THE FOODIE FILES: Ode to Generation Yum

By on March 8, 2016

Cast iron skillet breakfasts for mindful young eaters and beyond.

The BLT Breakfast Skillet makes good use of leftover veggies. Right: Almond flour gives this Dutch Baby Pancake some oomph while upping its nutritional content. (Photo: Annie Fenn, MD)

Left: The BLT Breakfast Skillet makes good use of leftover veggies. Right: Almond flour gives this Dutch Baby Pancake some oomph while upping its nutritional content. (Photos: Annie Fenn, MD)

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Did anyone read The New York Times article last week about why Millennials—those born between the early 1980s and 2000s—don’t eat cereal? According to a 2015 report  by Mintel, 40 percent of the Millennial Generation surveyed agreed that cereal was an inconvenient breakfast choice “because they had to clean up after eating it.”

The Washington Post embraced the study using it to declare laziness a national trend among young people. “Millennials Too Lazy to Eat Cereal” read one headline,  the story blaming parents who no longer assign their children chores. Millennial bashing is nothing new. Time magazine, for example, ran a cover story in 2013 entitled, “The me, me, me generation: Millennials are lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents.”

Really? That doesn’t sound like any of the 15- to 32-year-olds I know—many of whom spend their time studying, working, starting businesses, raising small children, and volunteering for the community. What the Mintel study also said was that Millennials want less carbs and more portability in their breakfast choices. As they rush out the door to get to one of their numerous jobs they are more likely to grab a carton of yogurt than sit down to a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios.

Besides, a huge chunk of the Millennial Generation cares too much about where their food comes from to load up on sugary, nutritionally-anemic boxed cereal made from GMO corn. There may be disagreement over whether Millennial laziness is a thing but this age group’s obsession with food is a clear trend. Of the 80 million Millennials, more than half call themselves “foodies.” From Instagramming every meal (#avocadotoast) to spending upwards of 25 percent of their paychecks in restaurants, most in this age group are undeniably fixated on sourcing, cooking and enjoying food.

Author Eve Turow has a name for her food-obsessed cohorts: “Generation Yum.” In her book “A Taste of Generation Yum, How the Millennial Generation’s Love for Organic Fare, Celebrity Chefs and Microbrews Will Make or Break the Future of Food,” she digs deep into the reasons why her generation is intrigued by all aspects of food. “I really think it comes down to technology,” Turow writes. “In a land of over-stimulation, over-consumption, we are, in many ways, a malnourished generation.” Immersing themselves in the sensual pleasures of gardening, cooking from scratch, and taking photos of food is a backlash against technology, an antidote to living in a virtual world.

Despite living through one of the worst periods of unemployment and student loan debt in American history, Generation Yummers, Turow explains, make it a priority to spend their hard-earned bucks on organic kale, homebrewing equipment, single origin coffee, and truffle cheese. They’re just not spending money on industrially produced boxed cereal. Cereal companies: You should be very, very nervous.

By 2017, Millennials will comprise more than one-fourth of the U.S. population, and are projected to have more spending power than any other generation. Milllennials are not just spending money on food, they are Tweeting and hashtagging their way to make impactful contributions to the Food Movement. Any Millennial foodie worth his or her organic salt knows the difference between cage-free and pastured eggs, grass fed and commodity beef, and is well-versed in the topics of food waste, fair wages for food workers, school lunches, community hunger, and how to sign up for a local CSA.

Just for you, my Millennial friends, I offer three nutritious, from-scratch breakfasts that can be cooked and eaten out of a cast iron skillet. After all, I know that when you do make time for breakfast, you cook with carefully sourced, whole food ingredients. Many of the ingredients can be foraged from the depths of the fridge, thus reducing food waste. Why cast iron? It’s affordable cookware that lasts forever. Clean up is a snap—just wipe out the skillet and smear with a thin coat of oil. And if you Instagram, (and what Millennial foodie doesn’t?), a cast iron skillet breakfast is bound to glean tons of likes.

Dutch Baby Puffed Pancake

Makes two 8-inch or three 6-inch pancakes

If you make your own almond milk, here’s a good way to use the almond meal that’s left over. Just be sure to grind it to a fine powder. Replacing some of the all-purpose flour with almond (or hazelnut) flour gives the meal a boost of nutrition and flavor.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and place your cast iron skillet in the oven to preheat. Place 3 extra large eggs and 1 tablespoon sugar in a blender and combine until light and frothy. Add 2/3 cup whole milk, 1/3 cup almond flour, 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 1 tsp. almond extract, and a generous pinch of salt. Blend until you have a thin batter. Place 1 tablespoon of butter in the cast iron pan and swirl to cover the bottom. Pour enough batter to cover the bottom of the skillet and return to the oven. Bake for 10 minutes for a 6-inch skillet, 12 minutes for an 8-inch one, or until the pancake is slightly puffed and brown around the edges. Top with berries, a dusting of confectioner’s sugar, and a drizzle of maple syrup. Leftover batter keeps in the fridge for up to three days.

Moroccan Poached Eggs

Makes up to six servings, depending on the size of your skillet

Make the sauce ahead of time: Warm olive oil in a large skillet and add 1 pound ground elk, venison, bison, beef, lamb, or turkey. When cooked through, drain and set aside. Using the same pan, sauté 1 small-diced onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 teaspoon of cumin, 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, and a dash of cayenne. Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt, to taste. Add the drained meat and 2, 15-ounce cans of diced tomatoes. Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. When ready to eat, pour enough sauce to cover the bottom of a cast iron skillet and warm on the stovetop. Use a spoon to make a well in the sauce for each egg you want to add. Crack the eggs directly into the well, cover and poach for 3 to 5 minutes or place in the oven at 375 degrees until the eggs are done to your liking. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro or sprouts, and drizzle with yogurt before serving. Leftover sauce keeps in the fridge for up to five days or the freezer for up to three months.

BLT Skillet Breakfast

Serves one or more, depending on the size of your skillet

Make this veggie skillet with an assortment of leftovers from the fridge—roasted cauliflower, cubed sweet potatoes, caramelized onions, broccoli, asparagus. Substitute whatever cheese you have on hand for the feta, and ham for the bacon, or skip the meat altogether for #meatlessmonday.

Warm olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add 2 handfuls of kale or any other fresh, sturdy green and cook until wilted. Add a handful of cherry tomatoes, cut in half, and cook down until soft. Make a well with a spoon to accommodate each egg you want to cook. Crack the eggs directly into the well. Sprinkle with crumbled feta and a few spoonfuls of leftover cooked and diced bacon. Cover and poach for 3 to 5 minutes or place in the oven at 375 degrees until the eggs are done to your liking. Sprinkle with fresh herbs, salt and pepper to taste. PJH

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About Annie Fenn, MD

After delivering babies and practicing gynecology for 20 years in Jackson, Annie traded her life as a doctor to pursue her other passion: writing about food, health, sustainability and the local food scene. Follow her snippets of mountain life, with recipes, at www.jacksonholefoodie.com and on Instagram @jacksonholefoodie.

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