I am basically a lazy person who often chooses the convenience of potato chips over a slice of fresh parmesan cheese or green olives when craving something salty. I purpose to eat whole "clean" food (basically food in its most natural state) for awhile, then fall off the wagon and reach for the Oreos.
But I'm encouraged by a general trend toward more consistent healthy eating in my life, especially when I experience the benefits of feeling better.
This post is not meant to heap guilt on those of you already struggling in this area. It's meant to encourage you to venture out into the realm of eating more whole foods and see how it can still be both simple and delicious.
Here are two meals I've made lately (in between the other less healthy meals!) that were easy to prepare, satisfying, and yummy:
This is one of my favorite breakfasts: seedy whole grain toast, boiled egg, sliced avocado, and a watermelon smoothie that is deliciously refreshing and light.
2 cups of cubed seedless watermelon (or more)
1 frozen banana (or one non-frozen banana with about 1/2 cup ice cubes)
3/4 cup Vanilla Greek Yogurt
A little squeeze of honey
Blend all until smooth. This makes such a pretty pink drink and is light, refreshing, and nourishing. (Adapted from the recipe link below.)
Another clean eating breakfast hit was this:
Lemon Chia Pancakes
1 1/2 cups coconut or almond milk (I used more as I like thin pancakes.)
2 T. chia seeds
1 t. vanilla
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or white whole wheat flour)
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt (I almost always keep a bowl of Kosher salt next to the stove.)
Finely grated zest from one lemon
1 T. honey
Mix all together and let sit for about fifteen minutes to give the chia seeds a chance to do their thang (gel, soften, whatever). Pour batter onto hot griddle, flip after little bubbles form on each pancake, scoop onto plate and slather with real butter. I ate my stack with a blueberry sauce I made: Add a little water to fresh blueberries in a saucepan with Swerve (erythritol) or Stevia for sweetening (you can also use honey or sugar); boil until the blueberries swell, then squash most of the berries with a potato masher; simmer for several minutes while you make the pancakes.
The only "non-healthy" thing I added was a squirt (okay, three squirts) of ...
. . . because I'm not a saint.
Having shared these two guilt-free meal ideas with ya'll, please don't judge me if you happen to see me at a local diner feasting on biscuits and gravy, because sometimes . . .
"If baking is any labor at all, it's a labor of love. A love that gets passed from generation to generation."
My first memory of wrapping my hands around a lump of bread dough is when my Grandma Claborn came to visit during my childhood in Yuma, Arizona. Her signature dish was cinnamon rolls ... I mean the most mouth-watering clouds of sugary cinnamon goodness and love I'd ever tasted. I think I was about four years old when I pulled my little red Radio Flyer wagon into the kitchen where Grandma was making cinnamon rolls, turned the wagon upside down, and asked Grandma if I could have a lump of the cinnamon roll dough. She gave me the dough and a bit of flour with her large, work-worn, floury hands and I proceeded to use the bottom of my wagon as a kitchen countertop, watching Grandma and imitating the way she'd press her hands into the dough, fold it back onto itself, turn it, then repeat the motion...over and over again. When I got tired from all the kneading, I stuck the dough to the backside of one of the wagon wheels and then twirled the wheel forward, flinging the dough to the other side of the kitchen. I remember Grandma and I giggling together over this bit of fun and her saying after awhile, when my lump of dough was a putrid gray color, "I don't think you'll want to eat that, hon'."
Besides the wonderful memory of bonding over baking with my Grandma, I also remember how good that dough felt in my hands, how satisfying it was to roll it into "snakes" or tiny doll-sized dinner rolls. It was my first experience of bread baking as an art form and I was hooked!
I've baked an awful lot of breakfast breads over the years, but I recently tried one that has "risen" 😄 to the top of my list of favorites: Swedish Cardamom Rolls. Is it labor-intensive? Yes, a bit. But please do savor the time it takes to work the dough and smell the cardamom and twist the strips into lovely little knots of ooey-gooey goodness. I guarantee the whole experience will diminish depression, lighten loads and bring a spark of joy...especially when you eat that first roll fresh out of the oven!
So, without further ado, here is the recipe. Bake it for company, bake it for your children, bake it for yourself...and rejoice in the Giver of all good gifts for our blessing and enjoyment - including exotic spices and fragrant yeasty dough!
Swedish Cardamom Rolls
For the Dough
For the Filling
For the Decoration
Making the Dough
Shaping the Buns
Baking the Buns
Bake for 20 minutes (or a little longer). The buns should be a beautiful golden brown and have an internal temperature of 190-200 F on an instant read thermometer.
Decorating the Buns
*Recipe modified from www.savortheflavour.com.
These would be perfect reheated and served with morning coffee and visiting with guests before a later breakfast, or with a mid-afternoon cup of tea. As Julia Child said,