I woke up oddly cranky yesterday, sort of like a young child not wanting play time to be over. I couldn't really pin it on one particular thing, but as I sat on my couch, drinking my morning cup of coffee and watching it drizzle outside, I decided it must be the weather.
Here in Portland, we've turned a corner of sorts...the dry, sunny summer weather that is practically guaranteed on a daily basis has given way to mostly cloudy days, speckled with rain showers and bursts of sunshine. When they say it rains in Portland nine months out of the year, it's the half-truth. Mostly, it means we have little guaranteed sunshine and most of our 'rainy' days are filled with some combination of sun-breaks mixed with rain to varying degrees; it comes in the form of mist, drizzle, intermittent rain showers, and all-out down-pours.
The days are also getting shorter at what seems to be a unusually rapid pace and I am walking home from rowing in the morning before the sun has even come up.
So, yesterday I felt kind of cranky as my subconscious took its time working through all of this. I even had little desire to go to the farmer's market to pick up the vegetables and fruit we would need for the week. It just felt like another chore.
I was amazed at how the market always seems to lift my spirits.
Even yesterday, in my funk, it took merely moments at the market for me to begin to feel happy, excited, and calm. I love the relationship we have with our farmers, I love the people who believe in buying local food, and I love the willingness of the farmers to teach the customers what they know about growing, cooking, and eating healthy food. In short, I love the conversations I overhear, and often have, among the vendors and farmers and customers.
Fall is an especially favorite time for me at the market. I know, I love all of the other seasons too, like mid-summer when berries of all colors, shapes, and sizes take over, but there seems to be a special place in my heart for the fall food season.
It might have been my first fall in Portland when I realized apples came in countless varieties and was delighted each weekend to see the overwhelming barrels of beautiful apples at nearly every fruit stand. I had never enjoyed eating apples until that fall...the ones I had experienced growing up (or at the grocery store) were all grainy and covered in that waxy coating – blech! Or the Fall I turned 25, when my mom came to visit me and (with her help) I made acorn squash for the first time (and fell in love with it).
It's also the moist, chilly weather. It's the smoke, coming from the vendor roasting peppers, that hangs heavily in the air. The crowds also thin out this time of year; with tourist season being over, most of the people at the market now are Portlanders, making the market feel more calm.
Yesterday I loaded up on delicious apples (three different varieties), peaches (likely to soon be gone), acorn squash, ambercup squash, zucchini (how could I resist?), and those delicious french-style green beans.
This morning I had been thinking about how many gluten-free-ers have several other dietary restrictions (see no gluten, no problem for a great post on the topic) and many are even completely grain free (I have read this helps reduce inflammation, though I don't know if personally that is why they are grain free). With these thoughts floating through my brain, I created a different take on a meal I used to eat while studying in Germany. This meal originally consisted of white rice, moo-cow milk, cinnamon, and sugar. I later began to add diced apples to the mix.
With the apples from the farmer's market yesterday, I concocted the meal pictured above: a healthy, filling breakfast that was grain-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, and (of course!) gluten free.
Some of the apples will go to making gluten free apple empandadas, but they will also serve me well for breakfast this week. This really isn't much of a 'recipe,' but more of a description of what I threw together. Play with it and make it how you like it!
Grain-free, dairy free, apple cereal breakfast:
Cut a large apple (of your favorite variety) into bite-sized pieces, like you would for a pie. Place the apple pieces in a medium saucepan and add a splash of water. Sprinkle generously with apple pie spice (or cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice) and mix well. Simmer on low for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the apples are tender.
Throw the apple pieces in a large bowl, top with a handful of cashews, a healthy dose of sunflower seeds, and a smattering of coconut. Pour your favorite milk on top (I use Pacific Foods Hazelnut) and enjoy!
Tip: You can cook up several apples at once and refrigerate the leftovers for a quick work-day breakfast all week!
How do you like your apples?