Saturday, March 28, 2009

Breakfast and Beyond: Spiced Hot Chocolate, Grawnola, and Buckwheaties

Grrrrr-awnola and Buckwheaties: Crunchy goodness in a jar.

Breakfast rocks! There's something so lovely about waking up, with a whole new day stretching before me, and thinking to myself, "What would I like to start my day with today?" The answer depends both on what's on hand and my appetite. I always start with a nice big glass of water, and then I usually squeeze myself a fresh fruit or vegetable juice. From there, the possibilities are endless.

Having been out for a rather filling dinner recently, I woke up the next morning feeling not terribly hungry but in need of a little kick where it counts. So I had the brilliant idea of making myself a nice spicy hot chocolate, full of eye-popping, mind-motiving, body-driving goodness. The recipe is simple and just begs for variations. I poured oat milk (any sort of milk will do - a nice creamy nut milk like almond or brazil nut would synergize gorgeously) into a small pot, and added a heaped tablespoon of cacao powder and agave to taste. Then, I went spice crazy! Like a good American, I adore lots of cinnamon, and I also added a bit of nutmeg, cardamom, and a whopping pinch of cayenne. I heated it slowly over a low flame, removing it as soon as it felt hot to the touch. This drink really gets me going like nothing else. After having it for breakfast, I felt super creative and energized. Powerful stuff. And, it's all warm and chocolatey!

"I'm spicy and chocolatey and I'll kick you in the pants!"

A little later on, I thought I ought to have something a bit more substantial in my tummy before heading off to work. Grawnola! Again, the American in me just loves a bowl of cereal with fruit and milk, and my raw version is just so much better than any commercial breakfast cereal I've ever tasted. The process is simple, though it does take some planning in advance. I soaked a big bowl of buckwheat overnight, as well as a small bowl of almonds and a small bowl of sunflower and pumpkin seeds. In the morning I rinsed and drained all of these and mixed them in a big bowl with the proverbial two scoops of raisins, a handful of chopped dried apricots, a handful of goji berries, some agave, cinnamon and grounds cloves. Then onto dehydrator sheets for a full 24-hours of dehydration. The next morning my kitchen smelled like cinnamon and my grawnola was crunchy and warmmmmmm! Into a bowl with some oat milk and sliced banana.

My yummy breakfast bowl, with some orange-beetroot juice.

I'll let you in on a little secret while I'm on the subject: buckwheat is amazing. When you're soaking some for your grawnola, soak double the amount you need and dehydrate it separately - just plain - on dehydrator sheets. In less than 24 hours it comes out dry and crunchy, and it goes well on anything. I am a big fan of the crunchy-creamy combo, so my favorite thing is to stir it into some banana ice cream - frozen bananas, pulsed in the food processor with a little almond milk. I made an amazing version the other night, into which I stirred not only buckwheaties but also some carob candies (made by stirring together carob powder, agave and a little coconut oil) and a little ribbon of agave. It totally tasted like something from a Ben & Jerry's carton, but it was all raw and nutritious. You can use buckwheaties in a million other ways, so trust me, just make it and do with it what you will.

Somehow this post has gone from breakfast to ice cream. Am I suggesting ice cream for breakfast? Hey, that's up to you. Just be creative and have fun with it, and let each day be an exciting adventure, culinary and otherwise. We all need a reason to bound out of bed in the morning!


Spiced Hot Chocolate

1 cup milk of your choice
1 heaped Tbsp raw cacao powder or ground nibs
2 tsp agave (or to taste)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
large pinch nutmeg
large pinch cardamom
large pinch cayenne
small pinch Himalayan salt
1 cinnamon stick (for garnish)

Combine all ingredients except cinnamon stick in a small pot. Heat slowly over a low flame, stirring constantly, until the drink is hot to the touch (but not boiling!). Remove from flame and pour into a nice big mug. Garnish with cinnamon stick.

Variations: Vary the spices to suit your taste. Other options include clove, star anise, allspice, ginger, black pepper. If you're sensitive to cacao, replace half of it with carob powder and use half the amount of agave.

Jess's Grawnola

3 cups buckwheat, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup almonds, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
1 cup sultanas or raisins
1/2 cup goji berries
1/2 cup dried apricots, cut into quarters
Juice of 1/2 an orange
1/2 cup agave or raw honey
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp Himalayan salt

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Spread over dehydrator trays and dehydrate at 40 degrees C (115 F) for 24 hours. Store in glass jars or airtight containers. Eat for breakfast with milk of your choice and fresh fruit, or on its own as a snack.

Variations: Try using other dried fruit, nuts and seeds - whatever you like best, or whatever is in the cupboard. Cacao nibs are also a great addition if you want a little extra boost. Vary the spices to suit your taste, and try using other fruit juices instead of orange. Vanilla or almond extract would be lovely too. Let me know what you come up with!


Place buckwheat in a bowl or jar. Cover with filtered water - the water should be about 1 inch higher than the buckwheat as it expands a bit as it absorbs the water. Soak overnight. In the morning, drain and rinse the buckwheat. Dehydrate at 40 degrees C (115 F) for 24 hours. Store in jars or airtight containers.

Eat it as a breakfast cereal, stir into raw ice creams, mix with a basic raw chocolate recipe for raw nestle crunch, grind in spice mill into flour for raw breads and pizza bases - do with it what you will! Feel free to post your buckwheatie creations here.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Recipe Directory

Drinks and Smoothies
Caramel Green Smoothie
Jayson's Favorite Fruity Brekkie Smoothie
Oreo Milkshake
Spiced Hot Chocolate
Ultimate Get-Me-Through-Dinner Shift Chocolaty Smoothie
Vanilla Pear Smoothie

Snacks and Sides

Beetroot Dip
Carrot-Butternut Soup
Creamy Capsicum and Sunflower Dip
Emerald and Ruby Grawnola
Mushroom Dip
Rocket Pesto
Savory Green Smoothie Soup
Sweet & Savory Pumpkin, Onion and Coriander Bread
Tamarillo and Pear Salsa
Tamarillo Chutney

Salads and Dressings
Light, Bright Celeriac Remoulade

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

On Process, Nourishment, and an Awesome New Website

There are as many ways of eating raw as there are raw foodists, and I'm not here to praise or condemn any particular diet. I think that each of us has a unique body and mind, and our individual dietary goals should be to connect these two aspects of our being in order to eat in a way that nourishes both. Which begs the question - what nourishes you? Lately I've realized that for me, nourishment means so much more than the nutritional content of the food I eat.

My personal journey through raw has only been a year and half long so far, and I still feel like a beginner at times. As I explore this lifestyle - and I say lifestyle, not diet, because going raw (or even going vegan, for that matter) changes you in so many ways beyond what you eat - I find my culinary inclinations changing. At first I began by adding lots of whole fresh fruit into my diet. Then I added more salads, and experimented with green smoothies. It didn't take long for me to discover the wealth of raw recipe books and internet sites. I'd always loved gourmet cooking, so why not gourmet un-cooking?

My pasta maker was replaced with a mandoline, my toaster with a blender, and my espresso machine with a juicer. The food processor came out of storage and has gotten a steady daily workout every since. My coffee grinder became a flax seed mill, and also made perfect small quantities of dressing and desserts. It's funny how quickly these new techniques became automatic to me. I soon developed a repertoire of standbys, and making zucchini pasta or lettuce tacos became a more natural instinct than poaching an egg.

A year and a half later, and I'm still un-cooking. As I delve deeper into my raw journey, I find myself craving simple foods more and more. Whole fresh fruit, salads, juices - I could almost live on these alone.

Yet I still feel an urge to create gourmet raw dishes, and I suspect this desire comes more from the satisfaction I gain through the creative process than from the pleasure of eating the end result. Don't get me wrong - I love tasting a new dish - but ultimately my goal in the kitchen is to enjoy the process.

So lately I've spent my garden and kitchen time ruminating on the theme of the spiritual nourishment that one gains through food preparation. As a result, I've written a piece entitled "Mindfulness and Food," which can be found on the amazing new website Go ahead and have a read, and when you're done explore some of the other fantastic articles covering topics such as choosing a juicer, hydration (and dehydration!), and dining out at non-raw restaurants. The site is a wealth of information and ideas relevant to the raw food world, with the goal of empowering its readers through knowledge. Pretty amazing!

So whatever foods you choose, remember: this is your journey, and yours alone. Slow down, enjoy the process, and let yourself be nourished.
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