Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been photographing and writing a lot of holiday content for various projects. A Christmas tree (fake, obviously) currently stands propped against the wall in one corner of my living room, a box of glittery ornaments is nestled on my coffee table next to a bag of silver tinsel, and heaps of richly colored tartan fabrics are resting on the floor. I’ve planned festive parties for imaginary guests and typed a whole host of yuletide greetings that will be sent out within the next couple of months. While my mind isn’t completely “there” in terms of being ready for all of those things in real life, it’s been fun to dabble in them and anticipate what this next season will bring.
Because so much of what I do is food-related, I’ve spent the better parts of recent days meandering up and down grocery store aisles, on the hunt for ingredients that aren’t typically in season yet (I am looking at you blood oranges; more on that topic soon! : )). Wegmans is my go-to source for all things out of the ordinary, and beautiful food in general. I know I’ve mentioned my love affair with the chain before, so I’ll spare you that and instead let you in on a ritual of mine.
If you’re familiar with Wegmans then you know that in addition to the freshly baked breads, cases of cheese and meat, and tables upon tables of produce, the store has a series of prepared food stations set up to the far end. I am typically not one for a “hot bar” (If I am being honest it’s mostly because I can’t look at one without thinking of an Instagram post I once saw from Tara Stiles – an idol of mine – in which she referred to a similar setup as a “sneeze bar”…Ouch! Ewww. But yeah, totally.), however I always make an exception for Wegmans and the particular section that houses the macaroni and cheese. I love me some mac and cheese.
My usual routine then is to stock my cart, pay for my wares, load my car and return to fill an embarrassingly enormous to-go container with all of that gooey goodness – especially if the truffle variety is on deck. I pretend that I’ll make it all the way home without stealing a bite (or ten), yet more often than not, I grab a fork on my way out of the store and scarf most of it down before I even exit the parking lot. Every single time that happens, I feel disgusting and tired afterward. Not on account of the pasta itself, but because as my sister would tell me, I am not eating “life-giving” food. Although, I would argue that when you have nothing to do and can curl up – by a fireplace with a few magazines in hand, perhaps? – said pasta feels pretty darn nourishing.
This bowl provides that same feeling of nourishment, but an energizing (Read: not cheesy carbfest!) boost for your insides as well. These are the breakfasts – or anytime meals – that I aspire to, that in actuality really shouldn’t be all that aspirational as the grains are quick to cook and most if not the entirety of the prep work can be done in advance. This recipe is extremely forgiving, so feel free to use any grains and combination of fruit you like. And…if you feel like you need something to add a tad extra pep in your step, there’s a recipe here for a coconut sugar caramel too!
This post is also a PSA to let you know that my friends at Andalou Naturals are launching a new campaign called Beauty is You™, and hosting a giveaway in accordance with it, in which you and a friend can enter to win a full year worth of products. You can enter: here!
You can learn more about this truly beautiful company via their website (above) or in this post!
- For the Grain Bowls:
- 1 cup freekeh
- 2½ cups almond milk
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 cardamon pods
- 2 whole cloves
- Fresh Fruit: apples, pears, blackberries, cranberries, persimmons, etc.
- For the Orange Blossom Caramel:
- 1 cup coconut sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ¼ cup almond milk
- ½ teaspoon (or more) orange blossom water (optional)
- To make the grain bowls: Place the freekeh, almond milk and spices in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover and reduce the heat the medium-low. Cook for approximately 20-25 minutes (or to package directions) until the grains are tender. Remove from the heat and discard the whole spices. Serve with desired fruit.
- To make the caramel: Place the coconut sugar and water in a saucepan set over medium-high heat. Stirring to dissolve the sugar, bring the mixture to a boil. Cook swirling the pan (not stirring) for about 4-5 minutes, until the sugar has considerable darkened, thickened a bit and has a nut smell to it. Off of the heat, stir in the almond milk, cinnamon stick and orange blossom water if using. Allow to cool. Discard the cinnamon stick before serving. Drizzle over the grain bowls!