summer peach oatmeal

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At times over the years, I’ve considered making this a blog of oatmeal recipes. It’s pretty much my favorite food, I’ll eat it just about any time of day and it’s been my breakfast of choice for the strong majority of my life.

What I’ve added to the oats has definitely changed over the years however. From the brown sugar, milk, and stink bugs (aka raisins) of my youth, to the 10 carefully counted blueberries and half a banana of the days when I ate religiously too rigid during my eating disorder, to now when the toppings are varied and more numerous, oatmeal has been my tried and true.

 

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For many years the one ‘error’ I made in my morning bowl was that I was afraid of adding any healthy fats to it. I notice this with others too. Either seasonal fruits or berries or dried fruit are a popular topping but the thing about eating nutrient rich foods like fresh berries or anti-oxidant filled fruits (and vegetables), is that without a carrier fat in the meal they’re eaten with, those fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K can’t actually be absorbed. We need healthy fats to make them effective. After years of being afraid of fat, I’m now a big fan of eating it in moderate amounts since fats are important for both cellular and hormonal health. Fats surround all cells and organelles in what is called the phospholipid bilayer and they are essential for proper cellular development, as well as carrying messages throughout the body in the hormones.

It’s important for us to eat a variety of fat types from foods rich in saturated fat to the unsaturated mono and polyunsaturated omega 6 and 3 fatty acids. Our modern diets tend to be less diverse and mainly have an abundance of saturated and omega-6 polyunsaturated fats. The omega 6 fats are found in soy, corn, safflower, sunflower and peanut oils, as well as sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds, and most nuts. In whole food form, they are incredibly healthy and essential, but need to be balanced with omega-3 fats such as freshly ground flax, chia, walnuts and wild caught cold-water fish such as salmon, halibut, anchovies, cod, and sardines. The ratio of omega 6 to omega 3’s should be under 5:1 to be considered anti-inflammatory and for most individuals, this ratio is at least 20:1 or more.  For anyone with health concerns that are inflammation-related such as any of the common ‘lifestyle diseases’ like diabetes, high cholesterol or blood pressure, autoimmune conditions, arthritis of any type, and/or you are an otherwise healthy athlete looking to improve recovery between workouts, consuming those delicious nutrient-filled fruits and vegetables along with a healthy fat source and eating an optimal balance of omega 3s and 6s can be incredibly helpful. (My personal example is as an athlete trying to improve recovery and with an underlying chronic autoimmune/arthritic-like condition.)

One other thing to note is that all fat digestion first takes place in the mouth from chewing and saliva beginning to break down food–so chewing is important–and intestinal digestion requires bile salts and pancreatic lipase, an enzyme that specifically helps to break down and absorb fat molecules. If you find you don’t digest fats well, consider sending me a note. There are lots of natural ways to assist the digestive process!

 

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Now for my favorite oatmeal bowl lately. It’s got a super-seasonal local peach chopped and added in the last few minutes to old-fashioned oats, a pinch of salt, a teaspoon or so of tahini, and a good tablespoon of ground flax seed. In the summer, I tend to always add a sprinkle of fennel seeds, which also support digestion, and then top it all off with a bit of cinnamon.

 

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Creamy Summer Peach Oatmeal, makes 1 large or 2 small bowls

1 1/2 cups water
1/2-3/4 cups old-fashioned oats, gf certified as necessary
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 large peach, chopped
1 tsp. tahini
1 Tbs. ground flax
cinnamon, to sprinkle

  • Bring the water to a boil, add the oats, and turn down to medium-low. Cook until nearly all the water is absorbed and then stir in the remaining ingredients except the cinnamon. Cook until it is creamy and all the water is absorbed.
  • Turn out into a bowl and then top with cinnamon.
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Mushroom and Black Bean Enchiladas

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Have you ever had days or weeks or seasons where you’re putting a lot of effort in and not seeing much results? And then when you stop trying or put your focus just a little to another direction and stop caring so damn much, the results show up in their own way and on their own timing?

 

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I think this is simply God or the universe’s way of telling us to trust and go with the flow a bit more. There’s a Chinese proverb that states, “Don’t push the river, it flows by itself.”  I love this one. It generally seems to apply, always.

 

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This is all to say, I had a very different blog post and recipe planned for this week but after many drafts and recipe variations, I’ve accepted it simply wasn’t ready to come out. On the other hand, I wrote down mushroom and black bean enchiladas in my blog ideas journal recently and with putting hardly any effort in at all, this recipe worked itself out in my head and then in the kitchen, and it came out so completely to perfection in one easy go that it became clear this is the recipe and message to be shared this week instead.

 

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So if enchiladas with mushrooms and black beans, zucchini and a coconut, cilantro and lime drizzle sound delicious, go make them. They’re tasty. And if not, go ahead and think about applying that proverb to whatever you need to. Or join me and do both.

 

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Mushroom and Black Bean Enchiladas, serves 3-5
This is a recipe that comes together with a little prep ahead. Most of the seasoning comes from the Spicy Tomato Sauce and the Creamy Black Beans. You can of course skip these and opt for ready-made enchilada sauce and canned black beans, but just understand the flavorings will be a little flat in comparison. After 10 years of blogging in this space, my Creamy Black Beans are the one recipe that I make from the blog most often and they have ruined our household of all other black beans, so if you have some time to prep and let them simmer ahead, they’re worth it. Otherwise, I used light coconut milk in the coconut lime sauce but a full-fat version would be a tasty and decadent alternative to top these enchiladas with. Enjoy!

coconut oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium sweet pepper, diced
1 jalapeño pepper, finely diced and seeded
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 large handful of shiitake mushrooms, sliced (about 1 1/3 cups or 100 grams)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2 cups Creamy Black Beans
salt to taste
2 cups Spicy Tomato Sauce, see below
10 6-inch corn tortillas
Coconut lime sauce, see below

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Make the enchilada filling: In a large skillet, heat a little oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it’s soft, about 5 minutes. Add the peppers, zucchini, and mushrooms and cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes or a little more.
  • Stir in the garlic, cooked black beans, spices, and salt. Remove from the heat.
  • Brush a 9 × 13-inch baking dish with a little oil, then spread a heaping 1⁄2 cup of the tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish. Fill each tortilla with about 1⁄2 cup of the enchilada filling. Roll the tortillas and place them seam-side down in the baking dish. Pour the remaining 1-1/2 cup sauce over the enchiladas, down the middle, leaving a bit of the edges dry. Bake, covered, for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes more.
  • While the enchiladas are baking, make the cilantro lime sauce, below.
  • Let the enchiladas cool slightly, then drizzle with half of the coconut lime sauce. Top Serve with the remaining cashew cream on the side, as desired.


Spicy Tomato Sauce
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
2 tsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. dried coriander
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. black pepper

  • In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil and garlic over medium-high heat. Saute garlic until just beginning to brown, about 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the tomatoes and spices.
  • Bring to a boil and then turn down to medium-low. Simmer for about 45 minutes to thicken a bit and have flavors develop. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. At this point, the sauce can be pureed if you’d like a smooth sauce, but I opted to leave it slightly chunky.


Coconut Lime Sauce

1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
1 garlic clove
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp. sea salt

  • In a high-speed blender, place the coconut milk, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, and salt and blend until smooth. Chill until ready to use.

birthday pancake cake, all the toppings, and an essential Brazil nut butter

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For my birthday this year, I decided to go the way of non-tradition and make a big pancake cake complete with chia berry jam, nut butter, coconut cream, and a pile of fresh berries. It was absolutely the best and may become a new tradition.

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That was last month. When the Recipe Redux announced their June birthday and the end of a long season of monthly themed recipe challenges this month, it became obvious a pancake cake and a tasty homemade Brazil nut butter is a good way to celebrate the end.

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For the past couple years, I’ve been periodically buying a few cups of raw Brazil nuts, roasting them slightly, and then grinding them into a rich and creamy nut butter. Compared to other nuts, they tend to be a little higher in fat and so turn into a nut butter much faster than other nuts and seeds, and without the really high-powered equipment. Additionally, Brazil nuts are one of the best sources of selenium, an essential trace mineral. Selenium content in foods is directly related to soil-mineral levels, and at least in my part of the country, the selenium content in soil is low. Growing up raising sheep, we had to give new lambs a selenium shot to ward off a selenium-depletion muscle disease. Even amongst Brazil nuts, selenium content will vary by location, but they do still tend to have a lot of it compared to other foods.

Selenium is primarily part of a master antioxidant enzyme in the body, meaning it neutralizes free radicals and dampens inflammation. It also plays along with other antioxidants, vitamins C and E, and helps them to reuse (recycle) themselves. Selenium is important for a healthy immune response, making it especially significant for immune conditions such as cancer, autoimmune disorders, healthy aging, and is absolutely essential for activation of the thyroid hormones.

For many individuals, a Brazil nut a day, or even a couple a few times per week, or periodically slathering your celebratory pancakes with decadent Brazil nut butter, will meet one’s selenium needs.

Beyond focusing just on selenium and Brazil nuts, all the nuts and seeds have differing and essential vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats, and this is why I always encourage rotating nuts, seeds, and their butters routinely in the diet.

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For this pancake cake, I doubled my favorite go-to pancake recipe, made extra large pancakes, made a quick berry chia jam, and scooped the solids off the top of a can of full-fat coconut milk, whipped it along with a little orange blossom water, and of course, added that Brazil nut butter. I then put a different layer of filling between each pancake and topped them off with extra chia berries. This recipe was inspired by a Pancake Cake in Green Kitchen Stories new family cookbook, but I definitely spun it in my own direction. I encourage you to do the same.

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Birthday Pancake Cake with All the Toppings and an Essential Brazil Nut Butter, serves about 4
my favorite pancake recipe (or yours)
whipped coconut cream
Brazil Nut Butter (see below)
Berry Chia Jam (see below)
fresh sliced berries, as desired

  • Prepare and make all the various components above. Then layer one filling between each pancake and top with additional berry chia jam or fresh berries.
  • Cut into cake wedges and serve with additional berries, jam, coconut cream, and nut butter.

Brazil Nut Butter, makes about 1 cup
2 cups raw Brazil Nuts

  • Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and add to a high-speed blender or food processor. Process for about 5-8 minutes, until the mixture becomes creamy and thin. Scrape down the sides as needed throughout.
  • Store extra nut butter in a glass container in the fridge.

Berry Chia Jam, adapted very slightly from Little Green Kitchen
2 cups fresh or frozen berries
2-3 dates, pits removed and chopped
2 Tbs. chia seeds
a splash of water

  • Add the berries and dates to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add a splash of water and stir in the chia seeds. Bring back to a boil, then turn off the heat, stir again and allow to sit for about 15 minutes to thicken up. Stir a couple times throughout to keep clumps from forming.

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Reference:
Higdon, J. (2001). Selenium. Linus Pauling Institute. Retrieved from https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/selenium.