Sprouted Quinoa, Pear & Molasses Granola

26 Tue, 2011 § 2 Comments

Did you miss us?  No?  Did you even notice we had left?  No? 😛  Tricky aren’t we?

I eluded to our camping trip, which we thoroughly enjoyed…last Tuesday through Sunday.  I prepped a couple posts, hit schedule, unplugged & lost myself in the desert for 5 days.

Aw.

(even despite the rain.)

Aw.

Are we really back?

We are, but now I can reminisce over our adventures with you.

We should always start with food though; don’t you agree?

I love quinoa granola & have found its perfect match: molasses.  Try it.  You’ll never look back.

Molasses is a rich source of iron & calcium — important for those following a plant-based diet — as well as magnesium & potassium, providing 20% of the daily recommended value for each of these nutrients.

Sprouted Quinoa & Pear Granola with Molasses & Nutmeg

Preheat oven to 250*F.

  • 1 pear, diced
  • 1 C quinoa, sprouted
  • 1/2 C almonds, chopped
  • 1/2 C ground flaxseeds
  • 1/2 C black sesame seeds
  • 1/4 C sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 C pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 C buckwheat groats
  • 1/2 C hemp protein powder
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • cinnamon, optional
  • 1/4 C coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 C molasses
  • 2 T apple juice

Stir together dry ingredients. Combine wet ingredients separately.  Stir wet ingredients into the quinoa mixture & mix together.  Spread granola onto a parchment-lined baking sheet & bake ~1 hour.  Allow to cool completely before breaking into pieces & storing in an airtight container.

Homemade granola — especially quinoa granola — is great for camping, backpacking or hiking.  It is the perfect way to cram a lot of nutrients into a light-weight, easy-to-pack & store snack.  Along with pieces of banana, this was delicious, light fuel in the mornings.  Dave enjoyed it so much, I’ll be sure to make enough to share next time.  😉

~

Do you cook with molasses?

Work-Week Day Meals

31 Mon, 2011 § 2 Comments

I am a fan of planning, especially when it comes to food; otherwise I am left standing, staring blankly, in the kitchen…usually snacking while I debate over options.  If it is unplanned, to-go lunches we are talking about, I end up rummaging in haste the morning of…& likely do not take enough nourishment with me.  You do not want me hungry; ask Dave.

My lunch planning is two fold:

1.  Create a flexible yet solid daytime meal outline, meaning I list my options/desired meals even if not the exact day I will have these.  I also try to account for weekend preparation at this point & dinners I want to make extra for leftovers.

2.  Plan & prep the night before.

This week, some of my options include

  • dolmas salad
  • buckwheat groats
  • roasted beets, sweet potato
  • leftover lentils
  • leftover chili
  • bok choy with chickpeas
  • lentil-walnut burgers
  • leafy salads
  • fruit

This includes breakfast, snacks & lunch, which to me are interchangeable; I have become someone who does not have to have breakfast foods for breakfast.  Sometimes leftovers are just too perfect, & it is what my body wants.  I might have something small, like a protein smoothie or simply lemon water, for a bit of energy before leaving the house; if I bike, I usually eat after the ride to avoid feeling sick.  I am also ok with most things at room temp or just warm but do not care for piping-hot leftovers.

On Sunday, I made barley & tossed ingredients for deconstructed dolmas & could have made the buckwheat groats as well, but waited until Monday morning to simmer these, stirring a little molasses in at the end of cooking.

*Quick note on grains: I like to switch them up & eat a variety.  By buying bulk, I can get only what I need at a time.  Though I have my favorites, I try to alternate each time I visit the store.  Instead of your usual oats, try buckwheat groats or farro.

Back to Sunday.  I premixed my buckwheat porridge mix-ins by toasting 3/4 C pistachios then tossing them with 1/8 tsp all spice, 1/8 tsp nutmeg & 1/4 tsp cinnamon.  This will keep ~1 week.  The night before I dish my cooked groats into my tiffin; in the morning I add some nuts, dried apricots from the fridge I chopped in advance & a spoonful of pomegranate seeds [also de-seeded over the weekend].

Mid-morning snack: check.

Over the weekend, we had a big batch of chili waiting in the slow-cooker.  This meant our post-bouldering starvation would be satisfied with [vegan]chili dogs AND leftover chili would serve as delicious, hardy lunches during the [snowy]week.  Big batches can always be frozen for later consumption too.

Dave was also really smart in his planning & bought an extra tilapia fillet he baked with our fishy, Sunday dinner, so he could make himself a fish sandwich for lunch.

We have ample greens & legumes for salads, veggies to roast when making dinner throughout the week — including kale chips for snacking — & seasonal fruit like oranges from our CSA & a good-sized bundle of apples I snagged.

As for the Deconstructed Dolmas, it is quick to throw together & yummy.  I am anxious to deconstruct further.

Rinse & add 1 C pearled barley [or grain of choice] to 2 C boiling water; reduce heat, cover & simmer 30 – 40 minutes until cooked & water absorbed.

Cool slightly & toss with remaining ingredients:

  • 5 grape leaves, patted dry, rolled & sliced thinnly
  • 1/3 C currants [soak in hot water to soften if they are hard]
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 C walnuts, toasted & chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • dash of red pepper flakes, optional

~

Do you plan your meals for the week?  Do you have to prep in advance?  What delicious, packable meals do you enjoy during the work/school week?

The Zone

23 Tue, 2010 § 1 Comment

Have you ever been In.the.Zone?

Your body & mind are working just hard enough that everything comes together without overloading.

Your focus narrows & time seems to slow.  Your mind & body connect, making micro-responses you may not even be conscious are happening.  Your heart is racing but not at the verge of bursting from your chest.

It is your instincts at their most efficient.

In the audio book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell refers to this as the “optimal range of arousal”: when your heart is beating 115 – 145 bpm.  He talks about it in the most extreme cases, such as a police officer responding during a gun battle with an assailant, to the less-than-lethal circumstances, like the mindset in which Larry Bird played basketball.

Dave & I have talked about this zone as prioritizing perceptions: tuning in to only the imminent.  Obviously, we relate to it most in terms of climbing.

I have this theory that in order to harness this “optimal range of arousal” & be able to “control” it — or at least not lose control — you have to visit the zone often & work on not going over it.  Like anything, you have to train in order to be prepared when you are faced with those situations.  You have to be willing to put yourself in a state where your heart races, your body is at its limit & your mind teeters between complete focus & utter disarray.

This is Solomon — one of the best climbs.  I am far from sending it clean, but it is a perfect project in the physical aspect.  It kicks my butt.  Next door is Golden Idol: a good “head” project for me.  Even though it’s easier, a couple of the clips are sketchy [definition: feels unsafe] for someone my height.  All I think is “if I fall before that clip…I’m going to hit that ledge…”  This sort of thinking doesn’t work.  I have not fallen at these spots on top-rope; but when I think of leading it, I’m so afraid I will.  I need to change the way I approach this climb.

After my mental disintegration on the warm-up climb last week, I’ve been trying to figure out how to overcome hitting “the wall”.  I think I need to put myself outside of my comfort zone more often & work through it.

I’m anxious to get back our there, get into the zone & work through my fears.

~

Higher intensity on the rock isn’t the only thing consuming my mind lately.

I have seriously been craving pancakes — buckwheat pancakes to be exact — then Natalie made pretty pumpkin-infused, whole-grain ones Saturday.  Oh yeah, we were definitely making pancakes Sunday.  These would be the perfect fuel before climbing.

Pumpkin Buckwheat Pancakes

The rain spoiled our plans for climbing, so these became our rainy day pancakes.  Pancakes make everything better…even a drizzly day.

These almost didn’t happen though.  Somehow the buckwheat flour I scooped from the bulk bin — or thought I scooped — didn’t make it into our grocery bags!  Yes, I panicked…but quickly realized I had buckwheat groats.  Phew.  I was already going to grind quinoa to make flour; why not grind buckwheat as well?

It wasn’t as fine as buckwheat flour you’d buy at the store — more of a meal — but I’d say it worked just fine.

Initially I wasn’t sure what I thought of these dense, grainy, not-so-pretty pancakes — my homemade flours probably lent to the texture — but adding a little pumpkin butter between layers sweetened them just enough.

You can find the recipe here.

Other than making my own flours, I used almond meal instead of corn flour.  I also didn’t have molasses on hand, so I just left it out.

I’d say one craving has been satisfied…now if it will just stop storming so we can climb…

~

What are your rainy day solutions?  We played “Ticket to Ride”, then Dave & Christine rocked out on RockBand.

Do you like to push it outside your comfort zone in terms of sports & recreational intensity?

Zen Breathing & BOO in a Jar

25 Sat, 2010 § 2 Comments

I could be 40 feet up.  I could be 100 feet.  I could be just 5 feet.

My movements on the rock suddenly become desperate rather then fluid & controlled.  My muscles are surrendering.  My body is tired, & I have met the crux.  My relaxed, confident grasp morphs into the death grip, draining my muscles quickly.  Panic breathing strikes, depleting my muscles further.  I have lost it.  I fall — or worse — let go.  Give up.

Perhaps my endurance failed.  Perhaps my mind failed.  Whichever the case, overcoming The Panic sets extraordinary athletes apart from the rest.

I was introduced to one method of overcoming this at the beginning of the year & am reincorporating it into my training again.  Apart from training the aerobic system & increasing endurance in a gym setting, Breathing Ladders teach breath & mind control as well.

To execute a Breathing Ladder, pick a weight & movement,  then set a timer & do one rep followed by one breath, then do two reps followed by two breaths, three reps followed by three breaths, etc. Breathe as much as you want while working; breathe only the specified number of “reps” while resting.  Build your “pyramid” by starting with 1 rep, building to 10 — or even 20 or somewhere in between — then come back down to one.  The idea is to draw the exercise out, making it last as long as possible.  Generally, athletes with an efficient O2 utilization system can make a 1:20:1 pyramid Breathing Ladder last about 45 minutes; some can draw it out an hour or more!

The movement must be “big”, incorporating full-body demand.  I like Kettlebell Swings [we do not have a kettlebell, so I used a 12-lb medicine ball which could have been heavier].  The point is oxygen consumption & efficiency: big movements cause a great oxygen demand.  Pull-ups do not work because the muscle mass is too small to create significant O2 demand before muscle acidity & fatigue cause work to cease.

The ideal is to use the perfect combination of movement/load/reps to keep yourself in the zone where “total panic is a single mistake away & Zen-like calm is the prize for those who can reach it.”

[Breathing Ladder source: Gym Jones]

~

Food is generally a good motivator for me while working out — not during Breathing Ladders though.  Because I wanted these to last as long as possible, I had to constantly brush the image of my awaiting meal from my mind to keep from rushing through.  😛  After 25:47 minutes of 1:10:1 Breathing Ladders, Thursday morning, all I could think was BREAKFAST.

I have had Buckwheat on the brain ever since my friend, Dina, shared a slice of her homemade raw[dehydrated] bread with me.

The light, airy crunch took me by complete surprise — I was expecting a much harder texture — & the deep nutty flavor of the grain won me over immediately.  I. Am. Hooked.

Buckwheat groats are technically not a “grain”, but a fruit seed related to rhubarb & sorrel, making it gluten-free.  A complete protein, rich in vitamins, it is also a good source of dietary fiber, manganese, calcium, iron, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus & potassium.  It is also thought to lower cholesterol.

I wanted to get the benefit of soaking & sprouting these quickies — they only take 1-2 days — & include them in my morning VOO.  Generally partial to parfaits [thanks to Angela, whose overnight oats & parfaits are always out-of-this-world beautiful & delicious!]; but lately I have been leaning toward basic VOOs, simply accenting a key ingredient like end-of-summer peaches.  B-groats would be just the thing to mix it up a bit…but not the only thing…

No, I did not eat sunflower seed butter from the jar for breakfast…not to say this has never happened before… 😛

I have seen a few bloggers rave about cooking oats in an empty nut butter jar to get that last bit out & enhance the flavor of the oats.  Because I do not use a microwave [or eat a lot of cooked oats], I have not tried it yet.  As I scraped the last bit of sunbutter from this guy though, I knew right away he would be the medium for my next soakage.

BOO [Buckwheat Overnight Oats]

  • ~½ C Buckwheat Groats, sprouted
  • ~½ C Oats
  • 1-2 T Chia seeds
  • substantial sprinkle of Cinnamon
  • dash Sea Salt
  • Rice milk to just cover
  • Combine & whisk in an empty nut butter container.
  • Store in refrigerator overnight.
  • Next day stir ins: that delicious side of chopped, fresh, local peach & a scoop of Hemp Protein Powder.

*I used all the oats [just over ½ C] & groats [just under ½ C] I had on hand; so about 1:1.  I enjoy the groats so much I will probably increase the amount of groats & decrease the oats next time.

*This was closer to two servings for me, which I had intended to save for a couple mornings.  I mixed it all up while making dinner & “tested” a couple spoonfuls while watching Man vs Wild later on.  WARNING: If you make your VOO too early in the evening, it will likely disappear before the next morning.  Fortunately, there was still plenty to refuel me after my breathing ladders.

*Also, while the texture of BOO differed subtly from VOO & was rather delicious, I enjoy the soft crunch of b-groats which is missing after soaking them.  To recapture this texture, I will dehydrate them after they sprout next time & add them as a stir-in rather than soaking with the oats.

~

I am super excited to experiment with B-Groats — raw granola, snack bars, crackers!  Any great original recipes out there?

~

Do you ever incorporate “mental” training into your workouts?

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