Spaghetti for Breakfast

Spaghetti Squash, that is. In recent months I have made a point of eating a regular breakfast. So, I am always looking for ways to make the morning meal sustaining, tasty, and occasionally–novel. This is a simple meal and a good one for Autumn.

Slice a spaghetti squash in half
Steam or roast. I steamed it for about 20 minutes in a large pot. It should be tender, and break into a noodle-like texture when you cut it open.
This time I added a spoonful of ghee, a handful of gogi berries, lots of cinnamon, some fennel and turmeric powder, and honey. Mush it up with a spoon and enjoy. You can give the other half to someone else or save it and spice it savory for lunch.

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Cooking with the Seasons

Seasonal produce offers a natural menu guide. It is a lot easier to decide what to eat when we stick to what’s fresh, local and seasonal. Not only will our produce be more flavorful and of better quality, but eating this way will also keep our bodies in sync with the changing season. As summer wanes and fall makes an entry, it’s a great time to experiment with squashes and root vegetables. Also, you can still make the most of the figs and stone fruit that are available fresh from local growers.

A pan seared peach salad is a great way to enjoy the final notes of summer. Slice a large peach and grill it or pan sear it with olive oil and fresh thyme. Add a little salt or sweet soy sauce and cook til the peach is browned on the outside. Eat it over a bed of arugula. Add olive oil, fresh dill, a squeezed lemon slice, and either goat cheese or avocado. Great with pea shoots or mung bean sprouts.

Late summer/early fall is also an excellent time to make use of the variety of squash that can be found at your local market. I have been enjoying collard wraps as a warm yet relatively light dinner. Steam whole collard greens in a large pot. In a skillet, add a rounded tablespoon of ghee or coconut oil. Add spices:

cinnamon sticks

cumin seeds

coriander

fresh grated turmeric

fresh grated ginger

caraway seeds

sea salt to taste

optional: a tiny dash of hing/asafoetida

Allow the spices to cook into the oil for a few minutes. Be sure to turn the heat down before the oil smokes! Add cubed summer squash (I usually pick up a variety. Two small summer squash will go a long way and can usually feed two people). Add 1/4 cup of mung bean sprouts. Sautee squash, sprouts, and spices for ten minutes, until squash softens. Now you have a tasty filling to wrap up in those steamed collards. Great with a slice of fresh avocado and a little mango chutney. You can also spread some nut butter on the collards before doing the wrap for a little more hearty creaminess.

Seed Boats

I have recently rekindled my affections for the versatile and nutritious seed called Amaranth. It is high in usable protein, fiber, and contains a plethora of vital minerals and nutrients. It is great as a breakfast pudding and can also be prepared savory style with vegetables. These Amaranth Romaine boats are a refreshing way to prepare this delightful seed. Satisfying yet not too filling.

In a small pot cook one cup of dried Amaranth in three cups of water. Simmer on low for about 20 minutes. Add a small handful of raw pumpkin seeds during the last 5 minutes of simmering.

In a separate skillet fry up your veggies in a base of ghee or safflower oil (or any oil that can stand up to high heat). I used two small seasonal squashes and some fresh chopped fennel. I also threw in some cubed tofu. Spice and season with ground cumin, cumin seeds, paprika, black pepper, a tiny pinch of hing and a dash of cinnamon. A splash of lemon juice and a splash of apple cider vinegar go well. Cook until squash softens and the lemon juice and vinegar more or less evaporate. Add fresh chopped basil and cilantro.
Let all ingredients cool.

Combine Amaranth and veggie/tofu mixture. Use as a filling inside crispy Hearts of Romaine. Eat it like a boat or fold it up like a lettuce wrap. Goes nicely with a little Sriracha and sauerkraut. I could also see this with a tamarind or cilantro chutney.

idea: try replacing the tofu with paneer and adding a little okra with the squash.

This makes for a very packable picnic lunch!

Simplicity and One Pot Wonders

As those closest to me know, I have recently embarked upon my formal studies in Ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine). One of the byproducts of this experience is that I am becoming increasing aware of my daily habits and choices and the consequences that follow. Rarely short on ideas and never bored, the vayus (energetic winds) have a way of whipping me into a whirlwind causing fragmentation and overwhelm. Then my Pitta (the discerning fiery side) comes in and starts with the self-judgement. What to do? What to do? Starting off with a little self compassion and acceptance is good–practicing patience with my own nature and accepting that the chaos is a fact of life. On the flip side the fire in me that wants to blaze through and make sense of it all has its function too. It’s just the nature of things.

It’s just the nature of things, and yet the need to find some grounding and to come back to nature is a healthy urge. Taking time out to breathe, do my yoga practice, unplug, or take a walk is always helpful. Finding ways to ground and simplify is comforting and necessary. Ayurveda teaches us that healing starts in the kitchen so I can work from there. Preparing meals that are wholesome and simple helps to ground and nourish us, and can also make for one less thing to think about, thus preserving some our decision-making powers for more complex arenas of life. Of course I love creating and trying new things, but there is great wisdom in simplicity.

This morning I prepared a big pot of kitchiri which will serve as breakfast, lunch, and dinner today. And then I’ll eat more kitchiri tomorrow. This may seem a little dull in the land of plenty, but really it’s quite liberating! Here’s my simple recipe. You can use mine or make your own!

1 cup mung beans

1 cup raw oats

2/3 head red cabbage

1/2 head kale

1 sweet potato

fresh grated ginger

Chop, rinse, and combine all ingredients in a big pot. Cover with purified water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 45 minutes. You want a mixture that is mushy and soft. Season with coriander, turmeric, cumin, and a dash of sea salt. Optionally add olive or coconut oil. Makes a great breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

Sweet Potato Quinoa Griddle Cakes

I credit this menu and basic recipe to Randy Loftis. However, I admit I added a little spice!

Sweet Potato Quinoa Griddle Cakes
3 medium sweet potatoes
1/4 cup dry quinoa
4 oz. mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil

Steam the three sweet potatoes. Cook the quinoa. Combine in a large bowl with oils and cheese. Add cumin, lots of paprika, Himalayan sea salt, black pepper, and turmeric. Combine all ingredients until mixture is soft and even. Form into small patties and fry in ghee!

Delicious with sauteed spinach and roasted brussel sprouts. Goes well with mascarpone cheese and pineapple salsa on top!