With the first taste of winter chill and in the time well before dawn that is too late to call evening I began my annual tradition. With one gnarled old hand wrapped around my trusty Gränsfors Bruk axe and the other finding warmth in the ‘morning black’, I made my way outside to do what I do each morning since I was a young boy.
Splitting wood; not for ‘exercise’ but for need, to provide warmth and comfort in the home and if not simpler as I was taught as a boy, this is what you do. There is a great lesson to be found in that simple notion because the longer you live the more you respect that many times you will need to accomplish tasks for the sake of others without fanfare or credit. So it is, like many across the world, in the dark of night and with cold of winter edging on the horizon I pushed up my sleeves, took one last mouthful of coffee and ‘went to work’.
When you start each morning splitting wood there is no discussion of rising slowly out of bed like a precious flower glistening in the sun but rather you’re up early to make sure the home is warm and comfortable for others. It’s about duty and responsibility.
Now inside and with the back drop of a crackling fire and the aroma of fresh brewed coffee, it is time for a nutritious breakfast there is need no true need to restrict calories when your ‘comfort food’ is REAL FOOD. If there is a common error with ‘comfort food’ choices it is that they typically involve choices that have no role in a healthy diet and processed nonsense from a factory. ‘Comfort foods’ need to follow a simplified ‘plan of attack’ as they:
- Do not need an ingredient list and are ‘real food’, decidely not conceived in a laboratory Petri dish.
- Do not require a review of notes from third year Chemistry class or a calculator to evaluate nutritional value.
- Do not need a ‘brand name’ that is decided in a latte swilling focus group or distinctive packaging to deflect it is processed ‘food items’.
There are any number of ‘comfort foods’ that assist overall nutrition that are perfect for snacking. Naturally items such as fresh game, fruit or raw vegetables have been excluded as their inclusion should be obvious but often cost prohibitive. Equally items that are proven to elevate mood, i.e. coffee, vanilla and (high quality) chocolate have been omitted as they are standards daily inclusions.
- Oatmeal with Almond or Peanut Butter (natural). A high energy ‘feel good’ staple that can be further fortified with a preferred protein supplement, as well as strawberries preserves and ‘raw’ honey. Go the distance, add maple syrup
- Protein infused pancakes with natural Maple Syrup. ‘Buddy’ is correct, more maple syrup.
- Sweet Potato Chili. Very simple ingredients of red and black beans, a yellow onion, garlic, vegetable or chicken stock, chili powder and cumin as well as chicken if you wish.
- Almond or Peanut Butter. Blend at home or store. Naturally other nut butters are welcomed and decision should be based upon availability and 'yes' maple syrup is a wonderful addition
- Chocolate chunk Trail Mix
Trail Mix recipe
• ½ cup ‘raw’ honey • 4½ - 5 cups organic oats • 1+ cups high quality chocolate chunks (not processed chips, chunks) to suit personal taste • ½ cup wheat germ • 1 teaspoon fresh cinnamon • 1/3 teaspoon nutmeg • 1/3 cup maple syrup (can increase to suit taste) • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds • 1/3 cup sesame seeds • 1/3 cup almonds (buy whole and pound into pieces) • 1/3 cup walnuts (shell and pound into pieces) • 1/4 cup dried blueberries • 1/4 cup dried cherries or cranberries
Blend dry ingredients together. Slowly warm the honey in double boiler and once warm blend with apple juice and dry mix. Spread mix evenly over large cookie sheet and bake at 135 C / 275F for twenty-five minutes stirring every five minutes.
In answer to the question, 'yes' I like maple syrup.
Prepared by John Davies
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