bee pollen and banana milk


There is a running joke in my family that my grandfather is a one man cult. His doctrinal lifestyle is probably why he is the only 87 year old that I've ever met who can kayak for five hours at a time out on Lake Ontario. He is a man who lives by rules, which is not surprising since he practiced law for over fifty years; however, the consistency amongst those rules is not always clear.

My Dziadzui, as I call him, has a Vitamix and makes his own homemade eggnog. Single-handily, he has probably kept a few of Toronto's historic bagel shops and Jewish delis in business. He freshly squeezes orange juice for himself everyday and watches the Daily Show every night. For him, coffee is hot and never iced. He shops at health food stores, but he doesn't eat vegetables unless they are in soup. 

He loves Italian food. He loves it so much that he wants to eat it all on one plate, even in Italy where the food culture is more doctrinal than my Dziadzui's lifestyle. And he insists on eating it on one plate. Italy bases meals around courses and not how different courses can be served on the same plate. A primi is kept separate from a secondi. Pasta is never a side to a main. Never. It is either the warm-up before the main, or the main itself. Never should pasta be relegated to some side position. Let's just say that the discussions between my Dziadzui and certain restaurants in Rome, Florence and Sienna regarding how to serve food were very philosophical and even more emotional. Let's also recall that old expression about when one is in Rome and the one man cult saying that my family has. But because all of his rules and principles keep him healthy, happy and kayaking, I'm quite happy to overlook the inconsistency amongst them. I just won't go back to Italy with him unless he lets the Italians serve him his fish and pasta on separate plates. 

I'm very lucky that he loves food as much as he does. We've shared a great number of great meals together and he taught me the importance of befriending butchers and bakers. He has also introduced me to a few new ingredients, such as bee pollen.

Before I knew about the health benefits of bee pollen or what to eat it with, I knew that my Dziadzui had a stash of it in his cupboard. I remember once when he visited me in Montreal that he bought a large jar from the Jean-Talon Market. It took me a few years before I finally tried it, but once I did I instantly understood why he is the healthiest grandfather I know. Bee pollen is rice in vitamins, minerals, enzymes and protein. It contains all amino acids. Plus, it tastes good. You can sprinkle bee pollen on salads, yogurt, or a big bowl of fresh fruit. You can add it to your granola, or on a piece of toast with some nut butter and honey. Although it is pretty versatile, I tend to mostly add it to smoothies and shakes.

I've shared a fruity milk drink here before on Paper Doll Parade. It was last summer and inspired by Gabrielle Hamilton's memoir Blood, Bones and Butter, I started drinking milk with honey and apples quite obsessively. The idea for Banana Milk comes from Marion Cunningham's the Breakfast Book, another writer and cook that I've written about before. The book has a simple three ingredient "recipe" that, like most good drinks, is more that the sum of its parts: milk, banana and nutmeg. Just like with milk with honey and apples, I was quickly hooked on this combination for breakfast. The first time I made it I stayed true to those three simple ingredients, but since then I have added to the three. I think that the essence and simplicity remains, but now my version, Banana Milk with Bee Pollen, benefits from the nutrients of bee pollen and homemade almond milk.

I think that my Dziadzui would like this Banana Milk with Bee Pollen very much and I hope to make it for him the next time I see him. He is, after all, the one who introduced me to bee pollen. When I was Toronto in the summer, the two of us went to a health food store, bought nut milk bags and then made almond milk together. Yes, my grandfather is pretty wonderful. And to add one more Dziadz element to this Banana Milk, I always associate freshly grated nutmeg with the homemade eggnog that he whips up each December. 

I've been drinking this milk pretty regularly the past week. Once again, this isn't so much of a recipe. It is more of a formula. The holy trinity of this drink is the banana, the milk and the nutmeg. I've made it with cow's milk and with almond milk. I've made it with a handful of sprouted almonds, with honey, with a frozen banana and with ice. Below is the version that I like best. If the almond milk is cold, then I prefer a banana at room temperature as opposed to frozen. On that note, my partner just got back from climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and in addition to learning a few random phrases in Swahili (perhaps the greatest language ever), he also learned a saying: "crazy like a banana in the freezer". I guess in certain places in the world frozen bananas just don't make sense. Sometimes I'm that type of crazy but not when it comes to this Banana Milk.  


Banana Milk with Bee Pollen

inspired by my Dziadzui and Marion Cunningham's 'the Breakfast Book'

ingredients

1 ripe banana
3/4 cup of almond milk*
freshly grated nutmeg or a pinch of ground nutmeg
1 tsp bee pollen
1 small medjool date, optional*

Put all of the ingredients in a blender and mix until completely smooth. Serve right away. 
 
* I normally make 2 cups of almond milk at a time and I add one medjool date to sweeten it. If your almond milk is not sweetened, you might want to add a small date to the banana milk; however, if it is already sweetened, then skip it.

Guten!

Hena Tayeb  – (January 31, 2013 at 8:55 PM)  

your grandfather sounds like a wonderful man.

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