Tag Archives: granola

The Best Things I Ate This Week

I don’t share everything that I eat with you guys because a) I don’t have the time, and b) I think it would get boring really fast because my breakfasts and lunches aren’t usually that exciting.  But during the week there is usually something noteworthy to write about so I thought I would start a weekly series called “The Best Things I Ate This Week”.  I was going to call it, the best thing I ate, but then I quickly realized it would be way too hard to limit it to just one thing :).

I hope you’re all having a fabulous weekend so far.  Tune in tomorrow for a weekend wrap-up and to see what yummy recipes I bookmarked this week!

And if you’d like any of the recipes of the foods you see below, leave a comment or email me and I would be happy to share :). Continue reading

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Filed under Appetizers, Breakfast, Snacks, The Best Things I Ate

I Love Surprises….and Homemade Granola

I was having a rough morning today.  For some reason I couldn’t sleep last night and I only got about five and a half hours of sleep.  I know many of you can survive off of five hours of sleep, but it’s not a pretty picture when I don’t get enough sleep.  I’m grumpy and irritable.  (I know all you new moms out there are thinking….”Just wait until you have a baby, Kristen.”  Well, I’ll cross that bridge when I get there….and no I’m not pregnant.)  And all I can think about is when I can take a nap because my eyelids feel like they weigh 50 pounds each.

I had to get up early this morning to interview one of the participants in my research project and then I was going to meet a friend and her daughter for coffee.  I was struggling to stay awake after my interview, but was looking forward to my coffee date.  Unfortunately they got stuck at the post office (what a nightmare that always is) and couldn’t make it to coffee.  Boo.  Then I tried to run an errand, but since my brain wasn’t functioning properly I miscalculated the day and the store was closed.  Boo again.

I was feeling discouraged and just wanted to go home, but decided to swing by the post office in hopes that the package from my mom had arrived.  Well to my surprise, not only had the package from my mom arrived, but also something from Vitacost (my new favorite website) and Crate and Barrel—SCORE!!  I was so excited to get home and open my packages that all of a sudden I didn’t feel tired—funny how that happens, huh?

There are many things that I LOVE about living abroad, and I feel so blessed to have already had so many experiences living and traveling abroad.  But as a foodie, living abroad is sometimes hard in the sense that I can’t always get everything I want.  Wherever I’ve lived, my parents always bring a whole suitcase full of food when they come to visit and I always bring a whole suitcase of food back with me after a trip to the States!

One of my friends asked me when I was home in March what I missed most from the States while living abroad.  That was easy—grocery stores!  Well, besides my family and friends of course :).  You see, I LOVE going to the grocery store—especially ones I’ve never been to before—and perusing all of the aisles.  When I was home in March, my Dad and I stopped at a Trader Joes, Whole Foods, and Lunardi’s (their local store) on the way home from the airport!  It’s always so exciting for me to see all of the new products that have come out in the 3+ years we have been living in Japan.  It’s even more exciting to see many of the products that my “briends” (blog + friends = briends) write about and/or review on their blogs.

Do you know how many times I have gotten so excited about a recipe only to find out that I don’t have all of the ingredients?  And not only that, neither does the commissary, which means I have to order anything I don’t have.  And by “order” I mean put in an order with my mom who proceeds to check all of her local stores for the ingredients and then sends them to me.  Isn’t she the greatest?  Well, mom, you’re off the hook.  Enter in Vitacost.  They have almost all of the ingredients I often request, or have always wanted to try, at great prices.  Not only that, they ship to APO addresses…AND my stuff got here in less than a week!  (That might not seem like a big deal to you if you don’t live abroad, but trust me, it’s HUGE!!)

So do you want to see everything I got in my surprise packages today?

Look at all of those awesome goodies! I may or may not have proceeded to eat a spoonful of that PB....amazing!

My mom told me she put a “surprise” in the package that would make me laugh.  Did you see it?

New Kids on the Block.....YESSSS!!! (I love that my mom wrote "LOL" too.)

Hahahahaha. I was cracking up at this!  Who didn’t love NKOTB?!?!  I had their lunch box with matching thermos (do you remember those?), nightgown, and possibly NKOTB sheets too (although maybe those were California Raisins or Cabbage Patch Kids—ha).  Anyway, I thought this CD was hilarious and quite a blast from the past!

If you've never tried these sweet and salty almonds from Trader Joe's, you're missing out. Unfortunately I can't enjoy them until August...lucky for Giff!

Chocolate chips made without any processed sugars....only evaporated cane juice!

As if getting all of these goodies in the mail were not exciting enough, I got a surprise phone call from my friend Katie just as I was finishing to unpack everything.  One of the best things about living abroad is the friendships that you make.  Because we are so far away from everyone back home, our friends really become like our families here.  We have been really blessed to meet so many amazing people while living here in Okinawa and we will never forget the friends that we have made here.  Unfortunately, being in the military means that we also have to say goodbye to these friends that become family.  And I’m just going to tell it like it is—it sucks!  Katie (and her husband Marc) left in February and I’m still so sad about it.  I love Katie to death and I was SO SO SO excited to get a surprise phone call from her today.  She made my day and cheered me up so much that I didn’t even need a nap!

Tailgating before a World Cup game 🙂

Are you still here after all of that rambling?  Sorry about that.  Now it’s time for a recipe.  Today is actually a bonus day because you get not one, not two, but three recipes for homemade granola!

I love granola, but the kind that you buy at the store is either laden with fat and/or sugar, or super expensive.  Granola is actually super easy to make and much healthier/cost effective when made at home.

I have really been loving on some granola lately—especially for a late night snack—because it satisfies my sweet tooth.  Here are three granola recipes that I have been enjoying a lot of lately.  If you have any great homemade granola recipes please share :).

Coconut Almond Butter Granola

*Recipe adapted from Peanut Butter Fingers

This is probably my favorite of the three granolas I have been making lately.  I love that it gets crunchy and clumps of it stick together.  It can be made with any kind of nut butter.  I’ve tried sunflower butter and peanut butter too—yum!  WARNING: Highly addictive :). 

This granola was so good that I ate it all before I remembered to take a picture...oopsie! This picture is from the recipe source.

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp. almond butter
  • 4 tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp flax seed (ground or whole)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 c. oats

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees and spray cookie sheet with cooking spray.
  • Combine almond butter and honey in a bowl and microwave until almond butter is slightly melted (about 30 seconds).
  • Stir almond butter and honey together.
  • Add cinnamon and vanilla to almond butter mixture.
  • Stir chia seeds, flax seed, coconut, and oats into almond butter mixture, completely coating oats in the mixture.
  • Spread oats onto cookie sheet and bake for 8 minutes before tossing oats and baking for another 4 minutes until granola is slightly brown.
  • Let cool until granola is crunchy and enjoy!

Whole Lotta Nuts Granola

*Recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse

I love the flavor of this granola–it’s sort of sweet and salty (from the nuts)–though it did not clump like the other one.  The texture of the nuts and seeds is excellent.  However, a word to the wise, I do NOT recommend using pine nuts—I did not like the flavor they gave it and I ended up picking them all out!  I added dried blueberries and golden raisins after it cooled…yummy!

Despite what the bag says....this isn't Almond Butter Granola...that granola is long gone 🙂

Ingredients

  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/4 cup hulled green pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds or pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup crushed pecans or walnuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp flax seeds (ground or whole)
  • 1/2 cup raisins, or chopped dates
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or blueberries, or combination

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a large bowl stir together oats, almonds, coconut, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pecans, cinnamon, salt, chia and flax seeds. In a small saucepan, melt butter with honey over low heat, stirring. Add vanilla and pour butter mixture over oat mixture and stir until combined well.

On a large baking sheet, spread the granola evenly in a thin layer. Bake, stirring every 5 minutes to keep from sticking or burning, until golden brown and crisp, about 20 minutes. (Do not overbake; the granola will crisp more when cooled.) Cool the granola on the pan on top of the stove and stir in dried fruits. Granola may be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Serve at room temperature in a bowl with milk or as a snack.

Fruit-Juice Infused Granola

*Recipe from Discovery Health

This used to be my favorite granola until I started trying all of these other ones.  I love the flavor the fruit juices give to the granola, but my husband thinks it is kind of bland.  It also doesn’t get as crunchy as the almond butter granola, but it’s still delicious.

 

Sorry for the dark photo...this is from my old camera!

Ingredients

4 cups whole oats (use old fashioned, not instant)

2 cups puffed or cluster-type cereal (I use Kashi Go Lean)

¼ cup flax seeds

½ cup toasted almond slivers

Handful of unsweetened coconut flakes

½ cup organic pineapple juice

½ cup organic apple juice

½ cup organic prune juice

Juice from ½ orange

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

Pinch of nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice and cardamom

Zest from one lemon or orange

2 teaspoons coconut oil

¼ cup honey

1 tsp vanilla extract

Mister w/ olive oil

Handful each; dried blueberries, cranberries, currants, green raisins

OPTIONAL: add salted peanuts for a salty mix

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°.

Combine the juices, spices and coconut oil in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer until reduced by half.  This should take about 20 minutes.  While this simmers, combine the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl.

Remove juice mixture from heat and allow to cook for 3-5 minutes.  Add honey and vanilla. Toss sweetened warm juice mixture with the oats mixture.

Mist 2 cookie sheets with olive oil. Spread mixture onto cookie sheets in a thin, even layer.

For variety, try adding salted peanuts to one pan.

Bake at 325° for 20-30 minutes, stirring once or twice, until golden and crunchy.

Cool slightly, then stir in dried fruit. Store granola in an airtight container like a zip lock bag or large ball jar.

Whew that monster of a post is over!  I hope you made it to the end J.  The granola recipes are awesome so I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! 

Thanks to Chelsey, I have started eating granola sometimes as a late-night snack with are with milk, cut up apples, and raisins.

Question: Do you like surprises?  Have you been surprised lately or planned a good surprise for someone?

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The Long and Healthy Way Home

So as you are aware Kristen and I have given up all foods that have sugar in the list of ingredients until August 20th. As we discussed this idea, we realized how much more conscious we will become of the foods that we eat and it will give us the motivation to step it up a notch. It will steer us away from packaged foods, and more towards foods that are in their natural state. We are looking forward to seeing what difference if any occurs within our bodies. I am also looking forward to exploring new recipes.

It is about time that I make my first post, I am sorry it has taken me so long. I left Okinawa and Kristen a little over a week ago, I was picked up at the airport in Salt Lake City, Utah and began the drive east back to Massachusetts, where I will be living throughout the summer and early fall. It was a lot of travel time which means a lot of sitting time, which can be tricky for me. When you are flying in an airplane and riding in a car, your exercise and activity is limited, therefore it can be very beneficial to be mindful of your energy intake through food. Throughout all of my travels I have learned how important it is to prep and plan your meals and snacks. Take time to create a list, and a food menu for your daily meals during your travels.

As we traveled from UT to MA we had a cooler for perishables and a few cloth bags for non-perishables. I have listed some suggestions of foods that we have traveled with that are convenient and have the least amount of preservatives or none at all, and are foods that give your body energy that you need to sustain and keep you alert through long drives.

  •  Pre-Made sandwiches- saves time, money and you are in control of exactly what goes in them. There’s the American favorite- Peanut Butter and Jelly, an old standby and always tastes good. If you can, use homemade whole wheat bread and jam obviously, but that takes lots of time and there are other great options. (See following posting with Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches recipes for the conscious eater.) When you can’t make everything from scratch, especially with the busy lifestyles we all lead, there are some other great option such as buying breads from local bakeries or farmers markets. Shopping in the supermarket I found bread made from Vermont Bread Company they use honey or molasses to sweeten it which is a plus and there are minimal ingredients, and for me it is a local bread which is something I like to keep in mind as I shop.
  • For jelly I buy Polaner which has no added sugars, only fruit and fruit juices. There are many times when I forgo the jelly all together and use real fruit, because that is all jelly should be made of so why not use the real thing, which tastes great and also provides vitamins and nutrients your body can put to use. Examples of fruit I use are: Bananas, apples, grapes, kiwi, and raspberries, I am sure there are many others that taste great I just have not experimented with them yet. (Let me know if you do!)
     
  • And the last ingredient Peanut Butter, I always buy natural with the oil separated and if you look at the ingredients all it lists is peanuts. (Some brands I have purchased are Adam’s Natural Peanut Butter from Walmart,  If you take a peak at the ingredients on Skippy, Jif and similar peanut butters there are at least 5 ingredients. Why? Grinding peanuts makes peanut butter, why the extras? Have fun exploring and getting creative with peanut butter and jellies, and they pack great and make a delicious lunch on the go.
  • Cut up fruit, placed in the cooler: Apples, oranges, bananas, kiwi- fruit that travels well and can be eaten as is.
  • Natural peanut butter on Stoned Wheat Thins, made by Red Oval Farms, a good hearty cracker that has no sugar and minimal ingredients.
  • Cut up veggies (carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, and celery) and hummus ( I recommend Sabra Hummus), placed in cooler.
  • Homemade Trail mix – See recipe in following post
  • Assorted nuts- great to buy in bulk at natural food markets, I enjoy them unsalted or lightly salted.
  • Small container of milk and cereal to have for breakfasts. All you need to bring is one bowl per person along with a spoon, and it is an easy and nutritious breakfast. Examples of cereals with minimal ingredients, no High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) or sugar are:
    Grapenuts– buying the store brand is cheaper and have same ingredients.                    Any of the Kashi Cereals                                                                                          Homemade Granola-Granola in boxes at the supermarket have way too much sugar, a great place to buy granola if you don’t have time to make it, is in the bulk section of a natural foods market, if you look at the ingredients they do not use sugar as a sweetener, and have many beneficial ingredients.
  • Pre-made roasted vegetables, placed in glass dish in the cooler, to make grilled vegetable sandwiches. Bring along the extra bread from the pre-made sandwiches, a block of cheese, and spread some of the hummus you have brought on the bread, add few slices of cheese and load it up with veggies. Yum!

Here are just a few ideas, I am aware that they are many more out there. It does take extra time to plan ahead and bring these foods with you, but it is so worth it. There is no need to put fast food product into your body or any food product you can buy at gas stations. You are paying money to put rubbish into your body.

If you have any suggestions of healthy travel foods please post them! I love learning new things, especially when it involves my health and the health of others.

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