Maca for Breakfast

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Maca and Pistachio Pulp Overnight Oats

When Casey and I were home in Texas at the holidays, we went to two or three stores in a search of Maca Powder, which we needed to make Sarah B’s Superfood Haute Chocolate. I was lucky enough to bring home the bags of Navitas Naturals Maca powder and raw cacao powder, and I have been having fun adding them to various kitchen experiments.

Last week, I went on a Maca kick, adding a teaspoon or two to a variety of breakfast dishes.

Maca, cacao, raspberries, and coconut milk + oats

Maca, cacao, raspberries, and coconut milk + oats

Maca is the root of a plant that is native to the Andean highlands of Bolivia and Peru. The root is ground to make the powder, which was prized by the Incans for its ability to energize naturally. Maca powder contains essential vitamins and minerals, amino acids, and fiber (more details). The taste is a bit strange at first, but it is somewhat reminiscent of butterscotch, and tastes great in oats, smoothies, and yogurt. I particularly enjoy it combined with ginger and a pinch of cayenne.

I also saw a suggestion for replacing morning coffee with Maca powder mixed with apple cider, and it provides energy without stressing the metabolism first thing in the morning. I might have to try this, as stable blood sugar throughout the morning hours tends to be an issue for me.

Here are a few of the ways I have been enjoying Maca powder in my breakfast creations:

tilted bowl

Oats, maca, and pistachio pulp

Maca and Pistachio Overnight Oats

  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup pistachio pulp
  • 1.5 teaspoons maca powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • dash dry ginger
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice
  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • toppings: pistachios, diced apples
Maca Mango Smoothie

Maca Mango Smoothie

Maca Mango Smoothie

  • 1 banana, frozen
  • 3/4 cup frozen mango
  • 2 teaspoons maca powder
  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • pinch each dry ginger, cayenne
  • Top with raw buckwheat groats and popped amaranth
Maca Peanut Butter Oatmeal

Maca Peanut Butter Oatmeal

Maca Oatmeal

  • 1/3 cup Coach’s Oats
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 teaspoons maca powder
  • 2 teaspoons chia seeds
  • pinch each ginger and cayenne
  • banana, divided
  • Peanut Butter
version 2, bowl

Maca Cacao Overnight Oats

Maca and Cacao Overnight Oats

  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon maca powder
  • 1 teaspoon raw cacao powder
  • Frozen raspberries
  • top with sliced banana
Smoothie in a bowl!

Smoothie in a bowl!

Have you ever tried maca powder? Any suggestions for ways to use it?

-L

Berry Orange Smoothie and Foodie Finds

Berry Orange Smoothie

Berry Orange Smoothie

I had an awesome mini-vacation over the weekend! I went to Florida for an audition, and was able to meet up with one of my best friends. I was sad to come home so soon, but have had a great time since returning to SF.

Wading in the water

Wading in the water

After ballet class on Tuesday, I wandered over to the Ferry Building Farmers Market to pick up some fresh fruit. I ended up with some gorgeous navel oranges and a pack of strawberries. When I got home, I decided to toss some of them into the blender to make a Berry Orange Smoothie.

Beautiful bunch of oranges

Beautiful bunch of oranges

Berry Orange Smoothie

Serves 1

  • 1 banana, frozen
  • 1 orange, seeds and casings removed
  • 4 strawberries
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • Topping of choice (I used granola)

Combine fruits and coconut milk in blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into glass, and garnish with topping of your choice.

Fruity and fun

Fruity and fun

Foodie Finds

While I was at the Ferry Building, I also picked up a bag of Original Granola made by From the Fields. This wheat and oil free granola is made in Marin County, just across the Golden Gate Bridge. It has a great crunch, a variety of nuts and seeds, and plump cranberries. I’m looking forward to trying the Honey Lavender flavor soon!

Farm to Fields Granola

From the Fields Granola

When I was outside, I gave into temptation, and accepted a sample of Dark Chocolate Coffee Almond Brittle from G.I. Alfieri. I’ve seen them many times before, but have always managed to keep my distance. I have a big weakness for nuts and chocolate! Today I’m glad I stopped. The almond brittle is delicious! It is thin and crispy, with smooth dark chocolate, and a surprisingly strong kick of coffee flavor. I enjoyed a lovely conversation with the man handing out samples as well! It turns out he was a dancer, and knows many of the teachers I train with in the city. What a small world!

Dark Chocolate Coffee Almond Brittle

Dark Chocolate Coffee Almond Brittle

This was the perfect way to wind down after my fun, fast venture to Florida! The rest of the week will be a bit less leisurely, but with my new foodie finds and fruit, I feel ready to take on whatever comes my way.

Yum yum

Yum yum

Happy Eating!

-C

Spicy Lamb Ragu

More and more these days, meat is a very rare component of my diet. I am eating more legumes, more tofu, and plenty of nutrient rich vegetables. I don’t miss meat at all – but sometimes, a hearty bowl of lamb ragu sounds too delicious to pass up.

bowl of ragu

It has been COLD in Virginia for the past week. We’re talking highs in the 20s, lows in the teens. I grew up in Texas, y’all… I am not a fan of such cold! At least we have has some snow flurries, because – let’s be serious – cold without snow is just plain obnoxious.

The more I eat seasonally, the more “in tune” I feel with what my body wants and needs. In the summer, I crave juicy fruits and fresh, crisp veggies. In the fall, I begin to turn to roasted root vegetables. And during these cold stretches of winter, sometimes there is nothing better than comforting foods like pasta with meat sauce.

2 bowls

This dish was made super special thanks to two “foodie finds” at Whole Foods – local ground lamb and fresh pasta. I chose black pepper pappardelle, and it was perfect.

Spicy Lamb Ragu

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma’s Wine and Food

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup fire roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  •  2 small fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 pound fresh pappardelle (or dried if you can’t find fresh)
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

bowl from above

Method

In a large frying pan, heat the oil over high heat. Add the lamb and saute, stirring to break up any clumps, until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer lamb to a towel-lined plate.

Pour off all but 1 Tablespoon of the fat from the pan, and return the pan to medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Return the lamb to the pan and add the broth, 1/2 cup water, white wine vinegar, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and rosemary. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer gently, uncovered, until sauce has thickened slightly, about 25 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook for 1 minute longer. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Keep warm over low heat.

While the sauce is cooking, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain the pasta, add it to the sauce, and toss and stir to combine. Add the 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and toss again. Divide pasta into shallow bowls, top with more Parmesan cheese, and serve immediately.

lamb ragu

Isn’t pappardelle a beautiful pasta? I love the way the thick noodles fold in the bowl, and they way they stand up to a meat sauce. 

This dish was very well received by my meat-loving husband. We enjoyed the leftovers again later in the week, served a top a base of fresh spinach (you gotta get your greens in, after all!).

2 bowls above

The only thing missing was a glass of wine… The cookbook suggests an Argentine Sangiovese or an Italian Barbera, which have enough acidity to stand up to the tomato sauce. We have served this dish with wine in the past, at a dinner party with friends, and it was a lovely pairing.

What type of foods do you turn to in the winter?

-L

Gingerbread Cookies

To be honest, baking is not really my “thing.” Casey is much better at it than I am, and enjoys it more (I am more prone to random kitchen experiments and breakfast explorations). But Casey’s cookie brittle, along with the blog-world Christmas cookie take-over, had me itching to bake a mess of Christmas goodies.

Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread Cookies

I planned to make gingerbread cookies, pistachio and cherry biscotti, and something minty and chocolatey last weekend. I even bought the ingredients.

But then, Friday’s tragedy happened, and instead of spending Sunday in the kitchen baking up a storm, I spent it on the couch, snuggling close to my husband, for once not worrying about a to-do list but instead enjoying the comfort of the moment. I hope that you all have had a similar chance to hug your loved ones extra tight this week as we all struggle to comprehend the tragedy in Newtown.

But last night, as I prepared to leave town and spend the holidays with family, I finally got around to making cookies! I’ll be sharing these with one of my best friends today when we meet up for lunch, and with my husband’s family when we arrive at their house tonight.

Gingery Goodness

Gingery Goodness

These crunchy on the outside, chewy in the middle little cookies include not one, not two, but three types of ginger (ground, freshly minced, and crystallized)!

crystallized ginger

Crystalized Ginger

I can’t use crystalized ginger without thinking of our dad… One year we were making something that called for crystalized ginger. We sent my dad to the store to pick up a few things, and asked him to get the ginger. When he returned home, he was beaming from ear to ear, carrying a 3 pound bag of crystalized ginger he had personally scooped from the bulk bins.

3 pounds of crystallized ginger is more or less a lifetime supply… I think we still have some of that bag left left in the freezer…

But I digress… back to the cookies!

Christmas cookies

Christmas is for cookies

Gingerbread Cookies

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup raw turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup blackstrap (robust) molasses
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated peeled ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1 cup raw sugar

Method

  • Preheat to 350°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Whisk flour, ground ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl.
  • Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat brown sugar and coconut oil in a large bowl, about 3 minutes (this will not get fluffy like it would with refined sugar and butter).
  • Reduce mixer speed to low. Add egg, molasses, grated ginger, and vanilla; beat just to blend.
  • Add flour mixture; beat on low speed just to blend. Mix in crystallized ginger (dough will be soft and sticky).
  • Place raw sugar in a shallow bowl. Using a tablespoon measure, scoop out dough. Using a second spoon, scoop dough from tablespoon measure into bowl with raw sugar; turn to coat well. Roll into ball. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with half of remaining dough and sugar, spacing balls 1 1/2″ apart.
  • Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are firm and centers appear cracked, 10–12 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks and let cool. Repeat with remaining dough and sugar, using cooled baking sheets and new parchment.
  • Can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature between sheets of parchment or waxed paper.
Served with Eggnog

Served with Eggnog

These cookies are absolute perfection. So much ginger flavor, such a great texture, and, thanks to the blackstrap molasses, they are somewhat healthy (blackstrap molasses is very high in iron. Read more about its nutritional benefits on Gena’s blog).

I enjoyed my cookies last night with a glass of eggnog, my indulgence of the week (eggnog as coffee creamer = fabulous). Change the rain that was pounding on the roof to snow, add a gently roaring fire, and it would have been the perfect Christmas-time evening. But even without the snow and the fire, the cookies and eggnog have me feeling much more in the holiday spirit.

We will be taking a break from the blog over the holidays. You can follow me on instagram (@lindzjane115) for photographic evidence of my holiday eats and adventures.

Before we go, however, it’s time to announce the winner of the Awesome Bars Giveaway!

Awesome Bars winner

Congratulations to Val, my Foodie Pen Pal from October!!

See you back here in 2013.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

-L