Food & Fitness

Learning Healthy Lessons

Boot Camp: Round Two started up on Monday! So nice to get back to that routine after having a week off. The new class is twice as big as the last one but all of the women seem to be very nice and there’s that similar air of support and encouragement that existed with the last group. I’m not sure that we’ll all become as close-knit a group as we were last month (we all went out for drinks and dinner after our last session!) but that’s alright. Four of the women from the last group have returned for this boot camp so its good to have some familiar faces about!

Sara, the boot camp instructor, mentioned last session that we easily burn 800-1000 calories per session. This came as a huge (albeit welcome) surprise to me; I was sure that the number would be about half of that. I have read so many articles warning about how people always underestimate how many calories they consume and overestimate how many they burn that I suppose somewhere along the line I started almost doing the reverse to prevent me from falling into that trap. But it is important to be realistic, and to find the middle ground, rather than go from one extreme to the next. That way we can achieve the most accuracy and the best understanding of where we are at.

Just as important as it is to be realistic and truthful about where we are at from a healthy point of view, it is equally vital to remember the needs of our bodies. In my efforts to improve my nutrition and to eat clean and non-processed, there have been a few stumbling blocks along the way which have caused me to stop and reassess my position. Such as, for example, my most recent baking fiasco!

Take a look at this photograph:

What you see here is my recreation of the pumpkin bread that I had made before. I was excited to try it out a second time with some revisions to the recipe- doubling up the cinnamon, adding a bit more ginger, using my own homemade applesauce, adding a bit more pumpkin and vanilla. I had high hopes for this second attempt at the pumpkin bread. And then I considered the salt.

I’m not super big on the salt. I don’t like adding it to very much and I don’t like the idea of having a high amount of salt in my diet. None of that processed-food-with-the-main-ingredient-being-salt business for me! So what do I do? I eliminate the salt completely.

Perhaps I’d hit my head on the wall earlier that day. Or maybe the oven was acting up and it was just a coincidence. Or maybe- just maybe- its a bad idea to mess around too much with the basic ingredients of a recipe when you don’t really know what they’re needed for in the first place.

The end result was that when I took my delicious-smelling pumpkin bread out of the oven approximately 1 hr 30 minutes later and sliced myself a little piece, the inside was… raw. And I don’t just mean a little bit mushy and slightly undercooked. No no. This was completely raw. It looked as though it had been in the oven for maybe 5 minutes.

I thought back to my elimination of salt. Maybe, I thought, it wasn’t just in there for no reason whatsoever. I’d hate to waste that pumpkin bread. So I scooped out the innards, as you can see in the photo (because the outside cooked quite nicely), mixed in the required amount of salt, and plopped the whole big mess back into the pan.

Not only are some ingredients necessary for recipes, but the order that they are added, for chemical reactions to take place, is also a key step. After another hour and a half of baking in the oven, the result was exactly the same: a cooked outside, and a raw inside. There was no saving this pumpkin bread!

The lesson learned here is that you should never stray too far from the original recipe unless you actually know what you’re doing and understand the chemical reactions of baking and cooking. I am assuming it must be the salt that is the main reason for this pumpkin bread not working, although I still am not sure entirely why it turned out so raw. I will have to try it out again, with the correct portion of salt, and hope to goodness that I don’t just let a bunch of ingredients go to waste again!

And getting back to discussing extremes, this mishap also reminded me that my body needs a certain level of sodium. Trying to cut it out completely is ridiculous. It brought things back into perspective and reminded me that if I start eliminating things like sugar and then oil and then salt and so on, then there’ll be nothing left! All of these things are necessary. In moderation. I just hope that these reminders don’t always come in the form of a failed baking experiment:)


  1. Crabby McSlacker

    How frustrating! But then sometimes experimenting leads to great results, so I guess the occasional pumpkin bread catastrophe is probably worth it.

  2. the Bag Lady

    The addition of the extra pumpkin, plus using the applesauce, plus not adding the salt is PROBABLY what caused your raw ‘innards’! When you play around with recipes, keep in mind the balance needed between wet and dry ingredients.

    It’s okay to add a little (perhaps in the teaspoon to Tablespoon range) either way, but you must strike the right balance. Perhaps next time, add a little more flour to balance out the extra pumpkin (just a suggestion…)

    And I’m all for doing exchanges of certain things, but there are reasons for most ingredients that are included. A simple example is yeast and sugar. The sugar is needed to feed the yeast. Warm water (or milk) is needed to activate the yeast. That’s why when I bake something for the first time, I always follow the recipe exactly. After that, I allow myself to play around a little.

    It’s all a learning experience, and I really enjoy reading about your experimenting! Keep it up! (Sorry for the novel, and hope I didn’t sound too preachy…)

  3. JavaChick

    I remember once google-ing the reason for using salt in baking bread, and I remember that it’s necessary but don’t remember all the reasons…I did do a quick search and found this link:

    I understand wanting to limit salt intake, but as you say, we do need some and the amount used in most recipes is probably not a big deal.

    Interesting to experiment and see what happens though. 🙂

  4. Rachel

    In regards to the calories burned: do you where a heart rate monitor? I used to use a Polar HR during a spin class and supposedly burned 700 cal for 1 hour. Now, I use a Garmin HR monitor and it read 280 cal for the same class. So, how many cal are you really burning?? And, depending on your muscles mass- don’t you burn cal throughout the day?

  5. Charlotte

    Bummer about the bread! Sounds like something I would do:)

    As for cals burned, every measurement is off. Even heart rate monitors are only as good as the formula they programmed with. I try not to look at is as a number in regards to how I eat etc. but more as a gauge of how hard I’m working. By now I know about how many cals I “burn” in different types of exercise so if I drop, i know it’s time to kick up the intensity or vary my workout:)

  6. MizFit

    and I follow them and still oft f*ck it up (pardon mah french :))

    I need the bag lady in permanent residence in my domicile me thinks.
    and you.
    but that was a given.


  7. Susan

    Oh, sorry about the pumpkin bread! But, I like your positive take on the situation.

    Yes, I believe too much of the wet ingredients were added.

    But, live and learn, right? Your next pumpkin bread will turn out just right! 🙂

  8. Sagan Morrow

    Ashley- It’s just too tempting to stray from the directions!

    Crabby- Yes. I am waiting for my masterpiece to come along. Hehe.

    Bag Lady- No worries you don’t sound preachy! I love to hear your insights (because clearly you know MUCH more about cooking than I do). Thanks for the advice! I’ve made the mistake of using cold water with yeast and ruined so many loaves of bread because of it.

    Running Knitter- its my new love:)

    Javachick- Thanks for the progressive baker link; I’ve now got it bookmarked to help me out!

    Rachel- Thanks for stopping by! You’re right about burning calories throughout the day and all. I don’t know much about burning calories and I don’t have a heart rate monitor, but I’ve also heard a lot about how its very difficult to judge the exact amount burned. I’d say the 800-1000 is a very general, average number… for me, it basically translates into “you’re getting in a really good workout and burning lots of calories”!

    Charlotte- definitely a gauge of how hard a persons worked; I’m with you on that one.

    MizFit- Its too much cookery science! So much more fun to experiment.

    Susan- I hope so!

  9. Anonymous

    I had two friends from Germany visiting! One was a very good baker. He decided to make some bread for us. I asked if he could not use salt. His reply,”With no salt, it is dog food!”

    Alrighty then 🙂

    Dr. J

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