The gentle chop on a cutting board, the rolling pin settling into the dough — cooking and baking in the kitchen not only provides that much-needed ASMR but also results in some delicious goodies.
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After all, stress-baking is a real thing but it can actually be beneficial, too. Cooking and baking cause us to slow down and focus on the task at hand, and ultimately, end with a (usually) nourishing meal or snack. Touching, chopping and mixing ingredients can certainly be meditative and relaxing.
From a nutritional standpoint, making recipes or even simple foods like bread, yogurt and nut milk at home offers you more control over what goes into your foods (and what doesn't make it in), which is great for avoiding preservatives you'll often find in the store-bought varieties.
Not to mention, DIYing will probably save you some money, too. Get started with these five easy and nutritious ideas.
Making your own bread at home may seem daunting, but we promise, it's not as hard as you may think. Plus, the benefits are totally worth it.
Homemade bread — whether you're doing it all by hand or enlisting the help of a bread machine — calls for very few ingredients. Flour, water, yeast (in some cases) and salt are all it really takes to produce a basic loaf of soft bread with a chewy crust. Compare this to store-bought bread where the list of ingredients can be quite lengthy and not always the healthiest.
Sourdough, a specific type of bread doesn't even require a package of active yeast, making your life a little easier. Plus, it has added health benefits beyond your everyday loaf of bread.
Because of the way sourdough is made, specific nutrients like magnesium and phosphorus are better absorbed compared to regular bread. It can also be easier to digest for those who are allergic or sensitive to gluten.
Get our simple Sourdough Bread recipe here.
2. Nut Milk
Making your own nut milk is actually extremely easy. Sure, grabbing a carton off the shelf might have a slight edge when it comes to effort but DIYing at home isn't that far behind.
What type of nut-based, or even seed-based, milk you make at home is entirely up to you. Almonds, cashews, hemp seeds and pistachios all work well. Nuts and seeds are healthy sources of fat but each has its own unique nutritional attributes.
Almonds, for instance, are the only tree nut to provide a significant amount of vitamin E, and actually, when compared ounce for ounce, they're also the highest in protein, fiber, calcium, riboflavin and niacin, according to the Almond Board of California.
Yes, you can make your own 'booch at home. Maintaining clean and safe practices are key when making kombucha to minimize the risk of contamination from harmful bacterial or mold.
Hannah Crum, President and founder of Kombucha Brewers International, offers two key tips for keeping your kombucha safe.
First, get your SCOBY from a trusted source. A SCOBY, which stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, helps kombucha ferment and lends it the flavor you love.
But as Crum explains, not all SCOBYs or cultures are the same: "Some are dehydrated, some may not have enough starter liquid and some may be grown from commercial brands that have filtered out some of the good stuff. Look for a healthy, robust culture with at least one cup of starter liquid per gallon for a successful brew from the first batch."
We like Kombucha Kamp’s organic at-home kit, which comes with SCOBY.
Another key safety tip: "Just like any other food, when kombucha goes bad, it will show visible signs of mold," shares Crum.
Even if the mother culture (SCOBY) doesn't appear to be moldy, the spores may have already had a chance to invade. Mold on kombucha looks just like food mold — black, white, green and powdery."
A Recipe to Try
This Kombucha recipe uses Japanese green tea and honey.
4. Almond Yogurt
Yogurt may seem complicated — it requires probiotics, after all — but we promise, it's not. For starters, the ingredients for homemade yogurt are simple: almonds, water, honey and probiotic capsules. That's it.
Making yogurt actually starts out just like making almond milk but then requires some heating on the stove, adding probiotics and wait time.
Homemade yogurt has the probiotic benefits of the store-bought stuff. Probiotics help to support immune function, digestion and the absorption of nutrients, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Probiotics can also help correct a gut bacteria imbalance that can occur after a course of antibiotics, which kills the good bacteria along with the bad.
Get the Almond Yogurt recipe and nutrition info here.
5. Nut and Seed Butters
Saving the best, and perhaps the easiest, for last. Nut butters are especially great because they're nutrient-dense, offering a dose of healthy fats and a mix of ingredients, which similarly to nut milk, really depend on the nut or seed used.
All nuts are heart-healthy because they can help lower both harmful LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels and can improve the lining of your arteries, according to the Mayo Clinic. Research also shows they help to lower inflammation linked to heart disease, as well as help reduce the risk of developing blood clots.
- Almond Board of California: "Nutrient Comparison Chart for Tree Nuts"
- FoodData Central: "Pistachio Nuts, Unsalted"
- FoodData Central: "Seeds, Hemp Seeds, Hulled"
- Kombucha Brewers International: "About"
- Harvard Health: "The Benefits of Probiotics Bacteria"
- Mayo Clinci: "Nuts and Your Heart: Eating Nuts for Heart Health"