Posts Tagged ‘spring’

Fresh Start

I’ve been thinking about fresh starts a lot lately. The snow has finally melted, and I believe spring might actually be right around the corner; a new season, a fresh start.

Because my brain tends to work in a food-centric way, all this talk of fresh starts leads me to ponder breakfast. Now that’s a start that (when it happens) is often anything but fresh. Sugary cereals or packaged bars, inhaled while running out to door, breakfast seems to be a meal we have trouble prioritizing.

But it’s our daily start. Shouldn’t it be fresh?

Sitting with loved ones for a hearty, healthful meal at the beginning of each day is something more likely seen on TV than at many of our own kitchen tables, but I wonder if there is an option somewhere between that, and a bagel in one hand and a steering wheel in the other. Maybe there’s a simpler way to do breakfast that doesn’t give up its freshness factor.

  • Frozen berries, orange juice, and bananas pureed together can be four breakfasts in one blender. Toss in slivered almonds and flax seeds and you’ve got fiber, protein, and omega 3’s mixed in with all those vitamins.
  • Hard boiled eggs can be simmered and shelled on Monday for the whole week. Pair with multigrain toast and an apple and you’re out the door and off to a solid start.
  • Steel-cut oats can soak while your sleep, and be ready when you wake. Make a big pot of any kind of oatmeal, flavor with maple syrup or raw sugar, add pecans and serve with orange slices and there you go: whole grains to fuel your brain from your first project until lunch. Bonus tip: make one big pot on Sunday and portion it into 8 oz. jars for grab and go breakfast all week.

These options might take more time than just coffee to go, but those few extra minutes buy a nutrient-rich beginning for all the other minutes in the morning (plus the cost savings of buying whole foods instead of individually portioned, highly processed items). Every morning is a new opportunity for a fresh start.

Now here’s a really crazy idea: what if our first meal of the day wasn’t an afterthought, but an intentional time to remember how blessed we are to be able to break our nightly fast? It’s miraculous that God provides our juice and cereal alongside mercies new every morning and a love that endures our frantic starts. Maybe it’s silly that a small meal at the dawn of a new day could be a reminder of something sacred, but maybe that’s all we need to fuel our hearts and minds—at least until lunch.

When you can take your time with breakfast, this is a great way to use up oatmeal leftover from the week. Serve with poached eggs and fresh fruit for a delicious and balanced beginning.

Nutty Oat Pancakes

Beat one large egg.
Stir in 1 cup of cooked oatmeal, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, and ½ cup of milk.
Add 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1/3 cup pecan pieces, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 3 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon salt. Stir until just mixed.
Heat a lightly greased skillet over medium high heat.
Use a quarter cup measure to spoon batter into pan, three at a time. Cook until golden brown and bubbles begin to form, then flip, about 90 seconds each side.
Top with maple syrup, more nuts, and/or fresh berries.
Makes 12 pancakes.

This article was originally published in the April, 2014 issue of Messenger magazine.


May: Asparagus Barley “Risotto”

About a year ago I decided to start eating as locally as possible. I stopped buying bananas, I started buying apples from Washington (not Chile), and I haven’t eaten asparagus in something like 300 days.

But the time has come, my friends, for those precious little shoots of purple/green goodness to come up out of their miry depths to greet the sun–and my mouth–with pride. Asparagus is such a proud vegetable, isn’t it? So straight and tall, never caught without a crown, keeping watch over the rest of the garden… Inspiring, to be sure.

So I’ve been eating as much asparagus as I can get my hands on: roasting it, steaming it, blanching it, boiling it, shaving it, chopping it, and folding it into this delicious barley risotto dish when I couldn’t think of anything else to do.

I lightly sautéed one leek in a tablespoon of olive oil and removed it from the pan before starting the risotto. Cooked the barley using  a vegetable stock that I make and keep on hand, ladling it into the pan as the grains drank it up. Was generous with the salt and pepper and fresh thyme, added a squeeze of lemon, pressed in a clove of garlic, and folded in some homemade ricotta . I chopped eight stalks of asparagus and blanched them so they were crisp and tender right before tossing into the risotto, and then poached a couple of eggs in the leftover green water. Topped the whole thing with fresh ground pepper and chopped scallions–and there you go!

So simple, so hearty, so asparagussy…

So I’ve learned my lesson: to keep myself from deprivation when asparagus season concludes in a few weeks, I have taken to buying extra bunches from my farmers market to fill up my freezer–and I would like to experiment with pickling spears in the near future.

But for now, long live these steady watchmen! May they always rule in my kitchen (in May, at least).