Sunday, August 21, 2011

Redefining Breakfast: Sweet Onion & Fresh Corn Buttermilk Cakes + Chorizo Hash

Anonymous: Whoa.. You had that whole thing... for breakfast? (motions to picture)
Me: Um, yes. Why, what did you have?
Anonymous: Corn Pops.
Me: You had those... for sustenance?

There's a reason people think of sugar cereal and orange juice as breakfast, and it's not a very good one. Let's start at the beginning: the first cereal (Corn Flakes) was invented by a doctor (Dr. Kellogg) in order to feed his hospital patients a more digestible bread substitute. The year was 1906. That's why the most heavily advertised breakfast food in America was invented... for sick people who couldn't digest bread. When General Mills entered the competition for mass-producing a cheap commodity that could feed a lot of people in 1924, they removed fiber to make cereal more digestible and added sugar so it would appeal to children, then introduced mascots... and so it began.

Today, the most promoted cereals on TV are often over 40% sugar, including Cocoa Pebbles, Reeses Puffs, Corn Pops, Lucky Charms, and Cap'n Crunch. Even no-sugar "healthy" cereals, like Kashi 7 Whole Grain Cereal Puffs, have only one gram of fiber per cup. Regardless of the fact that it's just 70 calories per serving, because the product is nothing more than a grain that's been air-popped, you're actually eating the equivalent of 1/8 C of un-puffed grain (primarily wheat). This isn't to say that small amounts of cereal can't be used to accompany fresh fruit and yogurt, but consuming nothing but cereal for breakfast is about as beneficial as eating a cup and a half of popcorn.. or kettle corn, if it's sweetened cereal. That being said, it's apparent that the better breakfast choices lie beyond the Post-Kellogg-GeneralMills horizon... the solution may even be on this very page!

After a friend kindly requested that I post recipes that call for 'normal' ingredients that 'normal' people actually have in their house (instead of requiring them to go out and buy things like Japanese sweet potatoes, xanthan gum, and amaranth), I figured that since they read this thing, it was the least I could do (for the first recipe, anyway) but I digress.

Back in Breakfastland... here's a warm welcome to the double recipe special! Are you looking for something nutritious and delicious to spice up your bland breakfast routine? Need a way to use that sweet summer corn? Craving flavor? Spice? Are you alone every morning and have nothing better to do than develop breakfast recipes while you wait for school to start and the rest of the world to come home? Well, even if only one of us can answer that last question with a "yes", it's the reason this breakfast fandango was born. These sweet and savory crosses between johnny cakes and corn bread pair wonderfully with eggs, chili, sour cream, veggie scrambles, sausage, or delicious chorizo hash brimming with spices, vegan protein, and fresh vegetables (hint, hint). You can also double or triple the batch and refrigerate the batter for a breakfast that's ready in five minutes.

Sweet Corn & Green Onion Buttermilk Cakes:
- 1/2 C almond milk
- 1 tbsp vinegar
- ½ C yellow cornmeal
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- 2 small or 1 large egg
- 3 tbsp chopped green onion
- Heaped ¾ C fresh corn

In a small bowl, combine almond milk and vinegar, then let mixture sit for five minutes to make vegan buttermilk. Sift together cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium-size mixing bowl.  Add maple, egg, and buttermilk mixture and mix until uniform. Stir in onion and corn. Cook cakes over medium heat in a greased skillet. When the cakes turn golden brown (2-3 minutes), flip  and cook on the other side. Makes two servings at 260 calories each.

Spiced Chorizo Hash:
- 1/2 finely chopped onion
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp chile powder
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- 1/8 tsp liquid smoke
- 1 1/2 C water
- 1/2 C TVP
- 1 tomato, diced
- 10 mushrooms, sliced thinly
- 1/2 C spinach

In a saucepan, sautee onions for three minutes, then add garlic, salt, spices, maple and liquid smoke, and sautee for another two minutes. Add water, TVP, tomato, and mushrooms, then cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let simmer for 10 more minutes. Uncover and add spinach until wilted, then remove from heat and cover until serving so TVP can absorb more flavor. Serves 2 at 120 calories each.

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