Best part of waking up is… blood on your plate?
Sing it with me! No, but really… was that particular Folger’s commercial nostalgic for anyone else aside from my sister and me? Regardless, let’s chat not about coffee for a minute, but rather, that dastardly headline above… yes, indeed…
Let’s talk about blood.
No, no, wait, let’s talk about winter first. I got a little hyper (blame the coffee).
Both very scary subjects, which is why they’re perfect partners today.
For those in northern climates, the wintertime is not often a season to take lightly. There are the ever growing snowbanks to contend with, ice on the road that surprises you no matter how many stop signs you slip through. There’s the dark sky, the brief hour or two of brightness during the middle of the day when most of us seem to be wrapped up in meetings, instead only able to flit outside to quickly run to the car to carry ourselves back home, safe, sound and warm.
A potentially cozy routine, right? Only problem to note are those holidays, smack-dab in the middle of the dark days routine, and oh yeah wait, since we’re not seeing the sun very much, do you feel a little… tired right now? And not really quite ready to go run those errands that seem so easy to check off the to-do list during long, expansive summer days? Are you feeling a bit short of breath now? All those expectations! The laughs of holiday get-togethers! Nervous laughs as we down another coffee to power through the rest of the evening, trying hard just to get to those event. The bells on the toes! Toes? Too many layers of socks to even remember what our frozen toes even look like these days, let alone see them in the darkness of the mornings! And evenings! Buh. See where we’re going here?
What’s a human in the dark to do?
For many of us, the term “seasonal affective disorder” (SAD) isn’t new territory. We’ve felt it to one degree or another, we’ve experienced finding ourselves plopped somewhere on the spectrum of its signs, wondering how the heck we can power up ourselves to get through to the other side of the season, when the days become longer, when we wake up to sunshine, when the world seems less like a hibernation station and more like… whatever we want it to be!
Well, all of these thoughts on weather weariness are bringing us to today’s recipe: Black Pudding. The not-so secret ingredient within? Blood. Aha! We’ve arrived.
When we take a step back from assessing if we are indeed experiencing signs of SAD, one aspect of supporting a reduction in those signs is to come to recognize how the weather naturally affects the levels of vitamins and minerals within our human bods. What’s the one big vitamin that we all seem to know about, thanks to the sun?
If we’ve found ourselves experiencing any of the rush of the holiday stress, the dark days, the mostly-inside days, the covered up head-to-toe day in, day out, then there’s a lovely invitation for us right now to stop and assess:
“What’s up with my vitamin D levels?”
And, after you’ve asked yourself (or perhaps a health provider has assessed vitamin D levels via a serum blood test), and, it’s time to think strategically about how to gently boost those perhaps too low levels, here are the starting ideas:
- Figure out how to get that sunshine in the morning, when it is bright, on your face and as much skin as possible. Can you stand outside in a t-shirt for a few minutes? Can you take a 10 AM coffee break and walk around the block near your office, without covering yourself with a hat, sunglasses, or other garb? Increasing exposure to bright light earlier in the day helps to encourage appropriate circadian rhythms. If none of the above is possible, how about investing in some bright light therapy, and allowing yourself 15 minutes for a soothing breakfast where the light can shine on your face and eyes?
- Encourage yourself to consume food sources of vitamin D. Fatty fish and eggs are wonderful starts, and once you get comfortable with those, why not challenge yourself to opt for another nutrient-dense, and in many cultures, historically traditional ingredient like the blood I keep alluding to!
I need more deets, Lucia…
Black Pudding with Spiced Apple Compote
This black pudding veers away slightly from traditional recipes, replacing the classic oats with a mixture of nut and cassava flour, and cow's milk with coconut or nut milk, creating a grain-free and dairy-free option for those looking to enjoy! Don't be scared by the blood, either. The low and slow baking time renders out any ideas of metallic, iron-y flavors, and simply leaves savory perfection.
- 1.5 cups fresh blood beef or pork
- 1/2 cup finely ground almond flour
- 1/2 cup cassava flour
- 1 cup finely diced uncured slab bacon or unrendered pork fat
- 1/2 large onion finely diced
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 8 juniper berries finely ground
- 2 teaspoons salt divided
- fat for cooking butter, ghee, bacon fat or coconut oil all are great options
Spiced Apple Compote
- 4 large apples cored and chopped (skin still on)
- 1/4 cup fresh cranberries optional, chopped
- 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup, also optional
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Mix the blood with 1 teaspoon of sea salt and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Line a small or medium glass loaf pan with parchment.
- Strain the blood through a strainer. Then, in a large bowl, mix all ingredients together until well-combined. Transfer to the prepared loaf pan, then cover with aluminum foil.
Bake the black pudding for 55 minutes covered with foil, then remove the aluminum foil and allow to bake for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, then allow to cool completely, or overnight in the fridge is even better! This allows the black pudding to set completely.
When ready to serve, heat up a fat of your choice (butter, ghee, bacon fat or coconut oil will work nicely) in a medium-sized pan over medium-high heat.
Remove the black pudding from the loaf pan, then cut into 1/2-inch thick slices. Pan fry until the edges are golden and crispy, 2-3 minutes per side. Serve with apple compote, an egg, over arugula, or straight up.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine all ingredients except for the lemon juice, vanilla extract and cranberries.
- Cook apple mixture for 10 minutes, or until apples begin to soften. Gently mash half of the apples right in the pan to create a saucy texture.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, vanilla extract and cranberries. Allow to cool briefly, then serve immediately or store in fridge until ready to pair with the black pudding, pancakes or anything else needing a bit of apple love!