Friday, September 13, 2013
Seed and Nut Loaf
Over the past year, I have become much more conscious of the nourishing qualities of my food. At least for the foods I eat regularly and for those I make at home, I much prefer the idea of eating food that's as whole and nutritious as it is delicious, as opposed to food that's been stripped of its nutrients through heavy refining or other processing or that's been otherwise modified or adulterated. I want sustenance, food for strength, food that's complete.
Although not practical or possible in every instance, eating with purpose is pretty straightforward. It's a simple matter of paying attention to ingredients, doing your best to determine how food was treated before it got to you, and making deliberate and informed choices. And not sacrificing taste along the way! Take this loaf for example.
This loaf is nothing short of revolutionary. I have made it a few times now, and I am officially obsessed with it. Not only is it full of wholesome, nutritious ingredients, it's freaking delicious. Toasted, room temperature, or straight out of the fridge, with cashew cream, fruit, jam, hummus... or cheese.
I call it bird bread, because, well, it reminds me of bird seed and is an amazing alternative to white, crusty bread. It makes me feel fulfilled but not weighed down. It's what I tend to grab these days in the middle of the afternoon to reenergize when lunch is no longer keeping hunger at bay. Dale loves it too. After spending a few hours in the thick late summer sun cleaning up the yard last weekend, Dale inhaled about 4 slices, slathered with peanut butter, then headed back outside for a couple more hours.
The ingredient that holds this loaf beauty together is psyllium seed husks. I know it's not an ingredient most people keep in their pantries, but, as other blogs have noted, there is no substitute for it in this recipe. And anyway, it's cheap, good for digestion, and easy to find online or at a health food store.
My version below, which I adapted from recipes I found on My New Roots and Green Kitchen Stories, is a bit sweeter. You can reduce the amount of maple syrup or omit it altogether if you prefer. In fact, you can pretty much totally customize this loaf to your tastes by subbing out seeds and nuts for others you like better or for those you have on hand. You can use honey or raw agave in place of the maple syrup and cold pressed olive or grapeseed oil in place of the coconut oil. On top of all that, this loaf makes a rather pretty slice of toast, especially when placed on a little plate and topped with a few pieces of stone fruit.
Seed and Nut Loaf
100 g (1 cup) rolled oats (gluten-free if necessary)
70 g (1/2 cup) sunflower seeds
70 g (1/2 cup) pumpkin seeds
90 g (1/2 cup) flax seeds
26 g (2 Tbsp.) chia seeds
80 g (1/3 cup) hazelnuts
80 g (1/3 cup) almonds
handful dried cranberries, cherries, or other fruit (optional)
27 g (3 Tbsp.) psyllium seed husk powder
large pinch kosher salt
50 g (2 1/2 Tbsp.) pure maple syrup
360 ml (1 1/2 cups) water
35 g (2 1/2 Tbsp.) cold pressed coconut oil, barely melted
Grease loaf pan with coconut oil and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together all dry ingredients (oats through salt) with your hands. In a large glass measuring cup, stir together water and maple syrup and pour over dry ingredients. While mixing, add melted coconut oil. Stir until mixture is evenly moistened and all ingredients are evenly distributed. Pour into prepared pan, cover with plastic wrap, and let set overnight (or for a few hours).
Position one oven rack in the middle of the oven and the other rack directly below it. Place a baking sheet on the bottom rack, and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake loaf for 25 minutes. Invert loaf directly onto middle rack (you may lose a few nuts/seeds, that's ok, the baking sheet underneath will catch them!). Continue baking 35 minutes, until loaf is nicely browned. Let cool completely on wire rack before slicing.
Loaf will keep in the fridge for about a week and freezes well. I typically slice before storing so that I have a quick and easy snack at the ready.