Baked Oatmeal to go

I often hear people tell me that they eat oatmeal some mornings for breakfast but when they are in a rush, they often choose something less healthy and sustaining.  "Why not try baked oatmeal?" I say - so today's recipe is an easy grab and go baked oatmeal.  Make it at the beginning of the week and you have nearly a week's worth!



This recipe was also good timing for me as we leave today to go back to England for a couple of weeks.  I always take my own food on the plane so I have been thinking what to take for my in-the-air breakfast. I figured if  I baked my oatmeal in muffin cases, they would work perfectly!


And voila!  I also used up some of my quince puree too before we leave - but if you don't have quince, you can use unsweetened applesauce instead.  This quince oatmeal to go is gluten free, dairy free, vegan, and with no added sugar or fat.

Here's the recipe:

1 cup gluten free rolled oats
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 banana broken/chopped into little pieces
1/8 cup flaxseeds (whole or ground)
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 tbs cinnamon
1/2 tbs cardamom powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup non dairy milk
1/4 cup quince puree or apple sauce/puree

Mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Spoon into 7 muffin cases in a muffin pan.  Bake at 375F for 35 minutes.

To serve - just grab and enjoy if you are on the go or if you do happen to be at home, you can break one up in a bowl and pour over some extra warm non-dairy milk. Store in the fridge.


(Bet you end up having them not just at breakfast time!!! I've got to make sure I don't eat them all before I fly off.)
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Quince and Matcha smoothie

The classes I have been teaching this week have been focusing on the immune system and sustained inflammation in the body.  One of the foods that is important in this area is Green Tea.   Green tea consumption can lead to an increase in the production of  Treg cells which stop inflammation, and act as an off switch to the killer T cells and B cells in our immune system which cause inflammation.  While we need those killer T cells and B cells at certain times - it is when they become out of balance and dysregulated that we get immune issues and sustained/chronic inflammation that leads to disease.


However,  I personally don't like the taste of green tea, and so I use it in cooking, instead of brewing it for a drink.

Today's quince recipe uses Matcha - which is ground green tea - in a smoothie.  Matcha a great source of green tea as you eat the powdered leaves -  so its not just a steeping of the leaves.  It is a little pricey,   but a little goes a long way so my jar has lasted a long time.

Here is today's breakfast smoothie that I am enjoying as I type:

Quince and Matcha Smoothie:


1 cup quince puree  (preparing quince blog post & after roasting, blend with a little water in a blender)
1 cup water
1 banana
3 handfuls of spinach
1 teaspoon matcha powder
2 tablespoons hemp hearts

Blend the ingredients together in a Vitamix or powerful blender and add more water if you prefer runnier smoothies!

Its a great way to start the day - omega 3 fats from the hemp hearts, and plenty of catechins from both the Matcha green tea and the quince - never mind all the phytonutrients in the spinach and banana.


As I was thinking up this recipe, lying in bed last night - an old song came into my head.  I wonder if you know it.  I was thinking about the colors in the smoothie ... "green and yellow, green and yellow, Mother come quick....."

Did any of you sing it as kids?  Its not a nice song and I hate to associate it with a delicious smoothie but as all the ingredients are green and yellow, its tricky not too!  I can bet my sister is singing it as she reads this however!   The song is all about this little boy Henry, who doesn't feel well and has been eating worms. His mother asks what color were the worms - "green and yellow"!  We used to sing it in the car as we were travelling somewhere - with a few actions too!!!  But this smoothie won't make you feel ill like green and yellow worms do - I can assure you,  so try it and enjoy it!
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Rosehip, Quince and Clove granola

What a combination: Rosehip, quince and cloves!  It tastes so rich and full in the mouth.  And this granola  - while it has these three great healthy and yummy ingredients - is also happily lacking in 3 not-so-great ingredients - it doesn't have gluten, added oil nor added sugar.

Rosehip, Quince and Clove granola served with
almond milk, pomegranate seeds and homegrown passion fruit

A healthy, spicy, rich granola - perfect for fall and winter.

For this recipe, I took some of the roasted quince that I described in Monday's blog and pureed them in a blender with just a touch of water.



The recipe for the granola is as follows:

2 cups of grains (- I used 1 cup GF rolled oats plus 1 cup of GF unsweetened puffed brown rice)
4 tablespoons rosehip powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup pureed quince

Mix all the ingredients together and then place on a baking sheet or shallow dish.

Bake at 375F for 10 minutes then remove and stir well.  Put back in the oven for another 5 - 10 minutes until dried and starting to go crunchy. You need to keep an eye on at it during this time to check the outside parts aren't over cooking.

Remove from the oven and enjoy for breakfast or a snack.

You can add nuts and dried fruit to this recipe too. Add the nuts before cooking but add the fruit after cooking.


What a great start to the day: Serve it with non dairy milk/yoghurt and we get the fiber and catechins from the quince; more fiber from the oats and brown rice; anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects from the cloves, quince and rose hip; and plenty of vitamin C from the quince and rosehip.



And all that with NO added sugar, oil, salt and no gluten.

You will love the combination of rose hip, quince and clove.  When are you coming over for breakfast?
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A week of Quince - and its health benefits


This week I've decided I'll focus my blog posts on quince - that wonderful fruit that many people don't even know what it looks like, never mind what it tastes like.  Well, if you are one of those, you are missing out!  It is a great fruit and really is quite simple to prepare.  I'll take you through the stages today and then share some recipes on using the cooked quince throughout the week.  Yes, it is a fruit that needs to be cooked before you can enjoy it.  It is very tough when picked off the tree and too astringent to eat raw.


It's been a wonderful year for my quince tree again - with so many fruit. I've actually been keeping up with them better than before as I've perfected my cooking routine - and I've had a little help from my friends too, who took some to eat.


If you search for quince recipes, I bet every one - apart from those on this blog - will include plenty of sugar.  It seems all quince recipes involve baking the quince in a sugar syrup.  Well, I have to tell- it doesn't need any sugar at all!


How I cook mine is that I take the whole fruit, and use a vegetable peeler to get most of the peel off.



Then a put a few in a roasting dish and add some water and sprinkle some cloves over the top - or else add a couple of chai rooibos tea bags to the water to impart their flavor.


Then I put them in the simmering oven of my aga and let them roast for a few hours.  In fact, I once forgot them and they roasted overnight and were still delicious.

You can also roast them faster in a hotter oven - but as I have my aga - I love the slow roast method - often about 8 hours.


So put it in the oven and leave a note for yourself that they are in there and get on with the day. If you leave the house - you'll be greeted with a wonderful aroma of clove and quince spices as you come back in the door. "Smells like Christmas" as my husband would say - but anything with cloves smells or tastes like Christmas to him! (I try to tell him that cloves are for more than Christmas day!!!)


When they are cooked, just let them cool and then cut off the fruit from the core and either slice or puree in a blender and use in many different ways as I'll show you throughout the week.


And the health benefits of quince?

Quince is a low calorie fruit with good amounts of fiber.  There is a certain grittness in the pulp which comes from the tannins catechin and epicatechin. These are the same chemicals in green tea that contribute to its health benefits. These chemicals bind to cancer-causing toxins and chemicals in the colon and protect the mucous membrane from inflammatory bowel disease, cancers and diverticulitis.

It has many phenolic compounds in it which gives it a unique fragrance.  And has high concentrations of Vitamin C so helps boost immunity, reduce viral episodes and inflammatory conditions.

It is also a good source of copper, iron, potassium and magnesium, along with B vitamins.

So not only does it taste good - it is good for you!


As my friend just told me this week after she tried one of our quince:

"So much better than even the best baked apple I've ever eaten. What a treat, and  a happy discovery"

Get discovering for yourself and I'll share some recipes throughout the week!

It's quince time!

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Everything is tickety-boo

Here is this week's list of things that make me realize that everything is tickety-boo.  Feeling tickety-boo doesn't mean everything is perfect, but is more that you focus on the good things in life and they keep you going and then you see more good things.

Photos by Dean Johnson

  • my nephews birthday yesterday - and have a lovely chat with him on Facetime
  • eating quince puree on my oatmeal for breakfast, from the quinces on our trees
  • having friends around for dinner
  • the vase of red roses picked from our garden.  So pretty. They look like they should be a painting
  • the smell of cloves and ginger cooking and filling the house
  • watching two acorn woodpeckers in the olive trees
  • starting a new role at Ceres and enjoying it
  • hearing my friend is doing well
  • hearing good news about another friend's diagnosis
  • finally figuring something out after my voice lesson, and enjoying practicing
  • admiring the work in the photo attached.  They are glass beads, made by Elizabeth Johnson. Doesn't that fruit look incredible.  I've never seen her work before but came across it on Daily Art Muse.  I want to eat those gooseberries!  
  • finishing and thoroughly enjoying the first season of the Danish program Borgen.  We both loved it.  And then I found out there were two more seasons :-D
  • planning Christmas pressies!


I hope you are feeling tickety-boo too!

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Truly Scrumptious - Quince and clove sour

I've decided that my regular blog post of my favorite taste each week should now be entitled "truly scrumptious".  As I was browsing in a children's toy shop in the UK last week, they played the song "Truly Scrumptious" as background music and I realized that I knew all the words!

Truly Scrumptious, if you didn't know, is a fictional character in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  Here's the song:


Isn't it so sweet!  It seems appropriate that tickety-boo should have a truly scrumptious regular blog post, don't you think!

I ate quite differently in England from how I normally do at home, but one flavor combination really sticks out for me from that visit. My most truly scrumptious taste in England was actually a cocktail - a quince and clove sour!  It was made with quince puree (you know how I've been looking at ways to use up all our quince!) plus a clove liquor and gin.  I think it is the nicest cocktail I have ever tasted.

I actually had two - one with gin and one without the gin!  Both were wonderful and it was definitely the cloves that made it.  They were so warming and the combination of flavors seemed so wintery and spicy.


I had to buy a bottle of Pink Cloves to bring home with me.....In fact, I think I'll have to start experimenting with it tonight.... I can imagine using it in desserts too...

What was your most truly scrumptious taste this past couple of weeks?

Update: Just poured out my pink cloves and it is really pink!  A little like mouth wash or something, and a tad off putting.....but it does taste delicious.   It wasn't that pink in the version I had.....!!!!!


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Quince breakfast parfait

So have you been out buying up quince this week?  If you live in Northern California - just give me a call and you can have some of mine.


As I mentioned earlier in the week, I made a quince granola by baking gluten free rolled oats, quinoa flakes and puffed brown rice with quince sauce (puree). I also added some cinnamon and allspice to it. It created a nice crispy, no added oil nor refined sugar, gluten free cereal.  So I decided to use it to make a breakfast parfait this morning, layering the granola with spoonfuls of quince puree.


It looked pretty and instead of my usual throw together breakfast, it felt like I had paid attention and seemed like a treat.  If tasted yummy too with a nice contrast of the smooth puree with the crunchy granola.  I like the color of the quince too.  I know most recipes will say quince turns pink, but that seems to only occur if you add sugar.  Personally, I like it's unsweetened custardy yellow color.

So did your breakfast look this good?
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Quince time

Our quince tree has grown a lot this year and has many large quince on it.  Quince is not a fruit that you eat raw so I've been wondering what to do with all these fruit.  There must be at least a hundred quince on the tree!


In previous years I've used the few fruits we got in salads, an upside quince cake, making quince jelly etc.  When you search for quince recipes however, they all tend to involve large amounts of added sugar.  I wanted to avoid this. Also, quince are not easy to cut and prepare as they are very hard when raw.

So, I decided I would just peel them and then cook them in the simmering oven of my aga in water.


They came out beautifully. As they are so large, I could only cook 6 at a time, so did three batches today!  I guess that means I have about 6 days of cooking in total!


After cooking them, I then made them into quincesauce - which is really just like applesauce, but made with quince instead of apples!   I don't add any sweetener at all - and it really doesn't need it. Basically it is pureed cooked quince and delicious.  I love the fact that its not too sweet and can see myself using it in a lot of different dishes.


I used some to make a quince fool today and then made a big batch of quince granola - basically gluten free oats, puffed brown rice and quinoa flakes tossed in quince sauce and baked.

I think I will easily have enough quince sauce to last me the year, that is if I get around to cooking the rest of the quince! Wish me luck or maybe it's stamina I need!


Quince have high levels of fiber, are high in antioxidants and contain a lot of pectin.  They also help with digestion and relieve diarrhea and have been seen to have anti-viral effects.

Let me know if you'd like some.....
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