Archive for breakfast

Vanilla Mint Smoothie

I want to share my new favorite smoothie, because it’s so perfectly Summer I have to get it in before Labor Day! I usually save smoothies for snacks and this is perfect for a post-hike or after school snack, but with the heat this Summer, it also worked great for me for breakfast. There is a secret ingredient too, with kind of a fun twist…instead of using questionable methods to get the green color that you find in many mint products, spinach and fresh mint each serve the dual purpose of a great nutritional boost and a brilliant green color! If you don’t have fresh mint, which I do recommend, you can put a drop or two of peppermint or spearmint oil in the water before pouring it into the blender. I keep frozen bananas in the freezer at all times in case the need for a smoothie arises. Outside of smoothie season, they are good for banana bread too.

If you are worried about the ice watering the smoothie down, no need to fret. We are essentially making our nut or seed milk and smoothie in the same step, so the ice (plus the water) serves as the liquid for the seed milk and it keeps everything nice and cold which is a critical element to keeping the bananas from getting gummy. Plus, the higher the hydration to sweet ratio the better, in my opinion, especially in a cooling mint smoothie! If you do want it a little sweeter, you can add a pitted date with the hemp seeds for an extra potassium boost!

  • 3/4 cup cold water, plus a little more depending on the consistency you want
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup hemp seeds (I sometimes use raw soaked almonds instead)
  • 4-5 ice cubes
  • 1 cup spinach, or more if you like
  • 1/2-1 cup fresh mint (depending on your level of mintophelia)
  • 1 large frozen banana, cut into smaller chunks
  • teeny pinch of salt

Pour the vanilla in the water and set aside; if you are using mint oil instead of fresh mint, add it to the water too. Put the hemp seeds, ice cubes, spinach, mint, and salt in the blender, then pour the water over it. Putting the hemp seeds in first keeps them from flying around before they are blended and sticking to the side of the blender. Blend on low to get it going, then turn to high and blend until smooth, adding small amounts of cold water if needed to allow your smoothie to process. Blend it just as long as necessary, as you want to avoid heating up the smoothie in order to keep a perfect smooth, thick consistency. I like it thick enough to eat with a spoon, but it’s good anywhere between there and milkshake consistency. Sit down, take a deep breath, be grateful, and enjoy!


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Sprouted Corn Pupusas

Pupusas are a traditional Salvadoran dish. They are thick corn tortillas filled with some combination of cheese, ground pork, squash, and/or refried beans. The beauty of making them yourself is that you can fill them with whatever you like. My kids really like pupusas, and will eat them for any meal. They are purists and like bean and cheese the best, but they tolerate me throwing some veggies in there too. It’s well worth it to make a double, triple, or bigger batch and keep them in your freezer to heat up in the toaster for a quick and easy meal. The filling here is pretty standard, but you could do all kinds of fun things…roasted winter squash, any kind of greens, cabbage, caramelized onions, scrambled eggs, etc, etc, etc. Have fun with it!

I have made pupusas three different ways – with masa harina flour, with masa dough made the traditional way by soaking dried corn in lime water (calcium hydroxide, also known as pickling lime, but not the citrus fruit), and now with sprouted corn. Like anything, each method has its benefits and drawbacks. Making masa dough from scratch is traditional, and that’s always a plus from my perspective. Back in the days of yore, people tended to have an amazing way of making the most of what they had and, in this case, soaking the corn in lime water made (makes) it more digestible. The drawbacks are that it should soak at least a day and up to several days (I’ve even read up to two weeks), and that’s a lot of advance planning, and that you are supposed to rub the hulls off of the corn and I didn’t have much luck with that when I tried. I ended up leaving them mostly on, which was fine, but I don’t really like to do things halfway like that. Finally, It’s typically made with a special tool called a metate to grind the corn. That’s apparently quite laborious and I don’t have one, so I used my food processor. It worked fine, but had to work pretty hard to get the corn reasonably fine. Masa harina is dried masa dough and is the most convenient way to make pupusas. However, my understanding is that the corn is only soaked for about an hour, rather than several days, so it loses out on the digestibility front. It is also not available organically, at least as far as I could find, and I strongly suspect it’s made from genetically modified corn, which I’m not into. So, for me, the happy medium is using sprouted corn. Sprouting the corn makes it more digestible, maybe even for people who don’t do great with corn in general. This recipe does require some advance planning, but mostly in the form of letting the corn sit in a colander and soak, so I can deal with that.

Ok, after all that talking, I feel like I need to be really clear that these are quite easy to make, especially if you make a large batch and freeze them. I knew I wanted to try these, so I sprouted some corn earlier in the week and stuck it in the fridge until I had some time. I also had some cooked black beans that needed to get used up. With those things prepped, it only took about 20 minutes for me to make enough pupusas for 2 boys’ breakfasts, plus leftovers for lunch. If I wanted to make a whole batch to freeze, say maybe a dozen more, it would only have taken about 15-20 more minutes, and that’s using a small griddle.

This recipe will make about a dozen 4-5 inch pupusas.

  • 2 cups field corn, sprouted* (you can find this by the other dry grains at the health food store
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water, or enough to make a soft dough (will depend on how dry your corn is)
  • 1 recipe refried beans
  • olive oil
  • 1 small bunch of spinach, chopped
  • grated cheese, optional
  • salt and pepper, to taste

*To sprout the corn, soak it in water overnight. Drain into a colander, discarding the soaking water, and rinse thoroughly. Keep the corn in the colander and place over a bowl to catch any dripping water. Leave on counter until you see little sprouts growing, about 24-36 hours. Sprouted corn can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

To make the dough: grind the sprouted corn into a fine meal in a blender or food processor. I used the dry container for my vitamix and it ground it quite easily. If you are using a regular blender or food processor and it isn’t perfectly fine, don’t worry about it. Set aside a little corn flour to sprinkle on your trays to keep the uncooked pupusas from sticking. Pour the remaining ground flour into a medium-sized bowl and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix in water, starting with 1/2 cup and continuing to add small amounts until you have a soft dough. It’s good when you can press a small amount of dough between your fingers and it won’t crack on the edges. Better too soft than too dry.

To make the filling: heat a pan to medium and add a little olive oil and the chopped spinach. Cook until just wilted and stir the refried beans into the spinach. Season to taste. The filling should taste good on its own before it goes into the pupusas.

To make the pupusas: Make an assembly line with your dough, your bean/spinach mixture, and grated cheese, if using. Have a tray or trays ready, sprinkled with your reserved flour, to place the pupusas on once they are formed. Coat your hands with olive oil. Take a spoonful of the filling and form it into a ball a little bigger than a golf ball. Press your finger into the middle and then press out toward the edges to form a little bowl. Place about 1/3 cup of filling into the little bowl and bring the sides together to cover the filling. Gently press the filled pupusa back into a round so that it looks like a thick pancake. Place the formed pupusa on the floured tray and continue until all of the pupusas are made. If you plan to store the pupusas, you can freeze them uncooked on the trays. Once frozen, they can be stacked in a plastic bag or other sealed container for longer storage. If you are cooking them right away, heat a griddle to medium heat, then coat it with olive oil. Place as many pupusas as will fit on the griddle and cook for about 3 minutes on each side, or until they are slightly browned and puffed up. Keep the cooked pupusas on a tray in a warm oven while you cook the rest. Serve the pupusas hot with fresh salsa and cabbage salad. Enjoy!

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Savory Crisp Mung Bean Pancakes

I love a dish that provides protein and veggies in one place, is portable, and can be easily eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack. Fritters and vegetable pancakes are one such dish and the options for filling, seasoning, and serving them are endless, making this one of the more flexible recipes out there. This recipe is for a thinner batter baked in a cast iron skillet into a slightly crunchy flatbread-type pancake. By varying the liquid in the batter, you can change the texture to a thicker, softer griddle cake. Either way, they are delicious, so experiment and enjoy!

Mung beans are easy to digest and a good source of protein; soaking and rinsing them improves their digestibility and softens them for blending. If you would prefer to use sprouted beans, use whole mung beans and leave them in the strainer to sprout after soaking. This will take about 18 hours or so.

You can decide how you want to add the vegetables and whether you want to cook them first. You can just stir in quicker-cooking vegetables like chopped greens, tomatoes, and peas; I prefer to cool onions and broccoli and other pungent or hard vegetables first.

The batter keeps in the fridge for at least a couple days, so feel free to make a double batch and cook the pancakes as needed. If you only have one oven-proof skillet, you’ll need to make these in batches or make additional pancakes on the stove top.

  • 1 cup split mung beans
  • water for soaking
  • 1/2 – 1 cup water
  • juice from 1/2 lemon or lime (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper
  • ghee or olive oil
  • 1 baby walla walla onion or 4-5 scallions, sliced
  • 1 head broccoli, flowerettes chopped, stem peeled and sliced
  • 4 inches or so garlic scape, sliced (or chop a clove of garlic)
  • 2 handfuls of parsley, chopped
  • 2 handfuls of spinach, roughly chopped
  • optional – sliced or chopped hot peppers, diced tomatoes, fresh or frozen peas, parboiled sliced potatoes, thinly-sliced bell peppers

Soak the mung beans overnight. Drain and rinse. To make the batter, put the rinsed mung beans, 1/2 cup water, citrus juice, cumin, cayenne, salt, and a few grinds of pepper into a blender. Blend until very smooth, adding water as necessary. The batter should blend easily and should be pourable (like a crepe batter). At this point, you can either refrigerate the batter in a tightly covered container to finish later, or proceed with the recipe.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat a cast iron or other oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Add the ghee or olive oil and saute the onions until they begin to brown. Add the broccoli and garlic scapes, sprinkle with salt, and cook until the broccoli is crisp-tender. Mix the cooked veggies into the batter with the rest of the ingredients. Pour olive oil into the skillet to coat the pan and pour batter into the skillet, tilting if necessary to help it spread to the edges. Bake for about 7-10 minutes, or until brown on the bottom, then flip and cook another 5-7 minutes until the second side is speckled with brown. Serve plain, with a slaw or chutney for dipping. Enjoy!

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Tofu and Market Veggie Sauté

It’s always so great when the market opens in April to give us fresh, local greens; and I’m so grateful for the hothouse tomatoes after a LONG Winter.  Come June, though, I’m ready for a little more color, and maybe something slightly less leafy, at the Farmers’ Market.  I’m happy to report that the time has come.  This morning, we found carrots, sugar snap peas, sweet bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, green garlic, garlic scapes, baby walla walla onions, and of course big beautiful bunches of kale, spinach, salad greens to which our loyalty remains even when their more colorful counterparts finally come into season.  There’s more too; visit the market and see!

We like to sleep in on Saturday mornings, which means rolling out of bed and getting straight to the market – no time for eating!  We munched on our first farm carrots and sugar snap peas of the season, but we were hungry by the time we got home!  So, we took stock of our bounty and made a delicious and simple tofu and veggie sauté.   If you don’t like tofu, skip it and use a different protein.  If you bought herbs on your trip to the market or you have some in your garden, by all means, use what you like.  Vary the vegetables as you like, but use them generously!

This makes enough for 2-3 hungry people, but you can adjust as needed…

  • 2-3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 large baby walla walla onion, thinly
  • 1/2 pound extra firm tofu (preferably frozen and thawed), diced
  • 3-4 inches garlic scape, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 bunch of spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup (or so) of sugar snap peas, cut in thirds
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 cups cooked rice (or other grain)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat a large cast iron (0r stainless) skillet over medium heat.  Add olive oil, pick up your skillet and tilt in a circle until it’s generously coated.  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, then add walla walla onions and tofu.   Spread into a single layer and  leave undisturbed for a few minutes.  Once the tofu is browned, flip it and spread again into a single layer.  Add the garlic scapes and sauté for a few more minutes.  Add the spinach and stir through until it begins to wilt.  Add the tomatoes and sugar snap peas.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Give the veggie mixture a few stirs, then layer the rice on top and leave it for a few minutes to let the steam finish cooking the vegetables.   Stir the rice through and let it cook another minute or two. Taste and adjust seasonings.  Enjoy!

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Delicious Soaked Oatmeal

Oh, how I miss Mexico!  I miss my chair on the beach.  I miss my bed with the view of the ocean.  I miss the delicious mango and pineapple, fruits I just can’t bear to buy here  in Boulder.  I miss the days filled with lounging, reading and swimming in the ocean.  Frankly, I think I just miss vacation.  But, alas, we cannot be on vacation all the time, or we would start needing vacations from our vacation! 

Anyway, partly because of that and partly because we have now entered true Spring weather (yippee!), I’m finding myself in a bit of a conundrum with food.  While I”m usually a big veggies for breakfast eater, that just isn’t working for me right now and, in fact, I don’t wake up wanting much of anything except fresh mango:)  This oatmeal has saved me from being a breakfast skipper, which also doesn’t work for me in the long run.  It is sweetened with dates and I like to add coconut butter and nuts to keep it balanced, as well as plenty of cinnamon, which also helps to regulate blood sugar.  I often add frozen blueberries as well, for an extra antioxidant kick.  Experiment with the number of dates you like to use.  Dates are very sweet, but they are whole foods, loaded with fiber and potassium among other things, so I believe they are an excellent choice if you want to add a little sweetness (in moderation, of course).  

This recipe makes enough for 4 people.  I sometimes make extra oatmeal without the coconut butter or blueberries, then reheat it with some extra water and those or other additions when I need a quick breakfast or snack during a busy week.  For a fun weekend breakfast, you can set up a little oatmeal bar with a variety of nuts and fruits, then allow each person to come up with their own creation.    If you aren’t a sweet breakfast eater, this is also a nice mid-afternoon snack. 

  • 1 cup gluten free steel cut oats
  • water for soaking
  • 2 cups water for cooking
  • 2-4 medium-sized dates, pitted and chopped
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1-2 Tablespoons raw coconut butter
  • Frozen blueberries (or the fruit of your choice)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • chopped almonds (or the nut of your choice)
  • more cinnamon to sprinkle over individual bowls
  • Other options for toppings: sliced bananas, chopped figs (use lesser amount of dates), fresh fruit (when it FINALLY comes in season), other frozen fruits, etc, etc, or just enjoy it plain.

Pour the oats into a bowl large enough to fill with enough water to cover the oats by at least an inch.  Leave overnight.  When you are ready to cook the oats, pour them into a strainer and rinse and drain them.  Pour the drained oats into a medium-sized saucepan and add 2 cups water, chopped dates, and sea salt.  Bring to a boil, then cover pot and remove from heat and let sit for about 15-20 minutes, or until the water is absorbed.  Alternatively, you can keep them simmering on low, but I find that they often boil over and/or stick to the pan and don’t really cook that much faster, all the while using more energy.  Once the oats are cooked, stir in the coconut butter, frozen blueberries, and cinnamon and cover to allow the coconut butter to melt into the oatmeal and the blueberries to heat up.  Give it another stir and serve with chopped nuts and additional cinnamon.  Enjoy!

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Slowing down…and Miso-Vegetable Soup

A good percentage of my family was home for most of last week with the chicken pox, or taking care of people with the chicken pox.  While this might sound like something less than desireable, it was really a wonderful blessing.  It made me think about our culture and the fact that we have very few natural opportunities to slow down and just be with ourselves these days.  We have phones and email that go everywhere we do, so that car rides and hikes are always in danger of becoming conferences and business meetings rather than opportunities for reflection.  We have machines that dry our clothes, so that most of us don’t have that quiet time outside hanging them on the line.  We have vaccinations that keep us and our children from getting sick, so that we don’t have to take time from work or out of our normal life to be home recuperating.  Of course, the benefits of all of these things are many and I would never argue that, but they also come at a cost.

Being at home without any thoughts of leaving gave us time to be together, as well as time to be with alone with each of ourselves.  After two days, I felt a shift in my body, and my mind opened to a presence that has alluded me for at least the last few months.  Now that everyone is better, it’s a little hard for all of us to think about getting back into the fray.  We truly enjoyed each other in a way that we sometimes don’t when we have so many other things coming at us – work, playdates, getting to the bus on time.   

So, while I know that the week to come will bring rushing and arguing and traffic and everything else that comes with a normal week, I hope to retain some of the calm, connectedness that we’ve experienced in the past week.  I think I’ll turn my phone off more.  It’s finally warm and sunny enough to hang my laundry again.  I might even pull out my book for a few minutes in the middle of the day, and take the time to meditate.  And, I know that I’ll put other things aside to sit with my children more and appreciate some quiet with them amidst the fray…

Here is a recipe that has served us well in the past week, and will continue to serve us well when we want to devote our time and energy to other things, but still eat a nourishing meal.  Miso soup doesn’t have to be any more than miso, water, and seaweed, but even as a more elaborate soup, it’s simple and quick to make and will cooperate with whatever you have in your refrigerator. 

You can use whatever type of miso you want, and the amounts you use will depend on the type and your preference for the strength of the soup.  Do be aware, though, that some types of miso contain gluten.  For those who avoid soy, you can use soy-free chickpea miso and skip the tofu, maybe adding some beans for protein.  I now that aduki bean miso is also available, though I haven’t come across it in Boulder yet. 

One important note is that you never want to boil miso, as it’s a live food and too much heat destroys the beneficial enzymes. 

  • 1 Tablespoon oil (I use olive oil for everything, but you could also use sesame oil, coconut oil, or your favorite cooking oil)
  • 1 small onion, minced (or when scallions are in season, use those)
  • 1/2 pound tofu, cubed (I prefer to freeze my tofu, then thaw and press before use, but that is optional)
  • 4 medium carrots, sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 cups chopped greens (cabbage, spinach, chard – whatever you choose)
  • 1/4 cup wakame flakes
  • 1 Tablespoon tamari, or more to taste ( or salt)
  • 6-8 cups water
  • 3-4 Tablespoons red miso
  • 3-4 Tablespoons mellow white miso
  • dash of toasted sesame oil
  • optional additions: very thinly sliced potato, cooked grains or noodles, frozen peas, sesame seeds, chopped parsley or cilantro, to garnish

Heat a soup pot to medium heat, then add the olive oil and, after about 30 seconds, add the onions.  Cook until soft and lightly browned, then add the tofu and continue to cook undisturbed until it’s lightly browned on the first side.  Flip it around and brown the second side.  Add the carrots and greens and cook until they begin to soften.  Add the wakame, water, and salt or tamari, bring to a boil, and continue to cook until the carrots are soft.  Turn the heat off and ladle some of the broth into a bowl.  Add the miso to the hot broth, stir to dissolve, then add back into the soup.  Add more miso and/or salt/tamari to taste and add a splash of toasted sesame oil.  Garnish as desired.  Sit, take a deep breath, and enjoy!

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Crepes with Cinnamon Apple Streusal Filling

This is our go-to special family breakfast; it’s a treat, but the kind you can still feel good after eating.  The eggs in the crepes provide some protein and the cooked apples are balanced with crushed walnuts for a good dose of healthy fats.  The cinnamon provides an additional boost to keep your blood sugar in check.  If you are going to have a sweet breakfast, this is a great choice.  If you can’t or don’t eat eggs, try making the scallion pancake recipe that goes with the Asian Fajitas, replacing the olive oil with ghee or macadamia nut oil and eliminating the toasted sesame oil and scallions.   

I make the crepe batter the night before and leave it in the fridge, then cook the crepes in the morning and keep them warm until we are ready to eat.  You can also make the crepes ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped, then soften them in the oven when you are ready to eat.  It’s fun to put out a variety of fillings; we also like apple butter mixed with crushed walnuts and berries with nut cream.  If you are a dairy eater, plain yogurt lightly sweetened with agave or coconut sugar would be delicious drizzled over the top of berry-filled crepes. 

Crepes seem very fancy, but they actually take very little work.  There is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to cooking them, but after the first few crepes, you will have it down.  The tricks are keeping the pan at the right temperature and making sure the batter is the proper consistency.  I use a cast iron crepe pan, but any cast iron or stainless skillet will do.   

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup amaranth (or other flour of choice)
  • 1-1 1/2 cups hempmilk (or other milk of choice), more or less as needed
  • 2-3 Tablespoons ghee or macadamia nut oil (or any heat-stable oil)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons agave, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil or ghee
  • 4 apples, cored and sliced (peeled or unpeeled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, pulverized to a thick paste

Put the eggs in a blender and blend for a minute or so, until they begin to look frothy.  Add the flour and 1 cup of milk and continue to blend on high until very smooth, adding more milk as necessary to get a thin batter about the consistency of melted ice cream.  Add ghee or oil, salt, and agave, and continue to blend a minute or two more.  Pour into a class container that will allow for easy pouring later.  Cover and let stand at room temp at least 30 minutes or, preferably, in the refrigerator overnight.  You will want to bring the batter back to room temperature and give it a gentle stir before cooking.  Once it’s at room temperature, add more milk if necessary to get the melted ice cream consistency.  Stir it in thoroughly, but gently, as you do not want to create too many air bubbles. 

When ready to make the crepes, heat a 9-inch crepe pan or skillet over medium heat.  If your skillet isn’t seasoned, coat with a very thin layer of oil or ghee.  Wrap a towel or hot pad around the handle of your pan and pour in a few tablespoons of batter (adjust for pan size if necessary).  Immediately lift the pan and tilt in a circular motion until the batter forms a thin, even circle, or something resembling a circle.  Leave for about 15-30  seconds, then use a spatula to loosen the sides.  When it’s cooked on one side, it will release quite easily.  Flip and cook on the other side, again about 30 seconds.  You should have a thin, flexible crepe that is uniformly browned on the first side and spotted on the second.  Place the cooked crepe on a plate, then cover with another inverted plate.  Adjust the heat, if necessary, before continuing to cook the remaining crepes.  If the batter splattered a lot when you put it in the hot pan, turn it down a bit.  If the crepe is taking longer than 30-60 seconds on each side or is sticking or falling apart, you may need to turn the heat up a bit.  Continue to pile the crepes on top on each other and cover with the inverted plate.  They will stay warm and flexible until you are ready to eat them. 

While you are cooking the crepes, you can also prepare the apples.  Heat a separate 8-10 inch skillet to medium and melt the coconut oil or ghee.  Add the sliced apples in a single layer, or as close as you can get, and sprinkle with the cinnamon and salt.  Cook until lightly browned and tender, but not mushy.  Stir in the walnuts to coat the apples. 

Bring the crepes, cooked apples, and any other fillings to the table.  Each person can place a layer of  the filling of their choice the middle of their crepe (or spread over entire crepe if using a thinner filling), roll the crepe around the filling, and enjoy!

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