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.

Chai-Spiced Pear Oats

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Several years ago, I stayed with a few girlfriends at a B&B run by Agnes, who lives on a farm off the western edge of Ireland. From the moment we arrived we were fed quite well, including dinner, which was fresh caught from the ocean by her son. We had a proper Irish breakfast the next morning with the traditional white and black puddings, fried tomato and egg, thick slabs of brown bread, muesli, yogurt, and then pots of tea. After I was stuffed as could be, I slipped into the kitchen to ask Agnes a question. She was just tidying up and there, sitting at a tiny table away from the guests, was her farmer husband in his wool socks, tucking into a homely and simple bowl of porridge.

 

I immediately wished I could take all of my breakfast back, forget my friends, and sit at the table with him eating homely oats and chatting about the first frost date, how much rain we’ve received, the work that needs done before the storm, and other farmer things.

 

 

 

If ever I fed people food for a living instead of words and ideas, I would feed them porridge.

It is the meal I most closely associate with the term comfort food, and the one I’ll gladly eat any time of day but especially at the end of a long and discouraging one. It is the breakfast I always hope is fed to me when I stay at a friend or relative’s house, and at home in my own kitchen, it is the one I love to change throughout the seasons with all variations of grains, fruits, and flavors. I’m especially partial to thick-rolled oats but lately I’ve also been experimenting with various ratios of amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, and polenta.

 

 

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And then I always seem to return to oats. Perhaps this is because I grew up on its simplicity and homeliness, eating it slowly on nearly frosty mornings at the same table I have now, as I listened to my dad talk about the weather and other farmer things in his wool socks.

 

 

Chai-Spiced Pear Oats, serves 2 Continue reading “Chai-Spiced Pear Oats”