high altitude cooking + smoothie cereal sauce

I’m up in Mammoth this week living at over 7,000 feet in altitude. Altitude makes a number of things harder, notably running and cooking. At altitudes higher than sea level, there is a thinner blanket of air resulting in lowered atmospheric pressure. For every 1,000 ft increase in altitude, there is about 1/2 pound decrease in pressure, and a 2*F decrease in the boiling point of water. Lower humidity also means that moisture evaporates more quickly than at sea level. What does this mean as far as cooking goes?

1. Water and other liquids evaporate faster and boil at lower temperatures. This means, foods cooked in boiling water or which contain water will take longer to cook.
2. Leavening gases in baked goods expand more.

Trying to increase the heat on the stove will not decrease cooking time as water cannot exceed it’s own boiling point. Moreover, this may cause the food to dry out more quickly as it loses more water. Meat and poultry are composed of ~75% water. This means cooking times may be increased by up to 1/4 longer than at sea level. Eggs will also take longer to cook. However, they may be your friend in baking. Using extra large eggs in recipes that call for regular will give added moisture and structure during baking.

Sorry, but it’s not done yet may be heard more often than you’re used to.

The good news? Your rice/pressure cooker is here to save the day! Why? By cooking under pressure you are increasing the pressure, which is the whole problem with cooking in high altitude! By increasing the pressure, you are also increasing the boiling point of water, and decreasing your cooking time. In addition, a rice/pressure cooker traps the steam from the boiling water. This steam increases the temperature, thereby cooking food faster. Yay!


So what rice cooker friendly foods have I been enjoying this week?
Wheat berry cereal with Smoothie Sauce
makes 4 servings. inspired by this recipe from Ashley
2 cups dried wheat berries
4 cups water

Combine wheat berries and water in rice cooker and let the cooker do it’s work.

Smoothie Cereal Sauce
makes about 4 cups. Perfect topping for oatmeal, wheat berries, cereal, or pancakes
1 banana
1 cup frozen fruit (any kind I used a tropical fruit mix)
1 cup milk (any kind, dairy, soy, almond etc.)
4 T yogurt (I would recommend nonfat yogurt, if using something else add water or additional milk to thin)

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. If sauce is too thick to pour, add more milk until desired consistency is reached.

Topped with chia seeds and crumbled one of my Trail Mix Bites. Recipe soon!