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Proud to Eat Granola!

29 Nov

Poor granola — and I don’t mean a granola bar in fancy packaging — I mean plain granola.  Although its popularity as a breakfast food is growing with places like Starbucks offering it, it still seems to end up as a joke, sometimes in connection with mocking language, particularly about people who prefer to eat healthfully or are perceived to be something of a “hippie” (regardless of whether or not they are).

In fact, I had an unpleasant experience at a doctor’s office this summer.  I explained a minor problem I was having and requested both an allergy test and a certain type of hormone test that a nutritionist had recommended to me.  The doctor scoffed at the idea, said she didn’t know what the test was supposed to tell me, and why I was asking for it.  When I explained about the nutritionist, she said derisively, “Sometimes these earthy granola types tell people to do the craziest things.”  She then went on to suggest I take medicine for this minor problem — for an indefinite amount of time.

Well.  That was the last appointment I would have at that doctor’s office.  If she had recommended the medicine alone, then perhaps I would have felt sorry for her lack of training in nutrition, for example, that would otherwise have allowed her to recommend something beyond pharmaceuticals.  But that comment — “earthy granola types” — spoken about one of her own colleagues (in the sense that they both work for the improvement of people’s health) was unprofessional and dismissive.

But that word granola had me thinking — I’m not sure why she used it, but she was by no means the only person from whom I heard it in a similar context.  I actually don’t even eat granola on a regular basis, but that experience makes me want to reclaim the food with pride!

And so recently I realized that the book I am reviewing, Scatter Vegan Sweets, has not 1 but 6 variations of granola, and 5 granola bar recipes.  A perfect opportunity to take back granola!

With her permission, here is the recipe, by Wendy Gabbe Day:

Ingredients:

4 cups rolled oats

2/3 cups almonds

1/2 cup coconut shreds (optional)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup brown rice syrup

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup almond butter

2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions:

1) Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit .

2) Lightly oil a 13 x 18 inch (or similar) baking sheet (I prefer parchment paper — it’s easier to clean up!)

3) In a bowl, combine the first four dry ingredients.

4) In a small saucepan, combine the remaining five wet ingredients and heat on low until liquefied.

5) Pour the wet mixture into the dry ones and mix thoroughly.

6) Spread evenly on the baking sheet.

7) Bake 20 minutes, then stir.  Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool to crisp up.

All the ingredients, shown here.

First I put together the dry ingredients:  oats, almonds, coconut, and salt.

Next, I measured and assembled the wet ingredients:  rice syrup, maple syrup, water, almond butter, and vanilla.  Instead of measuring each ingredient separately, I actually combined them within the measuring cup to reduce the messiness.  As long as you can remember some middle school math and add fractions, it’s totally possible.  Furthermore, when measuring out the almond butter that is not in liquid form, you can measure it by judging how much of the other liquids it displaces when you add it to the measuring cup.  As you scoop spoonfuls in, the liquid level will rise.  Easy!!!!

Heat all the wet ingredients together….

….until they blend.

Add them to the dry ingredients and mix.

Spread onto a cookie sheet…

… so that it makes one really big granola bar!  After baking, it can easily be crumbled and kept in a jar.

Serve over soy yogurt, or just eat by the handful.

This recipe is only one of many possibilities for granola as a breakfast food and as a counter-attack on anyone who wants to call you an “Earthy Granola Type!”

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Bitter About Buckwheat No More

21 Nov

After my treasure hunting expedition in the kitchen yesterday, I came across ingredients I had long forgotten in the bottom of my deep freezer.  One of these was kasha, also known as buckwheat groats.  I purchased them once, almost a  year ago, in order to make a breakfast meal that turned out absolutely disgusting.  The concept and pictures seemed promising — it was a chocolate pudding with fresh strawberries and soaked buckwheat groats.  But the groats are bitter, and they just didn’t do anything for me that couldn’t have been achieved ten times better with rolled oats.

But I hate wasting food, and so the buckwheat sat in my freezer until now.  And it probably would have continued to stay in my freezer for months to come, had I not come across a recipe by Wendy Gabbe Day, author of the book Scatter Vegan Sweets.  I am currently reading it and writing a review for the American Vegan magazine, and just recently read the recipe for a buckwheat smoothie.  Perfect timing!

What sets Scatter Vegan Sweets apart from other vegan cookbooks is the fact that Wendy focuses exclusively on gluten-free, nutrient-dense ingredients with low fat, low sugar, and no oil.  The book includes sweets that are not limited to desserts, such as breakfast foods and the smoothie I made today

With her permission, here is Wendy’s recipe for her Raw Berry Buckwheat Smoothie:

  • 1/2 cup raw buckwheat groats (soaked overnight)
  • 1/3 cup raw nuts (soaked overnight)
  • 4 medjool dates (pitted, and soaked overnight if you do not have a high speed blender)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 frozen bananas (chopped)
  • 1-1.5 cups water
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries (or other frozen fruit)
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries (or other frozen fruit — I used raspberries)
  1. In a bowl or jar, combine the buckwheat and nuts and cover with water.  Soak overnight or for 4-8 hours.  (This water will be discarded).
  2. In a separate bowl or jar, soak the dates in 1 cup of water overnight of for 4-8 hours.  If you’ve got a heavy duty blender, you can skip soaking the dates.
  3. Drain and thoroughly rinse the buckwheat and nuts.  Place in the blender.
  4. Add the dates and date water to the blender.  Blend thoroughly.
  5. Add the remaining four ingredients and blend until smooth.  Add additional water, if needed, for smoother consistency.

The idea would be to think about what you’re having for breakfast tomorrow morning, and soak the necessary ingredients over night.  Once you wake up, it really is hardly any work at all to make this smoothie.  Last night, I did measure out and soak the groats and nuts in water, but I forgot about the dates.

This morning, I blended the buckwheat and walnuts in the blender, as the recipe specified, but unfortunately, I do not have a high speed blender.

So before adding the dates, I put the dates and the 1 cup of water in the food processor separately to ensure that they were thoroughly chopped.

Once chopped I added them, water and all, to the blended buckwheat.

The frozen fruit was the last step, in which I did substitute raspberries for strawberries, since that was all I had.

I was pleasantly surprised that all the fruit and dates completely obscured the bitterness of the buckwheat.  The walnuts gave the smoothie body, and the buckwheat had a milkiness to it after having been soaked overnight.  This smoothie was different for me, however, because it wasn’t a green smoothie. This one actually did not contain kale, spinach, dandelions, or lettuce like my typical green smoothies — my husband was thrilled to see that this morning’s smoothie was indeed pink, and not green or brown!!  I will definitely make this smoothie again with the remainder of my buckwheat groats — and who knows?  I might even buy some more that won’t live in my freezer for a year.

 

Tempeh Takeover! (When husbands invade kitchens…)

13 Nov

I awoke this morning to the tantalizing sounds of something sizzling in the kitchen.  There was a subtle aroma in the air of….curry?  On Saturday morning?  What was going on?

As it turns out, it was a Husband Take Over day in my kitchen.  Having woken up earlier than me, my husband was in the mood for pancakes.  But pancakes require several ingredients, accurate measurements, and possibly even reading a recipe.  Too much for a Saturday morning, I’m sure!  So instead, he dug around in the refrigerator and found tempeh and Tofurky Kielbasa sausages — totally protein-centered “man” foods (in a vegan household).

I have to admit, my husband is very good at pulling together random ingredients without recipes and measurements.  It is truly a treat when he cooks, because it is bound to be good with much less effort than I usually need.  He also has the uncanny ability to complete everything in one pot with one spatula, and no need for a pile of dishes.  He probably should have his own blog called “The Vegan’s Husband” or something like that.

The food was pretty much ready when I came into the kitchen, but my husband described his creation as follows:

First, he cut the tempeh block into two inch strips, and the kielbasa diagonally.  Then he started to sautee scallions and garlic (both were precut in containers I had in the fridge).  Next, he added the tempeh and let that cook gradually.  Then he added about two tablespoons of curry powder (this is his estimate — he just winged it) and about 10 sprays of Bragg’s Amino Acids (it was the smaller spray bottle.  He said it was “enough to form a puddle in the bottom of the pan.”  He continued to sautee the tempeh in these seasonings for a few minutes before adding the sausage.  Then he said he just “kept stirring to keep it from sticking,” and occasionally added a little bit of water for the same reason.  He still wanted some sweetness, however, so he also squirted about 1 tablespoon of agave nectar and gave the mixture a few more stirs before serving it.


It certainly was delicious, and I was grateful for the break from cooking!