When it’s a “Cereal”-kind-of-day

28 Tue, 2010 § 4 Comments

Some days, only cereal will due.

A low-maintenance, simple bowl just fits the bill every now & again.  There is something nostalgic about cradling my favorite bowl, silently 😉 slurping & savoring delicious spoonfuls of on-the-verge-of-soggy grains.

However, my tastes have changed drastically since my
Cracklin-Oat-Bran-craze & the Cinnamon-Toast-Crunch obsession of my youth.  Not to say these are not still good tasting; they are just in no way good — meaning nutritious — for you.

Traditional, processed cereal is fairly void of anything resembling a true nutrient.  Most are drenched in sugar or HFCS & composed of a lot of empty calories that do not leave you satisfied for long.  Have you ever measured out an actual serving?  Chances are most people pour 2 or 3 servings into their bowls, then often go back for seconds.  yikes.  These boxed varieties fuel me in no way.

I am still satisfied by a simple bowl of grains; but, with a little creativity & an opened mind, more & more often, I find myself dressing things up a bit & reaping the nutritional benefits.  It is more fun to be random & daring anyway.

As much as I enjoy simple VOO, some mornings require the oomph I get from a Green Monster; but I am not quite feeling a smoothie.  I need a bit more.

A few weeks ago, Green Monster VOO was the answer.  Before heading out to the gym, I made a hemp-protein-packed Green Monster & poured it over oats, chia seeds, cinnamon, & salt, stirred it all up & left it in the fridge.  This was so satisfying as a post-workout treat, especially topped with the sweetest farmer’s market strawberries.

Butternut Squash seems to be all the rage in smoothies on the food blog circuit these days.  I decided to bury it beneath home-made Autumn Granola instead.  Dave loves granola, so I have been trying to keep a batch on hand for him lately.  I had to “test” it of course & scattered it over a leftover piece of butternut squash I had roasted with pumpkin pie spice.

The first time I devoured had Buried Butternut Squash was actually as an evening snack, hidden beneath a mound of Ezekiel sprouted cereal, which is the only store-bought cereal I buy anymore.  This was actually my favorite; after soaking for a few minutes in almond milk, the Ezekiel grains softened & thickened to an almost “cakey” texture surrounding the squash.  Yum!

When another case of evening hunger hit, VOO was not quite where it was at & hearty Ezekial would have been a bit much.  More Fruit Than Grain did the trick.

Crunchy, Sprouted Buckwheat Groats over cinnamoned Honeycrisp slices with a touch of Salt-Kissed Maple Walnut Butter.

Thanks for indulging my cereal randomness. 😉

Now I will give you a “real” recipe.

Okay, so nut butter is not all that complex; still I see many struggle with achieving a “creamy” texture & even the flavor they seek.  These are more “tips” than a “recipe”.

The “trick” to reaching that creamy state of nuttiness is to…well, let the nuts reach it.  Be patient.  This is where people fail.  Process the nuts in a food processor…continue processing…process further…& process more if needed, scraping down the sides as necessary of course.  It is actually the heat of the processor that seems to finally break the oils down in the nuts, resulting in that sought-after butter.

First crumbs; then a fine meal; then butter.  Seriously, it may take minutes, but it will happen [even with a simple processor like mine].  Just stick with it.  Resist the urge to add oil! It is not necessary.  What is the point of making your own from scratch if you are just going to add oil?

As for flavor, walnut butter can be the tricky one, delicious but often resulting in that bitter-like-only-a-walnut-can-be aftertaste.  Toasting helps mellow the bitter aspect, accenting the deep flavors, but it walks a fine line; you must be careful not to burn them at all, which seems to only enhance the bitterness.  I usually toast ~10 minutes at 350*F, watching closely & shaking often [about every 2-3 minutes] to promote even toasting.

Another remedy for bitter walnuts: Salt.

I found that adding just a touch of sea salt [~½tsp per 2 cups nuts] to the walnuts before processing neutralizes the bitterness.

I also added a drizzle of maple [the few slow drops left in the bottle], because maple & walnuts seem perfectly suited for each other.

Salt-Kissed Maple Walnut Butter

  • 2 Cups Walnuts, lightly toasted
  • ½ tsp Sea Salt
  • Maple Syrup, to taste [I only added the few last drops left in the bottle; but ½ tsp – 1 tsp would be a good place to start.]
  • Combine in food processor & process several minutes, scraping down as necessary, until it reaches desired consistency.

I have never had Walnut Butter from the store — so I have nothing to compare it to — but this is really nice: a distinct, deep toasty, nutty flavor.  Dave is not a fan of walnuts; he said it tasted good & not like walnuts. 😉

Another nice thing about walnut butter: because it is so rich & distinct, I do not go overboard eating it straight from the jar like other nut butters.  [What? 😉 I know you do it too.]  It is definitely better paired with VOO, fruit, Sweet Winter Mash [mashed turnips & sweet potato] or simply on toast — pretzels — I think it would be awesome with pretzels.  Plus, too many walnuts can give me cankers.  I hear that is pretty common.  I wonder what it is. ??

~

What are your favorite nut butters & combiniations?

When is cereal the answer to your day?  Do you reach for the same box from your childhood or has your taste evolved?

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