Bread is my new cooking obsession.
It’s not something I have chosen to become obsessed with. However, as I am realising more each day, your children lead you down learning paths to new wisdom.
Whether you want to go or not.
My daughter’s restricted eating is a challenge I relish most of the time. But on the difficult days I tear my hair out in despair and hope that another brilliant idea (like this bread) is just around the corner.
Parenting a child with autism is a roller coaster like that. And food is just the tip of the iceberg*.
She absolutely loves toast. But as you know, too much bread is going to block you up. And constipation issues in children are a real headache, or is that bottomache?. For them and for you.
So I took matters into my own hands.
I now make all the bread she eats and I boost it with fruit and vegetables and psyllium husk. And I am pleased to report it is working very well. *pats back*.
Each week I make a loaf of raisin toast that is studded with a whole grated pear and some finely diced prunes and one of these spelt and veggie loaves. I switch up the veggie each week with either sweet potato, zucchini, baby spinach or carrot.
I make both loaves as nutritious as possible with added seeds (chia, sesame, pepitas, sunflower) and other goodies such as shredded coconut (in the sweet loaf) or vegetable powder supplements like Superfoodz for Kids. Every little thing I can squeeze in there, I do.
When it comes to serving she is quite fussy. Raisin toast can only have butter (we only eat real butter, no nasty margarine) and the savoury toast should be topped with cream cheese. Very occasionally peanut butter.
No worries beautiful girl, I say. Then I sneak a slick of coconut oil under the butter on the raisin (got that tip from my pal Katie) and a slick of avocado under the cream cheese. I boost the peanut butter by mixing with tahini or mashed chickpeas/cannellini beans/avocado.
Now I don’t feel stressed when she will only eat toast with boiled peas for dinner because I know she is getting a lot more nutrients than plain bread and cream cheese. Coupled with other healthy snacks like my bliss balls for kids, she is getting all the good stuff she needs to learn and play.
Does your little one need a special loaf of bread like this? Hope I helped!
*The iceberg analogy is used beautifully in this 3 min video about Autism featuring Aussie kids released by Autism Awareness Australia and presented by Tom Gleisner. Worth a quick look.
Spelt and sweet potato bread with chia and sesame seeds
makes 1 loaf
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds + 1/4 cup cold tap water
- 2 cups organic white unbleached flour (*see note below for alternate flour combos)
- 1 cup organic wholemeal spelt flour
- 1/4 cup psyllium seed husk
- 1 teaspoon salt (I use pink Himalyan sea salt)
- 2 teaspoons dry active yeast
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 small sweet potato, finely grated (about 3/4 cup)
- 1 cup very warm water**
Put the chia seeds into a small bowl and add the water. Stir for 30 seconds until the chia seeds start to soak up the water and none sit dry around the sides. Leave to sit for 5 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed and a thick gel is formed.***
Place the white and spelt flours, psyllium husk, salt, yeast and sesame seeds into the bowl of stand mixer with the dough hook attached. (Or you can do by hand in a large bowl). Mix on low speed until well combined. Add the chia gel and grated sweet potato. I grate the potato on the smallest hole so that it blends (hides) nicely into the bread.
Turn the mixer on to low-medium and slowly pour the water around the edges. Mix for 5-7 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. (Or make a well in the centre of your bowl if doing by hand and gradually add the water and mix well with your hands until a dough is formed, then transfer to a floured bench and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic).
Shape into a ball and place into a glass or ceramic bowl. Cover with a damp tea towel and allow to rise and double in size for 1.5 hours. If it is a freezing day, I fill the bowl with hot water, then drain and dry before putting the bread into it to rise. Makes a nice warm start for it!
Heat the oven to 200C. Punch the dough in the middle then reshape into a round loaf (or any shape you like). Grease a heavy baking sheet or dish (I use a small cast iron baking dish) with a little oil (I use coconut oil). Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise for 45 mins.
Bake in the oven on the middle shelf for 35 minutes until the bottom sound hollow when knocked. For best texture, allow to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing and eating as needed. BUT, I understand you will want to slice off a sneaky warm bit and slather with butter. Go on, you won’t regret it. Let the loaf cool next time :)
*This recipe is very flexible depending on what flour you have available. All white flour (3 cups) works, as does 1 cup each of white flour, wholemeal (spelt or regular) and white spelt. You could use all spelt but the bread will be denser and taste nuttier. If you like that, go for it! I personally like a maximum of 2 cups of spelt (one white spelt, one wholemeal spelt), but love the fluffier texture with just one cup of spelt. Have I confused you? Experiment to see what works for you!
**The water has to be hot enough to activate the yeast without killing it. It’s a fine line! I find a good ratio is half a cup of boiling water from the kettle mixed with half a cup of cold tap water.
***Chia seeds soak up a lot of water. Some sources say up to 5 times their own weight! I soak them first because apparently they can lead to mild constipation as they soak up liquid in the gut if eaten dry. I’m not sure if this is true or not, but I’m not taking the risk seeing as this bread is deliberately designed to avoid constipation in my kids! Chia seeds are such an awesome source of plant based omega 3 needed for good brain function, so they are a must to include – in my humble opinion.