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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.

 

Green Smoothie (’cause you thought you were so smooth last night)

6 Nov

Beer.  Pretzels.  Chips.  Peanuts.  Jack ‘n Coke.  Cigars.  Maybe even dairy.  What do we do when our non-vegan loved ones binge and drink a little too much?  Sure, they think they’re so smooth when they’re tipsy and a cigar seems like a great idea.  But the morning after ain’t so smooth.

Despite the fact that he complains when I force feed him a green smoothie, my husband will beg me to make one after he’s had a night of naughty food and beer.  Yeah, he sometimes strays from my food, but always comes back to what he knows is good for him.

I started making green smoothies after reading Victoria Boutenko’s book Green Smoothie Revolution.  In it she explains the diet of a chimpanzee, which has the most genetic similarity to us, and hence possibly the best example of a diet good for us.  In their daily diets, chimps consume half their food as fruit, and almost the rest of it as green leaves (with a small percentage of barks and seeds, and a very small amount of bugs).  Well, when you are a chimp, or pretty much any animal other than a human, your main objective in life is to eat.  So therefore, you can spend all day chewing on leaves.  We humans don’t.  So Victoria Boutenko began blending her greens in order to drink them quickly and increase her consumption of them.  But they tasted awful!

Then Victoria read one of Jane Goodall’s chimpanzees books and came across an observation of chimps rolling up a piece of fruit into a large green leaf and eating it like a sandwich.  While some people believe we shouldn’t combine fruits and veggies in the same meal, this innovative chimp culinary creation inspired Victoria to try blending fruits with her greens, thus creating green smoothies.  The rest of her book concisely explains the nutritional specifics of green smoothies and provides many recipes.  Below, however, is the one I created based on what was in my fridge today.

After getting that green smoothie request from my regretful husband, I washed romaine lettuce and dandelion leaves.  Dandelion is known to be very good for detoxing the liver, so that was perfect!  (Did you know the largest agricultural production of dandelions is right here in South Jersey?  Yes, it’s  the “dandelion capital of the world.”  In fact, there’s even a festival here in the spring).

But dandelion is so bitter!

So how could I hide it in a smoothie?  With fruit, of course — but not just any fruit — very ripe bananas.  Why overripe?  Because that’s when they are cheaper and sweeter.  I get them at Acme, where they sell ripe banas for 25 cents a pound.  Usually, the outside of t

hem is yellow with a few brown freckles.  I happily buy these cheaper ones, instead of their more expensive, green and tasteless siblings.  At home, I actually leave them out on my kitchen counter for an extra two days or so until they have a lot of brown spots on them.  Then, I peel them, put them into a large plastic ziplock bag and freeze them for smoothies, desserts, and ice cream.  The riper the better!

Moving on to my smoothie creation:  first, I washed and cut the romaine and dandelion into about one inch pieces.  I do not have a Vitamix, so I do precut everything.

I then put one handful of dandelion and two handfuls of romaine into the blender (loosely, not stuffed) with 16 ounces of soy milk. I blended the heck out of it from low to high speeds, and then added one scoop of hemp protein and two tablespoons of cocoa powder.

Next I cut the two overripe frozen bananas into chunks and blended it all until smooth.

Did my  husband like it?  He didn’t even notice the dandelion!  It really was delicious.