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I love making Sunday breakfast. It used to be, every Sunday I would roast potatoes, fry bacon, toast bread and sometimes cook eggs. (Usually I made a quick chipole and kale bean dish, in place of eggs.) It was a Tradition I was excited to wake up to and it always kicked off the day on the right foot.

However, as I got older, this menu started to feel more like a heavy, fat-ish way to begin a day and it kind of stopped working for me. So my Sunday breakfasts started to become somewhat of an intermittent practice, in spite of missing it like crazy. Lately, I have begun to cook on these mornings again.

Although the ingredients are different, the general theme remains the same. Simply I want something roasted, I want variety and I want sauce. Those three, make my Sunday.

This morning I did just that. I chopped and roasted garlic, squash and potatoes with smoked paprika and sea salt in my favourite cast iron pan (400 degrees for 35 mins). And in another, I gently heated chopped firm tofu with lemon juice, and added with garlic, leeks, and gai lan. I didn’t really cook the tofu dish, but rather just warmed it up. To the tofu dish, I added raw shredded purple carrot and then topped it off with scissor-chopped broad bean. Tahini sauce was poured over everything and breakfast was accomplished. Ahh, so nice to be back in the routine.

Tahini Sauce:

1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
1/3 cup tahini
2 tbsp maple syrup or honey
1/4 cup water
1 chopped garlic clove
optional: 1 tbsp chopped onion

Blend.

DO NOT SLEEP ON THIS ONE!  Holy macaroni, this cake is something to write home about!  And I’m not just saying that…

Okay, this evening I watched Jamie Oliver’s TED award speech and then I got all inspired, and then I remembered that I have a field of fallen apples outside… and then I thought about how much I’ve been craving bread lately… and then, and then….  and then, I just had to bake an apple cake.

I have a nice, standby recipe for apple cake that is fool-proof and handy, but you know I wasn’t feeling it.  It is a great cake to show up at someone’s house with, but it’s not the kind of cake that you want for the rest of the week.  It’s sweet and desirable, but it’s best fresh and shared.  You know how some recipes are like that?  Anyway, I decided to browse through my September Canadian Living Magazine and found a section called “Loaves, Cakes and Muffins in a Jiffy“.  I flipped through a couple of pages and finally halted on a cranberry seed muffin recipe (sorry I can’t link, because I can’t find it on the web).  I will say straight up that I am not very skilled with muffins.  I don’t know why, but I have the worst results with them.  However, there is no law against converting a muffin recipe and into a cast-iron cake instead.  Which is precisely what I did.

Using my amazing recipe modifying skills I managed to convert this recipe into a fantastic apple cake.  I did such a good job in fact, the recipe is now only a distant cousin to the original (modifications sometimes lead to transformations, not always, but sometimes… like this time).  Not to blow my own horn or anything, but this recipe is soooo easy and brainless, yet the taste of it is rich, spicy and sweet.  I swear, I ain’t lying.

Hot Damn Apple Cake

Preheat oven to 350

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 1/2 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda and salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp molasses
2 eggs
1 1/3 cup almond milk
1/2 cup oil or melted butter

Topping:
2 cups sliced apples
3 tbsp melted butter
3 tbsp maple syrup
2 chunks of dark chocolate finely cut

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, oatmeal, baking power and soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Mix in seeds and nuts.  In a separate bowl, whisk sugar, molasses, eggs, and oil. Combine the two mixtures until combined. Pour into a greased iron cast frying pan or favourite baking dish. Place sliced apples on top, pour over butter and maple syrup mixture and sprinkle with dark chocolate. Bake for ~ 50 minutes.

Welcome to apple season!

PS 1: I make my own brown sugar by mixing together molasses and white sugar (~1 cup to 2 to 3 tbsp of molasses), and that is what I have done here.  If you don’t have molasses, add 1/2 white and 1/2 brown sugar to this recipe (for the 1 cup sugar).  Then on your next shopping trip, buy molasses and make your own brown sugar from now on.  You won’t be disappointed and it’s enhanced flavour will be noticed.

PS 2: If you wanted to make this a diabetic cake, replace the sugar with Splenda, but use only about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup, because Splenda is sweeter.  You could still add a tbsp or two of molasses, but check-in with the person you are making this for, to see if that’s okay.

PS 3: I don’t stock milk in my house, so I used almond milk.  Regular milk is fine, as I’m sure soy milk would also suffice.

PS 4: It doesn’t really matter what kinds of seeds and nuts you use.  I happen to have a huge bag of pecans, so I used them.  I probably wouldn’t use sesame seeds, but that’s just me.  Sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds, which ever would all be very good.

PS 5: When I make this again, I think I will use apple sauce instead of oil, as it would be a perfect fit for this recipe.

Okay, in all my years of cooking and reading about cooking, I have never ever heard of baked oatmeal.  Have you?  My goodness, what a delicious meal to keep secret!  And oh so versatile too!

Breakfast has always been a bit tricky for me (I know I’ve mentioned this before and will likely bring it up again), but like everyone I need to eat breakfast everyday.  I do what I have to and often end up resorting to nutritious shakes.  I love shakes, I do, but after a while, I just can’t drink another shake (those of you who have had them regularly know what I’m talking about).  I can drink meal replacement shakes every morning… I’m over it.

I came across this recipe via a cool blog called The Nourished Kitchen and then of course I cut the recipe in half and changed a lot of the ingredients.  I modified it, so to speak, to suit my tastes and stocked (unstocked?) cupboards.

Here is what I did:

(1) Cut the recipe in half, so that means 1.5 cups of oatmeal and 1/2 cup of pecans (I don’t have walnuts) and so on.

(2) I didn’t add apricots or coconut oil, because I stock neither.

(3) I added 2 mashed bananas.  (YUM!)

(4) I used rice milk instead of regular milk.  (I never buy milk.)

The results… TOTALLY AWESOME!

As you can see, I bake a lot in my cast iron frying pan.  I love the rustic look and the fact you get more iron out of your meal when you use it.  As well, it’s a great size for me.   This recipe cooks very well in a cast iron and I recommend it if you have one.  If not, don’t worry about it too much.

This recipe makes enough baked oatmeal to last me all week.  It keeps wonderfully in the fridge and can handle being dragged around all day in my purse.  I snack on it throughout the morning and sometimes grab a piece for an afternoon snack.  You can see by the list of ingredients that it’s healthy, low in fat, high in fiber and high in protein.  Actually, I’m not sure if there is anything wrong with baked oatmeal.  I’m serious.

It’s no secret that I’m not the biggest fan of eggs, but this morning I had a real hankering for an omelette.  Rather than try to resist it (or whatever) I decided to make one.  And I decided that my leftovers from dinner last night ought to be the main ingredient.

Every Sunday I have a local, organic vegetable box delivered to my doorstep (who doesn’t like that??) and I receive such things as Swiss chard, turnips, carrots, diakon, garlic snapes, onions, green and purple beans, peas, mustard greens, cilantro, beets, and the like.  To my panic, yesterday I realized that due to my time-away-from-home this week (I was teaching an Aboriginal Science Camp in Victoria), I had A LOT of vegetables stacking up in my fridge.  Now not wanting to waste them, but full-on knowing that a storage bin of new ones were arriving the next morning, I thought I had better get on it.  So for lunch I had a monster salad (BORBORYGMUS!) and for dinner I baked chicken thighs, turnip, garlic, carrot, green beans, onion and tomatoes  (after baking, I added chopped Swiss chard, arugula and feta cheese).

Typically for breakfast I usually have some kind of shake.  Lately, I have been having blueberry, banana and oatmeal shakes (I soak the oatmeal overnight or for awhile in the morning), but today I felt like eating food, I could chew.  It seems that before 10 am I have a hard time “eating” breakfast.  I’m not sure why, but the idea and act makes me gaggy and then breakfast usually ends up being skipped.  Not cool.  However today, being Sunday and all, and considering I wasn’t up until later in the morning (Glee’na woke me up actually), and after a couple of hours busy-doing-nothing on the internet,  I thought it’s time to eat.

I’ll admit right now, I’m not very skilled at cooking omelettes, but you know what?…that’s not the point.  Also, you can see in my picture that the frying pan I chose is too big, but that’s not the point either.  There are some many set-backs that we can have in our kitchens (like “I don’t have the right tools”, “I don’t know how to make it”, “I can’t cook”…)  and really, all that negative thinking only holds you back from your experience as your own chef.  So what if I can’t cook eggs or haven’t bothered to buy for a fancy lox and caper omelette preparation?  Who cares?  You just gotta do it and experiment.  I mean, you know what you like to eat right?  Rigggghhht? (If you don’t, then that’s something to think about.)  The point is, most of us we know what we like to eat, what tastes we enjoy, what textures we fancy and what foods are available to us.  Cooking is in our blood and CLICK-ETY-CLACK!, get in the kitchen and show yourself what you’re made of.

As it turns out my omelette was fabulous!  I added Swiss chard, onions, feta cheese and arugula (as I did to my meal the night before), and topped it off with a TBSP of balsamic vinegar.  I don’t know what the rule is about adding vinegar to eggs, but as if I care… AH UH AH UH! it was a doggone tasty!

Anyone ever tried to lose weight before? (Kind of a stupid question, eh?) Well to be honest, this is new concept/challenge for me. Once upon a time, weight wasn’t an issue. In a time far away, I used to climb at least 3 times a week and go to Ashtanga yoga the rest of the time. I rode my bike a lot and I could eat whatever I wanted. In fact, it used to be a climbing tradition to eat ice cream from Dairy Queen at the end of day. I knew it wasn’t the healthiest thing in the world, but who cared… I was active, fit and strong. Then I got into 2 car accidents, which eventually led to back surgery and permanent nerve damage, which led to atrophy of my core muscles, which led to “comfort eating”, and then there was another accident more recently, and on and on, which led me to where I am today… overweight.

(To be honest, I seriously contemplated whether I not I should write “overweight” about myself, here in this blog. Not because it isn’t true, but rather, because it’s hard to swallow. It’s uncomfortable to accept and really uncomfortable to be frank about. And unhappily, it’s one of those things that doesn’t seem to be disappearing on it’s own.)

I’ve always had a big appetite, but was active enough to work it off. Naturally I’m one of those people with a lot of energy, so it was depressing when I was unable to move the same way due to injuries. Plus, it just seemed that my body was getting worse and falling apart as each year passed. But after 6 years, I feel like I am finally able to take back some of the control of my body, injuries and all, but I need to be healthier and I need to be slimmer. That is just a fact.

In the last 3 years, since my surgery, I have gained 40 lbs (yikes!) and believe me, it doesn’t do me any friken favours either.  Packing that kind of excess weight on an arthritic spine with slipping discs is an (another) accident waiting to happen. ( Seriously.) As well, this heavier version of myself is not my body. I can’t move the same, bend the same or relax the same. I need movement and fitness, and I need my body back.

So I’m losing weight and have great success with it thus far! I have committed myself to Vega and the Thrive in 30 plan. Actually it was when I was reading about Thomasina Pidgeon that I was inspired to achieve my goal of getting my body back. You might wonder, why Thomasina? Well you see, I’ve seen her climb a lot. She used to climb in Victoria at Flemming Beach and I was always inspired by her focus, ability, and strength. Of course, I used to see her in Squamish too and I believe that is where one can find her and her daughter these days.  She is an amazing boulderer and is making her historical mark in Canadian Climbing History.  Little does she know how much her story has push started me.

Oh ya, so back to the shake!  This little thing is only needs two scoops of Vega Whole Food Optimizer (not shown in the picture, because it looked gross) and TA DA! a breakfast meal! It’s great, healthy, slimming, and complete. I feel good and stronger and, dare I say, 7 pounds lighter. That’s right baby, I’m losing the pounds!

This morning while I was grinding my coffee, I got to thinking about it. In my hazy, sleepy state it just came to me the importance of this daily ritual in my life and well being. Especially, I felt a strong affinity to it. That and the other beans we process and adore (this includes chocolate… mmmmm).

I start off everyday with a cup of coffee and my computer. I cherish this, because it sets me straight and prepares me for the chaos of my day. (I don’t know about your days, but mine can be pretty crazy sometimes.) I need about 15 minutes to sip and read over the highlights of a couple of blogs, and then I am ready to get out there. It’s a routine and it means something to me.

I remember when I was little, my Grandpa had the ritual of playing CBC radio. The “ding ding ding ding” of the morning news I will remember forever. His ritual soothed me. It let me know I was at my Grandparents’ house. I recall my Grandma cooking bacon and “ding ding ding ding” in the background at every half hour. Actually, thinking back I even used to listen to CBC when I lived in Invermere and definitely it grounded me.

Now I know, some people don’t drink coffee and of course they have their reasons. (I get that and respect it for sure… I too enjoy a good cup of tea.) However, for myself I love my morning coffee. It’s usually the only cup I drink and I gives me what I need to start my day.  I heart those charged little roasted beans!

So thank you cup of coffee. Thank you honey and cream. Thank you Bialetti 4 cup. Thank you coffee beans. Thank you those who sell it to me. Thank you folks who grow and harvest it. Thank you for sharing your food. Thank you thank you thank you.

That there, this thing is suppose to be Herbed Goat Cheese Souffle… and I suppose that it still is. However, it doesn’t look as good as it sounds, does it? (Don’t worry I can take the truth.) I was gifted a subscription to Canadian Living this Christmas and this is one of the recipes that I have made thus far. I woke up this morning and thought, “I should make something different for breakfast”. And considering it’s Sunday, I thought that this meal ought to take more time than say, peanut butter toast. And not only that, but we still have 2 dozen eggs, because we purchased our eggs from Costco and I’m not as interested in wasting them for a third time. (Next time we’re only buying 12. I swear.)

Considering I have never made a souffle before, I thought I did pretty good. Not bad for a first time, eh? I have to say that my favourite was whipping up the 8 egg whites (until peaks formed) and imagining that I was going to make meringues instead of souffle. (I love those things!) I also had fun adding impromtu red onions and instead of using goat cherve, using goat brie instead. I feel so creative when I “replace” and “add” to “kitchen tested” recipes. I feel a lot like Jamie Oliver, only a bit less famous, but equally as gifted.

As it turned out my boyfriend raved about the souffle. He loved it! He thought it was a masterpiece and one of my best breakfast creations… ever. Me on the other hand, I nearly gagged all three times I swallowed it. It was too eggy for me and waaaaaay too rich. Truthfully, other than meringues (which I lurve totally!), I’m not the biggest egg fan. How we have ended up buying all those dozens of eggs, all this time from Costco, I will never know. Kyle loves eggs though and I love making food that he loves. So for him I was pleased and for me, two pieces of toast with peanut butter.

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