Posts tagged ‘breakfast’

June 22, 2011

What dreams (and greens) may come

Lately, I’ve been having this running dialogue in my head. With myself. Yes, I know that’s not a good sign. Onward. It starts up around…oh…8, 9, 10 pm at night. When I’m supposed to be getting ready for bed. Or when I’m supposed to be sleeping. In short, it goes something like this (Evil Becky has been represented in italics in the below dialogue):

***

–I’m sleepy. I should get ready for bed.
–But there are so many things I could do right now…like watch all of the episodes of This American Life on Netflix!
–I can watch them later…I need to get up early for my workout tomorrow.
–…I could study medical terminology…or read all of those books that I have to write reports on before August…
–I’m sleepy. I really should go to bed.
–That’s right, I AM sleepy. I just need a little snack to keep me going!

***

And it all goes downhill from there. The night creeps towards waking hours, and I can be found filling out tourist visa forms, cleaning out my closet and organizing my desk. Obviously I’m too cool for school. Most nights, I feel like this:

Source

I’ve known this for some time now, and I’ve decided to finally go public: My name is Becky, and I have a sleep problem. For a while. Maybe most of my life! I’ve hated naps since I was a kid, and always had to be coaxed into them. Naps aside, I’ve wished more than once that I could simply plug into some energy source and recharge à la Energizer Bunny. Alas, sleep is still an integral part of a healthy life, and I’ve been short-circuiting mine through this unhealthy habit.

Not sleeping–unhealthy, really? Yup. It’s serious business, too. Slumber helps us to consolidate daily input into our memory (read: make sense of your life!), and a deficit is linked to a host of chronic diseases, depressed immunity and weight gain (most likely due to midnight snacking…ouch). Plus we need more of it: the latest recommendations have upped the adult sleep requirement (formerly 7 hours) to 7-9 hours.

Hmmm. I need an attitude adjustment toward my nights on the double. So what if it took a New York Times article to convince me? I’ve decided to create a challenge for myself, and of course, you’re welcome to come along, too. I’m calling it “Eight in Eight.” What can I say…I’m guessing my sleep deprivation is zapping my creativity as well. The challenge is simple–get eight hours of sleep for eight days. In a row. Starting tonight. I’m cringing a little as I write this. But I’m going to keep a diary of sorts to record (1) if I make the challenge for the day, and (2) how I feel during the day energy-wise. I’ll let you know how it goes on the 28th!

In the meantime, I’m adopting a few strategies to help woo myself into bed (please, um, refrain from comments of an inappropriate nature). I’m sure you all already practice them, and I’m way behind the trend of sleeping through the night. However, do permit me to share:

1. Remove all clutter from your bedroom: I did this yesterday. Check.
2. Stop eating several hours before your bedtime: Um, starting this tonight. Semi-check.
3. Stop all forms of electronic stimuli (email/internet, movies, etc.) at least one hour before your bedtime: Eek, this will be hard. Starting tonight.
4. Plan a scrumptious breakfast to wake up to. Check!

It’s no secret that I love breakfast. But hot oats and scrambled eggs have no place in steamy Atlanta summers. What to do?

Go green!

I discovered Kimberly Snyder’s blog last year and was happy to see her book come out a couple of months ago. A beautiful clinical nutritionist and yoga instructor, Kimberly features simple but delicious raw recipes on her blog and in her book. Her “Glowing Green Smoothie” has also appeared on a host of shows and is being promoted by celebrities that Kimberly works with. I started drinking one of her smoothies last summer that I want to share with you all…although it makes for a lighter breakfast, this tasty, refreshing breakfast drink will surprise you with its sweetness. It is the perfect option for those summer days when you don’t want to feel weighed down with a heavy breakfast, or for when you have heavier meals planned for later in the day.

***
Summertime Smoothie, adapted from Kimberly Snyder’s Glowing Green Summer Smoothie

Ingredients:
-2 cups of spinach
-1 cup of purified water
-1 very ripe white peach or white nectarine, sliced up
-scant handful of fresh mint leaves
-3-4 ice cubes

Directions:
Blend the spinach, water and mint together until smooth. Add the peach/nectarine slices and ice cubes. Blend until smooth.

***

Enjoy, and be sure to check out Kim’s blog!

April 3, 2011

Matcha Do About Nothing

I can’t believe the weekend is almost over. It’s been so beautiful, with 70-degree weather and clear, sunny skies. Such a treat after a long, dreary week filled with overcast skies and rain. On gorgeous days like this, it’s quite easy to rise with the sun and flee to Piedmont Park for a quick run, a leisurely walk or simply to doggie-watch (I melt every time I see a Schnauzer). In contrast, during the storm-filled week, I found myself dragging in every way…skipping workouts, rising out of bed with unnecessary resentment toward my alarm clock, even passing on breakfast a time or two in the rush to get to work (for shame..I know, I know!). By Thursday, I was fed up in more ways than one. I needed an energy boost and a light, refreshing and QUICK breakfast to reclaim the spring my step and the season upon us. Farewell, oatmeal: I shall see you next fall. Tis the season of the green smoothie.

And about that energy boost. I’ve been trying to completely cut out coffee for now and rely on green tea for my caffeine fix…there are several reasons for this, and I’m sure I’ll explore them in a later entry. So in line with this goal, I picked up some matcha green tea powder from Market Spice several weeks ago during my trip to Seattle.

Source

Matcha–which can be quite expensive according to the grade/quality–is a type of Japanese green tea that has been finely ground into a powdered form. Elaborate tea ceremonies surround the preparation of matcha tea in Japan, and the powder makes a frequent appearance in Japanese cuisine, as a coloring agent as well as a flavor additive. Green tea in general has been praised for its potent antioxidant levels as well as its pro-metabolic properties. Consider matcha then as the king of green teas: it delivers much higher antioxidant levels (at least 3-fold for the antioxidant EGCG) and stronger health benefits than your ordinary cup of bagged or loose green tea. So the answer was clear. It was now also the season of the matcha.

For some time now, I’ve had my eye on the recipes at Green Lemonade, a healthy living/detox blog. When I saw a little number for a Matcha Green Tea and Apple Detox Smoothie, I knew I’d struck gold.

Delicious, light, refreshing. And the best part? I don’t have to take the extra time to brew a cup of green tea! Pinkies up, folks.

March 24, 2011

Green. Eggs. No ham.

Why hello again. Apologies for being gone so long. I haven’t exactly had writer’s block. Life just happened. Distractions, meetings, and such. I’ve been working long hours at my job for the last couple of weeks, trying to catch up on work after my Seattle jaunt, and since I have to write so much during the day, sometimes I am overtaken by the need to zone out for a while after hours. This all sounds like an excuse. What I meant to say is…Sorry I’ve been gone. I’ve missed you. And I’m back.

After my last post, I feel like I should post something rather cheery. And the title of this post may certainly suggest that I will do such a thing. But over the weekend, a dear friend suffered a horrific tragedy, one that made me want to hold on to everyone I love with a vise-like grip. Life right now feels a bit heavy, and as Will Ferrell would say, “This may sound like gibberish to you, but I think I’m in a tragedy.”

It reminds me of my brief time in West Africa, where the year is marked out according to rainfall… La saison seche et la saison des pluies. The rains began shortly after I arrived and continued on after I left. I probably saw the sun less than a week total. But the people I met there were accustomed to the moodiness of the land, and knew that the rainy season would pass. Life is punctuated by tragedy, and sometimes the punctuations don’t seem to be fairly spaced. The impermanence of life is one of its harshest realities and greatest gifts: terrible things happen, but they pass. And when they pass, we get back to living.

And in my life, getting back to living means good times (translate: good meals) with loved ones, or as I’m often apt to do, by one’s self. NPR and I got to spend one full day together this last weekend, and it was wonderful. The city smiled on us with sunshine and 70-degree weather. NPR did not smile, since–due to his polar bear tendencies–he tends to melt when the thermostat rises above the 60’s (that would be Fahrenheit, apologies to the Centigrade audience). We frolicked in Piedmont Park, were amazed at the astounding Bodies exhibit in Atlantic station, and topped off a perfect day with a delicious meal at Cakes and Ale. Sound familiar? Readers of Bon Appetit? As much as I would love to show you what we ate, I neglected to bring my camera and have nary a picture to share. I will tell you that this restaurant deserves the accolades it received in Bon Appetit. Although if I had to choose between Cafe Alsace and Cakes and Ale (both housed in the charming downtown Decatur), I think I might have to side with my little bit of France. In Georgia. I know that sounds weird.

And breakfast? You didn’t mention breakfast!

Did you even have to ask?

Apologies for the photo quality–this was one of those instances where the dish looked so scrumptious that I scrambled to take a shot as quickly as possible and then dove into the dish, hoping in vain that the picture turned out. Not so much.

A little better. Oeufs en Cocette, courtesy of the lovely Coco at Roost. I followed the recipe with a few exceptions: (1) I swapped rainbow chard for swiss, and (2) I used these lovely baby heirloom tomatoes from Melissa’s. A wonderful breakfast with two thumbs up from the boy. And if you haven’t visited Roost yet, I encourage you to stop by. Coco’s recipes are both delicious and healthy, and her entries make you feel like you’ve been invited over for coffee and are sitting down for a chat in her kitchen.

***
And for the “Green” bit of this post title…I decided to treat myself to a green juice the other day. Yes, that’s right…I equate veggie juice to a treat. If you have heard about Kris Carr, you’re probably familiar with her mantra to “Make Juice, Not War.” Kris, the late Jack LaLanne and many others are big promoters of juicing, mainly for its nutrient benefits and high digestibility. I particularly love green juice since it takes away the icky relish factor that can arise when you try to replicate green juice recipes in smoothie form. Given that I’m shy of a juicer and an unlimited food budget, I do have a few personal juicing caveats:

1. Only every now and then. Juicing is expensive, whether you own a juicer or you purchase from a juice bar. It takes an incredible amount of produce–especially if you are juicing greens–to squeeze out 8 ounces of juice.

2. Only after workouts. In green smoothies, the presence of fiber, fat, and protein (if you add a supplement) prevents a spike in your blood sugar following consumption. Since the fiber has been strained out in the process of juicing, all juices–including green ones–will cause your blood sugar to increase considerably. Your body is best prepared to handle this spike following a workout, this this is the time that you are most sensitive to insulin.

Again, these are just my personal guidelines for juicing. Feel free to use or discard them. Either way, I do encourage you to give green juices a try. No juicer? Do it on the cheap, à la me. Blend, then strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Here is a recipe I made up the other day:

It’s Not Easy Being Green Juice

Ingredients:
1/2 bunch of curly kale
1 sweet apple (I used Gala)
1/2 Meyer lemon
purified water

Directions:
1. Separate kale leaves from stalks. Place leaves in blender. Add 1/2 cup water and blend. If the blender gets stuck, add more water. Continue to blend until relatively smooth.
2. Core the apple and add piece by piece to your green juice. Blend. The texture will thicken considerably, so feel free to add more water to increase blend-ability. Continue to blend until smooth.
3. Strain mixture through fine-mesh. It may be useful to use a spoon to press the mixture against the mesh and get as much juice as possible. Pour extracted juice into mason jar, mug, martini glass, etc.
4. Squeeze lemon juice into your juice and stir. It really makes a difference to use Meyer lemons…they are naturally very sweet!
5. Drink immediately, or chill for ~15-30 minutes. I personally prefer mine lightly chilled.
6. Enjoy. Smile. Pay it forward.

À Bientôt!

March 3, 2011

Atlanta is for Lovers

NPR came to town again. To visit me, or perhaps to snatch up some of our beautiful weather. Have you heard? The south is beautiful in the spring. Last year’s rain made me forget, but this year just might be making up for it. Thank you, Atlanta. [Editor’s Note: Gratitude toward the city is retracted for the one day of bad weather this last week that also included an evening tornado watch. Badly done, Atlanta.]

To celebrate an early printemps, we had some spring-worthy meals:

Chocolate Granola courtesy of La Tartine Gourmande. I know, I know.

Served with almond milk, golden raspberries, strawberries and my favorite goat milk yogurt. Oh, the treasures you find at Trader Joe’s.

Like everything at La Tartine Gourmande, this granola was exceptional. Lightly sweet, with the perfect hint of dark chocolate. Béa suggested using 70% or 64% Valrhona chocolate, but after a mad dash to all the usual places proved fruitless, I opted for Theo’s 70% dark chocolate, a fine alternative à mon avis. Have you tasted Theo Chocolate before? A Seattle-based company, I had the good fortune of touring 3400 Phinney Chocolate Factory (owned by Theo) several years ago on a visit to my sister. If you are in Seattle, GO. Simply delicious and too good to miss. Where else can you get your Willy Wonka fix and sample award winning fair trade chocolate? Why the interlude on Seattle? Stay tuned.

Now where was I? Good company, good meals, good weather. Perhaps I should upgrade that to excellent. Here are a few more:


Mediterranean-ish feast à la NPR (Chicago aficionado, med student, incredible chef all in one). Again, no real recipes to share with you (“an NPR original!”) save a couple that I forced the boy to share. Bison meatballs, spice-infused tzatziki (you can find the recipe for both here on Epicurious), veggies, homemade wheat-spelt pitas, and rainbow chard sautéed with olive oil, garlic, onions, lemon juice, chili peppers and topped with Kalamata olives. For serious impact factor in your next dish with rainbow chard, try including the stems! Colorful and tasty. I don’t know why I’ve always just used the leaves?!

We also stopped for a midday feast at one of my favorite restaurants on earth. Bundled away in the already charming downtown Decatur, Café Alsace is run by Alsacian owners and features exquisite French cuisine, eclectic décor and cozy elbow-to-elbow seating that makes you believe (without even closing your eyes!) that you have been magically transported to a café in France by walking through the front door.

And apparently we aren’t the only ones who enjoy this place; along with receiving numerous awards from the city, a bustling crowd made it in for lunch on a Tuesday. Who goes to lunch on a Tuesday? Well, besides us.

I was on cloud nine with an herbed chicken salad featuring apples, almonds and veggies, all on a bed of greens drizzled with fig-honey vinaigrette.

We decided to prolong our delectable lunch with a bit of dessert:

Nutella and macadamia nut ice cream, made in-house and topped with the sweetest strawberries (Alsacian trade secrets, perhaps–where do you find them in February??). I wish you were with us, too.

Still hanging on to my bit of France in Atlanta, I couldn’t resist ordering an après-lunch espresso.

Best. Espresso. Ever. And I wish you were with me to enjoy it.

There is more to say, but I have to admit I’m out of time. NPR and I are trading Atlanta sunshine for Northwest drizzle to visit these two:

Sister and Huz…the best of Seattle.

I haven’t quite figured out my posting rhythm yet, but I’ll most likely return early next week. For now, NPR and I will spend some much-needed quality time with Sister and Huz. Until then, take care of you.

Ciao!

February 24, 2011

On Culinary Austerity, the French Paradox, and Magical Breakfast Creams

If I can successfully hit all of those topics in some sort of sensical way in this post, I will be most impressed with myself. This is only my seventh post, dear readers, but you may notice that this one has a more serious tone, pretty much devoid of quips and cleverness. Just this once, I promise (I think). Bear with me!

I’ve been thinking a lot over the past couple of days about food, and the rather complicated relationship that the health and figure-conscious part of the population has with it. I was fortunate–in addition to being genetically slim, my parents raised me to both eat for good health and to savor a meal well-prepared. While I’ve had my share of struggles with food and certainly can’t pretend that I’ve always approached my eating patterns with the healthiest mindset, I feel that I keep coming back to the idea that food should be enjoyed, yet not obsessed over and never used as a method of punishment, and this seems to outlast all of the eating trends (vegetarian, vegan, raw, high-protein, etc.) that I latch on to and then discard for the next major fad. It’s taken a while to reach this mindset, and along with the eating habits modeled by my parents, I credit Mireille Guiliano in my progress to this state.

I first read Mme. Guiliano’s memoir French Women Don’t Get Fat several years ago and was charmed and captivated by the notion that it just might be possible to have your (little itty bitty piece of the finest) cake and eat it, too. While I had always considered myself health conscious, I was beginning to suspect that life was simply too short to permanently forego stilton cheese with apricots, and that espresso with a pinch of cream was heaven compared to a skim-milk latte. Mireille’s memoir was the first book that really validated my suspicions and offered a way to live healthfully, maintain weight and still feast in the garden of delights. A French Woman for All Seasons later appeared on my bookshelf, and my admiration for Mme. Guiliano has been most recently renewed through the 2010 publication of The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook.

Source

In all of these books, Mireille discusses the French paradox–that French women eat rich food and drink alcohol on a nearly daily basis and yet remain impossibly thin. She waves a hand at the cries of genetic injustice and attributes the fabulous French figure to: 1. portion control and intuitive eating during breakfast, lunch and dinner (no snacks!), 2. emotional and physical satiety due to regular consumption of exquisite foods, and 3. daily activity (walking and light exercise). Interestingly, her musings that consuming rich, delectable foods in small portions does wonders for appetite satiety have been more recently supported with the promotion of increased fat in “healthy diets” in the U.S. For my own part, I have personally found that I actually consume less calories when I am savoring something rich in small amounts. In contrast, when I eat a low-calorie meal or snack, I do not feel satisfied, and continue to eat in order to fill up that gnawing feeling that can take up permanent residence in your stomach during low-fat, low-calorie diets. Although I realize this is a sensitive topic and may be lighting a proverbial fire by mentioning this, I feel that regularly relying on low-calorie foods as the basis for meals can foster overeating, since we–or let’s be honest here–since I am not afraid of the caloric impact of 5 cups of squash or 4 bags of butterless popcorn. And when we overeat, we do not listen to our bodies and eat intuitively. If this is indeed the case, it stands to reason that an important antidote to the mindless over-consumption of austere, unsatisfying foods and getting back in tune with one’s body is to (1) eat mindfully, and with pleasure! and (2) to eat nutritionally and calorically dense foods in small amounts.

Sadly, chronic disease studies in the last few years have indicated that the French paradox seems to be slipping away. In the last decade, the national prevalence of obesity increased dramatically, and in 2009, researchers found that over one-quarter of French women were overweight, while more than 15% were clinically obese (as a reference, the percentage of overweight females in the U.S. is over 64%, and over one-third are obese). There are a number of credible suggestions for the weight shift in France. Longer work hours (with less time to prepare food or take extended breaks to enjoy a meal), decreased smoking (due to established associated cancer risk), increased use of public transportation as opposed to walking, and a rise in the consumption of processed foods are all among the purpotedly incriminated. NPR –as in the actual National Public Radio–did an excellent, albeit brief segment on this, for the curious at heart.

Social marketing campaign aimed at reducing obesity in French children through activity promotion

Source

So, with the French paradox becoming less and less paradoxical, will Mme. Guiliano have to change her book titles? I think not, and in fact, we should all be somewhat encouraged. The French do not have magical genes. A national culture that fosters intuitive eating, portioned indulgence and daily activity is conducive to weight loss and maintenance, plain and simple. As this culture is starting to erode in key arenas, the country is observing a tangible shift in the prevalence of obesity and overweightedness. The concepts in Mme. Guiliano’s books are therefore never more true, as the French are not immune to weight fluctuations without upholding the afore mentioned lifestyle she so succinctly describes.

Enough of these statistics and doom & gloom, Miss TuesdayswithMuesli! Where is my recipe?? (What I imagine you are saying in your mind right now)

So glad you asked.

In celebration of the revival of Mme. Guiliano in my life, I thought I would share one of the heavily promoted recipes from her new cookbook: Magical Breakfast Cream. Mme. Guiliano divulges to readers that this delicious and indulgent-tasting breakfast recipe was her “Tante Berthe’s” secret for weight loss/maintenance…and hence “magical”. For copyright reasons, I will not print the original recipe, but the astute internet sleuth may be able to find it here, here or even here. Like any good blogger, I have made some modifications, and these tweaks I will share. This recipe is a winner, my friends! Change it up as you like according to your taste and textural preferences; however, I will say that it is amazingly filling for such a small portion and keeps me going from early morning to a mid-afternoon lunch. I also made it into a pseudo-overnight recipe in order to spare precious morning minutes.

Overnight Magical Breakfast Cream à la TwM

Ingredients:
-2 Tbs oats (or kasha–roasted buckwheat–for the gluten-intolerant)
-2 tsp roasted, unsalted pistachios (or any roasted, unsalted nut of your choice–walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, etc.)
-1/2 cup of low-fat yogurt (I opted for Goat’s Milk yogurt, since it is easy to digest. I urge you not to use non-fat…this is already a low-calorie recipe, and the extra fat here will promote satiety)
-1 tsp high-quality EFA oil (I used Udo’s Oil, which combines flax, sesame and primrose oil. Dr. Barlean’s and Vega oils are also very good options)
-2 Tbs lemon juice (about half a lemon)
-Sweetener of choice (the original recipe calls for 1 tsp of honey, but I opted to use 1/3 cup of raspberries and 4-5 drops of stevia in its place)

Directions:
The Night Before
1. Place oats and nuts in a spice grinder or food processor; process until finely ground. Refrigerate.
The Morning Of
2. Place yogurt in a small bowl. Add your oil and stir until fully incorporated.
3. Add lemon juice to your yogurt mixture; stir until fully incorporated.
4. Add sweetener of choice to your yogurt mixture and stir.
5. Top yogurt mixture with oat-nut mixture (and fruit, if using).


If you’re a food blogger, snap pictures, and run around your apartment in vain hopes of capturing the perfect lighting for your photo. Everyone else, savor each spoonful. Close eyes, smile.

***
🙂

February 21, 2011

Adventures in Breakfast: three to try

It’s no secret: breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.

Why? I’m not sure. It could be that–with time–I’ve come to be a morning person, and treasure those first still moments of the day where nothing is tainted, and anything can happen. New beginnings, each morning. And I love waking up slowly, taking my time in the kitchen, savoring a spicy cup of chai or a rich cup of coffee while catching up on readings. But I’ll be honest. My mornings aren’t usually like this. I’m often running behind, having taken a bit too long in the gym or shower, or pressed the snooze button one too many times. I run out the door frantically to catch the morning shuttle, and thus begins another day of frenzied activity.

So breakfast is my take-back. It is my way of relaxing and enjoying the moment, even when it’s on the go or thrown together in a flash. Are you a breakfast lover too? If not, I encourage you to rediscover it! Putting a special spin on your first meal of the day–even if it’s just by trying something new– is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. And starting the day with a smile–especially on Mondays–well, that can make all the difference in the world.

Wondering where to get started? Here are three that I’ve especially enjoyed:

1. Green Smoothies
Green smoothies–also known as Green Monsters by many in the blogosphere–were first introduced to me by my sister, who found out about them from one of her friends. Word travels fast about good food, my friends. GMs are a breakfast staple for me, and are especially refreshing in the steamy months of summer (aka May-September in the South). Scared to drink your spinach (or kale, for the daring at heart)? Don’t be! With a tinch of fruit, you won’t even know it’s there. If the green color deters you, take a cue from Mama Pea. 🙂 There are a ton of recipes out there, and the best thing to do is to start experimenting to find the flavors you like best. Here is my favorite:

“When Monsters Dream of Figs” Green Smoothie


Ingredients:
2-3 cups of spinach
1 small cucumber (or 1/2 medium or large)
2 large dried turkish figs (or 3-4 small mission figs), chopped and stems removed
1 1/4 cups of unsweetened almond milk
1 tbsp chia or flaxseeds
4-6 ice cubes

Directions:
Blend all ingredients together except ice. After the mixture begins to look smooth, add your ice in. This makes a lot, so grab someone you love to share!


I certainly did.

2. An Unlikely Porridge
Last year, after reading about Adina Niemerow–a holistic chef who leads detox programs in California–in Food and Wine magazine, I promptly ordered her book, “Super Cleanse”. NPR saw it lying around and started poking fun at the “hokey detox info written by some…” He paused when he flipped the book cover over, saw Adina’s picture and reluctantly finished his sentence: “…amazingly gorgeous person.”

Now, I’m not much for detoxes…I think a better and wiser choice is to make healthy eating choices every day, which is precisely why I love Adina’s book. Along with making some excellent recommendations should you want to embark on a detox, she offers a plethora of recipes and detox regimes that range from hearty and healthy everyday food to the very stringent juice-only fasts. One of my favorite recipes is this grain-free fruit and nut “porridge”…Delicious!


Apple-Nut Breakfast Porridge

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped raw nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts or Brazil nuts, soaked overnight and drained
1 Granny Smith apple—peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
2 dried white figs, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
1 teaspoon dried goji berries
1/2 teaspoon ground flax seeds

Directions:
In a food processor, grind the nuts. Add the apple, figs and ginger; pulse until chunky. Transfer the porridge to a bowl. Top with the goji berries and ground flax.

3. Sushi…for breakfast

No, not that kind of sushi! I’ve been a big fan of Gena’s for a while, and when I saw her recipe for breakfast sushi a while back, I put it on the docket to try. I won’t lie…initially I thought that combining collards and bananas–especially first thing in the morning–might approach my limitations for healthy + tasty. To my surprise and delight, this was scrumptious. Even better? It’s a flash in the pan…great for those mornings on the go!

Breakfast Sushi from Choosing Raw


Ingredients:
1 banana
1 large Swiss chard, collard, kale, or romaine lettuce leaf
1 tbsp almond butter
Stevia

Directions:
1) Cut the thickest part of the stem of the collard leaf out. This will serve as your wrapper. ***Gena’s site has an excellent tutorial for this!
2) In a small bowl, mix the almond butter with a packet of Stevia, or 7-9 drops if using bottled. I use NuNaturals Stevia and love love love it! Adjust to your desired level of sweetness and spread the almond butter along the center of the leaf.
3) Cut the banana in half, and line it up along the center of the leaf.
4) Fold up the bottom edges and wrap up burrito-style.

Eat, and marvel.

***

There you have it–three treats to brighten your mornings. Happy creating!

February 17, 2011

Bon weekend!

I’ve been floating all week. NPR flew out for an early Valentine’s weekend [Editor’s Note: “N” indicated that his nom de plume of choice was NPR. I find this quite suitable as–like the radio show–he is quirky, bursting with random facts and fun to listen to. We’ll try it out, and we can take it to popular vote if met with disgust]. It was perfect…the food, the weather, the guy…le sigh. Didn’t mean to rhyme there–my apologies, it won’t happen again.

So I decided to touch down to earth today to share a post with you. Yes, I will torture you with my weekend photos, but it will all be worth it for the best bowl of muesli EVER. Seriously. Although I know that I promised all of my posts wouldn’t be about muesli, this one is just too good not to share. But it will be at the end, so you’ll have to wait for it.

The perfect weekend, in my mind? Here’s what my camera thinks.

Explorations:


Trekking to little known parts of Atlanta for a highly recommended fair trade coffee shop.



I splurged with a cappuccino, while NPR went for a green almond tea. Delicious, but didn’t quite measure up to the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had.


Bonus: realizing the Chattahoochee River is along the way.

I know. I laugh when I say Chattahoochee, too.


Joining the rest of Atlantans in Piedmont Park to celebrate the first beautiful days of weather the city has seen in a while!

Enjoying delicious, homemade meals:


Enchiladas à la Mama Pea. Yes, they are vegan. Yes, they are the best thing ever. Go make them now.


Breakfast tacos, based off of this recipe from My Sprouted Kitchen. Serious yum factor, albeit a bit messy.

And other, unpictured things:
-eating an incredible Tuna Tartare salad at a favorite fine dining establishment
-enjoying delicious homemade chocolate pudding, courtesy of Amanda
-watching Crazy Sexy Cancer and becoming even more inspired by Kris Carr. Ladies, take note: a guy who is willing to sit with you through a TLC documentary is certainly a keeper!

Last, but certainly not least: the BEST muesli I have ever had in my entire life, courtesy of the genius of La Tartine Gourmande. Amazing. I followed her recipe to the T, and trust me, it is worth it! The colors, textures and tastes are perfection. This recipe is a treat from preparation to consumption…it is truly muesli nirvana.

I know, I know.

This is love in a bowl. So what are you waiting for?

Go show someone you love them.

February 8, 2011

What the crêpe?

I knew something felt wrong as I began this February, and it came to me yesterday. I had missed La Chandeleur. Did you? La Chandeleur–also known as Crêpe Day, or the Catholic Candlemas– is celebrated in France the second day of each February. Among the number of traditions that happen on this day, La Chandeleur is marked by an elevated nationwide consumption of crêpes. I’m a bit upset over missing this holiday. Why? I’ll take you back.


Source

I had my first bite of crêpe perfection on the streets of Paris with my friend Angela. We were both studying at the University of Oxford for the Fall Michaelmas term, and after a semester of challenging scholastics, we decided to reward ourselves with a December jaunt to Paris. What I remember most? (besides–of course–the amazing architecture, breathtaking museums, and bar-side arguments with Kiwis and Australians over England’s recent win at the Rugby World Cup) (1) Being so cold that I couldn’t even find the strength to make my teeth chatter, and (2) buying nutella-filled crêpes from a tiny little stand during one of those frigid evenings. Ooh la la! I was a changed woman.

Despite this brush with culinary magic, I forgot about crêpes for a long time. Until last February, when I read La Tartine Gourmand’s post about La Chandeleur. Although February 2nd had already passed, I decided to buy a very special someone–we’ll call him N, more about him later–a crêpe pan for Valentines’ Day. No crêpe maker for us. I knew we’d want to experiment until we’d mastered the delicate and somewhat time-sensitive art of crêpery. And we did. Or, I should say, N did. He became the master crêpe maker and recipe creator. Crêpes are in actuality remarkably simple to make. There is little prep work involved…just a bit of foresight and preparation the night before. Find yourself a good pan, go easy on the batter, use your wrist, watch that heat, et c’est tout! Nothing to it. We began with a simple buckwheat recipe and went from there.


Buckwheat crêpes with whipped ricotta filling (lightly sweetened) and marinated cherries.


Orange extract-laced buckwheat crêpes filled with creamy chestnut purée. Topped with whipped ricotta and orange segments. I apologize for not posting the recipes, as unfortunately they came from N’s head. However, you’re in luck: we also tried our hand at savory two-cheese buckwheat galettes (unpictured) which turned out quite good, and interested folk can find the recipe here here.

So why did the crêpes stop? And why am I lamenting yet another missed La Chandeleur?

Well, this year N and I are cities…states…apart. And as much as he loves me, he took his crêpe pan with him. Quel dommage, especially since I’ve got my eye on this recipe.

So, are you inspired ? I hope so. And just in time for Valentines’ Day, what a coincidence (you’re welcome). A few pointers as you get started in your crepe-making journey:

1. It’s much easier to make crêpes in an actual crêpe pan than in a regular frying or saute pan. There are a range of prices available online, but a relatively cheap pan will do you right and make you proud. N and I used one similar to this.

2. Watch a few online tutorials. There’s a bit of a trick to using your wrist to spread the batter around the pan without having a panic attack, but once you get the hang of it, the job’s a game! This is a good one, as is this.

3. When first learning to make crêpes, always plan to discard the first few ones that you make. They will be ugly, and you must let them go. Breathe deeply. Now do it.

4. With the right music, you’ll be whipping up crêpes like any old Parisian chef. Try something classic like this, or this for the more politically inclined.

So simple, right? Because if you think this is a bit too advanced for you…you know what I’m going to say [pun alert].

Cut the crêpe.

January 23, 2011

New directions + a starter muesli recipe

Yes, that is a reference to Glee. While I would never publicly call myself a Gleek, I’m a huge fan and have been known to belt out the weekly mash-ups in the shower, much to the chagrin of my roommate.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, and this is certainly no way to begin my debut in the blogosphere. After at least a year of wonderful and amazing spectatorship, I’ve decided to jump on the blog bandwagon and throw my own words out into the abyss. A few reasons why:


1. I’m a scientific/grants writer for my current job, and I MISS creative expression through words.
Writing about the economic impact of ecological sanitation in South America will only get you so far.

2. I continue to be inspired by a huge number of healthy living blog writers, and I’ve realized that I no longer want to be an anonymous reader. Please see my Blogroll for a handful of my favorites.

3. Similar to my friend Katie, I am hoping that this blog helps me to reconnect with a side of myself that sometimes gets pushed aside in the midst of life’s frenzied pace.

4. Many of the most important and dearest people in my life are in different states or countries from where I live right now. What better way for us to connect than over a bowl of muesli?

Well, enough about me (see my “About” page for similar ramblings). For now and for starters, I leave you with a simple muesli recipe. Like Katharina, I spent part of my childhood in Germany, and eating muesli–especially bircher muesli–never fails to invoke a deep, smile-to-the-tips-of-your-toes kind of nostalgia for me. No, this blog won’t just be about muesli, but it will make a special guest appearance periodically. And besides, it’s a fitting beginning for my first post.

***
Simple Prep Muesli

Muesli is quite similar to overnight oats in terms of preparation. You essentially mix oats, dried fruit, nuts and a yogurt/milk or fruit juice combo. Let it sit for a few hours (or overnight) and voilà! How can you resist? I’ve made the prep work for this muesli lightening fast by using one of my favorite packaged mueslis by Dorset. I love all of Dorset’s cereals, but for this one I used the Simply Fruity Muesli, made with multi-grain oats, sultanas, dried papaya and pineapple. Yum!



Ingredients:

-1/3 cup packaged muesli
-1/3 plain Kefir
-1/3 almond milk (feel free to use your choice of dairy or–as I did–nondairy)

Directions:
Mix ingredients together and let sit in refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight. In the morning, add sweetener of choice and fresh fruit. I used sliced green apples because apples + muesli = pure love (à mon avis). Enjoy!