A Healthy Twist on Soft Pretzels

By Jessica Von Duerring, Pilates and Barre-Certified

From National Dress Up Your Pet Day to National Bubblegum Week, there are some crazy, random and otherwise bizarre "holidays" out there. If you're looking for a reason to celebrate, it turns out April is National Soft Pretzel Month! Perhaps it’s my German heritage, but if you also share an abiding love for this warm and salty crispy-edged, chewy-centered bread, there’s no better time to enjoy a soft pretzel. Soft pretzels are ubiquitous on the streets of New York City and Philadelphia, at sporting events, carnivals, movie theaters and now…you can make them at home! In fact, making soft pretzels in your own kitchen can eliminate the preservatives, additives and other questionable ingredients.

Making soft pretzels isn’t that hard, really. Here is a homemade, healthy recipe to try. (Compliments of www.organicauthority.com/snacks/homemade-soft-pretzel-recipe.html)  

:: 1 ½ cups warm water
:: 1 tablespoon sugar
:: 2 tablespoons sea salt
:: 2 teaspoons yeast
:: 2 ½ cups flour (half white flour and half whole-wheat flour)
:: 1 egg
:: Chunky sea salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine water with sugar, sea salt and yeast in a large bowl. Mix until dissolved and the mixture becomes foamy. Slowly add flour, mixing in-between until evenly combined. Add more or less depending on consistency. Eventually, the mixture should form into a soft ball that can easily be rolled. Grab a handful of the dough and roll into a long strip, about 10 inches long. Holding the ends of the dough roll, pull them upwards, inside, criss-crossed, and down. Place the soft pretzels on a lightly oiled baking sheet (I like coconut oil). Whisk the egg in a small bowl and using a brush, lightly coat the surface of each of the pretzels to help them brown beautifully. Sprinkle with chunky sea salt and bake for 10-12 minutes. 

There’s nothing quite like serving soft pretzels with a spicy mustard dip. Try this authentic German mustard recipe I love! (Compliments of www.myplasticfreelife.com/2009/01/homemade-spicy-german-mustard)

:: ¼ cup yellow mustard seed
:: 2 tbsp. black or brown mustard seed, heaping
:: ¼ cup dry mustard powder
:: ½ cup water
:: 1 ½ cups cider vinegar
:: 1 small onion chopped
:: 2 tbsp. firmly packed brown sugar
:: 1 tsp. salt
:: 2 garlic gloves, minced or pressed
:: ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
:: ¼tsp. ground allspice
:: ¼ tsp. dried tarragon leaves
:: Dash of turmeric 

In a small bowl, combine mustard seed and dry mustard. In a 1- to 2-quart stainless steel or nonreactive saucepan, combine remaining ingredients. Simmer, uncovered, on medium heat until reduced by half, 10-15 minutes. Pour the mixture into the mustard mixture. Let mixture stand, covered, at room temperature for 24 hours, adding additional vinegar if necessary in order to maintain enough liquid to cover seeds. Process the seeds and mixture in a blender or food processor until pureed to the texture you like – this can take at least 3 or 4 minutes. The mixture will continue to thicken. If it gets too thick after a few days, stir in additional vinegar. Scrape mustard into clean, dry jars; cover tightly and age at least 3 days in the refrigerator before using. (Makes about 1 ½  - 2 cups)