After a four-year drought in Northern California, flooding rains are back. The dark sky has been pouring, practically day and night, for what seems like weeks now. I cannot even begin to tell you how thrilled this makes me. For one, we really need it. For two, I must have been Irish in another lifetime, because nothing pleases me more than gray clouds and a near constant downpour.
Of course, cold mornings mean that I am making warm porridge with more frequency, and I have been experimenting with all sorts of combinations and flavors. Today I wanted to share with you a millet bowl with roasted blueberries and coconut horchata.
Horchata is a sweet and creamy drink, originally made from barley, but now typically with rice as a base, and served in many Spanish-speaking countries, from Spain to Latin America. It is often flavored with vanilla, sugar and cinnamon. Other ingredients might include almonds, tiger nuts, sesame seeds, allspice, coconut milk, and even lime zest… horchata can be made in a myriad of ways!
For this recipe, I wanted to make a coconut version of horchata in honor of The Whole Coconut Cookbook that just came out a few days ago – the base is brown rice, but I’ve added full-fat coconut milk for a creamier texture, and also a healthy serving of vanilla, cinnamon, as well as a dash of coconut palm sugar for a little sweetness. I top the porridge with roasted blueberries.
Have you ever roasted blueberries?
Roasting fruits is a wonderful way to caramelize their sweetness and flavor! The blueberries puff up, and glisten, and look like they’re about to burst. Plus, they’re warm, and that certainly beats adding cold fruit to a hot porridge.
I know it’s not blueberry season, you don’t need to remind me. It’s just that sometimes, even in the middle of winter, I crave them so much that, well, I need to get my fix. As much as I try to eat local and in season, I refuse to be overly dogmatic about food. Pleasure is what I focus on, and so, if I really want something and it is available and flavorful (because let’s be honest, anyone who has had tomatoes in the middle of winter knows that they simply taste awful!), then I will allow myself the occasional splurge.
Pleasure. We don’t talk nearly enough about it when it comes to food. As a culture, we have so many complex emotions surrounding what is on our plate. Eat this, don’t eat that. This food is good, this one is bad.
I don’t believe any of that.
I think that if we focus on eating real food, and we learn to listen to our bodies, then we will be guided in balance and health. No need to fight, no need to struggle. We should love every single bite, and nourish ourselves, body and soul, with the most scrumptiously delicious foods.
But here’s the thing. “Real food” is the important bit. “Foods” that are grown in a lab, and laced with chemicals engineered to assault our senses do not deserve that name. They damage our palates and turn us into perpetually starved (and addicted) consumers.
The pleasure we get from those toxic bites is very fleeting, and never deeply satisfying. I believe that true pleasure in food happens when nutrition and taste are so perfectly balanced that they leave us completely nourished.
That food is where my obsession lies.
Love and health!
- 1 1/2 cups millet
- 2 1/4 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 3 cups blueberries
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup pecans (or some other nut of choice)
- 2 cups brown rice, soaked in water with a dash of vinegar, overnight
- 5 cups water
- 1 cup full-fat coconut milk (I like Aroy-D)
- 1/3 cup coconut palm sugar
- 2 vanilla beans, seeded (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Drain and rinse the rice. Add the rice and water to a high speed blender. Blend on high until smooth, about 1 minute. Strain into a small saucepan through a nut milk bag.
- Add the coconut milk, sugar and cinnamon. Whisk while heating on medium heat, until warm.
- Toast the millet in a dry skillet until fragrant.
- Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the millet and sea salt. Stir a couple of times, then reduce the heat to simmer. Cover, and cook, undisturbed, until the millet is soft and the water has been absorbed, about 30 minutes.
- While the millet is cooking, prepare the blueberries.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Add the blueberries, maple syrup and vanilla extract to a baking dish and mix well. Roast in the oven until the blueberries glisten, are darker in color, and appear close to bursting, about 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- While the blueberries are cooking, preheat a saucepan on medium heat. Add the pecans and toast until fragrant and browned in places, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board to cool, then roughly chop.
- Once the millet is cooked, fluff it with a fork and separate into bowls. Top with the horchata, roasted blueberries, and chopped pecans.
- Serve immediately.
- Horchata makes a wonderful drink on its own, warm or cold!