thursday, March 3, 2011

Beer Bread!

(Not sure why its sideways, but you get the idea!)

As my My Loving Duke and I head into the next decade of our lives, we've decided to approach the way we eat a little differently.  We have decided to try to do more local eating-- which was part of the impetus for starting this blog-- how to become more of a "localvore", if you will.  In our quest for accessible local farms and foods, we met, no big surprise, a farmer.  One of the myriad of interesting facts we learned in the course of conversations with this farmer is that if you're eating nutrient dense foods (like locally grown just about anything), you will find yourself eating less.  You just will.  Your body will not need same quantities of food that you're used to to get what it needs, so you'll find yourself eating smaller portions.

Now the science nerd (and I'm a pretty big science nerd) in me says: "This makes sense.  If you have everything you need in a smaller amount, your body doesn't need as much food to get the fuel it needs; you should feel satisfied sooner."  The life-long dieter in me says: "I know this to be true, I feel better when I eat foods that are good for me."  But then there's a big voice in my head that shouts "B.S!!"  That voice knows that I'm an emotional eater-- I often let how I'm feeling dictate what and how much I eat.  That voice was practically shouting, "Why would I eat less pot roast just because its more nutrient packed?  Especially when I've been smelling it cook all day???  No way."  So I left the farm believing the science, but not the common sense.  I just didn't see how it would be true for me.

As it turns out, it was true for me.  For whatever reason, I am eating less-- pretty significantly less.  Not dangerously less, and I'm not advocating it as a weight loss plan-- being pregnant (and generally tired trying to lose weight) I'm not actively trying to do anything other than eat as well as I can, weight be damned.  But eating foods more packed with nutrients means I'm not craving as much (except brownies, which I want lots of, ALL the time.  I'm choosing to attribute that to baby #2, and not some deep-seeded emotional need), and I'm not as hungry when I sit down to eat, so I'm not as obsessed with how good everything "sounds".  And while I'm still an emotional eater, I tend to be satisfied with less when I'm eating the good stuff.

Don't get me wrong-- I still love my favorite foods-- and I've never been one to get excited about leaving foods OUT of my diet.  But, since having this epiphany, I've been wondering-- how can I make the OTHER stuff I eat more packed with goodness?  This whole idea of nutrient packed foods obviously doesn't just apply to locally grown food, so perhaps I can make the stuff I like to eat just a little better for me, so that I'll eat less (which is better for me AND has the bonus of being cheaper!).

That's what led me to today's recipe.  Beer Bread has been a favorite of mine since I was a child.  (Yes, you caught me, I have a thing for carbs.)  My mom used to make it from a really good mix that came in a blue and white striped box.  It was super simple-- just add beer and bake-- and you have a delicious side for whatever meal you're serving.  I fell in love with that mix.  But one Spaghetti Sunday, noticing we were out of French Bread and not having enough time to start THAT dough from scratch, I turned to the trusty internet and found an easy beer bread recipe.  I put my thinking cap on, and decided to make it with half whole wheat and half regular flour-- I haven't had the nerve to go all whole wheat yet-- and I've added flax seed meal which is chalk full of Omega-3 fatty acids-- REALLY good stuff for you.

Don't misunderstand me-- I'm not declaring this bread "healthy".  I mean honestly, I do pour 1/4 cup of butter on the top of it before baking, its still starchy bread (and its not NEARLY as good without the butter on top-- I've tried).  But its a healthIER version of an old favorite, and bonus, its SUPER easy, taking about 5 minutes to mix, and an hour to bake before you have a delicious, hearty bread for dinner.  Or lunch.  And you can even toast it up with butter for breakfast.  (Can you tell I love this bread??)  We love it so much, when I make it for dinner, I slice up the rest of the bread, put each slice in individual bags, then freeze them all.  Some go to lunch with My Loving Duke, some are defrosted for me.  He has even requested that I make up a couple of the mixes ready to go, so he can make Beer Bread himself to take to work with him in the mornings.  I love him.

If you don't like the way beer tastes, that would be sad.  But don't worry, this bread doesn't taste "beery" in any way.  Since beer is basically bread without the flour, you get the bread flavors from the beer, with a little added sweetness, without any of the hoppiness (bitterness) that usually turns people off of beer.  You can use any kind of beer-- the heavier and heartier beers obviously flavor the bread differently than say, Natty Boh (yeah, Baltimore peeps, I went there), or Coors Light (for the rest of you readers) but it all makes a good bread.

If you don't have any beer in the house, never fear!!  You can make this bread with any carbonated drink.  If you're using soda, you're going to get a much sweeter flavor that is going to influence the flavor of the bread much more intensely, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.  I've heard of people who like to make this bread with orange/grape/strawberry soda, replacing the butter on the top with an extra sprinkling of sugar, and serve it as a hot breakfast bread.  I would, though, stick with Seltzer water or something NOT sweet if you're making it to serve with dinner-- at least the first time.

Baking suggestions: I like White Whole Wheat Flour.  This is a new phenomenon I've recently discovered.  I thought for a long time that it was just "watered" down whole wheat flour, but its not.  Its actual whole wheat flour, with the same nutrients as darker whole wheat, but made from "Red" wheat, which is lighter in color and in flavor.  You can use the darker whole wheat, but be aware that it will add a definite "wheaty" tone, which can be delicious, but perhaps not for everyone.  Also,  the freshness of your baking powder matters.  Since it is the principal leavening agent, its important that your baking powder be fresh.  So if you're like me, and you don't know how old your baking powder is, (but you know its moved houses with you twice) then just go invest in some more.  Its cheap, and totally worth it.

However you make this delicious quick-bread, please let me know how it comes out.  This is one recipe that I'd love to hear some variations on!!  And most importantly, ENJOY!!

Beer Bread

(AKA Super Easy delicious quick bread)


1.5 cups all purpose flour
1.5 cup whole wheat flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons ground flax meal
1/4 cup sugar
12 oz (one can or bottle) beer or favorite carbonated beverage
1/4 cup melted butter (optional but recommended!!)

Preparation Instructions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Sift dry ingredients together, stir lightly.  Add beer (or beverage).  Stir lightly, until JUST mixed (batter will still be very lumpy).  Pour into greased loaf pan and spread into corners.  Pour melted butter over top, bake for 1 hour.  Remove from pan and cool on rack at least 15 minutes before cutting.


  1. Looks yummy! If you get the courage to try all whole grain, half whole wheat and half oat flour (which you can make by blending oats) works well in this type of bread :). -k

  2. Oh, thanks for the heads up!! I'm looking forward to trying that!