03 January 2013


Slow down or be slowed down. 

Prophetess of doom that I am, I’ve learned this one a few times during this time of year the hard way (November-February).   At age 22, I’m sick of making myself sick by trying to raise my energy to the wrong vibration for winter.  For the past eight years, I’ve had midterms or finals in January during the rush-rush madness of the Thanksgiving to St Valentine's Day gauntlet, meaning I did a bunch of concentrative, intense, mentally loud work when the energy around me was quite expansive, hushed, and contemplative.  I ended up out-of-phase, out of sorts, and out of breath.

Beginning from whenever corporations decide that Christmas shopping season begins, the message I hear around me is, “Work harder! New year! Stuff to be done!  Damn the weather!”  Sound familiar?

However, after my birthday on Halloween, my body says, “Nope, just wanna sleep, stay home, and eat hot, creamy, baked goods.”  Who’s the fool when I don’t listen to my intuition? 

As Ben Kenobi says, “Who’s more foolish?  The fool, or the fool who follows him?”

I submit some evidence from the experts.

If my (and perhaps your) internal expert says, “It’s natural at this time of year to be withdrawn and conserve your energy,” why do we ignore ourselves?

Sure, things must get done, we must take care of the demands of living in conventional reality (food, clothing, shelter).  However, we can strive for harmony with the universe by tuning into the inner expert.  It’s the internal radio station playing beautiful music at any hour of the day or night, the music that always meets your (spiritual, emotional, physical) needs.  It’s the one that says, “Hey, you, it’s the yin/expansive time of year, eat some yang/contractive stuff to achieve balance.”

That's enough!  You're never too old--or too young--to stop, reflect, and start taking better care of yourself.  This year, I'm tuning in to my internal fireside chat.  Won't you pull up a cushion and join me?

So instead of having your ass kicked by this time of year, here’s a warming kickasserole that’s a hearty breakfast, lunch, or supper to energize you in this season.  I’m betting it’d travel well, too, insulated by a bed of greens.

As Captain Barbossa says, “[recipes] are more…guidelines.”  I made the oats earlier in the day and decided to use them in this dish instead of polenta as in the original.  As it was, I was already switching out 90 per cent of the recipe and sort of keeping to the method.  Parley!

Oatmeal Kickasserole

Modified from Whole Foods Market, “Breakfast Polenta Casserole,” http://wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/breakfast-polenta-casserole

1 cup GF steel-cut oats
3 cups water

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
a few hearty grinds black pepper
tiny pinch Kosher salt

1 small red onion, diced
1 large apple, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I used a mooshy organic red delicious)
pinch Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

16 ounces vegan chorizo (I used Trader Joe’s soyrizo)

2/3 cup vegan cheddar shreds (I used Daiya)

8 ounces firm tofu, drained and pressed (I used already-baked tofu from this recipe )
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon curry powder
3 tablespoons roasted squash or pumpkinseeds

In a medium saucepan, soak the oats in the water overnight (if you have time).

The next day, add the spices and bring the oats to a boil.  Watch those suckers like my friend Rachel’s hawk because they will go from zero to boiling over in a flicker.  Lower to a jaunty simmer and cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.  When they are thick and the water is mostly absorbed, remove from the heat and let sit for a bit while you work on the rest of the recipe.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease a 9*13-inch glass baking dish.  Heat a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion, apple, thyme, and a pinch of salt.  Sautee, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent and the apple is soft, about 8-10 minutes.  Remove from the heat.  Pour the slightly-cooled oatmeal into the pan.  

Spread the apple-onion mixture on top of the oatmeal.

Return the skillet to the heat.  Add the soyrizo and stir, breaking it up and heating it through, about 3 minutes.  Distribute the soyrizo atop the onion mixture.

Return the skillet to the heat a third and final time to make the tofu scramble.  Crumble the tofu into the pan and add the curry powder, pumpkin, and seeds.  Stir to combine and heat through, about 2 minutes.  Turn off the heat.  Remove the scramble skillet from the heat and bring to a trivet beside the casserole dish.  

Crumble the daiya cheddar on top of they soyrizo.

Dollop the pumpkin-tofu scramble on top of the cheeze and use a spatula to spread across the top of the pan.  

Place casserole in oven and bake for 30 minutes or until slightly browned on top.  Remove from the oven and cool on the rack for 10 minutes before serving.  Cool completely before covering and storing in the refrigerator.

You are worth every second of time you take for self-care.  Like all difficult things, evaluating your energy one day--one moment--at a time will help you invest your energy wisely in activities--and rests--that nourish you.
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