after nearly an entire year of eating the same thing for breakfast every weekday morning, i'm switching it up! don't worry, i haven't gone all eggs and bacon on you. in fact, to the naked eye, these changes won't seem like much at all. but look little closer, and you'll see that these changes are indeed significant: oatmeal and quinoa porridge replaced the granola, muffins replaced the toast, coffee replaced tea. the old yogurt and granola routine was good, but the deep winter calls for more substantial, fortifying fare.
the porridge is a really rad technique that i learned from the candle cafe cookbook. basically, before you go to bed one night, measure out a cup each of irish steel cut oats and quinoa. put them in a pot and cover with water and add a pinch of salt. let them soak all night while you're dreaming of intergalactic adventures, and in the morning, turn the heat on while you're preparing your lunch for the day. once it comes to a boil, bring it back down to a simmer, stirring occasionally with a spatula. you might need to add some more liquid - stirring in some soy or almond milk instead of water really lends a rich, silky quality to the porridge. coconut milk would be truly luxurious. after about 15 minutes of simmering, it should be ready! scoop some in a bowl, top with yogurt, chopped nuts and fruits, and a drizzle of agave nectar or a little scoop of brown sugar.
i used to think that steel cut oats took, like, an hour to cook, but the overnight soak shaves off well over half the time. it's really worth it to think just a little bit ahead and treat your body to the higher protein experience of steel cut oats. they beat the nutritional pants off their rolled or quick-cooking counterparts. i think they taste a lot better, too. if you do start with a whole cup of each grain, you'll have lots of leftovers, which makes the next few day's worth of breakfasts a snap!
the tea-to-coffee upgrade has come courtesy of my favorite new little kitchen gadget: a manual one-cup coffee maker, which is about as awesomely low-technology as it gets. sure, the plastic kind (as shown above) is not as sexy as the porcelain type i've been seeing around, but it cost $2 and gets the job done. some people claim that the one-cup drip method develops the deepest, best flavor, better even than the beloved french press, but i haven't noticed any huge improvement. it's just fast and easy, as all things in the morning should be, takes one second to clean, and always makes me feel like a cool bachelor.
finally, the muffins - which are probably the healthiest thing i've ever baked EVER - come from a vegan cookbook i checked out of the library, ripe from around here, by jae steele. the book, while a tad on the hippie dippy side for my taste, is pretty solid. the author, a cute canadian who also maintains a food/health & wellness blog, is very interested in eating locally and sustainably, tailoring diet toward the season, avoiding refined foods and animal products...you know, all that vegan stuff. she manages to do this mostly without seeming preachy or dogmatic, though she almost lost me in the segment where she suggests giving up bananas because of their politically fraught past and the carbon footprint they create. are you rolling your eyes a little bit, too?
anyway, the cookbook includes some old standards (stir fries, pancakes, etc.) and some more interesting stuff, too (homemade oat milk, creamy kale soup, blueberry lavender ice cream). these muffins really caught my eye because they just looks so insanely healthy and simple. carrots, raisins, dates and seeds make these like a complete meal unto themselves. indeed, every morning when i eat one, i feel the vitamins and minerals coursing through me!
Morning Glory Muffins
adapted from "ripe from around here" by jae steele
~makes 12-18 muffins~
~takes about 50 minutes, including baking time~
2 cups spelt flour (i actually didn't cheat and use all purpose, but it'd be fine if you did)
1/4 rolled oats
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 & 1/2 cups grated carrots (the grating attachment on the food processor is a real hero, here)
3/4 cups raisins or currants
1/3 cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds
1 cup packed, chopped and pitted dates, soaked in very hot water for at least 20 minutes
1/2 cup safflower oil
1 cup apple cider (or apple or orange juice - or all three!)
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- preheat the oven to 375F and prepare a muffin tin with liners.
- boil water to pour over the dates. let them soak while you're getting everything else together.
- stir together the flour, oats, baking soda and powder, spices and salt in a large bowl. add the carrots, currants and seeds, and stir it up, making sure all the little bits get coated in flour.
- put the softened dates and the water they soaked in in a food processor and blend until smooth. while it's running, slowly pour in the oil, and then the apple cider or orange juice.
- scrape this mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. add the vinegar and stir just a bit more to make sure all the flour is absorbed. overmixing can make the muffins too tough!
- pour the batter into the muffin tin. she claims that this makes 12 muffins, but i ended up with enough batter to make 18. maybe i didn't fill the tins up enough? anyway, it all worked out in the end.
- bake for 22-25 minutes, til a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. let them cool for a few minutes in the pans, then move to a cooling rack.
- her recipe says they only keep for 2 days unless refrigerated, but i've been chipping away at the batch i made for at least a week, and after a few minutes in the toaster they're almost good as new.