Nowadays many individuals are leaning towards plant-based as the healthy option instead of refusing it. Many home cooks and chefs are making commitments promoting whole grains, nuts, legumes, vegetables, and fruits in everyday menus. I was asked many times “what is my favourite food group” and my answer is always NOTHING because I want them all. I’m very lucky and grateful for being blessed that I don’t have any food allergies and I just love trying and making new things while incorporating any available ingredients. It’s not being a savage but rather enjoying the most of it and in a way where balance is also important.
The best part of grains and seeds is their versatility. You can find them in soups, salad, stews, desserts, snacks, or eat them on its own. I always remember those days a long time ago where we cook savoury mung beans and steamed rice for our main meals and when we get tired of it, we would cook the mung beans again by adding sugar as a sweet treat and served it as a “meryenda”( snack). For the grains, rice is our staple food that is always paired with any form of protein or vegetables. For our “meryenda”, we cook rice with added sugar and coconut milk. It was simple but we felt nourished and content, another story of my life.
One of the best grains that I use a lot at home is Oatmeal groats. While some thought about steaming bowls of oatmeal or oatmeal raisin cookies, Oatmeal groats have actually many uses in the kitchen. I like the hearty chewy texture and the idea of minimally processed reserving all the good stuff which is a very healthy addition in our diet 1.
When I make my favourite oatmeal groats porridge for breakfast , it is always an indulgence. 1 cup broth, 1 cup cooked oat groats and lentils- bring to a boil add seasoning, 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger, add eggs to the porridge and let it poach. Serve with hot sauce, It will keep your energy all day. But always remember, when you want to have a leisurely steaming oatmeal groat for breakfast on workdays, cook the grains at night and the only thing that you need to do the next morning is to heat it up and add anything that tickles your taste buds, you will only need 10 minutes and enjoy a hearty- healthy breakfast.
Adding grains like Oat groats, rice, quinoa, farro, barley and buckwheat groats plus pulses or legumes with a mixture of vegetables and mixed lettuces to make a salad is one complete healthy meal in a bowl. Make it a delicious vegetarian or add fish, any kind of meat or my favourite grilled Asian Chicken breast to give an extra boost of protein. For the vinaigrette, I always start with 1 part acid, 2 or 3 parts of oil some seasoning, herbs and spices for a kick.
Also, have you ever used NUTRITIONAL YEAST? This is famous for the vegetarian diet as a cheese substitute. I fell in love with its cheesy creamy flavour, that savoury seasoning where Bone Appetite magazine touted as “nature’s Cheeto dust”. I use it to flavour roasted nuts, popcorn, toasted bread, dressings, anything you can imagine. Having a whole grain and seeds with a lot of herbs, and greens in a meal with the addition of nutritional yeast would be perfectly described as, ” Green Goddess salad instead of green goddess dressing” what do you think?
GRILLED ASIAN CHICKEN RECIPE;
Chicken breasts- pounded to have the same thickness
Marinade: 1 cup chopped cilantro(leaves and stem), 1 chopped shallots, an inch piece of ginger, 1/2 piece jalapeno or any mild chili pepper, 3 tablespoon fish sauce(or use salt), 1, teaspoon ground pepper, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 lime zest and juice. Blend until smooth, taste and adjust seasoning according to your liking.
***combine chicken and marinade and let all the flavours infused for at least an hour but not more than 4 hours. Remove the chicken from the marinade and rub with oil before grilling to a pre-heated barbecue or grill pan. Grill for 4-7 minutes on each side or when the juices run clear if you cut into it.
Oatmeal Groats and Beans Salad
- 3 cups cooked beluga lentils and Oat groats **see note
- 1 cup cooked black beans
- 4 cups washed, and cleaned kale, chopped into bite sizes
- 2 medium carrots grated using the bigger holes of grater box
- 4 stalks scallion, thinly sliced
- 2 cups green beans, cut into 2 inches long
- 2 large avocado, pitted and cubed
- ¼ cup thinly sliced red onions
- 1 cup chopped cilantro- stems included
- 1/2 cup mint
- 1 cup parley leaves
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 4 tbsp nutritional yeast (option- use 1 tablespoon dijon mustard instead)
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp each salt and pepper
- cook the green beans in a boiling water until crisp tender. 1 to 2 minutes. Drain the green beans and transfer to a bowl of ice water. drain well , pat dry and place the beans in a large bowl.
- For the Vinaigrette, combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth, and keep aside.
- In another bowl, place the kale, drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil and give a gentle massage until soft but not overly massage as they fall apart. Add with the beans followed by the rest of the ingredients. Drizzle a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette to start and toss to combine, add more dressing if necessary a or to your liking.
***NOTE: In a strainer, place 1 1/2 cup oatmeal groats and 1 cup beluga lentils and rinse. Transfer to a bowl, add enough water to cover and let it soak overnight to soften. cook the next day, drain and transfer to a rice cooker and add 3 cups of water, 2 cloves of garlic and 3 bay leaf. (this is to make life easier) If a rice cooker is not available, use the traditional way of cooking using pots and stovetop.
- ****Without soaking, rinse a cup of groats, add 2 cups or more of water and let it simmer for 30 minutes, drain and let it cool. Rinse a cup of beluga lentils and let it simmer for 20 minutes, drain to dry.