Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Homemade Granola

Finally! I have finally gotten around to making some homemade granola which has been on my "Recipes I Need to Try List" for quite some time. I don't know why it has taken me so long because it really is quite simple to make. A few of you have even asked me if I have a recipe for homemade granola. Now I do.

We will be taking a very long road trip home to Spokane next week and I wanted some granola for a healthy snack in the car, but I also wanted it for a topping on my Greek yogurt and blueberry breakfast.

I tried to keep it simple with the ingredients I already had on hand but I will do some more experimenting eventually for some different flavors. Maybe I will even experiment in Spokane with my sister because she L-O-V-E-S granola!

Into the large bowl went:
2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 tablespoon flax seed
1 tablespoon cinnamon
 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, chopped 

Give all of those dry ingredients a good stir.

Then I added the wet ingredients right into that bowl.
4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons agave

I spread that out onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and put it in a 325 degree oven.

Total baking time will be 20- 25 minutes but at every five minutes you will need to take the granola out to give it a good stir and then shake the tray so it all spreads out evenly on the pan again. Watch closely towards those last few minutes so you don't end up getting it too brown. It did crisp up a little bit more after it cooled. I also added about a half cup of raisins after it was all cooled off.

It made a very delicious addition to my yogurt parfait this morning.

I mixed a packet of stevia and some cinnamon with my yogurt in a separate bowl first  then I layered the yogurt, granola, frozen blueberries, and a drizzle of agave three times. One sweet little girl woke up early today (by early I mean summertime early at 8am) and decided she liked mine so much she wanted one of her own.
Hooray, the queen of cereal has broadened her horizons!

I filled my granola container after I had a few handfuls of course. I am guessing I will have to make another batch before we leave next week because this is a great snack that won't last that long, especially if I eat it for breakfast too.

I love that this granola is only slightly sweet and that I was in total control of how much sugar and sweetness I wanted it to have. That is my complaint with most store bought granola. The ingredient list is usually fairly healthy, but then they have to ruin it by adding a ton of added sugar and sometimes oil.

When I was stirring in the wet ingredients I realized it wasn't quite enough and that is why I added the extra two tablespoons of agave. You could do all maple syrup or honey as well but next time I might try to add more applesauce instead and less syrup. I will probably need to add a bit of stevia to the dry ingredient list if I change that up.

I am super excited now to try some more recipes. It could become like my date ball addiction. I do have 3 more flavors to add to that growing list. Don't say I didn't warn you!

P.S. Be proud people! I totally measured and wrote this recipe down as I made it so I could be accurate for you all.

Homemade Granola
2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup almonds, measured then chopped
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, lightly salted and roasted
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, measured then chopped
1 Tbsp. flax seed
2 Tbsp. chia seeds (optional)
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
4 Tbsp. pure maple syrup (or brown rice syrup)
3 Tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
2 Tbsp. agave nectar (or honey)
1/2 cup raisins or cranberries or other dried fruit of choice
Optional: Use whatever combination of syrups, agave, and/or honey you prefer. If you want to lessen the amount of those sweeteners for a less calorie choice use all applesauce (9 tablespoons) and add about 1/4 cup stevia to the dry ingredient list.

Directions: In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients and stir. Add wet ingredients to the bowl and stir again. Spread mixture out evenly onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Place in a 325 degree oven for 20-25 mintues stirring every 5 minutes and spreading back out until crispy and slightly browned. Let cool completely and add dried fruit of choice.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

It is pouring down rain here. Thunder and lightening too. That means it is the perfect day to enjoy a cookie with a cup of coffee or a glass of milk if you are a milk drinker. That is my excuse anyway.

The truth is I have gone to too many graduation parties and indulged in too many desserts lately and now I have a little hankering for sweets going on. I am working on getting that back under control but in the mean time I wanted a dessert I could enjoy without the guilt.

I whipped up this small batch of cookies last night in about 6 minutes and they only took 12 minutes to bake. Sweet tooth satisfied in 19 minutes (I waited about a minute for it to cool before breaking off a little piece.) Plus it only made 12 cookies so I won't have them hanging around here tempting me all week.

Three tablespoons of Earth Balance, 1/4 cup of honey, 1 egg, 1/2 cup Sucanat, and 1 tablespoon water go into the mixer. Using the paddle attachment, blend until thoroughly mixed. I just let it run while I got the dry ingredients together.

In my pyrex measuring cup (dirty only one dish whenever possible) I placed 1 1/2 cups oats, 1/4 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus.....

1/2 cup whole wheat flour. I didn't level that if you are wondering. I just shook it down a little until it looked close enough. I know I am lazy and don't follow the baking rules that my Home Ec. teacher taught me in the 8th grade. I still have issues with how she taught us to scramble eggs. Maybe that is why I rebel against measuring.
She ruined me. It is all her fault I guess.

I took a fork and mixed these 4 ingredients around in the cup and then added them to the mixer. Mix wet and dry ingredients until thoroughly combined. Decide now if you will add the dark chocolate chips or not!!! I went back and forth and then was sorry I hadn't added them to the batter.

So after I had dropped the spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet I pressed a few chocolate chips into the cookies. I was super glad I did. Raisins would be awesome too and then my kids wouldn't like them as much so Miles and I could have more. So I am a bad "measure-ur" and I am a bad sharing mom!

12 minutes later and look how big and puffy and chewy they came out!

Then I was kind of glad I had just pressed those chips in because see how they just got a little bit soft and melty. Yummo! Plus each cookie only had about 5-6 chips which helps the calorie count. Next time they will just go in the batter however because that is easier. You won't need very many chips for such a small recipe.

One little plate of delicious and healthier cookies to enjoy!

Keep in mind that these are not sugar free because I used sucanat which is a good replacement for brown sugar since it isn't as refined. The whole wheat flour also makes these better for you as does dark chocolate versus milk or semi-sweet chips. You could also use egg beater instead of one whole egg to help the calorie count which is about 125 per cookie. I am not sure how they would taste with just Stevia instead of Sucanat since they need that brown sugar taste but since it is such a small recipe it might be worth a little experimenting.

Now I must go do some form of exercise. I was planning on running this morning outside but my husband came and told me to sleep longer because of the storm. Faith is still asleep or I would take the both of us to the YMCA so maybe a pilates video will have to do for the day. Perhaps later this storm will pass and that run will happen???

Healthy Oatmeal Cookies
  • 3 tablespoons Earth Balance (or other spread of choice)
  • 1/2 cup Sucanat
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • Optional dates, figs, raisins, cranberries, chocolate chips, or chopped nuts.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Using a mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together the Earth Balance, Sucanat, honey, egg and water thoroughly.
  3. Sift together the dry ingredients then stir in the oats. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix. Add any additional ingredients you've chosen.
  4. Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls onto the cookie sheet. Bake 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack
Yields 1 dozen cookies

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Week of Salad - Friday

Well my week of VBS has come to an end but not my week of salad. I think I will probably eat it again today for lunch. I really don't mind eating it that often. It is very filling, guilt free, loaded with veggies, and has lots of nutrition. It also keeps me full for quite some time. Even the man in my life enjoyed the week. I think Friday's salad was probably his favorite but my favorite was Tuesday's kale salad. The kids had a little bit of salad on their plates along with other things like fruit and sandwiches if you were wondering.

Let's start with the dressing this time. This is all folks. I only used half the lime and squeezed a little juice on both salads. Then topped it with a little of this salsa. Divine!

The lettuce was a mix of green leaf and romaine. I added pinto beans, corn, chopped grape tomatoes, sliced avocado, chopped mango, and a little reduced fat pepper jack. Believe it or not that little pile of salsa and dollop of sour cream was plenty of dressing for this very large salad. The avocado made it nice and creamy too.

This is a very delicious salad and the dressing couldn't be more simple. This is also a great salad to eat if you are not much of a salad lover. It is almost like eating the filling of a taco or burrito. We love to eat salsa as a dressing but I forget about it most of the time. I hope this week of posts has helped you think outside the usual when it comes to salad. If you vary the combinations you really can enjoy it for an entire week dare I even say look forward to it! Just give it a try!

Now sadly, I must post my last VBS pictures of the night.........yes I said sadly!

We made the best bubble solution but it didn't work like it was supposed to because of the wind. The kids were supposed to stand on a cinder block in the center and have a hula hoop lifted over them to be in a giant bubble. The cinder block kept popping the bubble too. But these bubble wands came to the rescue!

I loved how involved our leaders got with the kids this week!

Can you say water rocket? This was probably the favorite part of the night for the kids.

See that black dot way at the top center of this picture? That is the rocket. There were a few times they almost hit a car in the street. Several adults asked me last night who made the water rocket launcher. I think there might be some launching in the future for some very happy kids and their dads!

The kids made cards last night to send along with the $850 we raised to buy mosquito nets for kids in Mali Africa. I loved this picture. She is writing in her best handwriting, Jesus loves you. So sweet.

The final sea of kids! Plus lots of parents and grandparents who came to watch.We were having so much trouble with the sound last night cutting in and out and getting extremely loud all of the sudden but the kids just kept singing and they sounded completely amazing! I wish this was a video instead of just a picture.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this one incredible week!
Can I please have a nap now?

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Week of Salad - Thursday

I am writing this post at 5:30 in the morning because I couldn't sleep which is quite odd since I am completely exhausted! One more night of VBS to go and one more salad to make this afternoon. Actually I am kind of having fun with my week of salad and it might continue for a couple more days!

Yesterday I had to work at one of my cleaning jobs so when I got home I only had about 15 minutes to get lunch fixed before Miles came home. I should have had more time, but I locked myself out of the house where I was cleaning, and I had to go to the neighbor's house to use the phone to call poor Traci. She had to have her morning interrupted to come back and let me in. She told me not to go out or I would lock myself out before she left. I told her I usually never do, which really isn't true after I think about it, because I clean the windows on her front door every week and step out to do so. It didn't even dawn on me until I had cleaned all four windows and went to turn the knob. Someone make me a dunce cap or wait patiently for my VBS brain to go away and my real brain to return!

Back to salad..... When I am in a hurry we have a favorite salad that usually consists of cucumbers, tomatoes, feta, chicken sausage, and my homemade mustard vinaigrette or a light Ceasar that we like. But yesterday I was in the mood for something a bit more summery.
The lettuce was the rest of the red leaf and a 50/50 mix of organic baby spinach and a spring mix. The spinach was the perfect choice for this salad. I added strawberries this time and left out the tomatoes. I also added walnuts for some crunch and decided that I would rather have more of a balsamic dressing then the mustard dressing. It goes better with the strawberry thing. I had already sliced up the chicken sausage and cooked it in a small pan quick in case you are wondering.

I really have a thing for fruit on my salad. It looks pretty and it also adds a unique flavor to just about any salad combination.

When I sat down to eat this Faith said, "Strawberries on a salad? Where's the cucumbers?" Ooops! I forgot the cucumbers. I am blaming that on VBS brain as well. I got up and chopped a few slices quick otherwise my salad wouldn't have had much vegetable content. I love cucumbers!

If you want to make it easy on yourself there are several balsamic dressings you can buy ready made that have very little calories. I like Newman's Own in particular but it is pretty easy to whip one up as well. I like to make a homemade Greek dressing that has the same ingredient list but uses white wine vinegar so I just subbed in this balsamic from Whole Foods which is quite good by the way! I left it out of the picture but you do need olive oil for this dressing as well. I used my handy dressing mixer again (that is what we had leftover in the container) and of course I didn't measure. I know I drive some of you crazy. Sorry.

I also used these four ingredients- onion powder, garlic powder, basil, and oregano. It is better to use fresh garlic, but I was in a hurry. If I had fresh oregano or basil I would use that too but this works fine also. I should probably just learn to measure for all of you who need me to be precise but here is my best guess on the measurements.

2-3oz. of olive oil
2 oz. aged balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. garlic powder or 1-2 garlic cloves minced

Give it a stir or whisk and taste. Add what you feel is lacking. If the mustard or vinegar taste is too strong then add more olive oil. I suppose the reason I never measure much when making dressing is that I am just looking for a good flavor. You can't mess it up too much so give yourself a little freedom to just dump!
It was a very refreshing salad and I am already thinking about my salad for today!

Now for the fun part..........last night's photos!
We have the MOST AWESOME crew leaders! The kids really get to know their leader and get attached to them and these leaders make the week so fun for them!

     Learning about what Jesus did on the cross for us.

   Laying our "sins" on the cross and asking Jesus to forgive us for them.

           This was a beautiful picture and a great visual for the kids.

This is my daughter and her fun personality caught on camera. She absolutely adores going to VBS every night. She will be sad when it ends tonight.

And some running and screaming just because that is what kids do best. I bet these children have been sleeping very well every night.

I think I might go back to sleep for a bit now. I will be up late tonight getting everything put away at the church. I am hoping I can leave there before 11pm.
Want to come help me anyone?


Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Week of Salad - Wednesday

We are nearing the end of the week so quickly! After all the work on VBS it always surprises me how fast the week actually goes. We are having so much fun!

I am also having fun with my salads and these posts! I do love salad more than the average person but I hope you can see that by making it a little different each day it isn't such a bad thing to eat it for lunch for a whole week! Maybe I can challenge you to try a week long salad fest and give up your fast food lunch and see how much better you feel.

For yesterday's salad I decided to go with an Asian flair. This is really an old Pampered Chef recipe I believe with a few tweaks of course.

The lettuce was a mixture of leftover red leaf that needs to get used up and a mix of red and green organic baby romaine. I also added carrots, radishes, snap peas, red onion, sliced oranges, and the best part was the crunchy oat bran sesame sticks on top.

To slice the oranges cut your orange in half horizontally and then take your knife along these natural divisions to score it it. You can peel the orange first so it will just kind of fall into those pieces as you cut but I like to avoid as much pith as I can when putting orange on a salad so I went around the circle with my knife too then peeled it back.

I made a homemade dressing again yesterday too. There is a great recipe right on the side of this Pampered Chef dressing maker I use all the time. I didn't follow it exactly of course because that is against my nature as you know. I used about 2 or 3 ounce of rice vinegar, 1 or 2 ounces of less sodium soy sauce, 1/4 tsp. ground ginger, 1 large garlic clove, minced, one packet of Stevia, and not nearly as much olive oil as they wanted me to!!! I think I used about 1/4 cup. You can use less vinegar and more olive oil if you don't care for it as much as we do.

Miles commented on how much he liked the orange in the salad. He said he was surprised at how good that flavor was in there! I agree so don't be afraid and don't skip it if you try this salad. I liked that I got a couple different veggies in there, the radishes and snap peas, that are not my normal go to salad fixings. I do love them both but for some reason just don't put them in my salad enough! I should mention that Miles also commented when he came and sat down, "That is one good looking salad!" So men, you too can enjoy a week of salad for lunch.

Some Rainer cherries on the side! I am not much of a cherry lover but I do like the Rainer kind. I always buy a couple containers to enjoy when they start putting them out in the stores. Maybe it is the Rainer name that draws me to them.
I am from Washington state after all!

Now on to my VBS pictures of the night............

It would not be VBS without these crazy ladies! This year their names are Marley and Flash. Faith is still calling the one dressed as a pilot "Panda Patty" because that was her name last year. They make our VBS spectacular and SUPER fun for our kids,

Nothing like some Minute To Win It games for the 5th grade group.

I am not bossing Sarah around! I am telling her to look back at last year's VBS pictures of us together because she has lost a ton of weight!

Throwing huge tube a loons through the hula hoops was super fun!

Our mission project is raising money for mosquito nets for kids in Mali. We are STUNNED at how much money the kids have brought. Our goal was enough money to buy 25 nets. They cost $6.00 each. Last night we had raised enough to buy 90 nets!

Isn't this the kind of fun kids are looking for at VBS. Crazy! I love it!

Only two more nights to go and we are having a blast!