Before you skip past this column about vegetables in baking, think about zucchini bread and carrot cake.
Before you skip past this column about vegetables in baking, think about zucchini bread and carrot cake. With breads, it’s easy to include vegetables, from onion buns to potato bread to olive and herb focaccia. What about incorporating them into baked goods? Think pumpkin gingerbread and celery carrot muffins. Surprisingly, these can be delicious sweet and savoury treats.
|Pumpkin makes a great addition to baked goods, adding moisture without fat.
Baking with vegetables produces some of our favourite treats from the oven. With nutrition experts urging teens and adults to eat seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day, these nutrient-rich baking alternatives become even more attractive. Using vegetables for baking not only adds vitamins, minerals and fibre to the tasty outcome, but also can help the baker reduce the use of fat in the recipe. Mashed pumpkin or sweet potatoes, for example, can replace all or part of the fat traditionally used to impart moistness to cakes, quick breads, scones or brownies. Still, be wary of traditional retail commercial carrot muffins. I just recently checked out a package in my local grocery store – for one muffin the fat content was a shocking 27 grams, and the sodium content was a whopping 400 milligrams.
During an online search in preparation for this column, I found Cafe Régalade’s beet blueberry muffin. I was excited and disappointed all at the same time. Beets are one of my favourite vegetables and blueberries are one of my favourite fruits. Cafe Régalade is located in the Kitsilano neighbourhood of Vancouver, so tasting the muffin was not in my immediate future. Chef Steeve Raye said his creation was based on the rich colours of both the beets and blueberries. However, once the muffin was made, he found it not only attractive, but it was rich, moist and delicious. The French chef known for his scrumptious baked goods uses local shredded beets (grown and sourced from Abbottsford, B.C.) for the muffin. Beets are sweet and with the combination of blueberries, this muffin is on the must-try list of many.
Trevor Herrle-Braun, operations manager of Herrle’s Country Farm Market located in St. Agatha, Ont., explains, “I know many of my customers (some chefs) are very adventurous with adding vegetables to their baking. They will often create something in their kitchen with the vegetables from the market, share the recipe and bring me a sample.” Herrle-Braun said his family has a recipe for a beet chocolate cake but he is not sharing it just yet. Known for sweet corn, during the harvest, the market features a sweet corn pizza made with a corn bread crust.
Continuing in rural Ontario, I had the opportunity to spend some time in Norfolk County (north shore of Lake Erie) last fall. I was there for a local foods project I was co-ordinating. This area is the largest provider of sweet potatoes in Canada. Heather Pond, owner of the popular Blue Elephant Restaurant and Pub in Simcoe describes how the sweet potato bread pudding (see recipe, page 25) was developed. “I collaborated with our chefs to decide how we can add more local ingredients; we chose to create the sweet potato bread pudding (this dessert originates from Louisiana) as a feature on our menu. It is so well liked; people often request it for catering events and parties.” I became one of those fans. They serve it with a homemade caramel sauce and it is transformed into a mouth-watering savoury-sweet combination. Pond suspects we will see more mainstream restaurants offering products such as zucchini breads, healthy carrots muffins (containing reasonable amounts of fat and sodium) and sweet potato tarts. This will make consumers more aware that baking can go way beyond the classic carrot cake and pumpkin pie and help them realize that veggies have lots of sweet potential.
Bakers can continue experimenting to please their daring consumers who want new taste sensations. How about combining eggplant and dark chocolate for a muffin or cookie? What about cornmeal pumpkin biscuits with currants? Do you think cauliflower and raspberry cheesecake would outsell the typical cherry cheesecake? Remember the controversial saying, “No dessert, unless you eat your vegetables”? Well, this time the vegetables are your dessert!
Jane Dummer, RD, is a leading dietitian for the Canadian food and nutrition industry. Jane offers services specializing in agri-food, functional foods and food safety. For more information, visit www.janedummer.com.
Print this page