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I love “traditional” granola, but I don’t love that it has to be super high in sugar and fat in order to clump and get crunchy. (Go ahead – read the label of your favourite boxed granola.) So I was thrilled when I discovered raw granolas, which are typically based around buckwheat and clump due to their time in the dehydrator.

Buckwheat, despite its name (and here I feel like I’m repeating a million other articles, sorry if you know this already) isn’t related to wheat and isn’t technically a grain at all – it’s a seed. (Although I have to say, I’m no biologist, but the line between grain and seed seems odd. I mean, you can plant both of them to get another plant.) In any case, it’s gluten free so safe for those with celiac or other gluten-related problems, and it’s very nutritious and high in protein. Toasted whole buckwheat is common in Eastern Europe but the buckwheat we’re talking about today is untoasted. You can tell them apart in the store by their colour – toasted buckwheat is a lot darker.

Your basic raw granola recipe involved soaking buckwheat overnight and then rinsing well (it gets a slimy texture naturally – don’t worry about this, just rinse it off) and combining with other ingredients, including a liquid sweetener, so that a sticky almost-dough (which will be crumbly) is created. Then it’s dehydrated until dry and crunchy.

This time, I reproduced a recipe from Live – if you live in Toronto, you might have seen their packaged granolas for sale at places like Fiesta Farms and The Big Carrot. I recently downloaded their recipe e-book so I could make things like this and save a bit of money. (Although fairly priced due to quality ingredients and a lot of effort, packaged raw foods aren’t cheap.) It’s a chocolate granola (yum!) with tons of raw cacao powder and cinnamon, dried (but soaked before using) apricots and cherries (my sub for their raisins) and pecans (my sub for their walnuts). As a sweetener I used maple syrup.

Ready to dehydrate:

And ready to eat! I serve with homemade hemp milk.

Now I’m ready for the week month.

Sweet potato juice!

I had never even considered juicing sweet potatoes, until Doug McNish suggested it to me. Lo and behold there’s a recipe in my Breville juicer booklet for a sweet potato/orange/celery/ginger blend. Lacking oranges, I went with sweet potato/celery/pineapple, which was not bad at all.

The sweet potato juice is very pretty and a little bit tangy, with a slightly starchy taste. On its own I didn’t love the texture (reminded me of bubble tea) but it blended really well with the pineapple. (Photos are all of straight sweet potato.) My taters were purchased at the Green Barn Market from… well, the sweet potato stall (can’t recall the farm’s name).

Just started my lunch and snapped a photo to share. It’s a meal I’ve been enjoying all week and (with a bit of prep work) it’s super easy.

I got two acorn squash in my organics box last week so on Sunday, I cut them in half and roasted them in the oven until tender. I also washed, tore and spun dry a bunch of black kale to keep in the fridge all week. Kale keeps well without dressing – I will often just put the whole salad spinner in the fridge as I find greens keep well in it, but sometimes I’ll transfer to a reused plastic container that I’d bought greens in from the store. Also make sure you have on hand some goat cheese and some nuts or seeds to sprinkle – I used a blend of hemp and chia but I could see using squash/pumpkinseeds, pecans or walnuts as well.

The morning of (or the night before, which is less ideal), make your kale salad for that day. Put the leaves in a bowl and drizzle over it some oil (I used hemp), the juice of half a lemon and a bit of maple syrup or honey. Then massage the kale until the dressing coats it and it wilts a little bit. To measure, I stuff the kale leaves into the container I intend to use before I put them into the bowl. Then I know they’ll fit.

Bring to work your salad, half a squash (or more if you can store in a fridge at work during the week), the goat cheese and the seeds/nuts. Then, at lunchtime, just microwave or heat your squash for a minute or so, mash on some goat cheese and sprinkle with seeds, then serve with salad on the side.

This is a light lunch so I’ve been finishing with a dessert of yogurt. This week I’m eating maple sheep’s yogurt from Ewenity, but Greek yogurt is also a good choice as it’s high in protein so very filling.

Enjoy!

I’m only a level-two juicer

I’m out of oranges and the bf is allergic to fresh apples, so I made a veg-only juice this evening. Wow, it is intense. Beet-carrot-celery-ginger, and I should have made it more carrot-heavy than I did.

I’m not new to vegetable juice, but I’ve always had it blended with fruit to sweeten and lighten the taste. This – this is hard to get down, to be honest. Which makes me feel like a wimp. But if I go back to my university years and frequent visits to Victoria’s Rebar (which, come to think of it, I’m still paying for…), I never even liked the vegetable blends – I would always choose pure fruit juices.

So am I getting tougher? How long does it take to get used to a heavy beet juice?

Roasted squash seeds

I got a couple of acorn squash in my Plan B box this week, and I decided to roast them tonight so they’d be ready when I needed some dinner. (Squash takes too long for a quick weeknight meal.) After scraping out the seeds, I contemplated putting them straight in the green bin, then felt guilty for wasting food. So I roasted them.

The process is pretty easy, it’s just important to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. First, put all the pulp in a bowl of water and swish it, and remove all the flesh so you’re left with just seeds. I’m not overly fastidious about this, so mine are still a bit slimy. Then drain the water, or transfer the seeds to another bowl, and toss with some oil and salt to taste. Quantities really depend on how many seeds you have, but be careful – it’s easy to make them too salty. Spread on a baking sheet and put in a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes to start. Then take them out and stir, and keep putting in for a few minutes at a time until they’re crunchy and getting brown but not overcooked. Wait to serve long enough that you don’t burn your mouth.

San Francisco

Just back from a whirlwind weekend in San Francisco for Nike Women’s Marathon (I did the half). Running aside, my real goal was to eat well.

The biggest mind shift? Realizing that the California produce is local. And oh, what they can count as local.

The Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market was fantastic, not just for its produce but for eating. I could spend days there without having to leave.

The fresh produce was excellent, and vendors kept plying us with snack-size bites of fruit.

And the dried fruit and nuts… I ate a scary amount of dried fruit this weekend. Plums, peaches, cherries… all super soft and so, so flavourful.

I had a few too many pastries, and coffee. (Check out the awesome personal-drip system they’ve got going on.)

Basically, the market was endless. We were full before we realized we should have made some more calculated eating decisions.

We also had some great restaurant meals. Brunch at Spork was a hit – those are the veggie Mission Eggs, which almost satisfied me post-race.

And on one of our walks, we spotted a lime tree. Oh, California.

 

Beet-apple-ginger juice

Yum! Four beets, four apples and a hunk of ginger.