Tag Archives: clean eating

Brassica Grain Bowl

While this is ostensibly a post about a Brassica Grain Bowl, what I really want to tell you about is a new habit I have adopted. If you are a friend of my daughter, you know not to call her on a Sunday afternoon. That’s when she does her weekly meal prep. She chops, roasts and steams various vegetables and grains and fills her fridge with the component parts she will need for healthy meals all week long. That way, when she gets home from work, she is less likely to call a glass of wine and a bag of chips dinner, as her mother has been known to occasionally do, 
At some point, many children’s intelligence surpasses their parents and they start teaching us. I have decided to take a page out of my daughter’s book and start doing some weekly meal prep, so that my occasional solitary meals will be a bit healthier.

At the beginning of the week I fill a big zip-loc bag with chopped raw vegetables. My blend includes raw broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale and sugar snap peas.
Shredding Brussels sprouts is admittedly a fiddly task. Do it by hand to work on your knife skills or go ahead an bust out the Cuisinart.

All this chopping takes time. I binge-watch something addictive on Netflix. This month I’m watching Offspring. Shot in Australia, I have become smitten with the protagonist, Dr. Nina Proudman, a slightly neurotic and very funny OBGYN. She is a rockstar in the operating room, but not so skilled in her lovelife. The series showcases her two siblings and parents. While I would not call them dysfunctional, they are decidedly eccentric and unconventional. Good luck watching just one episode! Completely addictive.

This raw veggie mix makes a great base for a grain bowl, an excellent slaw to accompany roast chicken, a delicious stuffer for Tuesday fish tacos, and a perfect foundation for some shredded chicken for lunch. You can sauté it in butter or olive oil and garlic and serve it as a side dish.

After I chop the vegetables, I cook up one or two kinds of grains or some brown rice. I love farro, barley and I’ve really been into wheat berries lately. I adore their chewy texture and nutty flavour. If you like quinoa, go ahead and cook up a batch of that. I won’t judge you.

I like to keep a jar or two of homemade dressing in the fridge so that a salad can come together quickly. For this grain bowl I mixed up a herb-lemon vinaigrette.

I also roasted some butternut squash. Sweet potatoes would also be delicious. Chop it small so it roasts quickly.The last component of my meal prep is a batch of pickled vegetables. Carrots, cucumber and shallots are a nice mix. They last for a while in the fridge and are excellent on tacos and sandwiches.You can top your grain bowl with whatever protein you like. Grilled chicken, skirt steak, salmon, tofu, chickpeas, cheese and eggs are all great options. Avocado is always a good idea and don’t forget the crunch on top. Seeds and nuts of all kind add welcome texture.



Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats with Maple Apples

We have been eating overnight oats for breakfast, lunch and dinner this week, as I have been testing different variations. So far, no one has complained. This version is adapted from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe. They sweetened the oats with brown sugar but I switched it for maple syrup. I also added chopped apples to the oats while they were cooking. Their recipe used shredded apples but I found that I liked the texture better with little bites of diced apple.

The final change I made to their recipe was to sautee some apple slices in a bit of butter and maple syrup, because, well… butter and maple syrup on apples! It’s a fancier version, and those sliced apples look so pretty on top, but feel free to leave it out if that’s not how you roll. No judgement here.
The night before, bring 3 cups of water and a good pinch of salt to a boil. Remove from heat and add 1 cup steel cut oats. Cover pot and let it sit on the counter all night. In the morning , add apple cider or juice, milk, cinnamon and some diced peeled apples. Cook for 5 minutes. Let sit for a further 5 minutes. Top with sauteed maple apples and some toasted almonds or pecans.

Drizzle with extra maple syrup because you deserve it.

Click here to print recipe for Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats with Maple Apples.





Banana Coconut Overnight Oats

When I was growing up, oatmeal meant Quaker Oats Instant Oatmeal in the package. We had an instant hot water tap, (the water never really got all that hot) so there wasn’t even any cooking involved. My mom would buy the variety pack, but my sisters and I only liked the maple and brown sugar, and I think we probably added extra maple syrup and brown sugar. My poor dad got stuck eating the unwanted apple cinnamon flavour. I recall that the dried apples always got stuck in your throat.

Fast forward a whole bunch of years and, “We’ve come a long way baby.”Now I’m eating oatmeal made with steel cut oats that you actually have to cook!

So, a little oats primer here. Whole oats, that have been cleaned and hulled, are called groats. They are a little too coarse for oatmeal. Groats that have been coarsely chopped are known as steel-cut oats (bowl on the left). Groats that are steamed and pressed are called rolled oats or old-fashioned oats (bowl on the right). Instant oats are pre-cooked, dried, and then rolled and pressed slightly thinner than rolled oats.Steel-cut oats have a wonderful nutty taste and chewy texture, but they take 40 minutes to cook, and who has time for that? Enter the overnight method. I learned how to make these from those clever folks over at Cook’s Illustrated.

Bring 3 cups of water and a teaspoon of salt to boil. Please don’t omit the salt. Your oatmeal will taste flat and lifeless. Take pot off heat, stir in 1 cup of steel-cut oats , cover pot and let sit overnight while you sleep. In the morning add 1 cup of coconut milk, bring to boil, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until oats are softened but still retain some chew and the mixture thickens slightly. This will take about 5 minutes. Cover the pot and let sit for 5 more minutes. The oatmeal will continue to thicken as it rests.

Mix in sliced bananas, shredded coconut and vanilla extract. Top with banana chips for some added crunch.

Mornings got a whole lot better around here. Stay tuned for an apple-cinnamon version with maple syrup!

Click here to print recipe for Banana Coconut Overnight Oats.