Tuesday, 17 January 2017

On eating and a sunny breakfast recipe for January

Several strange and unexpected things have happened since I wrote my post dismissing resolutions. In it, I spoke about rejecting deprivation and opting for pleasure and both these concepts hold true. But what I didn't anticipate was how much time and energy would be freed up by refusing to diet.

The past fortnight has been ridiculously productive, almost to the point where I've been overwhelmed by the ideas that have flowed and the output I've achieved. Not sure how much is related to the freeing up of headspace when diet isn't a major preoccupation but I'm certainly enjoying it and taking advantage of the energy.

A few days after writing that post I came across a book by Bee Wilson called This is Not a Diet Book, mentioned by Laura at Circle of Pine Trees. Honestly, I rarely proclaim so forcefully but if you (like me) have ever tied yourself up in knots trying to decide whether to paleo or HIIT or clean eating or whatever then this read will set you free. Bee Wilson has found a kind and easy way to recalibrate the idea of meals and food and it's changed everything for me. I could go on and on about it forever (which you wouldn't thank me for) but as it's such a short, easy read I suggest getting hold of a copy and trying it for yourself.

Another major thing that's happened is that a series of gears all came together at once, leading me to veganism. It's something I've dabbled with in the past but for different reasons. This time, my youngest asked me some very difficult questions about why we drink cow's milk and I found myself unable to give him a satisfactory answer. It was the prompt I needed to do a bit of reading and one thing led to another and before I knew it I was watching a hard-hitting film on YouTube so upsetting that I made the switch straightaway. Then, I watched Cowspiracy and was shocked at how devastating the meat and dairy industries are for our planet (my car ownership guilt pales into insignificance in comparison - transport contributes 13% of greenhouse gas emissions compared to 51% from livestock production). And that was that. Vegan.

Which leads neatly on to the recipe. Yesterday was Blue Monday, a name that felt apt in the drizzle and gloom of the school run. After dropping the kids, I bought a few bits and bobs for the week - bread, veg etc and I spotted a punnet of apricots. Their sunny yellow skins beamed out at me from the shelf and the thought of warm, sweet fruit for my late breakfast was irresistible.

Roasted apricots with almonds and yoghurt

You will need:
Fresh apricots, three or four per person
Butter or non-dairy alternative (coconut oil would work well here)
Ground almonds
Light brown sugar
Spices such as cinnamon if you fancy
Plain yoghurt or non-dairy alternative

1. Preheat the oven to 200C.

2. Halve and stone the apricots and nestle them upright into an ovenproof dish so that they're holding each other up.

3. Into each of the little wells, slide a small blob of butter or alternative. You don't need loads, about 1/4 tsp for each will do.

4. In a separate bowl, mix together equal quantities of almonds and sugar. For a punnet of apricots, I used two large dessertspoons of each. Add spice to taste at this stage.

5. Scatter the almond/sugar mixture over the fruit. You're creating a pseudo crumble so you'll want to be fairly generous.

6. Put the apricots into the oven for 20-30 minutes. Check on them before they fall apart. You want them just on the verge (sounds familiar!).

7. Serve with small bowlfuls of yoghurt, with a little vanilla powder (my favourite) stirred through if you like, and plenty of hot tea. Follow the light around the house and eat next to a sunny window if you can.

Did you survive Blue Monday? What are your strategies for staying buoyant in the cold, greyness of winter?

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