I love to cook, but I have to confess–I have always been a bit intimidated by baking.
My cooking style is wildly improvisational and frankly, I am no fan of recipes. Baking always seemed so precise, loaded with rules. My cooking is kind of like writing poetry, throw everything in there to see what works, then edit. Baking seemed to me to be the culinary equivalent of physics.
Everything changed with a pile of black bananas.
I was about to throw them into the compost one day and remembered that overripe bananas are ideal for making banana bread. I looked up a basic, vegan recipe and decided to give it a whirl. I have to confess, I mostly followed the recipe but did stray off the path a bit in the process. When they were done, I pulled them out of the oven and expected to bite into a banana flavored hockey puck, but much to my surprise, they were soft and tasty.
That was all the remedy I needed to overcome my bakophobia. With a little confidence, I have been experimenting and have come up with a carrot ginger recipe that is worth sharing. I make a real effort to eat well every day, but like everyone else, life gets busy and sometimes it’s hard to find enough time in the day for proper food preparation. With this recipe, I make up a batch, usually muffin style, which I can have for breakfast for most of the week…unless they turn out better than expected.
Since I have never had any type of disagreement with wheat or gluten, I use whole wheat flour. It’s also about the only type of flour I have available where I live, but you could easily substitute other types of flour if necessary. I add the oats for texture, flavor, weight and extra fiber. Here’s the plan:
– 4 cups of whole wheat flour
– 1 cup of whole, rolled oats
– 2 large carrots, finely grated
– 4 tbsp. of fresh ginger, finely grated
– ½ cup flax seeds
– ½ cup chia seeds
– 1 cup raisins
– 2 tbsp. cinnamon
– 1 cup honey
– 3 tbsp. baking powder
– Water to moisten
I usually start by mixing all of the dry ingredients (flour, oats, flax and chia seeds, baking powder) and then add the grated carrots, ginger, raisins and honey. Very fresh carrots work best as they help to moisten up the mixture, though once everything is combined, I always have to add a little water too. It should end up in a thick, but malleable batter, easy to stir.
I prefer using muffin tins, because muffins are quicker and easier to grab each morning for breakfast, but it can also be baked in a bread pan. I have a crazy old oven, with a mind of its own, though they should be good at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.
It is absolutely essential to grab one of the muffins, or a slice of bread, just as it comes out of the oven. With a cup of coffee or green tea, a bit of sunshine and some bare feet–an unforgettable experience.
Food is meditation, so I try to remember to chew slowly, identify the flavors and textures individually and also celebrate their symbiotic relationships. The others I heat up in the toaster oven each morning (no microwaves, please!) and they provide a healthy, energetic, even on those hectic days.
The food we put into our bodies matters.
It doesn’t just nourish our physical bodies, it also shapes our attitudes and opinions. When we cook with love in mind, the food will absorb our emotions and intentions, offering us balance for our physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual health.
Author: Peter Schaller
Assistant Editor: Leah Krohl / Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Author’s own