This week I warmed up my new kitchen with a batch of what’s become the “house bread” in my life.
Seattle is getting colder, and predictably, my breakfasts are getting warmer. The days of raw fruit & chilled muesli have come and gone, and now my oats are getting the hot & hearty porridge treatment.
A breakfast like this can help you stay strong through the stresses of the seasonal shift. With the growing season coming to a close and colorful summer crops disappearing from the local food system, pumpkins and other winter squash persevere as a shelf-stable source of vibrantly orange vitamin power. And as the weather chills, spices become magical; we love them, and they love us back with their stimulating, grounding and warming qualities. (Don’t forget: spices are powerful plants that humans have selected, valued, and carried along with us through the history of eating. They interface with our physiology in ways that science is only beginning to understand).
Did you know blackberries run wild in Seattle? Like, really run wild. Rubus armeniacus, the “Himalayan” blackberry, is an invasive species that has a special talent for sprawling its thorny brambles into every green nook and cranny of the urban landscape. This has earned it a reputation as a “problem child” of the local ecosystem, but I have to confess a soft spot for these wildlings. Who can stay mad at something so delicious? And how can anyone stare down a loaded thicket like this without their latent hunter-gatherer instincts kicking into overdrive?
The Universe has a way of keeping us humble, doesn’t it? Take for example the time I fell hard for The Great British Baking Show on Netflix, and mused contentedly about what an adept contender I could be. Naturally, my next baking session was an epic screw-up. I’m claiming distraction as the reason behind the embarrassing disaster, but seriously: it involved boxed cookie mix, BOTH of my apartment’s smoke alarms, and a full hour spent the next day scrubbing the bottom of my oven. So, right, I was not Star Baker this week.
(Undoubtedly my worst mishap since the Great Kombucha Eruption of 2015.)
Similarly, look what happens when I promise you a newly developed recipe. Here we are nearly a month later, and I’m just now getting back to you because of an extended string of lackluster trials in my test-kitchen. Lucky for you guys, I don’t give up too easily.
The plan was to cap off my sourdough baking series with a special weekend breakfast combining the flavor/benefits of sourdough with the seasonal charm of pumpkin spice. But I soon realized that this pairing would require a bit of trial and error, as pumpkin puree and sourdough can both complicate efforts to optimize the texture and density of baked goods. After wrestling with a series of adaptations to the basic sourdough pancake formula from King Arthur Flour, I decided I might be better off seeking insight from my favorite online community of super experienced and skilled bakers at The Fresh Loaf.
Lo and behold, those good bakers know exactly what to do: I was just one blog post away from a foolproof formula. To create my perfect sourdough pumpkin pancake, I spiked the recipe with buttermilk, brown sugar and a sprinkle of spices; I also swapped in whole wheat pastry flour to take advantage of its delicate crumb. The pancakes are tender, lightly sour, subtly spiced… and we couldn’t have done it without that bubbling, fermenting colony of our favorite friendly microbes.
Nothing like a good recipe success to recover from a streak of kitchen fails… What a relief! Happy cooking, everybody. I’m off to put that sparkling clean oven to good use.
(No sourdough starter? How about some tasty steel-cut oat pancakes instead?)
QUINOA. This little seed can bring a lot to the table. Not only is it a source of complete protein and rich in essential nutrients, but it’s also easy to cook to perfection, and the leftovers taste just as delicious as ever after days in the fridge. You will never regret setting aside a few minutes for weekend food prep to cook up a big batch of quinoa. When we supply ourselves with the right go-to ingredients, we set ourselves up for success to keep our kitchens stocked with healthy meals to count on all week long. Invest in your future!
This week’s surplus of healthy whole-grain inspiration comes from a blog collaboration with Rachael and Cara of Nutrition Milestones (remember them?). We got together last weekend for a cooking jam-session of sorts, and seriously, how great is my food nerd life that I’m lucky enough to have found other people who consider this a good time? Read on to learn what comes out of the kitchen when 3 RDs join forces to come up with some fresh takes on our favorite healthy staple!
As good as these cookies look, I have to tell you that they can look even better. The part that you’re not seeing is the impeccably crackly turbinado sugar crust that sadly dissolved in my humid kitchen in the 24 hours between the baking session and the time I managed to get the camera out. I really wanted to bake a fresh batch to give you some more true-to-life images, but I had to tackle these, and then a gluten-free version for a potluck party, and then Halloween happened… and you guys, I’m sorry, but I just can’t handle another batch of cookies in my house right now. I promise, when the occasion strikes to bake my next batch, I’ll Instagram it for you. Deal? Surely you understand that I just had to get this online, because pumpkin season is fleeting, and I don’t want you to miss out on such a great cookie. I mean, seriously: Whole-Grain. Pumpkin. Snickerdoodles.
Had a hard week? You need an easy weeknight dinner. Fortunately for us, this one is packed with nutrient dense vegetables and layers of slow-cooked flavors… without the slow-cooking. The veggies all cook quickly, so there’s no advance planning needed. Just a little therapeutic chopping and simmering while you decompress from the challenges of the day, and you can have this wholesome vegan dinner on the table in no time.
If you’re a seasoned Caribbean foodie, please note that I’m not claiming any authenticity. When I dreamed up this stew, I was going for a hearty foundation of powerful plant foods, tempered with tropical coconut milk and some warm spices as my simplified allusion to Jamaican jerk-style seasoning. Authentic cuisine? Not exactly. Super satisfying healthy dinner? Most definitely!
After resolving last week to fill out my Recipe Index with more of my favorite quick weeknight dinners, I noticed another woefully empty blog category here at flavorrd: snacks! (!!!)
I’m definitely a snacker. I fully respect mindful eating, but there’s also nothing I love more after a long work week than a fully-stocked Netflix queue and a big bowl of something crunchy. And if you choose the right snack, there’s nothing wrong with that!
You know those nights when you come home from work, you have no plans for dinner, you haven’t thawed anything from the freezer, and your veggie crisper has seen better days? Life is hard. These things happen. But instead of settling for mediocre take-out (and the regret that follows), wouldn’t you rather sit down to a big, bountiful, made-from-scratch skillet of healthy dinner like this?
It doesn’t have to be as hard it sounds, I promise. Not with this recipe in your back pocket. It’s made mostly from pantry staples, it’s drop-dead easy, and it’s FAST FAST FAST. I’ll give you the run-down!
While I’m proud of my Floridian heritage (haha), there’s no doubt that my heart belongs on the west coast. I’m completely in LOVE with the food culture in my new California home. The most gorgeous produce is both cheap and plentiful. The bulk bins overfloweth with every healthy ingredient. It’s really locavorism at its finest.
Since we’ve already been talking about planning ahead for our meals, let’s convert all those good vibrations into a make-ahead breakfast fit for a California king!