During this unprecedented time of global lockdown, depending on whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, you’re either aglow with contentment or climbing the walls. Even a life-long bookworm like me is having challenging moments. While I’m content to curl up with a memoir or writing project, there’s no denying that the why of our lockdown is disturbing to the core.
I’ve limited my news-watching, but also refuse to lift off into la-la land. What I see on TV and on the internet often freezes me in my tracks with dread. I take the necessary steps to protect myself. I check on loved ones and urge them to do the same. I say prayers for the afflicted and medical and military personnel on the frontlines doing the brave work of heroes.
Sometimes I find tears welling up out of nowhere. Or sudden irritability gushes forth like Old Faithful and I’m silently criticizing everything from politicians and celebrities to the ads on TV (which have swiftly switched gears to capitalize on the nation’s collective anxiousness).
And as a longtime emotional eater, I observe myself. For me, this is a sort of emotional temperature-taking throughout the day, done without criticism or scorn. I simply notice what I’m feeling and when helplessness or frustration may (as they sometimes do) propel me to seek comfort in food. There’s no doubt our present-day situation is napalm for the emotional eater. Lots of time on one’s hands coupled with stress and uncertainty can spell a beeline for the comfort food.
Bill and I have noticed on our most recent grocery shopping expeditions that the cookie and candy aisles are decimated while the produce section is chock-a-block with fruits and vegetables. Interesting. And not surprising. Salads were never my go-to comfort food, and they probably never will be. That’s why, when it comes to fine-tuning comfort-food tastes towards whole foods instead of processed junk food (and that takes good old-fashioned time) it’s best to cater (no pun intended) to your personal preferences. I’ve largely accepted that I don’t like raw vegetables. I’ll eat salads to be virtuous, but they’re something I’d rather do without. Instead, I alchemize the world of vegetables into soups and stews, and there are lots of delicious recipes in my archives here.
Today’s missive is about touting one of my new favorite clean comfort foods: Hot cereal. Don’t laugh! Think about it. Hot cereal is an unsung (and often improperly rendered) hero that, when made the right way and with the right accompaniments, can nourish and satisfy…WITHOUT skyrocketing your blood sugar or decimating your liver. With the majority of my adult life spent as a hardcore binge-eater, I’m amazed I never needed a transplant. So now, I spend my days eating foods that nourish me thoroughly which I also happen to enjoy. Take it from an experience yo-yo dieter, nutrition is just a hologram if you don’t enjoy what you’re eating.
There are actually several versions in my archives, but my new favorite is rice-based. Brown rice, that is. Quite simply, it’s one of nature’s most perfect foods. And don’t get hung up on the fact it’s a carb. It’s a complex carb (not a white one) and that means it comes with fiber, nutrients, and even a little protein. And according to my wonderful nutritionist, Nancy Guberti, it’s also anti-inflammatory. Now, it is a carb, which doesn’t mean license to go nuts, but when I want something warm, creamy, and comforting, this fits the bill.
It may seem like a lot of work to mill it from scratch but you’ve got nothing but time right now, so what better opportunity to see if hot cereal might be your new go-to. And as far as time investment into food-prep goes, the way I look at it is: when I’m the one doing the processing in my kitchen, it means I’ve eliminated processing that would otherwise take place at a factory, so who’s the winner?
There really aren’t a lot of rules for hot cereal, other than, make the base non-dairy if you can. Flavoring is up to you. Today, I used a blend of cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg. Turmeric is wonderful as well. I take my hot cereal unsweetened, but if you want, add some maple syrup, honey, or Stevia. Oh, and you can even up the nutrition with chia seeds, ground flax seeds, or hemp heart seeds. Trust me, your body will love all this and ask you why you didn’t do this sooner. And…this freezes beautifully, giving you yet another option for healthy fast food.
Brown Rice Cereal:
2 cups cooked brown rice
about a cup of warm unsweetened almond milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
Blend all ingredients in a Vitamix or blender until smooth. Depending on how thick you like your cereal, adjust the milk – I like it on the thinner side. Bake in a covered crock until warm and bubbly or heat over medium-low heat on the stove, stirring occasionally.
Love, love, LOVE my Vitamix!
I prefer baking it, but that’s just me…