Whole Wheat & Flaxseed

I've been looking for some different, healthy options to keep in the house for quick, on-the-run breakfasts since I usually eat breakfast on the run. The other day, I was in a pinch and had to grab a quick breakfast in town before work. I figured Panera was a better choice than Sonic, so I decided to swing through the drive thru. I paid nearly $3 for a delicious, yet ridiculously overpriced cranberry walnut bagel with orange cranberry cream cheese. It got me thinking: I've made bagels before...I made a wonderful bread from "Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" for Thanksgiving...why not make Panera's cranberry walnut bagels out of the same dough? So, yesterday, I did just that. The recipe is below. (This process is a bit lengthy and entailed, but it's worth it!)

I've also been slowly adapting my tried and true recipes to include more whole grains and healthier ingredients. My dear hubby loves pumpkin bread, but aside from the pumpkin, it's pretty nutritionally void. Today, in the spirit of quick breakfast options, I experimented and swapped out the all purpose flour for whole wheat flour and added some flaxseed meal, and the result was fantastic!

Whole Wheat Cranberry Walnut Bagels
(yields 12-14 bagels)
1/4 c flaxseed meal
3 1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 packet , or 3/4 T granulated yeast
1/2 T kosher salt
2 T vital wheat gluten
1 3/4 c plus 2 T lukewarm water
1/2 c dried cranberries
orange juice
1/2 c walnuts, roughly chopped

In a small saucepan, heat the dried cranberries and orange juice until cranberries are slightly reconstituted. Drain them and let them cool.

In the meantime, mix the remaining ingredients until all the flour is incorporated. Add in the cranberries.

Transfer the dough to a covered, but not airtight container. Allow the dough to rest and rise for 2 hours.

In a large pot (think soup pot or stock pot), add 8 quarts of water, 1/4 c sugar, and 1 t baking soda. Bring to a boil.

While waiting for the water to boil, prepare a sheet pan by covering it with a clean towel and dusting it with flour. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees with a pizza stone on the top rack and a small metal cake pan in the bottom of the oven.

Form the dough into 3 ounce balls. Dust with flour, then poke a hole through the middle of the ball and stretch the dough into a ring. Make the hole at least 1 inch in diameter...it will shrink back slightly for 2 minutes, then flip over and boil for another minute.

Scoop out the bagels with a slotted spoon and allow the water to drain off. Place on the towel covered cookie sheet. Continue the last 3 steps with the rest of the bagels. If you are doing more than 2 boiling batches, you will need to get those first two batches in the oven and then continue with the rest.

Carefully lift the boiled bagels off the towel and dust off excess flour. Place them gently on the pizza stone and pour 1 cup of water in the cake pan below. Quickly close the oven. (The water will create steam and help give the bagels a crispy crust.)

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.

To make cranberry orange cream cheese, mix 8 ounces of softened cream cheese, 1/2 c dried cranberries (reconstituted in orange juice like above), and the zest of one orange.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pecan Muffins
(yields 36 muffins)
3 c sugar
1 c oil
4 eggs
3 1/2 c whole wheat flour (all purpose flour will work, too)
2 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
2/3 c water
2 c pumpkin
1/4 c flaxseed meal (optional)
3/4 c pecans, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pans with paper muffin cups.

In a large bowl, beat sugar, oil and eggs. Add dry ingredients and slowly add in the water until well combined. Add pumpkin.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of a muffin.

Enjoy fresh out of the oven! They're great plain, with butter, or with cream cheese and cinnamon.

(I know flaxseed meal sounds a bit hippie, and maybe even a little scary. However, it's a great addition to breads, granola, and many other dishes. It adds a nutty taste to food, but is otherwise pretty much undetectable. It can be found in the baking section of most grocery stores. I usually stick with Bob's Red Mill or Hodgson Mill brand, simply because that's what the grocery stores in my area are carrying these days.)

If you made it to the end of this post, congratulations! I know it was long, and I apologize for that! I hope, after reading this, you're not too exhausted to give these recipes a try. And I sincerely hope you enjoy the results as much as my family and I have! :)

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