Deconstructed granola pancakes

For years I’ve been telling people that I can’t make pancakes. Sure, I can smoke a pork shoulder and make fruit preserves, but my attempts at pancakes were generally sub-par. Sometimes they burned, sometimes they tasted terrible. But I’m happy to report that I’ve finally figured it out.

I went on a long ride last weekend with the Blue Hills Cycling Club. Just a few guys showed up for their 6 a.m. Saturday ride, and they very nicely let me come along despite my being obviously slower than them. I rode with them to Scituate (similar loop here) and then told them to go ahead. It was a gorgeous route along some back roads on the South Shore and then along the water from Hull to Cohasset. I managed to find my way home without too much trouble and felt much better on this 50-miler than I had just a week ago at the CRW Spring Century.

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When I got home it was almost 11 and I was pretty hungry. I try to eat every hour on the bike, but Clif bars aren’t super satisfying. A couple of these pancakes topped with syrup from my friend Billings did the trick pretty well though.

My inspiration for these was a granola pancake I saw on a menu somewhere. The idea of having more texture and wholesomeness in a pancake appealed to me, and I’ve discovered that the leftovers make a great pre-workout or mid-morning snack.

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Deconstructed granola pancakes
Makes 11 large pancakes

1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup almond flour
2 Tablespoons baking powder
1/4 sugar
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup wheat bran
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups milk or almond milk
1 egg
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat and coat with a bit of melted butter. If butter sizzles in pan, reduce heat to low. Scoop 1/2 cup of batter per pancake into pan and let spread. Flip when batter starts to bubble and sides look slightly cooked. Let cook another minute or two and then remove from pan. Store leftovers wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge.

Make your own Life Alive

One of my favorite local places to eat out at is a vegetarian restaurant in Cambridge called Life Alive. It’s a crunchy, hippie place, full of plants and inspirational quotes, and you never, ever feel badly about yourself when you eat there.

In addition to wheatgrass shots, kombucha, and fresh-made juices, they offer a variety of “warm meals” with names like The Goddess (“Our famous Ginger Nama Shoyu Sauce nurturing carrots, beet, broccoli, dark greens, & tofu gracing short-grain brown rice”) and The Alchemist (“Our Ginger Nama Shoyu Sauce transforming sweet corn, shredded carrots, dark greens, tofu, sun-sprouts & sesame seeds over protein-rich quinoa”).

Vegetarian restaurants can be drab places full of sorry mixes of bland vegetable, but Life Alive proves that good for you food can also taste good. The meals are surprisingly tasty, a creative mix of vegetables enlivened by bold sauces that feature garlic and ginger prominently. Even my dad, a practical carnivore, loved it.

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Of course, I’m not the only one who loves it there. The restaurant is often packed, and service can be somewhat… relaxed. Since the food is made to order, sometimes it takes a while. And on occasion, my food has been given to the wrong table, which is a huge bummer when it’s 6:30 p.m. and you’re starving. It’s also kind of a tough place to go with a big group.

So I was sort of excited when I was perusing the internet a few months ago and found a recipe for something called a “winter abundance bowl.” That looks like something they’d make at Life Alive, I thought as I read. And then a eureka moment: “I could make that at home…”

And so I did, and it was good, but I did some tweaking to better suit my tastes. A few weeks ago I invited some friends over for “Make your own Life Alive” and they raved about it. So last weekend, wanting to fuel well before running the Newport 10-miler, we did it again. This time, I made the garlic pepita sauce, and also made a recipe based on ginger nama shoyu sauce they serve at Life Alive, using this recipe as a guide.

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The spread

Rather than pre-making bowls, I just set out bowls of vegetables and let people mix their own. Saturday we had quinoa, brown rice, shredded carrots, sautéed zucchini and summer squash, steamed kale, roasted root vegetables, grated raw beets, sautéed mushrooms, bok choy, sweet potatoes, tofu, kimchi, and shredded chicken. It was a huge hit, and a great pre-race meal. Everyone who ate it PR’d the next day… and Scott won second in his age group. I think we’ll be making this a mainstay.

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 Selfie with food/ Scott’s bowl #1/ Scott post-run, with award (2nd in his age group!)

To make your own Life Alive/ Abundance bowl, simply start with the grain of your choice, top with your favorite vegetables and protein, and then drizzle with one of the sauces below. Again, this is great for a family or a crowd as everyone can make a bowl to suit their tastes. Like kale? Take extra. Hate mushrooms? Leave them out! It’s pretty simple.

Ginger Nama Shoyu Sauce

4 garlic cloves
4-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup tamari (or soy sauce)
1/2 cup lemon juice (you may want a bit more, adjust to your taste)
1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blitz until smooth. If mixture is too thick add additional water until it’s the desired consistency.

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Green garlic and ginger pepita sauce
(adapted from My New Roots)

1 cup pepitas, toasted
4 cloves garlic
4-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
3 Tb. olive oil
1 Tb. apple cider vinegar (or white will be ok too)
3 Tb. lemon juice
1 cup water
salt to taste
your favorite hot sauce, to taste

Blitz all ingredients in a food processor/blender until smooth. Mixture will thicken overnight, so you may need to thin it with some water before serving.

Vegetable hand rolls


There are few things as satisfying to me as a good hand roll. I love the combination of not quite warm rice, fish, and nori- it’s like a savory ice cream cone.

Yet until recently I’d never tried to make one at home. Sushi has always been a “going out” food, probably because I’m not too keen on handling raw fish at home. But I’ve been eating more vegetable-only rolls lately, and so when I saw nori at the Asian market a few weeks ago I thought, “I can do that.” So I did, and it was wonderful, and now I wonder what took me so long.

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This is really about as easy as making tacos. A few things to note:

– Make sure your grains are luke-warm or warmer. The flavor and texture are better that way.

– Don’t overfill. This will lead to breakage and leakage. If you need more food, make another one.

– Do what you like. Add your favorite vegetables, make a soy and wasabi dipping sauce, slip in some protein (hello, shrimp?), if that’s what gets you excited.

– While the ice cream cone shape you get in sushi restaurants is really sexy, I find it easier and neater to do a more burrito-esque fold. First, fold the bottom up over the filling, then fold each side in. To seal, dip your fingers in some warm water and run over the seam. Voila!

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Vegetarian hand rolls
(makes two)

Two sheets nori
1 cup grains (I used quinoa and brown rice), room temperature
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
vegetable assortment of your choice. I like shredded beets and carrots, pea shoots, avocado, and grated ginger
soy sauce to taste

Heat grains so they are at least room temperature or luke warm (this makes them easier to mix, and I think they fast better this way). Add rice vinegar and sesame oil and mix well. Spread half the grain mixture on a sheet of nori and top with desired vegetables, being careful not to overfill (less is more here). Fold bottom of roll up over filling, and then fold each side over the middle. To seal, dip your finger in luke warm water and run over the edges of your roll. Dip in soy sauce, if desired. Eat as soon as possible, the nori will get soggy if left too long.