Blueberry Swirl Buckwheat, Amaranth + Walnut Porridge

Blueberry Swirl Buckwheat, Amaranth + Walnut Porridge

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I received free samples of California walnuts mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the California Walnut Commission and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

 

As part of my nutrition program, I took a class last term which covered the basics of cooking whole foods including how to cook grains, beans and other legumes, and greens. One thing I hadn’t previously given much thought to was the reason for soaking grains, beans, nuts, and seeds prior to eating.

Whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes contain antioxidants called phytic acids (or phytates) which are the plants’ primary form of stored phosphorus. Phytates tends to bind minerals like zinc, magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron, making them more difficult for us to absorb. Soaking these foods overnight prior to cooking or eating initiates the sprouting process, which makes many of the minerals more digestible.

There is some debate as to whether we should worry about phytates or bother taking the time to soak our whole grains and nuts, as many experts suggest we simply eat a balanced diet and we’ll get enough of these minerals anyway. From my own personal experience however, I have been eating a diet of whole foods, comprised mostly of these phytate-rich plants, for going on 10 years or so, and I’ve continued to struggle with absorbing the vitamins and minerals my diet should contain–even after removing the two big culprits which were causing me the most damage, gluten and dairy. Gut health is an area I’m super interested in learning more about, but in the meantime, I’ve been trying to remember to soak more of my grains and now nuts, in addition to beans, more of the time.

 

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This porridge combination contains three ingredients to get the day off to a good start thanks to those soaked seeds and nuts including walnuts, amaranth, and buckwheat. The California Walnut Commission generously sent me a 2-lb. bag of walnuts to play with and I’ve been having lots of fun using them in unconventional ways. Walnuts are a delicious and versatile ingredient and they perfectly complement other whole foods for nutritious, tasty meals. I’ve found that walnuts can be used a lot like cashews to make “creams,” although with a stronger walnut presence due to their nice wholesome flavor. They pair especially well with amaranth and buckwheat, as all those earthy flavors complement each other.

Walnuts are a nice addition to meals and snacks as an ounce of walnuts — the amount in one serving of this porridge — has 2.5 grams of the essential plant-based omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), in addition to 4 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber.

 

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Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been streamlining my morning process and often make my breakfast the night before, or batch cook a few days of meals at once. I tend to opt for some form of porridge most days and this means I have the perfect opportunity to soak and prep my morning fixings. Since it’s been getting hot outside, I have considered returning to a more summery breakfast like raw buckwheat porridge, but find that I  still tend to wake up ready for something warm to start my day. I tend to run cool most of the time so I decided to make a porridge that is soaked overnight or for a few hours prior to blending, and then it can be quickly finished and heated on the stove top to eat. I usually do the whole process the night before, as long as I remember to soak those main components a few hours before that evening prep. Then I reheat individual portions in the morning.

 

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Blueberry Swirl Buckwheat, Amaranth + Walnut Porridge, serves 4

1/3 cup buckwheat groats

1/3 cup amaranth

1 cup raw walnuts

1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

4 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

1 Tbs. raw honey or maple syrup

1/2 tsp. ground cardamom

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

dash of sea salt

1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/2- 1 1/2 cups water, divided

Directions:
  1. Cover walnuts, amaranth, and buckwheat with warm water and one tablespoon of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Let soak overnight. The next morning, drain and rinse well.
  2. In a food processor or blender, puree the blueberries and honey until they become smooth. Spoon out about half the puree and set aside.
  3. Without removing the remaining puree, add in the drained and rinsed nuts and seeds along with the spices and about 1/2 cup water. Puree the mixture until smooth.
  4. To assemble and eat, spoon the pureed porridge into a small saucepan along with enough water to make it a thinnish consistency, if necessary. This will depend on your berries. Heat through until it forms a thick porridge. Then, swirl a few spoonfuls of the blueberry puree into each portion. Top with more blueberries and walnuts, if desired.

 

 

References:

Frølich, W. (n.d.) Phytate–a natural component in plant food. Whole Grains Council. Retrieved from:  http://wholegrainscouncil.org/files/backup_migrate/PhytateProsCons_0910_DK-WGC.pdf.

Sparvoli, F. and Cominelli, E. (2015). Seed biofortication and phytic acid reduction: A conflict of interest for the plant? Plants. 4 (4): 728-755. doi:  10.3390/plants4040728.

Weil, A. (2010). Are phytates bad or good? Retrieved from: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA400758/Are-Phytates-Bad-or-Good.html.

superseed porridge with rhubarb, blood oranges + tahini

superseed porridge with rhubarb, blood oranges + tahini

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William took over my yoga mat the other night and started doing weird yoga-esque stretches I’ve never seen before. I’m certainly no yoga expert, but I think he was making them up. When I inquired about this new foray into brief stretching, he started talking about helping out his Qi (sounds like chee), which in Traditional Chinese Wisdom is the circulating vital energy or life force within us.

Around our house, I talk about Qi all the time, especially as it relates to mental clutter, anger or frustration, and digestive unease–basically whenever I notice something is personally out of balance. William is just about the only one I talk about Qi with, and having him suddenly spout my words back at me was a moment of startling clarity. As it turns out, when we spend enough time with someone, we begin to believe and do the same things as each other. I guess that’s why he also wanted only a big thrown together “beans and rice salad” for his weekly meal contribution recently, instead of the more typical tacos, pasta, and pizza fare.

It all makes me wonder, what little practices and sayings am I picking up from him (and others) that I haven’t noticed?

 

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Superseed Porridge with Rhubarb, Blood Orange + Tahini, serves 1

I eat more oatmeal than my old horse but have also been experimenting with a good mixed grain/seed porridge combination these past few months. I’ve finally found one I like. It includes a few of the pseudo-grains/seeds I’ve been trying to enjoy more of including amaranth and buckwheat. They are wonderful and nutritional heavy-weights, but have strong, distinct flavors that can overwhelm all on their own. I leave out what we consider true seeds from the actual mix as I like to add ground sesame, flax, sunflower, pumpkin, hemp, chia, or tahini as the whim strikes, and I expect you will as well. Sometimes I add in an adaptogen like ashwagandha or maca powder, which I’m eagerly learning more about in my herbal medicine classes for their ability to help us adapt to stress. That’s a highly individual thing, however, and I recognize that simply making a good morning meal and eating it mindfully at a table is a vast improvement for many of us. I’ve tried this porridge mix with a number of flavor combinations throughout the seasons, but the one I love right now is heavy on the rhubarb with blood oranges and tahini.

 

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Super Seed Porridge Mix, makes 10 1/3-cup servings

2 cups old-fashioned oats, gluten-free if necessary

2/3 cup quinoa flakes

1/2 cup amaranth

1/2 cup buckwheat

  • Mix together and store in a container of choice. When ready to cook, use 1 cup water to 1/3 cup grains for each serving.

 

Rhubarb, Blood Oranges + Tahini Porridge

rhubarb sauce, as much or as little as preferred

1-2 tsp. tahini

1 cup water

1/3 cup porridge mix

1 blood orange, sections separated and roughly chopped and a little zest stirred in.

sweetener, to taste

  • I stew the rhubarb into a sauce or compote ahead of time. Including chopping and prep, it takes no more than 20 minutes. Simply chop a few stalks of rhubarb roughly and then add to a small saucepan along with a small splash of water. Cook over medium high for a few minutes until it becomes a sauce. Unlike a lot of people, I don’t add sugar to the sauce and instead leave it tart. I’ll add a sweetener of choice to whatever I mix it into and adjust as needed. If I feel like getting fancy, I’ll stir in a little vanilla or orange zest.
  • Then boil the one cup water and whisk in the grains in a small saucepan. Cook until it becomes a porridge, and stir in the rhubarb sauce and tahini in the last few minutes, until warm.
  • Finally, add in a little orange zest and the orange sections in the last minutes, as their Vitamin C is heat sensitive and easily lost in cooking. Add sweetener of choice to taste.
  • All in all, this is more of a weekend porridge—or as I’ve taken to doing, it can be easily made up the night before. I cook the entire thing save the blood orange, and then pour into my serving bowl and let it chill overnight in the fridge. The next morning, I simply reheat in the microwave and stir in the orange and orange zest and I’ve got a fancy start to an otherwise busy morning.

Honey-Amaranth Waffles with Spiced Pears

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I woke up at 4:30 again this morning with a head full of words needing to come out. I proceeded to write solidly for over two hours before walking away, thinking all I had written needed to be shared.

Given the heaviness of what I’ve already shared in this space these last few days, weeks, and months, and the miraculous way that my lightness of being directly correlates with letting heavy thoughts go, those words may make their way into this space yet.

 

For now, I’d like to just settle my mind down and get cozy with high-vibe breakfast things, like waffles. And then, try to take a nap.

 

The Recipe Redux this month is all about breaking out of breakfast boredom and these waffles are one of the ways I’ve been doing that lately. Like a lot of people, I go through phases with breakfast meals, and the current one, hot porridge, has been going steady for four+ years.

But for the last month I’ve been revisiting my favorite waffles most Monday mornings. I generally have nothing planned for Mondays except to fill my brain with scientific literature and APA formatting for eight solid hours, as I’ve got the day off from work and it’s full of school instead. I’ve found that eating these is a great way to start the week.

The recipe for these waffles was a work in progress for about a year and a half after gluten and dairy were removed from my diet, and though I made a lot of different flavor combinations throughout my year teaching (comfort food after a stressful day, I suppose), these are the ones that became my go-to once that phase ended. I like them because the amaranth flour lends an earthy flavor, they’re almost entirely whole-grain, and they have just enough sweetness to need no extra sugar poured on top. All of this is my sort of thing because half the time waffles are more of a dinner item and I don’t like the idea of sugar and starch for my evening meal. I also can’t handle sugar for breakfast, so there’s that as well.

 

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If you haven’t tried amaranth before, it is technically a tiny-seed pseudograin, like quinoa. In fact, the two are related botanically and share many characteristics. Historically, amaranth was very important to the ancient Aztecs. Nutritionally, it is one of the highest-quality grains to add to your diet and is especially useful for individuals who do a lot of physical work, athletes, infants, children, and pregnant and nursing women. I like it because it is a good source of calcium and an excellent source of iron, and has more protein than most other grains. Even though its nutritional effects are minimal in these waffles, adding more amaranth to meals cannot hurt. Flavor-wise, I find that amaranth goes particularly well with autumn and winter fruits, like pears, and I prefer that combination over anything savory I’ve tried.

This recipe is inspired by Kim Boyce’s Honey-Amaranth Waffles in Good to the Grain, but is now so far removed that I can’t say they’re anything like her original. If you have no reason to avoid gluten, use whole-wheat pastry flour in place of the gluten-free, and if using your own gluten-free flour mixture, keep in mind that mine is 70 percent whole-grain by weight and has 10 percent buckwheat flour, which is another stronger flavor.

 

How do you break up the breakfast boredom?

 

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Honey-Amaranth Waffles with Spiced Pears, makes 3 

3 Tbs. ground flax, separated

3 Tbs. warm water

1 cup nut/seed milk

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

2 Tbs. amaranth flour

1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

2 Tbs. honey

1 Tbs. coconut oil, melted + additional for the waffle iron

 

To Finish:

1 pear, chopped into a large dice

1/4 cup water

1/8 tsp. ginger

1/16 tsp. each cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and black pepper

pinch of ground cloves

unsweetened coconut yogurt, optional

pomegranate molasses, if you’d like an extra fancy drizzle of sweetness atop

 

Directions:

  1. Turn the waffle iron to a medium-high setting. In a small dish, whisk 1 Tbs. ground flax with the 3 Tbs. water. Set aside to form a thick slurry. In a liquid measuring cup, stir the milk together with the vinegar, and allow to curdle slightly.
  2. In a large bowl, stir the remaining dry ingredients together.
  3. Combine the coconut oil and honey, and then add them to the milk along with the flax slurry. Whisk the liquids briefly to make sure they’re uniform, and then pour them atop the dry ingredients.
  4. Stir the batter lightly. Depending on the day and air moisture, a little extra liquid may need to be added.
  5. Brush the waffle iron with a small amount of coconut oil, and then ladle 3/4 cup of batter onto the iron. Cook until the indicator light tells you it’s done, or a quick peek shows a golden-brown color.
  6. Remove from the iron, and plate up, along with a spoonful or two of yogurt and a pile of spiced pears.
  7. For the pears: In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the diced pears, water, and spices. Once they begin to really cook, turn down the heat to a low simmer, cover, and cook until they are soft and beginning to be a little syrupy. This can all happen while waiting for those waffles to cook.

 

 

References:

Boyce, B. (2010). Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours. New York, NY: Stewart, Tabori & Chang.

Pitchford, P. (2002). Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.