I’ve never been much of a grazer. A five-to-six small meals a day type. I like my three squares, starting with a hearty breakfast, a reasonable lunch and a light dinner, with maybe a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts in between. Starting my day with a pile of scrambled eggs and a slice of prosciutto on toast keeps me from munching throughout the afternoon. A day that begins with nothing but a bowl of cereal invariably ends with a pint of Haagen Dazs and a bag of Doritos.
My body feels best when I eat breakfast like a queen and dinner like a pauper. It keeps my weight from fluctuating and I can think about other things besides food. When I’m travelling, I love to have those big, meaty German-style breakfasts featuring a variety of sausages and cheeses, but like most North Americans, balk at soup and leftovers first thing in the morning.
Have you seen this clip from Youtube, on what the world eats for breakfast? I’ve always been interested in what other people eat. Their habits and secret quirks around food. What they like and what they hate, as individuals and as a culture. For example, I could eat shellfish every day. My partner Pavel, who was raised a vegetarian, thinks eating mussels and shrimp falls along the same line as eating insects.
On the other hand, he could eat regular fish all the time, while I only like fish if it’s cooked in batter and served with fries and coleslaw. I was raised in an ethnic household where organ meats and chicken appeared on the dinner table, while Pavel was born in Mexico City and was exposed to a variety of foods and dishes that I am only now beginning to learn about.
It’s not only what people eat that one can find strange. It’s also how they eat it. I once went on a brunch date with a man who ate his meal one food at a time. He started with his eggs, then his bacon, before moving onto his hash browns and finishing with toast.
“Do you always eat that way,” I asked, fascinated.
He didn’t ask me out again. Later he texted me that he thought I was rude, for asking him that. It surprised me, because I had genuinely and innocently wanted to know. As someone who requires a contrast of texture and flavours at every meal, I found the monotony of the way he ate his breakfast curious and personally unappealing. I would rather not eat at all.
When I started this blog almost eight years ago, I was an enthusiastic home cook with a limited repertoire but considered myself an adventurous eater. I wanted to become a food writer, and photography as a passion was not yet on the horizon. Immersing myself in the world of food, I soon discovered that I was a pickier eater than I thought. I could never be a food critic. I have just as many food picadillos as anyone.
In some ways I am fussier than ever before, having refined my palate over time. I have a much better nose and appreciation for high quality ingredients and am more conscious about what I put into my body overall. For me, food has been a constant evolution.
I’ll be the first to admit I am a Eurocentric cook. I season with salt and pepper and some herbs and garlic. But after eight years of risottos and boeuf burguignon I am experimenting with a wider variety of ingredients, with flavours of Middle Eastern and Asian cuisines. You’ll see this new curiosity reflected on the blog in the months to come.
I’m also getting into a more into a whole foods bent overall, coming up with healthier versions of the foods I’m used to eating, or recreating those I have tried from various restaurants and food purveyors.
Today I’m offering up my take on Bliss Balls, the chewy coconut covered energy bites I first fell in love with at Whole Foods. But at a couple of bucks a pop, it’s way more economical to make at home. There are many versions of these sweet treats; mine combine dates with almonds and pumpkin seeds. You can experiment with different nuts, dried fruits and tailor them to your diet and liking.
- 200 g / 2 cups (about 30) pitted dates
- 35 g / 1/2 cup raw sliced almonds
- 25 g / 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 30 g / 1/4 cup cocoa
- 20 g / 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons fine desiccated coconut
- 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- pinch fleur de sel or sea salt
- 1 tablespoon hemp hearts
- Preheat oven to 250F. Place the 20 grams coconut on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven until lightly golden, about 4-5 minutes..
- Combine the dates, almonds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed meal, chia, and cocoa with the coconut oil, maple syrup and salt in the bowl of a food processor; mix together for 2-3 minutes, until the ingredients are combined into a thick paste-like substance.
- Roll portions equaling about 2 tablespoons between the palms to create balls. Combine the toasted coconut and hemp hearts on a plate and roll each bliss ball into the mixture to coat.
- Place in the fridge for half an hour to firm up before serving.