Spiced Pumpkin Quinoa Breakfast Porridge with Pistachios

I’ve always eaten breakfast, but I haven’t always eaten breakfast well. For most of my life, breakfast meant a bowl of cold cereal and milk, or a couple pieces of toast with butter and jam. It was mostly carbohydrates with just a little fat, and I was always ravenous within a couple hours.

In Japan I changed my ways, partly because I was obsessed with the eggs and yogurt there, and partly because my teaching schedule left no time for a mid-morning snack. Breakfast had to get me through to lunch, which is why I ate the exact. same. breakfast. Every day for two years! I always had a super-thick piece of buttered toast — we’d call it Texas toast here — full-fat yogurt with muesli and fruit, and one hard-boiled egg. I never got tired of it. And its mix of carbs, protein and fat fueled me through lunchtime.

Since then, I’ve always strived to include a little protein and healthy fat with my morning carbs, and a little fruit to get the day started right. Usually that means toast topped with almond butter with a side of plain yogurt and fruit, or oatmeal with dried fruit, ground flaxseeds and nuts. But lately I’ve been in a rut and I’m hoping this porridge will snap me out of it.

October means pumpkin time — seriously, have you seen this month’s Fearless Flyer from Trader Joe’s? — and I’m always happy to celebrate. But you know what I’m not happy to do? Make a pumpkin recipe that only uses part of the can, so that I’m left with a weird little container of pumpkin puree in the fridge that inevitably goes moldy and makes me feel guilty when I have to throw it out. Pumpkin guilt: I don’t need it.

So this recipe intentionally uses a full 15-ounce can of pumpkin, which makes for a very pumpkin-y porridge. It’s also not terribly sweet, so if you want a full-on pumpkin-pie-for-breakfast experience, you may want to up the brown sugar. Either way, this is a perfectly autumnal breakfast full of protein and healthy fats to get you through the day — without a trace of pumpkin guilt.
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Friday Links: October 12, 2012

Kimchi fried rice with extra kimchi on the side. (Follow me on Instagram: anjaliruth.)


What I’ve been reading:

Why California’s Prop 37 Should Matter to Anyone Who Cares About Food – The New York Times

Botulism Outbreak Tied To Contaminated Prison Hooch – NPR

School Year’s Resolution 2: Master the Weekly Shop at Dinner: A Love Story (Lots of good grocery-shopping tips!)

• Modernist Cuisine at Home: Make Water Work for You – Food52


What I’ve been cooking (at The Kitchn):

Prosciutto & Arugula Pizza

Kimchi Fried Rice with Extra Greens

Coconut Black Rice Pudding

…and thinking about cooking:

Whole Wheat Walnut Pancakes with Brown Butter Apple Compote – Good Things Grow

Yotam Ottlenghi’s Tuna Cakes with Yuzu Yogurt – The Guardian UK

Nutritionist vs Registered Dietitian: What’s the Difference?

A dietitian can be a nutritionist, but a nutritionist isn’t necessarily a dietitian. What the what? Although most people use the terms interchangeably, there is actually a big difference between the two.

The short answer: A dietitian has to meet specific standards in education and supervised training, as well as pass a national registration exam. And a nutritionist…just has to call herself a nutritionist.

More specifically, a registered dietitian (RD) must have at least a bachelor’s degree with coursework that has been approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the agency which oversees and confers professional credentials in the U.S. After completing the required coursework — which includes classes in food science and nutrition, biochemistry, physiology, medical nutrition therapy, and many, many more — students must complete 1200 hours of supervised practice from an accredited dietetic internship program. After the completion of the internship, students are eligible to take the registration exam and, after passing, use the title “registered dietitian.” In order to keep their credentials, dietitians must also keep up with continuing education requirements, so they stay up to date with the newest nutrition information.

In contrast, there is no regulating board for nutritionists, which means anyone can claim the title at any time. This isn’t to say that there aren’t nutritionists out there who are highly educated, experienced and keeping up with the latest developments in food and nutrition — there is just no way to know for sure without asking some very specific questions and hoping you can trust all the answers.

Obviously, as someone studying to be a dietitian, I am biased toward RDs. There is a reason I am going through the multi-year process of becoming a registered dietitian rather than a choosing a short nutrition training program and starting work immediately. Part of it is the greater number of job opportunities available, but I also admire the amount of learning and training RDs go through before beginning their practice. I don’t just want to be someone who knows a lot about nutrition, I want to be an expert.

You can trust that a dietitian will be a nutrition expert. That’s the biggest difference.

More Information:
Qualifications of a Registered Dietitian at the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

Roasted Tomato, Squash & Coconut Milk Bisque

I’m suffering from a major case of autumn envy.

On Facebook friends who don’t live in Los Angeles talk about brisk, sunny days and post photos of themselves wearing adorable trench coats and boots while I sit, sweating, in a limp tank top and stupid shorts. It’s October. It was 96°F today.

So in rebellion, I made soup.

I’ll admit there is something nice about the overlap between summer’s bursting produce and the comforting vegetables of fall. Dark red summer tomatoes are cheaper at the farmers market now, as vendors try to sell off the last of the season, and winter squash has started popping up, with names straight out of J. Crew’s fall collection. Butternut. Ambercup. Acorn.

This summer-fall hybrid time seemed like the perfect moment to try a recipe I pinned ages ago, a vegan tomato-squash bisque made with coconut milk instead of cream from the lovely blog Honest Fare. The tomatoes and squash are roasted first to concentrate their flavors, then simmered in coconut milk and vegetable stock before being whizzed into a smooth puree.

To play off the coconut, I added fresh grated ginger to the mixture and skipped the basil called for in the original recipe. I also used light coconut instead of full-fat, which I think lets the flavors of the vegetables come to the forefront: the bright tomatoes, the sweet squash. It’s a cross between a Thanksgiving-ready creamy butternut soup and a fresh summer tomato soup and I like it so much I’ve made it twice, even during this endless Indian summer.
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Summer Corn, Zucchini & Tomato Grain Salad with Lemon-Avocado Dressing

If there was ever a time to stop by a farmers market or join a CSA, this is it. Sweet corn, zucchini, eggplants, peppers, basil are cheap and plentiful and so much better than the sad plastic-wrapped versions you’ll find at Trader Joe’s. And because everything tastes so good, it takes almost no work to turn it into a quick grain-based salad full of bright colors and crunchy-chewy-soft textures.

My obsession with grain salads has been going strong for the last couple years, to the point where I actually have to tell myself, Do NOT make a grain salad! when pondering my dinner options. I can’t help it: they’re quick, adaptable, easy to load up with vegetables, and make good lunch leftovers the next day. You can eat them warm or cold. You can eat them in a house. You can eat them with a mouse. Box, fox, here, there, anywhere. I love them.

This particular salad uses a little of everything from my late-summer vegetable drawer, mixed with a lemon dressing made with avocado oil. The zucchini is prepped in my favorite way: sliced into shreds and tossed with salt to draw out some of the moisture, giving it a ton of flavor and a still-crunchy texture. The corn is cooked in its husk in the microwave, a new-to-me method that takes less than 5 minutes and has replaced my usual boiling-water bath.

And the grain I happened to have on hand is an odd find — pearled farro, which is a quicker-cooking (and less nutritious) version of farro, a type of wheat. I didn’t have a full cup left when I made the salad for these photos, so I supplemented with some quinoa. Feel free to use whatever grains you have on hand, though the size and texture of grains like barley and farro seem particularly well-suited for this combination.

Play around, use what you have on hand, add a little crumbled feta cheese if you’re feeling crazy and watch out. Because you just might get addicted to grain salads too.

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