Almond Coconut Granola

A few days ago, I made a new granola recipe.  I was going to go with one of my tried and true favorites, but I wanted to try out a few things.  I threw them together, crossed my fingers, and waited to see what happened.  What followed was a little bit of granola heaven.

Almond Coconut Granola

  • 2 cups oatmeal (old fashioned)
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 3 tbsp almond butter
  • 3 tbsp coconut butter
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp (or 3/8 cup if you have that measure) maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

Mix the dry ingredients (oats, quinoa, walnuts, coconut, and salt) together in a large mixing bowl.  It is okay that the quinoa is still wet from rinsing.

Add the remaining wet ingredients along with the cinnamon in a small mixing bowl and whisk together until smooth (it may help to heat the almond butter and coconut butter on the stove top or in the microwave first).

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix well until everything is coated.

Spread out on a foil lined baking sheet (or two).  Place in oven, and after 10 minutes, stir the mixture around.  Bake for another 10 minutes.

Allow the granola to fully cool before transferring to storage jars.  Remember, the granola with dry out and get more crunchy as it cools.

I will not lie to you, this granola tastes a bit different because of the quinoa.  After my husband tasted it, he said that you can definitely taste the quinoa.  At first, I thought “hmm…this is okay.”  Then I tried another bite.  And another bite.  And a few more bites.  And I slowly (okay, not that slowly…about 3 bites in) became addicted.  The quinoa does give it a different taste, but it also gives it a good crunch.  You can play around with the almond butter/coconut butter amount.  This granola does not taste overwhelming of coconut, which left me a tad disappointed.  If you don’t have coconut butter, you could always use coconut oil, though I’d probably do 4 tbsp (or 1/4 cup) almond butter and only 2 tbsp coconut oil then.

Anyways, my little rugrat just woke up and is demanding some attention in the cutest possible way, so I’m off.  Hope you try and enjoy the granola as much as I did!

She’s My Cherry Pie

So I finally read and finished Gone Girl.  My reaction: meh.  I thought it was a bit anticlimactic at the end, no?  I don’t know…adult fiction isn’t my favorite.  I mean, those kind of books are okay.  I start reading them, they get my attention, they keep my attention, but by the end I put them down and know I would never read them again.  I prefer young adult fiction.  I’m not sure what that says about me, but I just feel like that type of fiction is more creative and makes you use your imagination more.  I suppose I’m talking more specifically about science fiction/fantasy, but not the weird-o stuff.  Examples of some of my favorites in that category: pretty much ANYTHING by Madeleine L’Engle (we almost named Audrey Madeleine after her, my favorite author), the Harry Potter books, The Hunger Games Trilogy, and the list really goes on.  So I’m going to wait until the library has Divergent ready for me to read on my nook…some of the other books can wait because I know their type.  And their type is not mine.

On the opposite side of having mediocre feelings towards something are my feelings towards the smoothie I made today.  MMM was it good!  The smoothie I made yesterday was pretty good, but I didn’t take a picture and put it on instagram because it was rather ugly in color.  I changed it up a bit today by using mostly coconut milk rather than just almond milk and by leaving out the cocoa powder, and BAM!  I found my new favorite smoothie.

Cherry Green Smoothie

  • 2 cups spinach (or any green you’d like to use)
  • 2 cups milk (I used about 1 to 3/2 cup coconut milk, the rest of my almond milk, and water to add it up to 2 cups)
  • 2 cups frozen cherries
  • 2 bananas
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • a squeeze of cinnamon

Add everything into the blender in the written order (spinach on bottom, cinnamon on top) and blend until smooth.  I say a “squeeze” of cinnamon because I get mine in a big plastic container from Costco and I literally squeeze it until a big cloud puffs out.  I rarely measure how much cinnamon I add to things, and yes, I’ve added way too much before and have had to force it down anyway.

Like I said, when I made this smoothie yesterday, I used all almond milk.  What made me like today’s smoothie so much better than yesterday’s, though, was the lack of cocoa.  I have cocoa from Penzey’s and, although it is very rich, good cocoa with no additives, it is very strong.  So the 2 tbsps of cocoa over-powered the fruit flavor.  In today’s smoothie, I used coconut milk (light, from Trader Joe’s), which is my favorite.  I was able to taste the sweet tanginess of the cherries.  Both Audrey and I drank ours up super fast.  Needless to say, I’ll be making this one again tomorrow!

Aw, snap! Cold snap, that is…

It is below and beyond freezing around here.  As of right now, it says it’s -12, but feels like -36, and I don’t think that’s the coldest it has been today. My poor Peanut will barely go outside to do her business, and when she does, she does it on the patio stoop about 3-6 inches from the door.  It’s quite lovely.  Ahem.

So because of a few different reasons, one being a sick toddler, others being personal that I won’t divulge, I have gone on a bit of a hiatus from the elliptical for a few days.  I know, I know.  You’re thinking “Seriously?! A hiatus after what, 4 days??”  I’ve thought it, too.  But like I said, things have gotten in the way.  But have no fear, I will be back in a day or two!  I woke up with cold symptoms this morning and am trying to ward anything off…exercising with a cold can be miserable at times.  Hopefully, lots of water, tea, healthy foods, green smoothies, and some light exercise will have me feeling better in no time.

Speaking of healthy foods, Audrey and I shared a green smoothie today for lunch with some eggs.  It was pretty good!  Here’s the recipe, adapted from simplegreensmoothies.com:

Green Smoothie (2 large servings)

2 cups baby spinach
3 cups pineapple (I used frozen)
1 and 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
1 clementine orange

For dinner tonight, since I started feeling this cold big time this afternoon, I was really feeling like some homemade chicken and brown rice soup, but didn’t have anything thawed and ready for that, so that’s for dinner tomorrow.  Tonight we went with veggie bowls.  Here’s what I did:

Veggie Bowl (makes 2-3 servings)

cooked quinoa (1-2 cups depending on how much you want per serving)
2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 head cauliflower, broken up
1 can chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and dried off on some paper towels
almond ginger dressing*

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Toss the sweet potatoes in 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Sprinkle with sea salt, pepper, garlic.  Toss the cauliflower with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic.  Toss chickpeas with 1 and 1/2 teaspoon olive oil.  Sprinkle with the same seasonings.  Put all veggies on separate foil lined baking sheets and into the oven.  After 15 minutes, roll the chickpeas around and flip the potatoes and cauliflower.  Roast for another 15 minutes.  Take the potatoes and chickpeas out.  Bake the cauliflower for an additional 5 minutes.  (Exact roasting times may differ based on how big your pieces are!)

To serve: Put cooked quinoa in bowl.  Add sweet potatoes, cauliflower, and chickpeas. Drizzle with sauce.

*Dressing: I used the recipe for the dressing from Oh She Glows:
http://ohsheglows.com/2013/09/10/the-big-salad/

I use almond butter, but have used peanut butter in the past when I ran out of almond butter.  I also use low sodium soy sauce since I don’t have tamari.  I make a double batch of this stuff and use it all. the. time.  The nutty sauce combined with the creamy sweet potatoes is heavenly.

Anyways, enjoy.  Send warm thoughts this way to get us out of this freeze!  I know I’ll be dreaming of beaches tonight 😉

 

Rest Day

So far, I have completed 4 days of the elliptical.  I’m going back to season 1 of the Gilmore Girls to get me through.  I greatly dislike the elliptical otherwise.  I can run or walk on the treadmill for as long as I’d like, but when it comes to the elliptical, if I’m only listening to music, I usually only last about 20 minutes, tops.  So Gilmore Girls it is!  I was going to try Felicity, but it’s too quiet.  

Today will be my first rest day.  I wasn’t really planning on it necessarily, but yesterday along with completing my 40 minutes of cardio on the elliptical, I shoveled.  Twice.  And guess what?!?  This morning, you can barely even tell!  But I’m sure the hubs will appreciate it when he’s shoveling because there are definitely several inches LESS on the driveway now than there would be otherwise.  And my shoulders are sore from all that work.  

I forgot to weigh myself today, but that’s okay.  I think I’m going to aim for once a week to give myself some accountability.  That way I can also see if what I’m doing is working for me.  If it’s not, I’ll adjust as I go.

Okay, in the last post (yesterday!  how’s that for you?!?), I promised granola. They aren’t my own recipes.  Most of my recipes are not my own, actually…I just find ones that I think look tasty and adapt to my own tastes.  But really, what recipe isn’t like that?  I think at this point, there are very few original and new recipes.  But I digress.  I have two favorites that I have been making a lot lately, and actually some family and friends got for Christmas.  The runner up: Chocolate Granola.  Chocolate.  Mmmm…..Ahem.  Where was I?  Oh yeah, chocolate granola.  Here’s the link to the recipe: 

http://www.yummymummykitchen.com/2013/08/healthy-chocolate-granola-recipe.htmlcrlt.pid=camp.hPrPD6wfZDEM 

from yummy mummy kitchen.  And boy is it yummy!  I used walnuts because I have a lot of them, but anything would be good.  I also used chia seeds rather than flax since that is what I had, but the chia seeds add a nice crunch to the granola, though you will be fishing them out of your teeth for a bit afterwards.  Totally worth it, though, in my opinion.  I have made this with maple syrup rather than honey, and I made it with brown rice syrup, too.  Brown rice syrup is thicker and stickier than maple syrup, more like honey, and it makes for wonderfully “chunky” granola.  It actually gets a bit hard to break up.  I like sometimes doing half and half with the two syrups.

But my favorite granola is almond butter granola.  Everyone in our house agrees this is our favorite.  I like to combine it with the chocolate granola, cut up a banana, add a few blueberries, and pour almond milk (I do unsweetened vanilla most of the time) over it all.  YUUUUUM. Very few breakfasts can top that!  But here’s the scoop on this one:

http://myhealthyhappyhome.com/2012/11/14/what-i-ate-wednesday-two-tasty-recipes/

Again with this, I use whatever nuts I have.  I think I only had sliced almonds the first time I made it, so I used chopped walnuts afterwards.  Still ridiculously good.  And again, I did not use honey.  I used maple syrup and/or brown rice syrup.  LIke I said before, I like a combo of the two to get better chunks, but not too chunky.  I’ve also cut a bit of the oatmeal in this one and added chia seeds.  This recipe doesn’t make as much as the chocolate one, so whenever I make this one, I most definitely double it.  It’s just too good.  Trust me.  And I bet it would be equally good with peanut butter if that’s all you have on hand.

One note, though.  When first making this granola, I thought that it seemed like a lot of salt to add. You can very easily put less salt in.  However, I found that I kind of liked the saltiness of it (the almond butter I used had nothing more than almonds in it, so no salt or sugar there).  Use your best judgement.  I still use a tad less than what it calls for, but more than half of the original amount.  

I also have found from making granola recipes a lot that my baking times are often different than those listed.  Just watch.  Flip at least half way through, and go from there.  Remember that granola dries out and hardens up as it cools, so don’t expect it to be super crunchy right out of the oven.  If you get to that point, chances are it’s burnt, and nobody likes burned granola.

Either way, make one of these!  They are way too good to pass up!

My Very Most Favoritest Salad Ever

I haven’t written a post since July.  JULY.  And this post was actually started in August, but I only saved it as a draft. But all I actually saved was the title of “My Very Most Favoritest Salad Ever” and a blank document.  Sooo…progress is being made.

It’s January 1, 2014.  A New Year…a new me?  No, the same old me, but definitely a new year.  I haven’t made a set list of resolutions or anything, but one thing I am going to try and work on is updating this blog a bit more often than I have the past year.  Along with that, I’m hoping to make some more permanent, healthy lifestyle changes for me and my family.  Generally, we eat pretty healthy meals, but we slip up quite a bit, and we eat out much too often.  And neither my husband nor I are that great at making sure we are getting regular exercise.  Well, THAT is what we are working on!  Or at least I am.  I started working out again a few days ago with the support of some girl friends, and I’m hoping to keep it up.  When I work out regularly, I tend to eat healthier, too.  I not only crave better foods, but I don’t want to waste all my hard work.  The hubs also got me a FitBit Force for Christmas, which was 1) unexpected, and 2) motivating.  I wear it (bracelet) all day and night, it doesn’t need to be charged too often, and when I reach my goal it vibrates, which is surprisingly uplifting. I plan on chronicling my journey to a healthier life on here….if I can manage to update every so often!

So back to the title of this post.  I don’t remember how exactly I came across making this salad recipe.  I was inspired from something in a  magazine, but I don’t remember which one, and it doesn’t help that I do remember that it wasn’t from an actual article…it was just a side note or something.  Anyways, I make this a lot in the summer, and I can eat it. Non. Stop.  I love it.  It’s vegan, if you’re into that kind of thing.  And even if you’re not, it’s still soooo yummy and good.

My Very Most Favoritest Salad Ever (Quinoa Salad)
Makes about 4 big servings on its own, or several smaller side servings

For the salad:

  • 1 cup quinoa (uncoooked)
  • 1 cup chopped red pepper (or just one red pepper, which is what I do)
  • 1 cup shelled and cooked edamame
  • 1/2 cup diced onion (I usually dice up an entire small, red onion and rinse it in a sieve or colander for a minute or two to take the bite out of the raw onion)
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries, roughly chopped (I prefer cherries)

For the dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • pinch of sugar
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the quinoa* according to package directions and let cool.  Toss the cooled quinoa with all of the salad ingredients.  In a small both, whisk together the dressing ingredients.  Taste and adjust salt and pepper (and possibly sugar) as necessary.  Pour over salad and mix.  Adjust salt and pepper again, to taste.

*Note: You can cook the quinoa in water or broth (chicken, veggie).  I’ve done both and either way, it tastes great!  (I generally cook quinoa in my rice cooker so there is pretty  much no thinking involved.  One part quinoa to two parts water/broth, set it for “steam” and in about 20 minutes you’ve got some pretty perfectly cooked quinoa.  I also will only cook rice in my rice cooker.  Once you’ve had rice cooker rice, you will never go back!  Perfect. Every. Time.) Obviously, to remain vegan, you wouldn’t want to use chicken broth.  Additionally, if you’re going for gluten free, you will either want to cook the quinoa in water or check the ingredients for your broth.  Something as simple as store bought broth can have a lot of additives!  You can always use homemade broth, too!

 

Super easy, super tasty.  All of us enjoy this salad, and if I had a good picture of it, I’d share because it’s really beautiful with the red pepper, bright green edamame, dark maroon cherries, purple onions…ugh, I can go on and on!  But it’s January 1, and it’s not exactly number one on my list to cook right now.  I’m more in the mood for things like soup, chili, and casseroles.

Speaking of which, I made a fantastic chili last night that little Miss Audrey (and the hubs) gobbled up.  It’s from The Clothes Make the Girl: http://www.theclothesmakethegirl.com/2009/02/22/my-favorite-chili-recipe/.

I used ground turkey and chicken broth since I apparently am out of beef broth.  I let it simmer uncovered for about an hour to an hour and a half, then covered it up.  I found that I had to add a bit of salt at the end, but I’m guessing that is because I used turkey rather than beef.  Turkey tends to be a bit more bland.  One pot made quite a bit, so we are having the leftovers this weekend when my parents come to visit.  I’ll make some elbow macaroni to serve it on to make my dad happy, and I might bake up a spaghetti squash to serve mine on (and maybe my mom’s) for a lighter fare.

Well, I just took a swig of the last of my coffee, and it is now stone cold, which indicates that it’s time for me end this lovely little entry.  Next time, I will thrill you with tales of my battle with the elliptical and entice you with my favorite granola recipes!  That’ll keep you coming back for more, I’m sure!  Happy New Years!