Black Sesame Tahini Banana Bread

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Banana bread is an American staple. A big time comfort food. Un-fussy, un-pretentious and utterly delicious. But also, it’s basically cake.

This banana bread is not basically cake. It’s whole grain, higher in protein than usual (thanks almond flour! thanks tahini!), and has an incredible crumb and depth of flavor from the tahini…which I’m beginning to be convinced should be added to every baked good ever.

I feel very passionately about tahini. Don’t love it? It’s probably because you’re buying tahini that is mechanically ground, which most tahini is these days. This results in a bitter taste—which is not tahini’s inevitable fate! I encourage you to seek out stone ground tahini, which is the traditional processing method. This results in a suuuuper delicious, not at all bitter, eat it straight from the jar tahini. You’ll also want to make sure to get whole sesame (dark) tahini rather than hulled (light) tahini. This is also harder to find, but well worth the search, as it contains much higher nutrient values than tahini made from sesame seeds that have had the hull—the outer shell—removed. THIS IS MY FAVORITE BRAND. (Sorry, emphatic.) If you’re curious to learn more about tahini processing and nutritional values, check out my post here.

I made and photographed this tahini banana bread over Labor Day and took it to two potlucks that weekend…where multiple people from each gathering asked me for the recipe. Just saying. In case you needed any more convincing. :D

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Black Sesame Tahini Banana Bread
Makes one 9"x5" loaf or two mini loaves
Adapted from A Cozy Kitchen

Ingredients
1 cup white whole wheat flour (or spelt or regular whole wheat if you can't find the white varietal)
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
2 Tbsp. black sesame seeds (or brown), plus more for sprinkling
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup muscovado sugar (unrefined brown sugar)
1/4 cup raw cane sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. tahini
4 ripe bananas, 3 mashed & 1 sliced lengthwise

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line a loaf pan with parchment. Set aside.
2. Mix flours, sesame seeds, salt and baking soda in a bowl. Set aside.
3. In a separate medium bowl, mix coconut oil and sugars together until the sugar begins to dissolve. Whisk in egg and vanilla extract until mixture is smooth and thickened.
4. Add tahini and the mashed bananas to the wet ingredients. Stir until thoroughly incorporated.
5. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet. Gently stir together until just combined (it's okay if the batter is a bit lumpy).
6. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle additional sesame seeds on top, then place the two long slices of banana on top, cut side face up. Push them down into the batter so they settle a bit.
7. Set pan on baking sheet (it's easier to pull out of the oven this way). Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about an hour.

Lemony Fava Bean Tartine

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This is a super simple celebration of spring. As the bounties of the season begin to pour in, we are blessed with vibrant and delicious produce that often requires little to no cooking. I also love the revelations that come with tasting fresh foods straight from the pod or the cob that you might eat from frozen at other times during the year; there is no comparison! Fava beans are less common in the standard American diet than, say, peas, which is a shame because they are suuuuper delicious. They also happen to be crazy nutrient dense, containing an array of vitamins (folate, thiamine, vitamin K, vitamin B6) and minerals (iron, manganese, potassium, copper, zinc, magnesium) in addition to fiber and protein! 

I used dill and tarragon in this recipe because I seem to perpetually have leftovers of those herbs in my fridge as of late. This would also be delicious with mint, basil, chives, chervil, parsley, or some combination thereof. You can have it on toast or off; with an egg or without. The basic equation here is fava beans + herbs + lemon = yum. It's pretty much that simple.

Lemony Fava Bean Tartine
Makes two toasts

Ingredients
1 1/2 cup fava beans (from about 1 lb. favas-in-the-pod)
1 unwaxed, organic lemon, zested
1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
3 Tbsp. cold-pressed, good quality olive oil
1/8 tsp. pink or sea salt
2 handfuls pea shoots
1 Tbsp. dill fronds, fresh
1 Tbsp. tarragon leaves, fresh
Two slices whole grain or country sourdough
Soft boiled egg (or cooked to preference)
Fresh ground pepper, to finish

Directions
1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Fill a medium bowl with ice water and set aside. Cook fava beans in the boiling water for 1 minute, then strain and transfer to the ice water. Peel the waxy outer coating from the fava beans.
2. In a medium sized jar with a lid, shake together the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Add the fava beans to the jar and gently shake to coat.
3. Toast your bread — a toaster is great but a grill pan with some olive oil would be extra delicious.
4. Place one big handful of pea shoots on each toast slice. Pour the favas and their oil on top of the greens (you may have a bit of oil leftover; it makes great salad dressing!). Sprinkle 1/2 Tbsp. of each herb onto each slice. Top with an egg if desired and a few twists of freshly cracked black pepper. Enjoy!

Sweet or Savory Ancient Grain Porridge (with Dates, Pear & Pomegranate) | On the Deterministic Power of Language

In 2016, I learned and thought a lot about language. Which is funny, because I figured that after 17 years of formal education plus grad school, I knew pretty much everything I would need to know about language in this life. Like many of us who were privileged to learn from excellent educators in the humanities or the arts, I was taught how to write properly and how to write persuasively. I was taught how to write poetically too, but that one didn't go as well. After I was taught how to write, I was taught how to think. Not in the brainwashed sort of way; rather, how to think critically and creatively. I was taught these skills, which are essential for success in many of our current professional realms and imperative for verbal self-expression, dissention, innovation and the creation and preservation of certain forms of culture.

But in 2016, I learned something different about language: The direct role that it plays in personal wellness, health and growth, both mentally and physiologically. It's fascinating and is a theme I intend to talk about in varying capacities in this space as it grows. Now over halfway through January, many of us having formed and some still carrying resolutions or intentions for the year ahead, the time feels ripe to begin the conversation.

I am proposing a small yet mighty task for you. You, who seeks to do something differently this year, to support yourself in a new way, to build a new habit or mode of being that is more aligned with your true self. Whether that's drinking more water or emphasizing balance in your life, increasing the amount of time you exercise, speaking up for yourself more often or shifting your relationship with money; I have an invitation for you.

The invitation is this: choose determination over discipline.

Here's the low down. The thoughts we have and the ways we speak to ourselves directly impact the things of which we believe ourselves to be capable, the decisions we make and actions we take, and our bodies' physiological responses to those ideas and actions. Our thoughts feel so ingrained and automatic that we fail to notice the authority—the choice—we have over them. In failing to notice our agency over our thoughts, we are unable to recognize how framing their language or content differently might change our lives. It is this recognition that I yearn for you to crack open.

In the pursuit of achievement, "discipline" is a word that comes up a lot. This year, I am going to be more disciplined and get to the gym five times a week. If only I had more discipline, a.k.a. self-control, I wouldn't eat that second piece of cake. I know I possess the discipline to sit through this 30 minute meditation without flinching. I need to have the discipline to practice my musical instrument every single day if I am going to nail that audition. None of these are invalid or unimportant ambitions or pursuits. But is discipline the kind of motivation that will make you feel excited, empowered and capable of getting there?

Think, for a moment, of a goal you've set for yourself this year. It can be large or small. Close your eyes, take a deep breath in followed by a slow exhale, and say to yourself, "I have the discipline to ________." Good. Now, using that same goal, close your eyes, take a deep breath in followed by a slow exhale, and say to yourself, "I have the determination to ________." Did that feel different in your body? In your heart?

Discipline, as a word, has a connotation of rigidity, sacrifice, something achieved through contracted and imposed efforts rather than ease. Determination, on the other hand, rings of purpose, positive energy motivated by a belief in the value of that which you are pursuing and an earnest drive to succeed. 

And so, I invite you to show up to that which you desire for yourself with determination rather than discipline. Set goals that hover in the sweet spot of realistic, achievable growth, so when you do fulfill them, you will feel motivated to continue recommitting to that practice. And when you slip or miss an opportunity to enact your goal, approach yourself with compassionate understanding, then gently reset your determination. There is no space for shame or guilt here; that mindset is not warranted, productive, nor kind.

I was recently discussing this linguistic distinction with a dear friend of mine, Briana, who also practices healing work. In her infinite wisdom, she extended the linguistic and energetic re-framing even further: to devotion. It's a place I'm still working towards, and I admire the heart in it. If you can show up to yourself, your intentions, and your new year's resolutions with devotion, with deep reverence for the ways in which they will enrich your life, then the energy to make them a reality is sure to materialize in ways you've never experienced before.

Language has power. Why not wield it to support ourselves in being the selves we wish to be?

Notes about the Recipe: This porridge is inspired by a divine, 5 grain porridge at a local cafe called Bartavelle. I love its robust texture and heartiness and have been attempting to sufficiently replicate it at home for the past two years. In addition to being super satiating because it is made of whole grains and seeds, which are packed with protein, fiber and healthy fats, it is also GLUTEN-FREE! Horray.

To simplify things, I've scaled the porridge down to four "grains": Quinoa, amaranth, flax and brown rice. Most of these are actually seeds, but "Sweet or Savory Seed Porridge" sounded kind of like a thing for birds...so we'll go with the common misconceptions. Quinoa is one such seed that is generally acknowledged as a grain. It is also one of the few plants that contains all 9 essential amino acids that make a complete protein. Similarly, Amaranth is a tiny seed that behaves like a grain and was a staple food of the Aztecs. It has a toasty flavor, is also a complete protein, and is rich in iron, calcium and vitamin C. Flax seeds are revered for their high omega-3 content, which is a type of essential fatty acid that is necessary for healthy functioning and can only be obtained through the foods we eat. Flax is also a great source of fiber, antioxidants and minerals including manganese and magnesium. Brown rice is delicious. And, unlike white rice, contains a hefty amount of fiber to help keep our guts and hearts healthy!

Eaten straight with no salt, this porridge is incredibly savory. When you add salt it's still savory, but tastes a lot better. I love adding a generous teaspoonful or two of melted ghee to the porridge regardless of my toppings, as its rich toasty flavor balances out the earthiness of the "grains" super well. If you don't have ghee, you can use browned or melted butter. From there, the toppings are up to you!

Sweet or Savory Ancient Grain Porridge (with Dates, Pear & Pomegranate) 
Serves two

Ingredients
Porridge
2 1/2 Tbsp. short grain brown rice
2 1/2 Tbsp. quinoa, any color
2 Tbsp. amaranth
1 Tbsp. flax seeds
generous pinch or two sea salt

Sweet
Ghee
Chopped dates
Pure maple syrup
+ Seasonal fruit toppings
Pear slices
Pomegranate seeds

Savory
Ghee or cold-pressed oilve oil
Soft boiled egg
Flaky or herbed salt
Gomasio
+ Seasonal veg toppings, if desired
Sauteéd mushrooms
Caramelized onions
Sauteéd kale

Directions
1. If you can have the foresight, soak the quinoa, brown rice and amaranth overnight (but not the flax) in filtered water with a splash of lemon or apple cider vinegar. In the morning, strain and rinse well.
2. If you weren't able to soak the grains overnight, the porridge will still work! It just won't be activated. Place the grains in a fine mesh strainer and rinse, rubbing them together with your hands to clean thoroughly. 
3. Place the rinsed grains in a small pot, add the flax and 1 cup of water. With the pot covered, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let cook undisturbed for 25 minutes.
4. Turn off the heat and let the porridge sit, still covered, for 10 minutes.
5. Add salt to taste. Finish off with sweet or savory toppings and enjoy!

Multigrain Waffles, Roasted Strawberries & Raw Chocolate Olive Oil Sauce

Well hello, October! Where in goddess' name did you sneak up on us from? We've suddenly tipped onto the other side of the equinox and are ping ponging between days that still burn with summer heat and days marked by a crisp, penetrating chill. Two weeks ago, I made these waffles with roasted strawberries. This weekend, I baked a winter squash. Typical, California.

I've been sick for the past two weeks, which I attribute to my body being unable to cope with the clunky and indecisive seasonal transition we've got going on here. If any of you more seasonally attuned people are surprised/confused about why this recipe that I'm sharing on Oct 4 has strawberries in it, you are definitely onto something. I would be confused too. When I made it two weeks ago, the "farewell to summer" recipe still felt passable. Then I got sick and unusually busy and my brain couldn't find any words to put onto this digital paper.  

That doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about it though. I've considered many topics for this post: the autumn equinox (did you know that Uranus takes 84 years to travel around the sun and that its axis is tipped at almost 90 degrees, which means that its seasons only include summer and winter and each last 42 years?!); September 30th's black moon (the second new moon in one month, thought to be a potent time for releasing negative patterns and setting new intentions); and Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year (happy 5777 y'all!), a time of celebration that leads into a week of deep personal  reflection on one's actions in the past year. 

The truth is though, I still don't have the brain power for any of that. I was just talking to my housemate about this dilemma. She told me (in fewer words but with more gesticulation) that her experience of this whole waffles with roasted strawberries and raw chocolate sauce situation was one of sheer joy, of leisurely cooking (okay, watching me cook) on a Saturday morning while playing with light and my new camera (!!!), climbing on stools to get better shots while savoring the smell of maple oozing from the oven, catching each other up on the events and drama from our lives and sitting down to an insanely delicious brunch all together as the family we've become. She asked me to summarize the theme of my blog. After articulating it as best I could, she suggested that I practice some of the self-compassion that I promote in this space and not stress about it so much. Not force myself to write what I feel like I "should" because of the purview of the content that I've constructed. So I've decided to take her up on that. Better to just get it out in the world before the frost sets in and strawberries disappear completely, right?

I will say a few words about this recipe though. The waffles come by way of Sprouted Kitchen and are ridiculously delicious. When I first started getting into subbing whole grains for white flour in basically every single baked thing I made, I was constantly frustrated by not being able to make pancakes or waffles with whole grain flours that tasted good. This recipe proves that it absolutely can be done. It's a little involved and has more ingredients than a standard from-scratch waffle, but it's entirely worth the effort. In addition to tasting amazing, the waffles are packed with satiating and nourishing protein from almond flour, fiber from whole wheat flour, healthy fats from flax and Greek yogurt, and have very little sugar. How often can you say that about a carb-loaded breakfast?!

I roasted strawberries for the first time a few days before making these waffles and was completely blown away by how jammy and delectable they tasted. They immediately became my new favorite condiment. I wanted to put them on everything. So I used them as an excuse to make and post my favorite waffles...and to eat chocolate for breakfast.

As for this raw chocolate sauce, well, it is the icing on this breakfast cake. Is it strictly necessary? No. Will you want to pour it all over your waffle to swirl amongst the jammy strawberries and then eat any that's leftover shamelessly with a spoon and lick the container afterwards? Yes. The sauce is the brainchild of Sarah B. of My New Roots and comes from her gorgeous first cookbook. She put it in the dessert section with some poached pears, but knowing how much I love sweets I'm sure she will not be surprised to find me blatantly encouraging you to incorporate it into your breakfast. (Needless to say, you can put the strawberries and chocolate sauce on your ice cream later, too.)

While you could make the chocolate sauce with unsweetened cocoa powder, I strongly encourage you to buy a small bag of raw cacao powder to use in this recipe if you don't own any already. The nutritional difference is HUGE. As in, there is little to no nutritional value in processed cocoa powder, while raw cacao powder is ground without heat and consequently retains all of its magical potent miracle qualities. If my brain were working better I would do some research and explain said qualities to you, but since it isn't, I will simply direct you to Sarah B.'s highly informative and entertaining explanation, which you can find here.

I think that's about all I've got in me for now. Tune in next time for more grounding, uplifting, meditative words on life, our world and our spirits. In the meantime, go make some badass healthy waffles.

Multigrain Waffles, Roasted Strawberries & Raw Chocolate Olive Oil Sauce
Serves 4


Ingredients
Multigrain Wafflesslightly adapted from Sprouted Kitchen
1 egg, room temperature
1/2 cup full fat plain yogurt
1 cup milk (plant or whole cow's, preferably organic)
2 Tbsp. orange juice, fresh squeezed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. melted coconut oil or ghee
2 Tbsp. flaxmeal
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oat flour (make this by blitzing oats in a blender!)
1 Tbsp. muscovado or coconut sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt

Roasted Strawberries
16 oz strawberries, hulled and cut into halves from top to bottom
1 Tbsp. cold-pressed olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. real maple syrup
1/8 tsp. sea salt

Raw Chocolate Olive Oil Sauce, slightly adapted from My New Roots: Inspired Plant Based Recipes for Every Season by Sarah Britton
3 Tbsp. cold-pressed olive oil, preferably with a sweet/mild flavor
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
pinch of fine sea salt
3 Tbsp. raw cacao powder

Directions
Multigrain Waffles
1. In a large bowl, mix all of the wet ingredients (egg through melted oil) together.
2. In a separate bowl, mix the remaining ingredients together.
3. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ones. Let sit for a few minutes while you heat up your waffle iron. If you'll be waiting to eat once they've all been cooked, pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees.
4. Pour enough batter into the iron to fill it without overflowing it (I tend to err on the conservative side). The waffle will be done when the machine stops steaming.
5. Place each waffle on a baking sheet in the oven to stay crisp if you aren't eating immediately.

Roasted Strawberries 
(It's best to get these started and in the oven first, so they're baking while you're mixing your waffle batter)
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil and maple syrup.
3. Pour the mixture over prepared strawberries and toss to coat (you can do this in a bowl, but I often do it with my hands directly on the baking sheet because it means one less bowl to clean).
4. Sprinkle a generous pinch of salt over the strawberries.
5. Roast for 30 minutes, until collapsed and jammy.

Raw Chocolate Sauce
1. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, maple syrup and salt together.
2. Sift in the cacao powder and whisk well.