We are well and truly into the Fall season here in British Columbia, and it’s so lovely to experience a true North American change in seasons. We had such a rich, hot summer (too hot at times), and with that came a lot of outdoor activity and the longer, fuller days. As the colors are changing brilliantly all around us, Fall seems to have brought with it a sweet serenity, a much needed slowing down and a beautiful aroma of freshness and calm, which I have to say, I was definitely ready for.
That being said, Fall to me, resembles a time for harvesting, a time to reap what was planted in the spring, a time to gather all of nature’s wonderful offerings. With the beginning of a new school year and the combined shift in weather, I find myself starting to harvest in preparation for those horrid little bugs and viruses that are, let’s face it… inevitable in a household that includes a couple of miniature humans. I have stocked up on children’s vitamins, Oregano oil, Apple cider vinegar and a healthy supply of trusty NZ Manuka honey all the way from home, sweet home. I will also admit to harboring an array of other supposedly helpful, natural winter-season tinctures, all in a vain attempt to make myself feel like a very prepared and on-to-it Mommy (yes, I just spelled that the American way, for all my fellow British-English speaking Mothers out there – “When in Rome…”).
Truth be told, this cosy Fall feeling has also got me in the kitchen making some heartier, more wholesome meals which has reminded me, that it’s not just about being fully armed and prepared for the icky coughs and colds, but also filling those little immune systems full of goodness. A healthy home is a happy home.
Now, here’s the bit where you need to ‘Hold the phone!’…I have been introduced to fonio since moving to B.C., and this power packed super grain is really something to talk about. Put it this way, if you thought the super seed “keen – wah” was the bee’s knees when you first read and learned how to pronounce it – you’re about to be introduced to the King of super grains, and…wait for it… it is spelled how it sounds! Fonio is known as ‘Nature’s most Nutritious Grain’, and here are a few reasons why: It has a higher nutritional content than millet, rice and sorghum, containing 5 times more iron than white rice. It also supplies the body with a healthy amount of Vitamin B and minerals such as Calcium and Phosphorus. As a grain, 10% of its weight is protein, which suggests it contains a good amount of essential amino acids. And for those gluten free enthusiasts out there, yes, it is just that. I will perhaps delve a little deeper into it’s health benefits a bit later down the track, as it really does deserve its own time in the spotlight, and after all, it really is best to keep a good thing going.
For now, to give you an idea, fonio has a slight nutty flavor and texture and is easily cooked. So, in honor of this wonderful season, I share with you my most recent fonio recipe:
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup + 1 Tbsp fonio grain (* I used Farafena Fonio Grain)
- 2 bananas, ripened and mashed
- 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 2 eggs (room temperature)
- 1 tsp Vanilla essence
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Place a small pan or skillet over med-high heat. Add the ¼ cup of fonio and toast by stirring until it begins to let off a nutty aroma. Carefully add the water and stir. After 30 seconds, remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 mins. Fluff occasionally with a fork, a bit like you would couscous and set aside.
- Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (165C) and grease a loaf pan.
- Beat coconut oil and maple syrup together to form a smooth paste, add eggs and beat.
- Stir in bananas and vanilla essence gently.
- Add whole wheat flour, salt, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda and mix to loosely combine. Gradually fold in the cooked fonio.
- Add the mixture to your preferred bread baking tray (I used a 9×5 inch). Sprinkle the remaining fonio grain on the top. Bake for 55 – 65 minutes, depending on your oven. It is best to check the bread is done at the 55 min mark, by inserting a wooden skewer. It should come out clean.
- Once the bread is cooked, transfer it to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes before slicing.
- Note: Though this particular recipe is not gluten free, the whole wheat flour can easily be substituted for a GF flour mix of your choice. Be sure to use the required amount of binding agent, be it Guar/Xantham/Chia etc, as fonio mixed with other GF flours will struggle to rise.
I must also credit my dearest friend (and now, fellow Blogger) Rasha Rushdy @ The Tuna Chronicles, with giving me the inspiration and ultimately the confidence to send my first Blog post today. Thank you friend, for your talent and for motivating me to make a start on something that has (shamefully) been on my mind for years.
I hope you all enjoy it and follow along!