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.

Asparagus, Caper & Toasted Almond Tartine

A native of Los Angeles, I grew up with a rather skewed experience of the seasons. Winter to me was orange, yellow and red tinted leaves that clung to their branches well into December, suburban streets lined with hues that I thought were vibrant until the East Coast taught me otherwise. To my thin California skin, the marked chill of a day that peaked in the low 50s drew my puffy purple jacket out of the closet, which I then layered over a sweatshirt and long sleeved tee. Aside from the eventual trickle of the foliage and its indistinct renewal, seasons in Los Angeles were subtle. The sky grew grey and sometimes poured rain, but the landscape always looked pretty much the same.

My first year in New York was a shock to the system, to say the least. I will never forget how impossibly long that first winter felt—truly, like, It's April, how the hell is it STILL snowing?! It got to a point when I almost couldn't remember the particular sensation of sunshine on skin. But slowly the thaw did come. And slowly, then seemingly all at once, new life began to emerge. In the early stages of spring, the tulips struck me most. Vibrant and elegant, they covered my school's campus, a proclamation of what was just around the bend: a world overcome with rich renewal. For the first time in my life, springtime was more than just a concept, a nondescript string of months between the chill and the heat. Not only could I see spring, I could feel spring in my bones.  

While I no longer reside in a climate with such dramatic shifts, living back East taught me not only to notice the particular markers of springtime but to relish this wondrous time when the world jolts back to life. Even during distinct environmental transition, it is so easy for us not to notice. We live such busy, plugged-in lives that we become disconnected from our surroundings and focus our attention solely on our personal dramas, obligations and narratives. Yet these cycles are not separate from us. They dictate what we eat, what we wear, how we move, when we sleep, how we feel. They provide opportunities for us to turn inwards, to hibernate and reflect and then to turn outwards and grow anew with the world.

While it may be doing so more rapidly in California than in other places at present, the thaw is approaching and new life is beginning to emerge. As beings who not only inhabit this Earth but are connected to it, it serves us to tap into this natural regeneration and use it as momentum within ourselves. The days are getting noticeably longer and new, less hearty and heavy crops are popping up, both of which offer us opportunities for more buoyant and sustained energy. Spring is the perfect time to sow seeds, set intentions and bring new projects and goals into fruition. So, here is my invitation to you: set a springtime intention. Something that will bring you joy, that will help you grow. And then do it. Notice the beauty that is emerging in the natural world around you, harness the energy of that new life, and set something enlivening for yourself in motion.

It's a little crazy that I spent four paragraphs talking about the changing of the seasons with only a fleeting mention of the food that comes with the turn of spring. Living in California, the seasonal transitions are almost marked more by the rotations of produce that adorn farmers' market stalls than by drastic shifts in weather. Each season has its show stoppers, the fruits or vegetables that define a particular time of year. For springtime, it's asparagus. (Okay, and green garlic and probably a few other things, but asparagus is definitely high up on that list.) Some people probably wait all winter long to see those lean, green stalks appear at the market. No offense, but these people seem absolutely nuts to me.

Let's be real: asparagus is a challenging vegetable. It is potent (some may argue pungent) in flavor and scent. I hated it until, um, last year. I still don't love it. But! I have been introduced to methods of preparing asparagus that compliment or mellow its taste in ways that make it palatable if not even, dare I say it, delicious. The most recent method—which was so good that it is now the subject of this post—came by way of my boyfriend, who (conveniently for me) is a pretty spectacular cook. I was decidedly disinterested the evening he excitedly proclaimed he had bought a bunch of asparagus and I remained so when he later departed to the kitchen to turn it into a "snack". Twenty minutes later, drawn to the kitchen by the sweet smell of toasty almonds and browning butter, I found my anti-asparagus resolve melting away. I leaned towards his plate to examine its contents, was offered a bite, and succumbed. I was immediately dumbfounded. Staring at T in disbelief, I demanded to know what he put in that thing to make the asparagus taste so delicious. And then I ate half the food on his plate.

I knew immediately that I needed to share his divine and startlingly simple concoction with you. At the start of spring, so you can make it for yourself and then for your friends and then for your family and then for yourself again, all before the season ends. So, what are we waiting for?

Springtime Asparagus Tartine
Makes four generous tartines

Ingredients
1 bunch asparagus (preferably skinny stalks)
1 Tbsp. ghee or butter (sub cold-pressed olive oil if you're vegan)
1/2 Tbsp. dry white wine (or juice from half a lemon)
1/4 cup raw almonds
2 Tbsp. capers (preferably salt preserved), rinsed
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, minced
2 large slices of fresh, crusty Boule (whole grain blend & sourdough are great), cut in half
salt & pepper, to taste

Method
1. Heat oven or toaster oven to 325°F. Spread almonds on a baking sheet and toast until fragrant, 10-12 minutes, tossing halfway through.
2. While the almonds are roasting, prep asparagus. Cut the woody bottom third off all the stalks and discard. Cut the remaining stalks into 1 1/2" segments.
3. When the almonds are toasted, remove from the oven and roughly chop. Set aside.
4. Heat the butter or ghee in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. When hot, toss in asparagus, reduce heat to medium low, and sauté, gently stirring, until the spears start to become tender and acquire a bit of color, about 5 minutes.
5. While the asparagus is cooking, brush your bread slices with a bit of olive oil and toast them (or char them on a grill if that's accessible!).
5. Add a generous pinch of salt and some fresh ground pepper to the asparagus and stir.
6. Add your glug of white wine or squeeze of lemon juice to deglaze the pan. When stirred, it should emulsify with the oil and create a sauce-like glaze over the asparagus. Taste for doneness; you want the asparagus to be cooked but still have a bit of crunch to it.
7. Remove the pan from the heat. Toss in the capers, minced parsley and chopped almonds. Toss to combine.
8. Pile the asparagus mixture high onto each slice of toast. Enjoy immediately.