I'm not much for mornings. I never have been. I'd just as soon have a good cup of Chai Butter Tea or homemade bone broth for breakfast, but one thing I do like is a bowl of yogurt topped with fruit and nuts.
It's easy to make. It's light. It tastes lovely, and the combination of protein, fat and carbohydrate provides satiating energy. It takes about five minutes of active time in the kitchen, meaning that you're able to eat wholesome, nourishing foods that don't require a lot of time.
Homemade Yogurt for Gut Health
Most of the time, I make my own yogurt (you can find a few recipes in my book, The Nourished Kitchen, as well as in Yogurt: Sweet and Savory Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner by Janet Fletcher), using fresh milk from a creamery down the road. They keep their Jersey cows on grass, which gives the milk (and my yogurt) a lovely flavor.
The milk, cream and butter from cows kept on pasture, rather than in confined dairy operations, is richer in nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin E, beta-carotene and conjugated linoleic acid, a healthy fat with anticarcinogenic properties (read more here). Moreover, when cows are kept on grass, and managed holistically, they can help improve soil quality, the diversity of native flora and reverse desertification (read more here).
Yogurt is also rich in beneficial bacteria. These bacteria eat up milk's naturally occurring sugars, and convert them to beneficial lactic acid. It's this conversion that turns milk from sweet to pleasantly sour. Yogurt also helps to improve gut health, and reduce inflammation and support the immune system (read more here).
Where to Find a Yogurt Starter
Strawberries for Antioxidants
I look forward to strawberry season every year. Most of the strawberries in the supermarket, available year-round, are bred to come to market quickly, and to withstand long distance travel. As an exchange for these attributes, valued in the industrialized food model which demands extended shelf life to allow for transportation, strawberries lose their sweetness and their flavor.
Older varieties of strawberries don't last as long in the fridge and are too fragile to stand up against the bumps and rigors of long-distance travel, and they end up bruised and smashed too easily, but they are sweeter with more of that distinct, lovely, strawberry flavor. This is why the strawberries at your farmers market or farm stand likely taste that much better.
Like most berries, strawberries are also rich in antioxidants, and offer anti-inflammatory properties. It's these vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help strawberries to detoxify free radicals and protect and repair DNA (read more here). Some researchers are looking into the role that strawberries and their antioxidants might play in combatting cancers, and colorectal cancer in particular (read about their work here and here).
Macerating strawberries in honey and spices softens them, and helps them to form a thin syrup that blends beautifully with yogurt. You can keep strawberries in their honey syrup about a five days in the fridge, dipping into them as you need to make your morning yogurt bowl.
Bee Pollen for Vitamins, Trace Minerals and Enzymes
In folk medicine, bee pollen is used both to combat seasonal allergies and to boost energy. Mind you, I've never seen a lick of its effects in combatting my seasonal allergies. And while it has been used in folk medicine for allergies, the research on it remains relatively slim (read more here), some people swear buy it.
Bee pollen is, however, rich in vitamins, minerals and rich in protein. It's particularly rich in B vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, B6, folate and choline, and it contains trace minerals like sulfur and molybdenum as well as calcium, phosphorus, zinc and magnesium. Bee pollen also contains several food enzymes, just as honey does, including amylase and saccharase which help to break down sugars.
Bee pollen offers a dusty, slightly sweet and faintly floral flavor that pairs beautifully with strawberries.
Where to Find Bee Pollen
You can often find bee pollen through a local apiary or at a health food store. You can order it online, too, by clicking here.
Strawberry Yogurt Bowl with Sweet Spices, Pine Nuts and Mint
- Hull the strawberries, and then quarter them. Drop them into mixing bowl. Drizzle the honey over the strawberries, sprinkle in the vanilla bean powder, coriander and fennel, and mix them gently together so that each strawberry is coated in honey. Transfer them to a jar with a tight-fitting lid, and refrigerate them overnight.
- Pour yogurt into four, individual bowls. Top with the macerated strawberries. Sprinkle bee pollen and pine nuts evenly over the strawberries. Slice the mint very thinly, and toss it on top of the yogurt and strawberries. Serve immediately