I have been debating whether to go on a complete blog hiatus during the summer or work on some pre-written posts. I am leaning towards a blog vacation simply because my absence will be too long for me to mask or simply dwindle down to a post once a week.
When deciding what to share this week (while I was on vacation last week), I had to see what was lurking in my archives. (Note: I should have added one more tip for food bloggers: have draft posts and lots of them). As such, I have been hunting through my archives of not-yet-published posts. You know – the half-written posts, the posts without any photos uploaded and the worst – the ones without a recipe. As soon as I discovered these photos, I knew I wanted to share them.
The glowing strawberries are oh-so-ripe and the drizzle of balsamic layered nicely around the oats. I would love a bowl of this right now.
Truthfully, I don’t remember making this but my photo time stamp tells me it was 2011. Obviously around strawberry season. Perfect timing because Ontario strawberries are just starting to appear, as we found out this weekend.
This dish was from a time when I used to toast my steel cut oats as I waited for the water to boil. Now I don’t bother.
It was before I started adding protein powder to my oats. My current concoction is a murky green stew but I am not sure if that is any better than my previous (chocolate) brown variety with berries. I used to share a lot of my morning eats but with my morning monotony there is not as much day-to-day novelty. I already shared a Balsamic Lemon-Blueberry Steel Cut Oats which was likely my inspiration 3 years ago.
Be it resolved to change my morning oats this week? Absolutely!
How about you? Do you have a similar breakfast every day?
Any preferences for my blog sabbatical? I am toying with the idea of a few summary posts (like the best vegan restaurants in Houston and Toronto).
The recent cold, wet and rainy weather put a temporary hiatus on our weekend cycling. Thus, with a bit of extra time on our hands last weekend, Rob and I crafted a delicious weekend brunch.
Rob was becoming a bit overwhelmed by our weekly banana surplus. I agree 4 bunches for a $1 is great, but probably not the best idea 2 weeks in a row. After packing our freezer with frozen bananas, we then caramelized the leftovers ones into this spin on a bananas foster baked oatmeal.
There are two ways to make this. When Rob and I team up together, we can easily divvy up the tasks: him caramelizing the bananas, while I mix together the rest of the oatmeal, which are then combined before baking. However, I have also made this solo, where I found it easier to simply caramelize my bananas, deglaze them with the milk and then directly mix the rest of the ingredients in the skillet, which is then subsequently baked. Less dirty dishes is always a perk.
While we have added the rum, we couldn’t really taste it, so it is definitely optional. Or, conversely add more if you want to taste it. Or perhaps drizzle it at the end.
In any case, you have a delicious breakfast. I prefer it warm, fresh from the oven. The sweet, caramelized bananas melt tenderly amongst the creamy baked oats. I have used both walnuts and pecans, with good results. If you have any leftovers, this is good chilled, too. Of course, that only works if you have leftovers. ;)
Baked oatmeal made previously:
Baked Apple Banana Oatmeal
Baked Pumpkin Cranberry Oatmeal Breakfast Pudding
Baked Blueberry Oatmeal Breakfast Pudding
Apricot Oatmeal Breakfast Clafoutis
Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal
Peanut Butter Cookie Baked Oatmeal
This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.
Which food makes you giggle? An automatic response because you just don’t want to eat it.
While I have cooked and baked with prunes before, I subconsciously think of my bowels when I see prunes. I know it isn’t just me, because the folks in California have been rebranded prunes as “dried plums“. So many less connotations, while using different words.
Dried dates, apricots and cranberries get a lot of love, but prunes are rarely heralded. It wasn’t until I picked them up on a whim that I remembered how nice they taste. They aren’t as cloyingly sweet as dates or raisins, and have a much more complex flavour: deep and robust.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I love to explore new breakfasts, although I rarely share them these days. I spotted this recipe for stewed prunes with citrus and cinnamon and figured it would be a great topping for my morning oatmeal.
I was drawn to this recipe for stewed prunes because there is no added sugar and the sweetness comes entirely from the prunes and orange. In fact, the sweetness is tempered by including the orange peel in the pot as everything simmers. A dash of cinnamon permeates the succulent compote and melds seamlessly. I halved the original recipe since I didn’t have a pound of prunes. I used half a Navel orange, cut into thin slivers, which delivered a wonderful flavour. Don’t be off-put by including the entire orange, peel and all. It works. Really well.
(I’ve done something similar before, years ago when I made Nigella’s Clementine Cake in which you boil 5 whole clementines (peel and all) for two hours until meltingly soft, add half a dozen eggs, sugar, ground almonds with a dash of baking powder before you throw it into the oven. The cake is oh so moist, not super sweet, but wonderful. Gluten-free baking at its finest, although obviously not vegan.)
Just as Molly suggests, the silky prunes develop a complex flavour throughout its hour-long simmer. Overnight, in the fridge, the flavours meld further. It was a delicious topping for my morning oatmeal and could easily top some yogurt or ice cream, if you are into that, for a delicious dessert. Warm and cold, I loved it both ways.
Other prune recipes that have caught my eye:
Tagine of Yam, Carrot and Prune from Moroccan Food and Cooking
Butter Bean, Prune and Tomato Tagine from Sanitarium
Georgian Red Beans in Sour Prune Sauce in Olive Trees and Honey
Spinach and Prunes with Beans in The New Book of Middle Eastern Food
Prunes Stuffed with Walnuts in Orange Juice in The New Book of Middle Eastern Food
Quinoa Tagine with Chickpeas, Olives and Prunes (Quinoa and Chickpea Marbella) at Diet Dessert n Dogs
Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew in A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen (recipe here)
Masala Chai Poached Prunes at In Praise of Sardines
Orange-Scented Hazelnut Prune Truffles at Anja’s Food for Thought
What are your favourite ways to enjoy
prunes dried plums?
Wow, once you start, it can be hard to stop.
I may have unrawified the quinoa wraps, but I have been noshing on lots of great raw eats all week. I also ventured away from my standard chocolate oats, and re-entered overnight oats territory. For some odd reason, I usually only eat overnight oats when I have an empty container of nut butter. The overnight soaking allows you to absorb all the rest of the nut butter on the sides of the jar.
(and yes, I think that’s some carrot that snuck in from my grater, hehe)
I like how simple changes can truly transform my breakfast. I routinely add fresh fruit to my oats (especially apples), but I usually just chop them up. However, this time I made a spin on Swiss muesli. Nowadays, muesli is more akin to uncooked granola, heavy on rolled oats, nuts and seeds, although Dr. Bircher-Benner’s original recipe called for far more fruit than grains.
When I think of Bircher muesli, I associate it with the grated apple. Not chopped, grated. Grated apple was a fun twist. I ran with Gena’s recipe, which updated the classic recipe by including chia seeds, dried fruits and chopped almonds. The textural contrast from the soaked chia seeds, creamy oats, grated sweet apple and chopped almonds was a delicious treat. Trying to clear out my pantry, I tossed in some dried goji berries and my homemade unsweetened dried cranberries. I don’t normally like goji berries (I think I’ve had the same package for over 2 years), but found they were fantastic in here. So much so that I am sad I cleaned out the last of them… and trying very hard not to run back to Chinatown to buy some more. Must. Resist. Buying. New. Ingredients.
Do you do the nut butter jar trick? Have you tried goji berries? What are your favourite recipes?
And last, but not least, the winner for my cookbook giveaway is Ellen! I will contact you to get your shipping address.
Today is a sad day.
I retired my food processor.
It was older than me, Cuisinart Robot Coupe circa 1970s. A hand-me-down from my parents, to my brother and finally to me. You see, I had to wait for my brother to get married and receive a fancy brand new one. My kitchen changed completely once I finally grabbed hold of it, though. Homemade energy bars galore. Turned out I was the one laughing (until now), since this old processor was the best. It was a work-horse. Easy to clean. Loved more than the newer models. I learned a lot with it, such as:
1. Chop your bananas before you freeze them.
That was how I broke off both clips on the side of the bowl. Huge chunks of frozen bananas jumped around the bowl and snapped it off, literally.
Have no fear, that was nothing I couldn’t solve by holding it in place myself.
2. Do not overflow your food processor with fluids.
This was courtesy of Rob’s lesson. The overflowing liquid can make its way inside your food processor and get it to stop working.
Thank goodness my Dad knows how to open up a food processor and clean up the insides.
3. Cook your chickpeas.
This is another lesson from Rob. Processing soaked chickpeas (but not yet cooked chickpeas) broke his food processor (he only had it for a week) but this beast plowed through it.
4. Don’t give away extra bowls for your circa 1970s food processor.
Lesson courtesy of my Mom. Right before I had my first crack in my bowl, my Mom told me she had just given away/thrown out the extra food processor bowl she had been holding onto for the last 4 decades. ;)
5. Crazy glue only works temporarily.
The final straw for my food processor was when the little tip broke off. My Dad crazy glued it back in place, at my insistence. He was worried the whole thing would be glued shut. I proved him wrong. It still stuck together and moved! The problem, though: it snapped off again (while making The Great Vegetable Bolognese Sauce).
While I can manually stick that teeny piece back in its place, instead I decided to retire my food processor. *sigh* It is for my own safety.
I still remember the first time I tried the amazing 1-ingredient banana ice cream. Gena titled her post: “Banana Soft Serve: This Post Will Change Your Life”. And it was miraculous. However, without a food processor, it cannot be done. Something about the air whipping/melting the banana into a creamy soft pudding. As much as I love my Vitamix, blenders can’t do it. Creamy smooth smoothies, yes, but simple ice cream? No.
Super simple, I rarely make it more complicated than a frozen banana. I have paired it with raw banana maca pancakes and stewed vanilla-scented peaches and blueberries. For a chocolatey treat, adding chocolate protein powder is a great recovery snack.
For its ultimate farewell, I teamed the banana soft-serve with another oldie-but goodie: overnight oats with chia seeds. I’ve shared versions with chocolate & cherries, avocado and gingerbread pumpkin, but this one was a classic vanilla-cinnamon combination.
Combined together, it is a glorious breakfast. And if it wasn’t so much of a fuss to clean the food processor, I’d gladly eat this every day.
I feel kind of bad since it is the bowl that needs replacing and not the motor unit. Sadly, Cuisinart does not sell replacement bowls any longer. I think my Mom tracked down a seller in San Francisco. The commute might kill the value.
What do you think? Time to give it the farewell party? How old is your food processor?
Flash back two years ago and my favourite breakfast was oatmeal with ponzu sauce and flax seeds. I know it sounds like the oddest combination, but I loved it. Savoury oats for breakfast.
Yet somehow, I seemed to skip over posting my most repeated recipe in lieu of other savoury oatmeal concoctions: soy sauce and nutritional yeast, goji berries, nori and ponzu sauce and a savoury oatmeal that I would eat for dinner with vegetables, miso and nutritional yeast.
NATURALLY BREWED SOY SAUCE (WATER, WHEAT, SOYBEANS, SALT), WATER, SUGAR, VINEGAR, SALT, BONITO EXTRACT (FISH), LACTIC ACID, LEMON JUICE, AUTOLYZED YEAST EXTRACT, NATURAL LEMON AND ORANGE FLAVORS WITH OTHER NATURAL FLAVORS, SUCCINIC ACID, DISODIUM INOSINATE, DISODIUM GUANYLATE, SODIUM BENZOATE: LESS THAN 1/10 OF 1% AS A PRESERVATIVE.
Forget the sugar and preservatives, but it isn’t even vegan! Oopsies!
So I ventured to make my own homemade vegan ponzu sauce, without all the fluff… and the fish. My recipe is adapted from Taste of the East. The core is a base of tamari (sadly, Braggs couldn’t compete) along with juices from both lemon and lime. Yuzu is more traditional but even I can admit that I have never seen yuzu for sale. While I don’t think ponzu sauce tastes fishy, a dashi flavoured broth is created from arame and added to the ponzu. I skipped mirin, a common Japanese sweet rice wine, not only because I am challenging myself to go sweetener-free, but also because I thought it tasted fine without it. I tried it with less tamari, but found it lacking without it. Since I only use 1-2 tsp for my oatmeal, I find a little goes a long way.
While I typically eat steel-cut oats, I treated myself to some extra thick rolled oats. Pillow soft, it worked well with the ponzu sauce. More as a textural contrast, and also for its health benefits (omega 3s, lignans and fiber), I added flax seeds. I highly prefer yellow or golden flax seeds which are more mild tasting than brown flax. However, to unlock flax’s prowess, freshly grinding them is the way to go. Otherwise, they may not be absorbed at all. :(
I have been blogging for over 3 years (and cooking for myself for the past decade), so you’d think I’d have figured everything out in the kitchen by now, right?
You’d think I’d have figured out what I like to eat or not…
OK, I know what I like but I love trying new things. It is harder to pinpoint what I don’t like. (Other than celery).
With my never ending stash of pumpkin puree, I whipped up a quick and simple pumpkin pie pudding. It didn’t woo me.
While I grew up with turkey at Thanksgiving, we rarely had stuffing (no one likes it), sometimes had cranberry sauce (not sure who likes it) and we never had pumpkin pie (who knows why). I don’t know if I have ever had it except as a raw cheesecake from Naked Sprout (which doesn’t really count as traditional pumpkin pie).
I figured a sweet pumpkin pie pudding with pumpkin, maple and pumpkin pie spice would be great. It was missing something, though. I didn’t know what. I added some blackstrap molasses to make this more gingerbread-like. I definitely preferred the sharp bite from the molasses. But as I licked my way through my dessert, I wasn’t particularly smitten with its pudding nature. I don’t really like pureed soups either. I like soups with body and bulk. So I stirred it into my morning oats with the natural Sun Warrior blend and I had a happy protein-rich breakfast for the week. Creamy with some body from the steel-cut oats. Re-purposed dessert for breakfast, yum. :)
I also thought it would be fun to share my trusty travelling spork. A spoon, a fork and a knife, all in one. This one is orange, to boot. :)
How many of you are weather watchers?
Now that I am biking to work again, I watch the forecasts closely. On rainy days I track the radar throughout the day to figure out when it would be best to bike. Hourly forecasts, too.
But please, how many of you watch the weather to determine your weekly menu?
I am pretty good about making the majority of my meals on the weekends and scooping out leftovers all week. But sometimes I don’t want to eat what I’ve already made. Sometimes I don’t want salad.
Case in point: Wednesday. 30% chance of rain in the afternoon. I’ll take my chances, thanks. By the time I was finished at work, it looked wet outside but it didn’t look like it was raining. I consulted the radar: the rain had ended and it had just skirted the city anyhow.
But I walked outside and it now it was lightly raining. I pummeled home on my bike, when it rained even harder. I was cold and wet by the time I make it home. The last thing I wanted was salad.
I wanted something warm and cozy. And quick.
So I did what everyone turns to in such a panicked state: breakfast for dinner. Not wanting to eat my latest breakfast oats, I went with a savoury twist. I boiled my oats with vegetable broth, threw in some leftover cooked peas and carrots, stirred in some nutritional yeast and miso and I was in heaven. I’ve done the savoury oats thing before, but I had forgotten how lovely it was. Plus, I never ate it for dinner, with the vegetables thrown in for good measure.
While this was great the first night, I found myself craving it throughout the rest of the week, too. Nooch plus miso works so well here and you can throw in all your leftover vegetables. I tried it with uncooked carrots, but they weren’t able to lose their crunch by the time the oats were done, unfortunately. Just throw in cooked vegetables. The peas worked really well. Not sure where else canned mushy peas would be so awesome… (other than the Malai Koftas from Easter, recipe forthcoming!).
So before this weekend’s round of cooking, I looked at the forecast. It was pretty grim: rain today and early in the week. Rob made a nice cocoa chili (a bit too spicy for me) and I opted for a curried red lentil soup and a Mediterranean chickpea salad. I am sure I may have these cheezy oats once again as well. :)
This is my submission to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend.
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. :)
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.
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.