Thursday, May 30, 2013

Food: Fit Two New Healthy Breakfasts into Menu Rotation, Oatmeal

Here is the second option I am considering aside from the healthier smoothie. This one was inspired to give my husband a healthier breakfast option to replace his instant oatmeal that he currently eats. While researching healthy oatmeal recipes, I have been educated as to the proper methods to preparing grains. Techniques that our grandmothers used, long forgotten to several of us and replaced by instant or quicker methods.

Go here for more information on the hows and whys of soaking grains to get maximum nutrients : how and why to soak grains. Plus she gives some tasty recipes! In short, soaking breaks down the components of the grains that are difficult to digest. Soaking with an acid medium (such as adding apple cider vinegar to the soaking water) will help active an enzyme called phytase. This enzyme helps to break down phytates (hard to digest...speed bumps to absorbing nutrients).

Other techniques are sprouting or souring. You can read more about those in her article. I am preparing soaking is my method!

I am using one of her recipes to experiment with and see if my husband will enjoy this tasty, nutritional substitution! If so, this will then be incorporated into my weekly breakfast rotation on even days.

Here is the recipe link: Soaked Oatmeal Recipe

Here is the recipe:
Soaked Oatmeal (Gluten-Free Option)
Yield: 2 servings
    Step One: Soaking
  • 1 cup organic GF Rolled Oats (not quick cook)
  • 1/4 cup walnuts (optional)
  • 1 tsp raw apple cider vinegar (or fresh-squeezed lemon juice)
  • 1 tbsp rolled rye flakes (if *GF, see note below)
  • Pinch of Celtic sea salt
  • Step Two: Cooking
  • 1 1/4 cup plain almond milk (or raw whole milk)
  • 1/3 cup your favorite dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, cherries, blueberries or a combo)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pure organic maple syrup to taste (about 1 1/2 to 2 tbsp)
    Step One: Soaking Instructions
  1. Place above ingredients into a ceramic (or glass) mixing bowl or jar. Add enough warm filtered water to completely cover the mixture by 1-2 inches. Mix well to combine.
  2. Cover the bowl and place it in a warm area of your kitchen for 12-24 hours.
  3. Step Two: Cooking Instructions
  4. Once soaking time is completed, drain oat mixture in a fine-mesh strainer and gently rinse.
  5. Add drained oat mixture to a small saucepan. Add milk and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Immediately turn down heat and add dried fruit and cinnamon. Stir frequently and continue to simmer another couple of minutes or so, until oatmeal is cooked to desired consistency.
  6. Sweeten with maple syrup to taste. Ladle into individual serving bowls and top with a splash of milk.
* For my GF Friends: If you’re gluten-free and can tolerate oats, I recommend using certified GF Rolled Oats and combining them with ground buckwheat groats (not rye) for your soak. Buckwheat is actually a fruit, not a grain, and is completely gluten-free. It's often sold as buckwheat "cereal" (because it's slightly ground).
Substitutions: If you do not have access to rolled rye flakes, you can always use rye, whole spelt or whole wheat flour for your soak.
Alternate Serving Option: Follow above recipe, except do not include dried fruit, cinnamon and maple syrup. Instead, sweeten to taste using raw honey. Then, ladle cooked oatmeal into a bowl and top with a dollop of plain whole milk yogurt and fresh seasonal berries.

I will post the results next week!

***Update 6/5/2013***

I have been making the oatmeal now since Saturday. I have been getting the process under my belt, streamlining the best I can. It does take some getting used to, if you want it for breakfast everyday. Personally, I am switching between the Go-Green Smoothie and Oatmeal in the mornings. However, my husband eats it every morning. So I need to make sure there is a cooked serving ready! When I say "cooked", that means the oats have soaked overnight and I have cooked up the oats with almond milk and cinnamon! Adam enjoys it, and has started using mixed berries as a yummy addition. Much healthier than the instant stuff! I have enough ingredients to do one more batch (2 servings), which will get us to Saturday. The next experiment will be to do one large batch on Sunday and we will reheat servings through out the week!

***Update 6/11/2013***

It worked! I made the huge batch of oatmeal that will last us through the week! So far we have been reheating our individually packed breakfasts and the consistency has been just fine! I apparently was thin handed on the cinnamon, but that is easily fixed for the individual servings (just add more to taste) and I will be sure to up the amount for the large batch come Sunday!

Food: Fit Two New Healthy Breakfasts into Menu Rotation, Smoothie

This food journey all started by wanting to substitute Elora's soy milk based breakfast smoothie with a healthier base. There have been articles cautioning that girls consuming soy milk may show signs of puberty sooner and may cause reproductive health issues later in life. I will let science and media hash this out. Until then, I wanted a safer alternative. This is where I came across kefir. Pretty exciting! Its like drinking yogurt on probiotic steroids. I researched making my own, because the process is simple when you get your hands on the "grains". In a nutshell, throw your liquid base (your choice of water, coconut milk, raw milk, etc) into a jar, throw your grains in, let it sit on the counter for about 24 hours. Voila! Kefir! Pull the grains out, throw them in another jar for another batch.

So the first question was, what base to use and where to get grains. I am choosing coconut milk. I don't have easy access to raw milk. Raw milk is still a bit controversial, so I will let that storm wane and go with a more stable source. And coconut milk is crazy good for you! Its high in saturated fatty acids and medium-chain triglycerides that are both easily burned as fuel by the body. Just avoid the canned stuff for BPA reasons and we are good to go!

Now we are onto the acquisition of grains. Threw a shout-out on Facebook to see if anyone had extra on hand...BINGO...someone does. Check that box off!

Unfortunately, time and circumstance has thwarted my plans for producing at home. Hopefully, next week I can hook up and get the grains. But I have produce and drive! I am dying to make this smoothie and see what Elora thinks! So I bought some commercial milk based kefir. Still a healthier alternative, just not AS healthy as the homespun kind. Commercial yields about 10 strains of bacteria, while the homemade stuffs comes in at an astounding 40-60 strains. But at this point, I can at least test out the smoothie recipe. I bought plain to limit the sugar content to those in the fruits.

I am using this recipe for the Go-Green Smoothie: Go Green Smoothie

The ingredients include kefir, pineapple juice, spinach, pineapple chunks, strawberries, banana, apple, kale, raw honey, flax seed, and spirulina powder.

Sounds intense for a 2 year old. But, she has enjoyed spinach, banana, berry, apple smoothies in the past. So I am optimistic! AND, if this works, it will be in my breakfast morning rotation on odd days as well!

Hopefully this weekend I will have the rest of the ingredients so I can test it out! I still have to get the spinach, pineapple chunks, and spirulina powder. I will report back and let you know how it goes!

***Update 6/5/2013***

This was a bit more of a learning curve than the oatmeal! It started with getting organic kale, since kale is on the Dirty Dozen produce listing and it going limp before I could get the remaining ingredients. So, I chopped the ends of the stems off and put the leafy ends into a cup of water. Perked right up! So did my cats' attention! They attacked my rescued kale. Also, the organic strawberries went moldy...grrr. So, off to the store to get the rest of the ingredients and new kale and new strawberries. This time, I cut up the strawberries as soon as I got home and threw them in the freezer!

The recipe has far more ingredients than I am used to putting into a smoothie. The process definitely took longer in the morning than I am used to when I am concocting on the fly. But, I have to say it was definitely worth it! The first morning I made it and Elora was delighted with the taste! Drank it all! The next day, I got smart! I cut up all the fruit the evening before, threw it all in the blender and put the blender in the fridge. All I had to do was add the pineapple juice and kefir the next morning. I pulled the blender out of the fridge and Elora said "Wow! Cool!". I don't have any more strawberries left or apples, so the next few smoothies I will wing. But when I get my next set of ingredients, I will make portion packs of cut-up fruit and have them in the freezer ready to go!