Alas, it’s hard to believe the first week of November is through. Oh November. I feel like I could write a lot of bad sonnets about you, I love you but I hate you. On one hand you’re where true sweater weather begins. Cute fall boots with mittens, plaid scarves and getting cozy in wool socks with a cup of soup. On the other hand, you bring this impending doom of true snowfalls. Plus you don’t have a single long weekend AND the anxiety of Christmas being just around the corner is a constant nag on my subconscious. To top off your con list, this year you are off to a particularly bad start, seeing as I lost my metropass on only your 4th day. November, you might be the worst.
One thing is for sure; November is a holiday hump, sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas. Meaning it’s a perfect time for a health break. The temptations of October’s fun size chocolates have left me in a particularly long candy hangover and I’m feeling ready to start eating clean again before that same temptation starts up again in December. The hard part is that deep in my soul I have the sweetest of sweet tooths. BUT this recipe will satisfy anyone’s sugary cravings without all the bad stuff that sugar brings. Plus it’s the most comforting of treats on a cold day – perfect for a miserable November afternoon. Honestly, what’s more calming than a steaming cup of earl grey tea with a splash of (almond) milk and a drop of honey. Well! An Earl Grey tea loaf! Especially one with lemon and blueberries. This loaf is just perfect. It tastes great and it’s super healthy. It’s inspired by the delicious nut and seed bread over at nutrition stripped, which is a staple in our home. That’s why I was so excited by how versatile her recipe is – it was super easy to adapt to this sweet treat. Gluten-free, vegan and refined sugar free. So you can feel good about having a piece for breakfast (maybe even 2).
I made this lemon and blueberry loaf in honor of the protagonist of Donna Tartt’s newest novel, the Goldfinch. I’ve been a big fan of Mrs. Tartt’s since I read the Secret History in university, on the recommendation of my dear friend Rachel, who’s literary tastes I trust. Much like the Secret History, the Goldfinch is filled with beautiful (and usually quite lengthy) prose that Tartt stylizes in a way to constantly pull on your heartstrings.
"Boris shrugged. "Who cares? If he is good to you? None of us ever find enough kindness in the world, do we?""
The Goldfinch has a unique premise – Theo Decker, a young boy growing up in New York City, has his whole life turned upside down when he and his mother are affected by a terrorist attack while visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Theo survives, though his mother does not and in the panic of the event, Theo makes off with his mother’s favorite painting- the Goldfinch.
This is a story of a boy, struggling to find himself after he’s lost the most important person in his life. It is a story about human nature, and how we feel connected to people and their memories. It is about how a boy is able to remember everything he loved about his mother, by cherishing another valuable object, one that he keeps with guilt and fear. This is a story, where although the premise is so outlandish, it’s impossible to not empathize with Decker as he makes his way through this crazy world meeting people who make lasting impressions on his young heart. A deadbeat dad, a streetwise drug-pushing best friend, his sophisticated and melancholic foster mom. The care Tartt takes to describe each seemingly meaningless setting or character is what sets her apart as an author. The Goldfinch is over 800 pages; but 800 pages of beautifully crafted character development. You have to love Theo Decker, even though he is a villain in his own regard.
This fall treat is for Theo. Because I remember him and his best friend Boris eating stale wonderbread slices sprinkled with sugar, between bumps of stolen coke or huffs of glue from a paper bag. How quickly his life was changed, and it’s hard not to wonder how different things would have been had his mother survived. This recipe is what I envision Theo’s mom making him. A treat they would come home to after a Sunday stroll through Central Park or a foreign film in SOHO. A nice slice of Earl Grey loaf, with a cup of tea to warm their fingers and souls, on a miserable November day.
Theo Decker’s Earl Grey Tea Loaf
(with a Cashew Cream)
- 1 c non-dairy milk (I used almond)
- 1.5 c cups water
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 very ripe banana
- 3 tbsp of your favorite liquid sweetener – I used maple syrup but honey or agave would be great.
- 2 earl grey tea bags (or 1.5 tbsp earl grey tea leaves)
- 1 c raw sunflower seeds
- 1 c raw almonds
- 0.5 c flax seeds
- 3 tbsp chia seed
- 1 c rolled oats
- 0.25 c coconut flour
- 3 tbsp psyllium husk powder
- 0.5 c raw pumpkin seeds
- 1 lemon
- 1 cup blueberries (I used frozen – hey like I said, its November but fresh would be lovely!)
1 – Place the milk, water, banana, sweetener, coconut oil, vanilla and tea in a medium sized sauce pan. Heat over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes (until the liquid begins to froth and your home begins to smell like a delicious cup of earl grey tea). Turn the heat off and set aside to cool.
2 – Measure out the sunflower seeds, almonds, chia and flax – add to your food processor or dry container of your blender. Blend until the seeds and nuts are a course mealy consistency, stirring occasionally between blends. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
3- Add the pumpkin seeds, psyllium husk, rolled oats and coconut flour to the mixing bowl and stir to make sure everything is well incorporated.
4 – Grate the zest of 1 lemon into the dry ingredients.
5 – Remove the tea bags from your liquid and mash any remaining chunks of banana (if you need to, it tends to dissolve).
6 – Mix the wet and dry ingredients together, ensuring that the tea mix is well incorporated through the dry mixture. It will begin to thicken up quickly as the psyllium and chia absorb the liquid.
7 – Finally add the blueberries and stir in or fold into the mixture. The frozen berries were helpful, because they tend to keep their shape when mixing.
8 – Lightly grease a standard loaf pan (I used coconut oil) and transfer the mixture to the pan. Press down firmly on the loaf with the back of a spatula or your finger tips to take any air pockets out.
9 – Set this baby aside, in a warm area for 2 hours (I know, 2 hours! but this gives you time to start your next book).
10 – After 2 hours preheat your oven to 375. Place the loaf on the middle rack and let bake for 1 hour or until the middle of the loaf is firm to touch and the edges begin to pull back from the pan.
11 – Remove from oven and let cool! If you want – drizzle the loaf with the cashew cream below. Then enjoy with your favorite cup of tea. yumm.
For the Cashew Cream:
In a small jar or bowl place the following
- 0.25 c of raw cashews
- the juice of 1 lemon
- 0.25 c boiling water
- 1 Earl grey tea bag
- 2 tbsp liquid sweetener (I used maple syrup!)
Let the tea steep with the cashews and lemon juice for at least 20 min. Remove the tea bag and let the nuts continue to soak for at least 2 hours and up to 12 hours.
you have more willpower than me if you stop at one piece! so satisfying.
What’s your favorite fall treat?