This week, Rob was uber busy at work so I decided to spice up his mornings with some new granola. Like me, Rob typically eats oatmeal for breakfast and it has been ages since he’s made granola. He used to be a granola fiend, but it was put on his back-burner after we moved in together. Way back when, in his granola-making days, he bought millet for granola. Instead, the millet made its way into savoury dinners.
I don’t remember which recipe gave us the idea to add millet to granola, but whoever did it first should be applauded. Crunch explosion! In a great way! It gave a crunchy-crispy texture to the toasted oats and nuts. For this version, I went with Rob’s favourite granola flavours: cinnamon, cranberries, coconut and almonds, but feel free to pick your own favourite nuts and dried fruit. Just don’t skip the millet, because that is what makes this granola special.
Even if you didn’t think you liked cooked millet (I will admit that it isn’t my favourite grain), this is probably my favourite way to eat it. Don’t let the birds enjoy all the millet.
Other granolas we’ve made:
Where have all the hazelnuts gone?
While Rob and I went all out for our Indian Easter feast, my parents were sleeping over which meant we also had plan for breakfast. Thankfully, oatmeal works for my Mom, Rob and me. Not so much for my Dad.
My Dad eats bagels and Nutella for breakfast. I had neither. Rob picked up some Montreal-style bagels from St Lawrence Market and I decided to work on the Nutella. Without actually buying Nutella.
I have been meaning to try making my own homemade nut butter for a while, so I was eager to try Katie’s Better than Nutella recipe. I just needed some hazelnuts. Last year, I discovered the grocers in Little India sell hazelnuts super cheap. Turns out all 3 grocers had no hazelnuts. Then I went to my go-to bulk store, and they were out, too. Apparently their supplier had been out for the last 6 weeks.
Where have all the hazelnuts gone?
I re-evaluated my options:
a) Head elsewhere to buy hazelnuts (ie, The Big Carrot or the Bulk Barn)
b) Use hazelnut butter instead of hazelnuts
c) Substitute another nut (apparently Nutella used to be a mix of almonds and hazelnuts)
d) Make a chocolate-bean spread instead that didn’t require hazelnuts
Rob told me not to buy anything. We are trying to empty our pantries, not refill them. Option A and possibly option B were out. I really wanted to make a Nutella substitute, since this was for my Dad and he may not be as smitten with a chocolate bean spread as me. But you gotta do what you gotta do. I peered into our pantry and boo-yah, we had hazelnut butter! Option B it was!
I modified Ricki’s recipe slightly, but mainly with the sweetener only. After her warning that stevia-only sweetened chocolate could have a weird taste, I decided to substitute it with a portion of coconut sugar. Feel free to use your own sweetener of choice (agave, maple syrup, sugar, etc). Super simple to make, I threw everything into my Vitamix. As it heated up, the coconut oil melted making it a smooth, silky consistency (which is what I photographed). Leftovers were popped into the fridge where it firmed up considerably. It was still spreadable and melted as it was spread onto warm, toasted bagels. Spreading it onto cold bagels could be more difficult, though.
The verdict? According to me and Rob: Better than Nutella. Silky smooth, with a lovely cocoa flavour with a touch of sweetness. I found this a bit too sweet for my liking but Rob thought it was perfect, or possibly under sweetened. My Dad said it was ok. Perhaps it wasn’t sweet enough, but he wouldn’t elaborate. (For the record, while Rob and my Mom thought the banana naan were wonderful, my Dad thought they should have been more fluffy, despite acknowledging they were already more fluffy than the store-bought naan).We were planning on gifting the remainder of the Notella to my Dad when he left, but it was nearly demolished over the course of the weekend. There was just a little left.. and had my Dad stayed for breakfast #2, it would have been all gone. Not sure where else to put this homemade Nutella? How about my Nutella and kiwi crepes or Nutella-filled aebleskiver?
How do you cook your steel cut oats?
My cousin’s spouse recently told me he cooks his for 20 minutes. WHAT?!
Mine always takes 35 minutes, if not 45 minutes. I wouldn’t have it any other way. That’s how I get mine to be super creamy.
Because it takes so long, I make a big batch to last me all week. Leftovers heat up beautifully and I can mix-and-match my flavours each day.
I start by dry-toasting my steel cut oats as the water heats up to a boil (1:4 ratio). When they become fragrant and lightly toasted, I turn off the heat. Usually by this time, the water is boiling and I plop it all in, and then simmer it for 40-45 minutes.
I refrigerate the oats and take out a portion every morning. Heat it up in the microwave for 2 minutes along with a touch of water. From there, I add my flavours: cinnamon, vanilla, fruit, flax seeds, nuts, nut butter, etc.
My recent breakfast fix has a chocolate base. I use the Chocolate Amazing Grass coupled with Manitoba Harvest’s Hemp Pro 70 for a hearty foundation. I also typically add some fresh fruit, but lately I’ve been cleaning out the frozen fruit from the freezer: this time with mixed berries!
Why Amazing Grass? Beyond its nutritional benefits, I really like the taste (Rob doesn’t like it, though). A slightly malty chocolate taste with low calories and a good protein ratio.
Why Hemp Pro 70? First of all, I am no protein powder aficionado, but Hemp Pro 70 is pure hemp protein. No fillers, no sweeteners, etc. The high protein content (70% by weight), omega fatty acids, iron and calcium is great but the most important part is that it is water-soluble. You can’t taste it in the oatmeal. It thickens it while keeping it smooth. I usually add more water when I add it to my oatmeal. It also makes my oatmeal more filling…. and green-looking.
My cousin’s spouse, though, recommended Bob’s Red Mill. He suggests using a big pot (a great tip for no spillover!) and to do a hard boil for 18 minutes uncovered and then 2 minutes covered. He keeps it covered and then lets it sit off the heat for an additional 2-5 minutes. Says it never fails him.
I’ve tried overnight slow cooker steel cut oats, but it was way too watery.
Hence, I’ve stuck with my classic, yet lengthy 45-minute boil.
Tell me, how do you cook your steel cut oats?
Here are some other ways I’ve enjoyed oatmeal:
Whipped Banana Oatmeal with Cranberries
Mango Pistachio Steel Cut Oatmeal (aka Mango Shrikhand Oatmeal)
Balsamic Lemon-Blueberry Steel Cut Oats
Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal with Roasted Flax Seeds
Pan-Fried Oatmeal with Peach-Blueberry Vanilla Compote
Multigrain Oatmeal with Quinoa and Kasha
Apple Pie Oatmeal
Baked Apple Banana Oatmeal
Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal
Savoury Oatmeal with Soy Sauce and Nutritional Yeast
Savoury Oatmeal with Goji Berries, Nori and Ponzu Sauce
I thought my friend with a kitchen with 4 spices was minimalistic.
Not so. It can get much more barren. At least there were pots and pans. And a Magic bullet!
I recently stayed with my friend in her tiny bachelor apartment in New York City. Before heading out to buy some fixins for some meals, I scoured her kitchen… It was pretty bare. Some olive oil and salt. Some pepper. Some knives and a cutting board. A microwave but she didn’t have any pots or pans for her stovetop. My plan for a dinner stir-fry was thwarted. I knew I had to become a bit more creative.
Off I went to Trader Joe’s, a haven for those who don’t cook. Or chop. They take that fun away from you, but it is great for travellers.
Armed with chopped kale, lemon, roasted beets and baked tofu, I had the ingredients to make a tasty salad for a few days. I actually wanted to make a wrap, but they don’t sell Swiss chard or even large (uncut) kale leaves. I used the simple dressing from this kale salad with cranberries as a rough guide. I tried to make a dressing with some hummus, too, but it didn’t work out too well since it was rather dry. Next time, I might try adding more lemon juice, like Kalyn does here.
For breakfast, I picked up some apples and splurged when I spotted all things pumpkin on sale: pumpkin butter and pumpkin pie spice. The golden roasted flax seeds were also a nice touch to add some healthy fats. I had resigned myself to making either overnight oats (sans chia) or buying some instant oats since I couldn’t use the stovetop. Peering through the oatmeal shelf, though, I learned that I could actually microwave the traditional rolled oats for a quick breakfast. Two minutes in the microwave. Why would you even think of using the instant oats when this is nearly just an instant? (OK, maybe I would use the instant kind when I was stuck somewhere without a microwave… like a shoddy hotel room!)
Thankfully, I learn something new every day. Even the real basic stuff I seemed to have skipped over… I usually cook my oats on the stovetop, but this microwave method surely beats my 45-minute brew of steel cut oats. And cuts down on dirty dishes, too.
While in NYC, I ventured to the Greenmarket Farmer’s Market at Union Square. As I drooled over the fresh produce (there were the most beautiful bundles of kale), I had to find my dinner. I ended up buying a farinata to go. The farmer told me it was one of his most popular items. Unlike my socca, which was a thin chickpea pancake with toppings, this was a thick slab of a crustless chickpea tart (almost an inch or more thick) with the toppings integrated right into the farinata itself. It wasn’t my best meal. In fact, it was my meal low-light since it was rather dry and crumbly. However, it inspired me to make something even better upon my return back home.
I bookmarked Ricki’s quizza (a chickpea flour-based quiche-pizza hybrid) this summer and it seemed to be exactly what I was looking for: a thick slab of pie, creamy instead of dry, filled with my favourite veggies. Rob continues to experiment with the Besan Chilla, the Indian Chickpea Pancakes, and throws all sorts of vegetables into the batter (baby bok choy, red pepper, carrot, etc) and even kimchi. Quiche is equally adaptable to a multitude of fillings.
I went with Mediterranean flavours when I adapted Ricki’s recipe: zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach spiced with garlic, rosemary, basil and oregano. Plus, with a nod to the Besan Chilla, I added black salt for an egg-like taste. Next time, I may add some olives or caramelized onions, too.
I love how versatile chickpea flour can be be. In the Besan Chilla, you have a pancake texture, with the socca it is more firm and here, you definitely have a creamy consistency. Definitely better than the farinata from the market. Plus, I can easily make this at home while cleaning out the vegetable odds and ends. Definitely a win-win situation.
Next up on my chickpea flour to-try list: Candle 79′s Chickpea Crepes.
This is being submitted to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Kiran, to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend, to this month’s Breakfast Club featuring eggy breakfasts and to this month’s Bookmarked Recipe.
I am having a hard time renaming some of my dishes.
Banana Scramble: I felt Banana Peanut Butter Chia Super Pancake was more accurate
Raw Vegan Raspberry Cheesecake: Better named the delicious birthday Raspberry Dreamcake (yes, I preferred Sarah’s name)
Lentil Mango Picadillo: Greek to me, so it was renamed Latin-Spiced Mango Lentil Salad (kind of boring, though?)
Lightened Up Protein Power Goddess Bowl: Rechristened as Warm Lentil, Bulgur and Vegetable Skillet with a Lemon-Tahini Sauce
I swear, vegan food does not need to be a recreation of something dairy or meat-laden. It can just be. Wonderful, in all its glory. Nameless.
While exploring our new neighbourhood, Rob and I discovered new ethnic grocery stores, including a few that carried black salt or kala namak. More pink than black, this salt has been infused with sulfur, rendering an egg-like taste when used in cooking.
We immediately made Besan Chilla (also known as cheela or pudla), which technically is an Indian chickpea-based crepe or pancake. However, I first spotted the recipe on Julia’s blog where she called it a chickpea flour omelette. Omelet or pancake? Rob and I disagreed. The only thing we agreed on was that it was delicious.
Analogies work well when trying to convey a new concept, and for me, these reminded me of a savoury pancake. Too thick for a crepe, too pancake-like to be an omelet. We stuffed the chickpea flour-based pancakes with savoury spices (ginger, garlic, onion, turmeric, chili flakes) as well as vegetables including tomato and spinach. Broccoli stems work great, too! Really, pick your favourite veggies ad run with it. The addition of black salt conferred an egg-like taste, which is why this could be described as something similar to an omelet.
Rob can whip up a mean omelet. An egg-based one, though. He did not feel that this version warranted being christened as a vegan omelet, as is. He has vowed to tinker with the recipe, to make it more akin to a traditional omelet.
Until then, I couldn’t wait to share the recipe with you because it was really tasty just the way it is. Whatever name you want to attach to it. Besan Chilla, it is for now, with the wonderful black salt. Wonderful for breakfast, or as a light lunch. Mix things up with your favourite spices and vegetables. Serve as is, with chutney on the side, or as a side to a more complete meal with Indian dishes.
I had a sense of deja vu this weekend. But not in the typical I’ve already done this sense. Rather, a ‘why haven’t I learned my lesson yet’ kind of deja vu.
We visited friends in Horseshoe Valley for a weekend filled with friends, food, games, adventure park fun (o-go ball is highly recommended) as well as a trip to the beach. While I am not too fond of beaching, I was excited when my friend, Greg, suggested we bike to Wasaga Beach instead, which was 45km away, he said. Rob checked: it was 27km away.
While Rob and I haven’t done many long-distance cycling trips since our big adventure to Kingston, 27km would still be a quick stroll for us. An hour, maybe an hour and a half, I told myself. We packed light for the trip, with just a couple bottles of water. Our snack would be waiting for us at the end, at the beach, when we would arrive for an early lunch and meet up with the girls. We could easily cycle back, too. Greg, our fierce leader, wasn’t keen on cycling back. OK, no problem.
As soon as we pulled out, I was reminded that this may not necessarily be as flat as I had predicted. We were starting at the bottom of the valley. We only could go up! Greg suggested taking smaller side roads to circumvent the huge hills on Horseshoe Valley Road, which we thought was a fabulous idea.
We twisted up the side roads and meandered through lovely rolling hills. After 13km, I needed a break and nonchalantly stated we were half-way to the beach.
Not so. Rob, plotting our progress through GPS on his phone, said we were now further from the beach than when we started!
I’ll spare you the details, but yes, we had lots of rolling hills with challenging uphills. The wind was fierce. We added detours to forgo traffic-heavy roads. I broke out my emergency larabar. Thankfully, the last 15km was mainly flat, maybe slightly downhill to the beach. The flat 27km bike ride ended up being a very hilly, very windy 57km.
We were greeted by a mild sand storm at Wasaga as the strong winds pushed sand around ruthlessly. Greg still jumped into the lake, cycling clothes and all. We arrived for a late lunch. The girls had already eaten without us and warned us there was probably sand in the sandwiches. My quinoa salad had fared a bit better.
Steph made delicious vegan cupcakes for dessert – matcha green tea with marzipan flours. It had been a while since I had a cupcake yet I devoured it for dessert. Sometimes crazy cycling can do that to you!
It was on the way back home that Rob and I picked up the corn on impulse. Where else would we get such freshly picked corn?
Using three different forms of corn – fresh corn kernels, corn meal and corn flour (masa harina) – these are a seriously corn-stuffed pancake. With corn as the flour base, it was reminiscent of a sweet polenta. Flavoured with both vanilla and lemon, it was an exotic twist. Slather it with Earth Balance for pure simple bliss, or top with your favourite compote or salsa.
When Rob’s parents came over for the barbecue, they helped out by bringing some marinaded meat for the grill. They also gifted us with some fresh, sweet corn on the cob for lunch and peaches for the smoothies. And as a bonus, mini cucumbers from their garden, new potatoes, apples and kohlrabi! And broccolini! These days, there is nothing better than fresh Ontario corn and peaches. The peaches were delectable as I have been snacking on them for breakfast all week.
I also made this stovetop simmered peach and blueberry dish with cardamom, courtesy of My New Roots. It reminded me of the baked rhubarb and apple dish I made with earl Grey tea, cardamom and orange last year, which was one of my favourite desserts. Instead of turning on your oven, though, you simmer peaches and blueberries with cardamom, vanilla and cloves for a warm, almost sultry combination. The level of sweetness will depend on your peaches, so add the maple syrup to taste.
To contrast with the warmness of the fruit, it is nice to pair with something cool. Pick your favourite – yogurt, ice cream, or in my case: banana soft-serve ice cream.
I still marvel at the simplicity of banana soft-serve ice cream and figure I should share the recipe/method for those who have yet to be introduced. Basically, you take a few just-ripe bananas, slice them and freeze them in a single layer. When you want your ice cream, take them out of the freezer, plop them into your food processor and whiz away. Your bananas will go from hard to a thick cream and if you keep going for a few minutes, eventually you get silky smooth ice cream with a hint of banana flavour. This trick also works with other frozen fruit – I’ve done mango and papaya, but banana remains my favourite. I only caution you not to let your fruit thaw first because then it won’t work!
I love desserts that can double as breakfasts. The fruits also worked well overtop my morning oatmeal. I have been going through Bob’s Red Mill steel-cut oats, and found they made much more firmer oatmeal than I was used to. Ricki’s idea to pan-fry the oatmeal sounded ideal. I took leftover oatmeal, cut in large slabs, and fried them with a touch of oil in a non-stick frypan. The outsides were nicely seared with a warm, oozy interior.
Thankfully, my pantry-substitute, Better Bulk, has steel cut oats that give me silky smooth morning oats.
Rob laughs at me because one of my guilty pleasures is ordering fresh juices and smoothies from restaurants. Nothing beats a fresh blend of ripe vegetables, or a creamy smoothie packed with fruits. Feeling guilty about eating something so healthy seems so odd, but when they cost over $5 a pop, that’s when I feel bad. I mean, I could make something similar at home… on the smoothie aspect, that is. Unfortunately my old food processor can’t make fresh juice.
But now that I have a high-speed Vitamix blender (wahoo!), even my smoothies taste better! An immersion blender keeps things a bit on the chunky side, a food processor is better and now I know how the professionals get that secret creamy consistency without the cream (although they could also be adding cream, too, without me knowing). It’s the blender.
I know the Vitamix is not just for smoothie and drinks, but that’s all I’ve made so far (in the 2 days I’ve had it unpacked!). Even the lowly smoothie has been brought to the next level with the Vitamix. I mean, it better. I can buy a lot of drinks at restos for $500.
My latest smoothie craze has been devouring local Ontario peaches. Throw in a fresh, ripe, pitted peach, half a frozen banana, vanilla, chia seeds and some soy milk. Blend to reach creamy peachy bliss. Sip and enjoy!
If I thought the label vegan was stigmatizing, never mind what people think when you tell them you are eating raw food! I have had friends flat out refuse to go to a raw restaurant with me (where’s the meat? where’s the heat? they exclaimed).
Eating raw foods could be as simple a summer salad, or snacking on some fresh fruit, which are not too horrific in the slightest. For those eating only raw foods (not me, don’t worry), this would quickly become boring! This is when it becomes exciting, because the experimentation in raw foods has created some luscious treats, perfect during the hot summer when you don’t want to turn on your stove or oven.
Summer berries are at their prime right now and I know the virtues of eating berries, plain, unadorned, in all their glory.
Let me fill you in on a secret: there is food synergy at play. 1+1 does not equal 2. Combine your favourite summer berries and top with a nutty topping for a delicious crisp. No oven required.
If it were that simple, it wouldn’t as phenomenal.
This is the second secret: macerate your berries. Blend your berries. Use a portion of your berries to create a sweet juice, just as if you baked your crumble and it is oozing those lovely fruit juices. I cringed when I mashed my blackberries (my beautiful blackberries!), but it is what brings this dessert to the next level. It isn’t just berries and nuts.
I was inspired by the recipe in Radiant Health, Inner Wealth and Raw Food Made Easy to create my own Raw Mixed Berry Crisp. I used blackberries and raspberries, which were a wonderful combination, but choose your favourites (blackberry-peach? raspberry-mango? blueberry-pomegranate?). The cinnamon-almond-date topping would work with any fruit! If you don’t plan to eat everything at once, I suggest keeping the topping separate from the fruit. Sprinkle over top just prior to serving… because if you aren’t going to eat it for dessert, you may as well have it for breakfast!
This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Wellness, this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Anh from A Food Lover’s Journey.
Peanut butter and banana are a classic combination. Warm caramelized banana with peanut butter is even better. Add in some rolled oats, chia seeds, vanilla and a dash of cinnamon, and you have a crazy concoction. A crazy, wonderful breakfast concoction. Or dinner, because you love it so much.
Ashley calls this a banana scramble, but I see it as a huge, fluffy pancake. Her description as a melty gooey chewy bananer oat goodness fits much better, actually. The banana becomes soft and caramelized as it is permeated with the peanut butter. The rolled oats and chia seeds add bulkiness and texture. It reminds me of a stovetop version of the Dark Chocolate Banana Coconut Almond Cookies, which are soft from the bananas, but here, you eat it right from the stove, ooey-gooey in its warmness.
I have made this a few times, and the recipe is very flexible. You can use chia seeds, ground flax or even wheat germ to help keep it together. Instead of banana, you could use apple sauce, mashed pumpkin or sweet potato. The amount of nondairy milk is up to you and your preference. It should be a bit thick, but not dry. I like to err on the side of wet. Chia seeds definitely make this an easier thing to flip, though, and 2 smaller pancakes would help to flip as well. Wheat germ was nice because it was more fluffy and I added more milk. Especially with wheat germ, it can be a bit finicky to keep it all together, so the name scramble is quite fitting.
This is the wheat germ version. After frying, It may look like this:
So just stick it together and top with bananas (see top photo) and no one would be the wiser.. Personally, in this case, as unphotogenic as it is, I prefer the super fluffy pancake that doesn’t easily keep together then a flippable pancake that is a bit sturdier. I like to eat fluffy goodness.
After my success with combining grains into my morning porridge (technically combining seeds since it was a quinoa-amaranth-chia concoction), I decided to try again with another multigrain breakfast. I spotted this combination of oatmeal, quinoa and kasha in The 30-Minute Vegan (recipe also posted here). You have to tend to it a bit more than traditional oatmeal since each grain gets added in separately, but it created a wonderful texture. You get the nutty quinoa with the creamy oatmeal and truth be told, this was my first time eating kasha, but the combination was wonderful. I added in some sweetened soymilk at the end so I did not feel like it needed anything additional with the bananas. However, use this as a template to add your favourite oatmeal toppings, with the bonus of a new texture for your breakfast porridge.
When you eat alone, you may eat things that are odd. Cereal for dinner? I did that one too many times while in university. So quick and easy! Unless you are making steel cut oatmeal, regular or quick cooking oatmeal falls into the same category: quick and easy meal. Since exploring savoury oatmeal for breakfast, I didn’t think twice about whipping up a batch of oatmeal after coming home from Vancouver and then again for breakfast the next day. I was craving something warm and homey, after eating a lot of raw foods last week.
With Vancouver still on my mind (the sushi capital of Canada), I decided to spice up my ponzu-flavoured savoury oatmeal with strips of toasted nori and goji berries. Seemingly odd ingredients, but all hailing from somewhere in Asia, it worked really well together! The goji berries plumped up nicely and offered a hint of sweetness with some chewiness. The nori brought a comforting sushi-flavour to the dish, the citrus from the ponzu was light and refreshing and the quick-cooking oatmeal was slightly lumpy, but in a good reminds-me-of-rice kind of way.
I have been experimenting with more unusual ingredients lately: maca, delicious! Carob, yup. And now goji berries. Can I blame Tess’ new cookbook all about superfoods? Perhaps… but blame isn’t the right word, praise is more like it. While I also believe that common fruits and vegetables are superfoods with all their vitamins and minerals, it is nice to spice things up with new ingredients. Taste is the most important, though, which is something I will never sacrifice (the health benefits of goji berries may be overstated).
But let me share a secret: these wacky “superfoods” don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Even seaweed (nori, etc) and dried mushrooms can be expensive at health food stores. However, people have been eating seaweed and goji berries for years. Head to where they are native to find cheap supplies – and no, I don’t mean China. Head to Chinatown or your favourite Asian grocery store (Sunny!). Here, goji berries may be labelled as red medlar, though, which is why they have gone under my radar until now. Goji berries are so much cheaper, only a buck or two, whereas I know Whole Foods charges a lot more.
While goji berries are a bit lackluster straight from the bag – they taste like a tart cherry in the guise of a dried raisin – they are much better once they are plumped up in the oatmeal. Because they aren’t cloyingly sweet like most dried fruit, this paired well with the savoury nori and ponzu sauce.
Alphonso mango season has arrived.
Last year, Rob and I devoured the Indian Alphonsos as soon as they arrived in Little India. Succulent, sweet, smooth and sweating with juice (sap? cider? to go with my alliterations..), this is one of the best mangoes out there (although, no, I have yet to try Pakistani or Filipino mangoes). Ataulfos are my second favourite.
Rob jumped at the chance to get a crate of mangoes last weekend and shared his bounty with me. I mean, you could easily just eat the Alphonso plain, in all its glory, but I recounted all my favourite mango recipes from last year: Thai Sticky Rice with Mango, Mango Shrikhand and Coconut Rice Pudding with a Mango Puree. I was brought to the tropics just thinking about it.
Mango Shrikhand, man that was good. A mango and cardamom-infused yogurt is topped with mango and pistachios. Sounds simple, but works so well.
However, I am not eating yogurt right now, so I figured I would try to merry those similar flavours together for breakfast. With my morning oats, no less. This was how Mango Pistachio Steel Cut Oatmeal (aka Mango Shrikhand Oatmeal) was born.
Unlike my previous Mango Oatmeal, spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, I did not cook the mangoes in the oatmeal. I consider the Alphonso mango too precious to let it disintegrate. If I had an Ataulfo, then I’d certainly throw that in the pot, though. I let the mango shine overtop the oatmeal, sprinkled with pistachios. With the creamy base with cardamom and saffron, this was a delicious breakfast.
My mom recently forwarded an article to me.
“Study finds vegetarians have smaller brains” screamed the headline with a link to this article in Neurology from 2008.
Gosh, do I need to bemoan how media misconstrues academic research? The article had nothing to do with vegetarian diets, rather it investigated the effect of vitamin B12 levels in the elderly and its association with brain volume. Vitamin B12 deficiency is common in the elderly due to many reasons, and can be a reversible cause of dementia.
However, I understand my mom’s concern. Vegans need to understand which nutrients are harder to come by without consuming meat and dairy. There are actually a few, but vitamin B12 deficiency can become problematic since you can only acquire it from meat and dairy, unless you obtain it from a fortified food.
A good source of vitamin B12 for vegans is nutritional yeast, which is fortified with vitamin B12. While I first used nutritional yeast to make a creamy zucchini and basil soup, I hadn’t really discovered its prowess until recently.
Nutritional yeast is not nearly as scary as it sounds. Its name is true though: it is a nutritional boon for B vitamins and it is an inactive yeast, harvested from beetroot and molasses. Known as a vegan source of vitamin B12, it is also a great source of protein and fiber. It has a distinctive cheesy flavour, that I have grown to love, although you may need to warm up to it. It has that kind of ‘health food’ flavour for the uninitiated but if paired well with other ingredients, it can really shine. You should be able to find it easily in any health food store.
While I love my breakfasts to feature all kinds of fruit, I have recently been smitten by savoury oats for breakfast. Playing around with different combinations with my big batch of weekly oats, this has been my recent favourite: steel-cut oats with soy sauce and nutritional yeast. Simple, quick, healthy and a nice change of pace for breakfast.