[This morning, October 2010.]
October 26. The year spins on, November looms just around the corner. And it is the most beautiful day today: From where I sit, I can see Tomales Bay shimmering blue against the dry hills and there’s not a cloud in the sky. I haven’t run in over a week (!) and have been definitely taking it easy and eating delicious little treats like the mini lemon tart from Miette (which I think is simply lemon curd swirled into a pressed-shortbread crust and is utterly delicious — note to self.) (And I’m running tonight. I think.) and vegan ginger cookies and brownies along with San Francisco-made ice cream (thanks, L + L). There’s also been a fair amount of cheese (though I must admit there’s often a fair amount of cheese) because it feels right and then there was that whole running 26.2 miles thing.
Not to belabor the running — because surely enough already! — but actually it’s related to food in a major way and here is why: When you run a lot, or bike a lot, or swim a lot, or play basketball a lot, or walk a lot, or or or, you’re very hungry a great deal of the time. At least, I was. It’s funny how just taking a week off from the higher mileages has already made a difference; of course I still have a good appetite and am eating lots of delicious things, but it’s not that ravenous hunger of the past few months.
Basically I’d simply wake up hungry every day; if I went for a morning run I’d eat half of a banana or half a Clif bar and swig a lot of water and then come back predictably even more starving and would have a glass of organic Kefir (Clover makes a few that I love, particularly the blueberry), a yogurt drink that always seemed to hit the spot, and finish the banana. No matter what time I ran, for proper breakfast I’d have a cereal that was high in protein, or maybe a peanut butter sandwich, or even an egg, if I had time to make one (fried, please, on toast with a slice of sharp cheddar cheese), forgoing my usual oatmeal because while it is my favorite breakfast, it didn’t always fully curb the hunger pangs.
And then 11 a.m. would hit and I’d feel hungry again, still, always.
So enter the concept of elevenses, described by our ever-faithful wikipedia as such In the United Kingdom, Ireland and some Commonwealth realms, elevenses is a snack that is similar to afternoon tea, but eaten in the morning. It is generally less savoury than brunch, and might consist of some cake or biscuits with a cup of tea. The name refers to the time of day that it is taken: around 11 am.
I truly love the idea of tea — we uncouth Americans, of course, might know it as “dinner” or in some very uncivilized circles as “afternoon snack” (um, moi) — so it’s no surprise I love/d elevenses as well, all hobbit-y connotations acknowledged cheerfully. Elevenses and me, we get along like like peas and carrots, like cream and strong coffee, like black labs and Northern Californians, like the San Francisco Giants and Buster Posey, like gin and tonic, like … well, you see what I mean.
So what did I eat for elevenses? Toast, thickly buttered and with honey. Sushi, sometimes, from the place across the street from my office with avocado and cucumber. A bagel and cream cheese and tomato, either from my favorite coffee place or homemade. Just my lunch, early, which necessitated the later procuring of an avocado-and-cheese sandwich. Another bowl of cereal. A handful of raw almonds. Or granola. I ate a lot of granola for elevenses.
Granola, granola … we all (well, most of us) love it and its versatility — perfect with soy milk, or low-fat milk, or organic whole milk, or vanilla yogurt, or (my personal favorite) Greek yogurt, with fruit or without, ratio of oats to liquid dependent on the maker’s preference. A few summers ago I got on a granola kick and ate with soy milk and a sliced banana nearly every day; this summer before training really began I mostly ate oatmeal. Still, granola can really hit that sweet spot in between breakfast and lunch, and I like it especially with a lot of nuts and sunflower seeds, with a good deal of thick Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey over the top just to make it extra decadent.
Life has returned to (somewhat) normal these days — training is over and my appetite has (mostly) settled down. But that whole elevenses thing? I think I’ll be channeling a bit of the Paddington Bear and won’t be giving it up anytime soon.
2 cups whole rolled oats
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
3 Tbsps. pumpkin seeds
1/2 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 pinch sea salt
5 Tbsps. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsps. olive oil
1 cup dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix all the dry ingredients together except for the dried cranberries in a large bowl. Add the maple syrup, vanilla and olive oil, and stir. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes. Check every 10 minutes and give the pan a good shake or a stir so it browns evenly. Be careful not to let it burn — remove when the oats are golden brown.
Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Add the cranberries and stir well to combine. Store up to two weeks in a tightly-sealed container at room temperature (or keep in the freezer).