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?

A Naked Pantry & Left to My Own Devices

20 Fri, 2010 § Leave a comment

I nearly succumbed to the temptation of eating primarily toast today, augmented with scraping the almond butter container clean with my last few dates & finishing off the green tea coconut ice cream straight from the pint.  However, I was determined to eat as healthily, clean & whole as possible today.  Problem is there is not much left in the way of produce around this place until our Bountiful Basket pickup tomorrow.

The fridge is all but bare; the pantry is fairly sparse.  As my tummy grumbles, I am left rummaging for any remaining scraps & pulling all the creative stops I can muster.  The result?  Some pretty bizarre, but surprisingly tasty, concoctions.

Morning Fuel:

Second-Time Broiled Sweet Potatoes

Roasted sweet potatoes are one of my absolute favorites: Mmm, slightly crispy outside, mushy inside.

  • Slice, toss with coconut oil & sea salt; bake on a sheet for about 35 minutes, turning to brown both sides if you would like.

Japanese sweet potatoes are ginormous, with taupe-colored skins.  These took nearly 50 minutes to roast.  I do not like the Japanese variety as much, but they are still tasty.  I always make plenty so I have leftovers the next day.  Last night’s leftovers became this morning’s whimsical experiment.  To reheat — & crisp & brown them a bit more — I broiled them about 12 inches from the heat for about 10 minutes on each side, until they were done to my liking.  FYI: “nearly” burnt — we will call it “blackened” — sweet pots taste reminiscent of roasted marshmallows, I am just saying. 😉

Often I will top these with almond butter, but I like to eat mostly fruit for breakfast lately & did not think plums would pair well, so…

Enter

Second-Time Broiled Sweet Potatoes a` la Mode

I topped the taters with Extra Whipped PB-Banana Soft Serve.

I liked it.  🙂

After yoga I decided I needed something green & had just enough spinach & rice milk for a Green Monster…but I wanted more texture & protein.

Meet

Green Monster Soup

I added a generous amount of cinnamon to a bowl of Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Cereal, then simply poured over my strawberry-spinach Green Monster & topped with pepitas [pumpkin seeds] & a chopped date.  It soaked nicely while I took photos.

Another random winner.

Lunch: the challenge.

I was craving bread but opted for a lighter favorite made from rice: a Mochi waffle.  Mmm, crispy exterior, chewy interior.  Sensing a pattern yet? 😀

  • To make waffle, cut ¼” slices [about 8] of mochi & lay cut-side down on preheated, ungreased waffle iron; close securely & cook until puffed & slightly crisp but not too hard & dry, about 3 minutes, or until your waffle iron signals it is done.  [Mine is pretty accurate].

Since this mochi was unflavored, eating it plain would have been boring & unsatisfying, but did I have anything that would make it savory & filling?  This is why, even if you are like me & generally cook your own beans, you keep at least one can on hand.  You never know when it may save the day.

On a total chance, I coarsely pureed about:

  • 1 C cooked Black Beans
  • 1 T fresh Lime Juice
  • a little cayenne
  • a little coriander
  • a dash of garlic powder

Good, but with quite the kick.  I must have been a little carried away with the cayenne.  I really wished I had had tomatoes or something to cool it down.  After some desperate searching, I came across a lonely cucumber in the bottom of the crisper.  Perfect.

Black Bean & Cucumber Mochi Waffle Appetizers

~

I cannot help but laugh while typing most of this post.  I am not suggesting you make these right away, though I really enjoyed them & certainly will replicate versions.  I simply wanted to show that even with my bare fridge, my tummy & health were saved by a little creativity & willingness to wing it. 😉

What are your healthy fall backs when the kitchen is nearing nakedness?  What random concoctions have you made out of desperation?  Share your hits & misses.

Make Your Monsters GREEN

4 Wed, 2010 § 10 Comments

I have had such great responses after sharing one of my favorite cooling, summer delights [VOO Parfaits], I must share another one that is even more nourishing:

Green Monsters

Do not be afraid.  What exactly is a Green Monster?  This is what Angela over at OhSheGlows deemed her green smoothies when she first started making them.  It has caught on, because, well, it is simply fun to refer to that smoothie in your hand as a Monster.  Try it.  “Hey, would you like some of my Green Monster?”  See?  It’s fun.  😉

Are you still scared?  Are you afraid of hearing what makes my monster green?  Again, don’t be. 

While Kale is my green of choice, many people opt for Spinach which has a milder flavor; I have even tried Radish Greens which was surprisingly quite delightful.  Start small by adding just a little green to your smoothies, then gradually increase the amount.  Next thing you know, you will be gulping down full-fledged Green Monsters.  Once you amp up your monster with other flavors, the color will be the only reminder of the green nourishment — oh, & how great you feel!  I like the “green” flavor though, so I keep mine simple.

Once you eliminate a lot of “unclean” foods from your diet & provide your body with nourishing whole foods, you will be amazed at how your tastes adjust to what your body actually needs to thrive.  I crave Kale in the morning! Dave thinks this is nuts, but then again, he has never given it a chance.  His poor body does not even know what it is missing.  😉

I LOVE my Magic Bullet &, because clean up is a breeze, I have been making some form of these regularly since I got it.  Obviously, any blender will do though.

The trick to not “chewing” your smoothie?  First add your washed & torn pieces of Kale to your blender with enough liquid to cover; blend until smooth.  THEN add the rest of your ingredients.  I once read if you freeze the pieces of Kale before pureeing it with liquid, it blends better.  However, this was not the case for me; I get fewer chunks by using fresh, non-frozen greens.

My simple Green Monster:

  • Kale
  • *Coconut Water [Most use almond or rice milk; I prefer electrolyte-rich coconut water as my pre/post activity replenishment.  Use whatever you like best & matches your goals.]

Blend until Smooth, then Add:

  • ½ – 1 Banana  [I love banana with kale — fantastic!]
  • *Hemp Protein Powder
  • *Chia Seeds
  • more liquid if needed

Blend to desired consistency.

I told you mine is simple.  Lately I have been adding a couple fresh strawberries as well or fresh mango & raspberries.  The fruit makes it sweet enough for me.  Nourish your body & eventually you will not want all the fillers, sugar, empty calories, etc.

Now make it yours!

Experiment with other fruit — or even veggies!  I think cucumber would be especially refreshing.  Sometimes it is fun to add nut butter — even tahini is delicious & bumps up calcium content.  What about ice?  Maybe you like yogurt in yours?  Amp it up with cinnamon.  Go crazy!

Have I told you why I love these so much?

  • It provides me with immense increases in energy.
  • It reduces my cravings for sweets.
  • It even nourishes my skin & hair.
  • It is a great way to add more protein in my diet by using the hemp powder.
  • It is refreshing in this summer heat.
  • Just one more serving of vegetables to tack onto my day.

*Are you wondering why I use…

Coconut Water?

This is the clear liquid inside young [green] coconuts; as they mature, this water is replaced by coconut meat & air.  Coconut water has long been a popular drink in the tropics — Dave & I were thrilled to sip it straight from the coconut, fresh from the trees while in Thailand —  it is a natural isotonic beverage, with the same electrolytic balance as our blood. [source]

Chia Seeds?

You mean, like Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!?  Yep, those same little seeds that sprout to cover those crazy Chia Pets are actually chock full of nutritional value.  Packed with calcium, fiber, Omega 3’s & 6’s, the seeds have a neutral taste & are great for athletes because they are highly hydrophilic [meaning they absorb large amounts of water, making them a great enhancer in hydrating our bodies].  You can even add a few seeds to your bottled water during workouts.  Thanks for sharing these mom!

Hemp Protein?

Quality — not quantity — is most important when talking protein.  You will actually need to consume less protein if you choose high-quality [whole food] sources.  Complete — containing all 10 essential amino acids — Hemp boosts the immune system, hastens recovery & balances pH with its abundance of chorophyll.  Because hemp foods are raw, they maintain naturally high levels of vitamins, minerals…& enzymes which allow the body to absorb & digest it easily, utilizing its benefits with ease.  Can I tell a difference?  Yes,  & I prefer the sweet, nutty taste to that of isolated [processed] soy & whey.  [This is fairly condensed, but I could write an entire post on why Hemp is a superior protein source nutritionally & concerning its environmental impact if there is any interest ??]

I focus on keeping my Green Monsters simple & nutrient dense, but for those looking for a little more excitement or at least a few more ideas, check these out:

The Green Monster Movement

Smoothie Handbook

I am really excited to try Kathryn’s Breakfast Shake, sans Stevia [I am just not a fan.  Sorry.]

~

Have you been making Green Monsters & not even realized it?  What are your favorite blends?

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