Category: Grains

Raspberry Ripple Buckwheat Porridge

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Raspberry Ripple Raw Buckwheat Porridge

Does anyone out there latch onto a food and become totally obsessed with it? Do you find it making its way into almost everything you make? Lately, I’ve been riding the buckwheat wagon hard. And although I am not so much into food trends, I predict that buckwheat is going to be the new hotness. You heard it here first.

Okay, maybe it’s just me. This little seed (yes, it’s a seed!) has tumbled its way into my little heart and made a triangular burrow so deep that I can’t imagine what my life was like before it. Those beautiful, variegated, pale green-and-sand coloured pyramids, so humble yet majestic. The way it crisps up in the oven, like teeny, crunchy fireworks. The soft, creamy texture it has after cooking, and how it absorbs so many flavours, leaning either savory or sweet. The rich and nutty flour that turns into noodles, bread, muffins, pancakes, scones and waffles so deliciously.

And while I thought I had buckwheat all worked out, he pulled out his wildcard and now I’m scarfing raw buckwheat porridge like it’s my job. Looking for a power-packed breakfast this summer? High protein, high fiber, gluten-free, versatile, portable, and insanely delicious. It’s also super easy to make, and perfect for those mornings when you need to get outside in the sun as quickly as possible. Obsessed!

How is the porridge raw you ask? The trick to making this treat, is soaking overnight. It’s an easy way to enjoy completely uncooked grains, in their full nutritional force.

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The Right Way to Soak
Although soaking grains in pure, un-chlorinated water is good, if you really want to go the extra mile, the key is dropping some acid! And what I mean by that is, adding something acidic to the soaking water, fresh lemon juice and apple cider vinegar being my top picks. For every cup of grain, use 1 tablespoon of acidic medium (don’t worry –the sourness will not be noticeable in the end product, cooked or raw). It also helps if the water is relatively warm, recently boiled but cooled off to some extent.

Suggested soaking time is 7-8 hours, such as an overnight. Leave whatever you are soaking at room temperature. I just keep mine on the counter, covered with a clean tea towel. In the morning, drain the grains in a sieve and rinse well. FYI – buckwheat has a very unique property of making goo. Don’t be alarmed if your groats are on the snotty side the morning after – this is totally normal and it is easily rinsed off.

What these elements add up to, is making the grains far more digestible. Warm, acidic water helps to remove phytic acid, which would otherwise interfere with mineral absorption, and neutralize enzyme inhibitors. Soaking also allows the enzymes, lactobacilli (friendly folk bacteria) and other helpful organisms to break down some of the harder-to-digest starches. Overall, it’s a really good idea, even if you are in excellent health with stellar digestion. It’s these little steps that quickly add up to major life change – I can certainly attest to that.

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This porridge was actually inspired by my mother, eternal lover of raspberry ripple ice cream. As a kid, I could never understand how you could waste an entire trip to the ice cream shop on fruit. I mean, really. But I get it now, and raspberry swirling through a blushing pink, creamy, vanilla porridge seems almost too good to be true for breakfast.

If you have never eaten soaked, blended buckwheat before, be prepared for a pleasant surprise. Its mildly nutty, and slightly sweet flavour make it a perfect breakfast food during the warmer months. Plus, it is the easiest thing to whip up, taking less than five minutes from start to finish. The texture is up to you: if you like a chunky porridge, blend it just a little, or if you like it smooth, let your machine run for 30 seconds or so until it is beautifully silky. Even though you can use milk in this recipe, you will certainly achieve a creamy consistency with water alone. That is the magic of buckwheat!

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The raspberry is the shining star of this breakfast, giving the porridge a beautiful colour and juicy tartness. If raspberries aren’t in season where you are, use whatever berries or fruit you have. I added a little lemon juice for brightness and cardamom for a richer spiced flavour. This is optional, but really delicious. The frozen banana ups the creaminess, sweetness, and makes the porridge cold, which I really dig, but you could replace it with dates, honey or maple syrup too. The bee pollen is not essential to the recipe, but a wonderful way to boost the nutritional content of this dish even more. If it’s your first time using bee pollen, start small and work your way up. The amount given here is for those just starting out.

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Show me your porridge on Instagram: #buckwheatporridge

Early Summer Abundance Bowl

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Early Summer Abundance Bowl

Keep it simple. Use what you have. Make it work.

I’ve been staring at these three ideas for the past few hours. In between breastfeeding my baby, laundry, trying to make food for myself, emails, brushing my teeth and changing a couple diapers, I’ve been back and forth to my computer unsuccessfully getting any further with this post.

Then I read it again and realized that the advice that I was trying to give all of you out there was precisely what I needed to hear myself.

My days are so different than they used to be. Instead of being able to play in the kitchen from dawn until way past dusk, I’m playing with my sweet baby. Instead of making food for all of you to recreate I’m making food for us. Unremarkable, perhaps, but there is a turning inwards, a quiet and simplicity that I’m cultivating, or at least trying to. It isn’t glamorous and most of it isn’t worth blogging, but it’s real life. And I am very grateful for it.

Early Summer Abundance Bowl

Needless to say, meals have been simple and Abundance Bowls have been abundant. I’ve been cooking grains and beans in bulk to use for later, then tossing whatever fresh veggies I have on hand into the mix. If I can bend time and squeak out five or ten minutes worth of creativity, a sauce happens, or maybe a quick pickled condiment. All of a sudden, a pretty boss bowl of tasty, healthy food sits before me and I feel like the luckiest person in the world, living in true abundance. That is what the Abundance Bowl is all about. Keeping it simple. Using what you have. Making it work. And I guess feeling that kind of overwhelming gratitude doesn’t hurt either.

Early Summer Abundance Bowl

Here we are in the first breaths of true summer. My little family and I are back in Canada for the next little while and it feels amazing to be home. The sun is bright and the river is crisp, gardens everywhere are bursting with fresh food. The Early Summer Abundance bowl celebrates all of it, along with the feeling of luckiness that always pervades my thinking this time of year, as we begin to reap the benefits of the season.

I chose freekeh in this edition, a roasted, immature wheat that tastes deep and rich and is the perfect counterpoint to sweet, young beetroots, earthy radishes and vibrant sprouts. The grain is harvested while still young and soft, then roasted or sun-dried. The health bonus of harvesting immature wheat is that it retains more of its nutrients and proteins than its fully-grown counterparts. It even claims to have fewer carbohydrates than regular wheat because it’s young. It surprisingly has more dietary fiber content than brown rice, plus more calcium, iron, and potassium content.

You can find freekeh at Middle Eastern grocery stores and increasingly at natural and gourmet food shops. Sometimes it is referred to and sold as “Green Wheat”. If you have never tried freekeh before, get ready to freak out. It’s seriously amazing stuff! It cooks up like any other grain, keeps very well in the fridge and can be enjoyed hot or cold. I love it in salads, especially with lots of garlic, olive oil and lemon to balance the smoky flavour.

As I was after a sort of Middle Eastern flavour profile, I chose to make a harissa-spiked chutney with spring onion and dates, which is altogether scrumptious. Leftovers of this are excellent smeared on toast with poached eggs for breakfast, accompanying roast veggies or in an avocado sandwich. The colour isn’t very sexy, but the flavour is oh-my-goodness delicious. And to really take this Abundance Bowl to the next level, I may have put a little seared halloumi cheese in there. Maybe. Oh I totally did.

Early Summer Abundance Bowl

 

As for those of you asking about the Potluck Picnic in Toronto, I have made the difficult decision to skip it this year. There are so many things going on in my life (all positive!) but in the name of keeping things simple and quiet, I am honoring the commitment I made to myself to focus my energy on my family at this time. I so much appreciate your enthusiasm, and also your understanding. And of course I look forward to resuming the event next summer!

Show me your Abundance Bowls on Instagram: #earlysummerabundancebowl

Chunky Chocolate Buckwheat Granola

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Having a baby really puts your priorities under a microscope, because the little time that they are actually asleep during the day is your opportunity to get important things accomplished. Things like bathing, eating, laundry, doing your taxes, calling you mom. Funny then, that lately my priorities don’t include any of those activities. Instead it seems that the most critical thing to do as soon as my son shuts his eyes, is making chocolate granola. And yes, I really need a shower.

This trend began a couple weeks ago, nearly at the completion of my cookbook manuscript, the most overwhelming deadline of all time looming over me, that I got the most intense craving, not only for carb-y chocolate yum yums, but just to do something other than work and change diapers. When I finally put my finger on what it was I wanted, I whipped up a batch of chocolate granola so fast I even had time to sit and enjoy it before I heard the little waking whimpers of my babe. It was awesome. Needless to say, that huge jar of chunky, chocolate-y, uber-satisfying granola was sooooo gone almost as fast as I had made it.

Obviously this granola recipe is really, really yummy. Dangerously so. In fact it is so good, I’ll admit to pulling a slightly crazy/selfish move and telling my husband that it was “burnt granola” so he wouldn’t eat any of it. When asked why I was shoving scorched cereal into my mouth I sheepishly told him that I “didn’t want to waste any food”. Shameful! And since he’s reading this, now he knows I’m crazy.

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This granola is the kind of thing that you can eat right out of the jar by the handful, and it’s saved me on all the afternoons when I needed something filling and indulgent-tasting when my energy was waning. Although you can eat this stuff for breakfast, it’s a little on the rich side for my taste so early in the morning. I like to think of it more as snacking granola. I’ll leave the application up to you.

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Your Buddy Buckwheat
One of my latest obsessions, besides this granola, is buckwheat. Although the name suggests otherwise, buckwheat is actually not related to wheat, nor is it even a true grain. Buckwheat is the fruit seed of a plant similar to rhubarb and sorrel and a super substitute for people with wheat or gluten sensitivities.

Buckwheat has a high protein content, and contains all essential amino acids, making it an excellent choice for vegans and vegetarians. It is high in magnesium, a mineral with a pleasant muscle-relaxing effect. Side-note for the ladies: eating magnesium-rich foods before your period will help ease cramping, headaches and back pain.

Buckwheat is a wonderful food for improving cardiovascular health. Buckwheat contains rutin, a flavanoid that helps to maintain blood flow, keeps platelets from clotting, and strengthens capillaries. Buckwheat also reduces serum cholesterol and lowers blood pressure.

If you’ve ever tasted buckwheat honey or anything containing buckwheat flour, you’ll know that it has a strong, assertive flavour. Although it’s delicious as a porridge, or replacement for grain in a salad, stir-fry or stew situation, I would call it an “acquired taste”. In this granola however, it just becomes crispy, crunchy and adds a great texture

You can find whole buckwheat, often referred to as buckwheat “groats” at natural food shops and good grocery stores. Its natural colour is verging on pale green and has a distinctive, pyramid shape. The dark brown variety of buckwheat is called kasha, which has been toasted. Although delicious, for this recipe you are looking for the raw version of buckwheat so that you can toast it yourself.

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Although you could pretty much use any grain you like in this recipe, I chose oats and buckwheat for a tasty, textured balance of gluten-free goodness. And I can say with total confidence (as I admit to “testing” this recipe more than once) that any nut would be delish – hazelnuts and walnuts were my favourites, but almonds, cashews, pecans or Brazil nuts would also be great.

To serve, get creative. I really dug this granola with sliced bananas and homemade almond milk (which turns into chocolate milk!!!), but it would be delicious with yogurt, kefir, or sprinkled on top of cooked cereal, such as oatmeal. And as previously suggested, delish right out of the jar by the paw full.

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Whether you choose to eat this granola for breakfast or an afternoon snack doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you make chocolate granola a real priority in your life. Laundry can wait, emails can wait, and your hair looks just fine a little on the greasy side.