Sunny and warm days are a rare occurrence in Belfast, so when they happen you must be sure to squeeze every drop of summer out of them. For yesterday’s PeaceMeal, we started with a drink of liquid sunshine, that is, pineapple-mango-coconut smoothies with chia seeds for a real energy boost. Then we made a red lentil hummus – a signature dish inspired by of one of the guests.
Then we took advantage of the sunshine to fire up the grill! This is the first time PeaceMeals has ever grilled, and it was a big hit! We made individual pizzas with easy whole grain crusts, grilled eggplant, zucchini, onions, sautéed spinach and garlic, homemade tomato sauce, mozzarella, and pine nuts. Most of these toppings are in season, so they’re super cheap at the market, and packed full of energy-boosting nutrients!
We all had great fun managing the open flame and wondering why grilling is often considered “men’s cooking” (seriously, why IS that?) There is something so elemental about cooking over open fire which is incredibly satisfying. The work and time it takes certainly makes the food that much more delicious (example: taste a piece of grilled eggplant versus boiled eggplant. No contest.)
Our dinnertime conversation drifted between our signature dishes we always bring to dinner parties, to the foods that we crave when feeling stressed or depressed, to strategies that help to get us out of bed during those extra-difficult days of overwhelming grief. It’s good to know that we’re not alone on those dark days, and it was amazing to share a table with other women who could understand this on a very real level.
All too soon, it was time for dessert! (But really, is it ever too soon for dessert?) We made an easy, versatile dessert which is a hit every time at dinner parties: a maple-oat fruit crumble. This dish can be made all year round using whatever fruit is in season – we used strawberries and juicy peaches. The best part is, because there is no added sugar, you don’t have to feel guilty eating the leftovers for breakfast, with yogurt or just on it’s own. We had a homemade healthy vanilla frozen yogurt on the side – perfect summer food!
As a bonus, I’ve shared the recipe for this fruit crumble below. You can make this ahead of time and take it to your summer picnics. After it’s baked, allow it to warm in the sun under aluminum foil and blow your taste buds away!
I am so grateful to all the women who shared this PeaceMeal, as we became Epic Grillmasters and closer friends. I can’t wait for the next one!
Fruit Porridge Crisp
Serves 4 to 6
- 1 pound/.5 kilo seasonal fruit of your choice (SEE NOTE BELOW)
- ½ cup dried fruit of your choice (SEE NOTE BELOW)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup or honey
For the crumble:
- 1 1/2 cups quick-cooking porridge oats (NOT steel cut oats)
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (or gluten-free flour of your choice)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon water
- Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C.
- In a medium bowl, toss together fruit, dried fruit, cornstarch, spices, and maple syrup. Toss with a spoon until cornstarch has disappeared into the mixture.
- Pour into an 8×8-inch square pan. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together oats, flour, spices, and salt.
- In a small bowl, whisk together oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and water.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry, all at once. Toss together, ensuring that all of the dry ingredients are moistened.
- Spoon the oat mixture on top of the prepared fruit mixture.
- Place in the oven to bake until the fruit has softened and crumble is brown, 20 to 30 minutes.
- Remove from oven and serve with whipped cream, yogurt, or just by itself!
NOTE: For a twist, try this recipe with any of these combinations:
- Straight-up apples (about 3 medium-sized, unpeeled and chopped into pieces), or apples + figs
- Strawberry/rhubarb + chopped dried apricots
- Pears/peaches + crystallized ginger
- Pear/Pineapple + add ½ cup of shredded, unsweetened coconut to the oat crumble.
- After eating this dessert, it is hard to believe that it has no added sugar! Without any processed sugar, this recipe is easier on the blood sugar and digestion. Avoiding processed sugar can help reduce sugar cravings and irritability.
- This dessert also helps to calm irritability and mood swings because it is full of fiber, which regulates blood sugar and digestion. Fruit is full of soluble fiber called pectin, which is important for keeping blood sugar in check and helps to detoxify the colon.
- Eating complex carbohydrates from whole grains like oats produces serotonin, a “feel-good” neurochemical, which may help reduce anxiety and depression. They also can prevent mood swings because they help stabilize blood sugar. Oats contain a specific type of fiber known as beta-glucan which helps us feel fuller longer. In addition, beta-glucan helps remove cholesterol from the digestive system that would otherwise end up in the bloodstream and may significantly enhance the immune system’s ability to fight bacterial infection.
- Cinnamon is a superfood! Studies have shown that cinnamon slows the rate at which the stomach empties after meals, normalizing blood sugar after eating. In a study published in Diabetes Care, consuming as little as 1 gram of cinnamon per day was found to reduce blood sugar, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and total cholesterol in individuals with Type 2 Diabetes. Feeling a little fuzzy at work or school? Research led by Dr. P. Zoladz found that smelling cinnamon or even chewing cinnamon flavored gum enhanced study participants’ cognitive processing, including memory and visual-motor speed.
Recipe adapted from: www.joythebaker.com