Granola that’s Kinda Nutty (to power through business trips that are also kinda nutty)

Maple Nutty Granola yogurt parfait up closeWhen I was working, I had to travel to Europe several times, and once for two weeks to China and India.  And seriously, the best thing about many foreign hotels is their insane breakfast buffets.  These spreads catered to the breakfast preferences of many different countries and cultures, from eggs and bacon and potatoes, to waffles and pancakes and french toast, to knockwursts and bratwursts and whatvever-wursts, to congee and sushi and dumplings.  Now granted, I was traveling for business, so I did stay at pretty decent hotels.  But even the smaller ones all seem to know how to do breakfast right.  And one thing that always seem to have it a bowl of plain, thick yogurt, another of fresh fruit preserves, and yet another filled with granola.  More often than not, even with all of the other choices, I went for that – a little dairy, a little protein, a little fruit – just what I needed to power through the insane schedule that I usually had while traveling (one time involving 7 airplane flights in 10 days).

Back at home, the store-bought granola always left something to be desired for me.  Many seem to have a lot more sugar and fat than I am really looking for, not enough nuts and fruit, and way too much “filler”.  Plus, with finding out about my wheat allergy, I have to steer clear from granola that contains things like wheat and barley flakes, or even wheat germ.  So that is why I came up with this recipe.  It has a pretty high ratio of nuts and seeds to oats, a good amount of dried fruit, and just the right amount of sweetness, but without adding any refined sugars.  The only grain is oatmeal, and while I don’t need to seek out the gluten-free oats, this can be gluten-free if you purchase the gluten-free oats.   And it has a lot of different kinds of nuts.  I love nuts, and each one seems to have at least on particular standout nutritional stat, like walnuts for Omega-3’s, cashews for minerals and B-vitamins, and almonds for Vitamin E.  Here is a great source for lots of nutritional information about many different nuts and seeds.

Nutty Granola yogurt parfait

I love to eat this granola over plain yogurt with some chopped berries (or you can get all fancy and make parfaits), and The Bug likes it in any of the many yogurt combos I make for him (like this one).  But it is also good simply with some warm or cold milk (my new favorite is Almond Breeze’s Coconut Almond Milk, maybe with a little chopped banana.  I’ve also been known to eat it by the handful.

It also makes a nice gift.

Maple Nutty Granola Gift

And the great thing about granola recipes is that they really are a guideline.  Feel free to switch it up based on the nuts and seeds and fruits you love or have around.

Maple Nutty Granola Yogurt parfait

What is your favorite breakfast food?  Is there something you beeline for when you are at a buffet?

Maple Mixed Nut Granola

Ingredients

3 c oats (I use Quaker Old Fashioned Oats)

Granola in bowl1 c raw cashews, chopped

1 c chopped walnuts

1 c chopped pecans

1/2 c sliced almonds

1/4 c flax seeds

1/4 c sesame seeds

1/2 c pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

1 c unsweetened, flaked coconut

1/4 c water

1/4 c olive oil

1/2 c real maple syrup

1 t cinnamon

1 t vanilla extract

1 t kosher salt

1 1/2 c dried fruit (I like equal parts raisins, dried cranberries, and dried cherries)

Directions

Granola on pan1.  Preheat your oven to 250°F.  Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

2.  In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, seeds, and coconut.

3.  In a small bowl, combine the water, olive oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt.

4.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and toss until it is evenly distributed and moistened.

5.  Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes, or until dry and golden.

6.  Toss the dried fruits in with the granola mixture.

7.  Allow to cool and store in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

Maple Nutty Granola closeup

This recipe was shared with:

A Little Nosh’s Tastetastic Thursday

Amee’s Savory Dish Fit and Fabulous Friday 3/23/12

I Heart Nap Time

What Makes You Say Mmmmm? Monday Linky

Nap-Time Creations

 

 

 

 

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Happy St. Patricks Day Green Smoothie – have a Shamrock Shake the healthy way!

So I have been dying to get myself a Shamrock Shake from McDonald’s. But then I realize that the last time I had one, I wasn’t thrilled.  I rarely indulge in a McDonald’s milkshake, but I don’t think they have been the same since they started putting whipped cream and a cherry on top.  I mean, this is McDonald’s, not an ice cream parlor, or even a diner.  Their food isn’t supposed to come with garnish.  Then I saw someone post the list of what is in a Shamrock Shake.  Not that I don’t ever consume those ingredients – I do loves me a McDonald’s Ice Cream Cone, and the ice cream is the main component of the shake – but it wasn’t worth the calories or chemicals for something I don’t really like.

Shamrock Shake Green Smoothie in sunlightBut it is St. Patrick’s Day, and for some reason, I still thought a Shamrock Shake for breakfast was the way to celebrate, since the rest of my plans for the day are decidedly NOT Irish.  I’ve seem a lot of versions posted on various blogs this week, but most involved ice cream.  So I decided to make one that was breakfast-worthy (but definitely still yummy enough for dessert).  And it does not involve any green food coloring.  Or added sugar. I think I will be making one for The Bug for snack.  Throw a banana in your freezer in chunks, and it’ll be ready to make this for an after dinner treat.

I am not a huge mint person.  I regularly think to myself that I wish they made peanut butter-flavored toothpaste.  So this is admittedly a little light on the mint.  If you like things really minty, go ahead and add more mint extract.  And no, you can’t taste the kale, and if you blend it up, you don’t even know it is there, other than the lovely green color it gives the smoothie.

What are you doing for St. Patrick’s Day?  Eating or drinking anything green?  Or Irish?

Shamrock Shake Green Smoothie from top

Shamrock Green Smoothie (serves 1)

Ingredients

Shamrock Shake Green Smoothie1 frozen, really ripe banana

1 c milk (I used Almond Breeze Almond Coconut Milk, but you can use any milk you choose)

1/2 c kale (or other dark, leafy green of your choice)

1/2 t vanilla extract

1/4 t mint extract

ice cubes – I used 4 regular-sized ones.  This was probably aboutn3/4 c.  Adjust accordingly based on the size of your ice cubes and how icy you want it.

Directions

1.  Put all ingredients into a blender (I used my trusty Magic Bullet), and blends until smooth.

2.  Pour into a glass to serve, and garnish with a strawberry, if you want to be all fancy.

Enjoy!

shamrock green smoothie from iphone

Shared with:

I Heart Nap Time

Recipe Without a Recipe: PB&J Yogurt

So what is a Recipe Without a Recipe?  Well, I’m always looking at what we have in the pantry and fridge to come up with quick and easy breakfasts, lunches, and snacks for The Bug.  I want to make his meals and snacks as nutritious as possible, focusing on “real foods”, plus the same-old-same-old gets boring.  I mean, how many times can you give a toddler apple slices or grapes or carrot sticks or cheese or raisins before it gets totally boring?  So I’ve tried to come up with some alternatives to packaged crackers, cereal, and mac & cheese, but that still require little effort.  These are my Recipes Without a Recipe, and I will share them with you from time to time.

The Bug has pretty much been eating yogurt almost everyday since I first gave it to him when he was, oh, about 9 months old.  Other than the occasional treat of going out for or making pancakes or waffles with syrup, I try to avoid giving him a dose of added sugar for breakfast, which you usually find in those little yogurt cups.  Even the ones made for kids have 12 or more grams of sugar.  And they are teeny-tiny – The Bug could probably polish off two or three at breakfast.  Plus, for little ones, at least until they are 2 or 3, full fat dairy is what they need.  Those prepackaged yogurts are usually low fat, and the Day-glo colors that some of them come in freak me out a little.  Plus the extra cost and extra trash kinda bugs me, too.  So unless we are traveling and need the convenience of pre-packaged yogurt cups, I tend to buy a big container of Stonyfield Farms Organic Whole Milk Yogurt, and mix in fresh or thawed, frozen fruit.  But since he does eat A LOT of yogurt, I try to at least keep in interesting by coming up with some different combinations.  Plus it is a way to sneak in some other good-for-you ingredients to increase the protein, fiber, and flavor.  Here is one of his faves…

PB&J Yogurt

1.  Spoon some plain yogurt into a bowl.  I pretty much always give The Bug Stonyfield Farms Organic Whole Milk Yogurt.

Put yogurt in bowl

2.  Add a spoonful of your favorite nut (or non-nut, a.k.a. sunflower seed) butter.  This is almond butter, but I usually use peanut butter.

Add nut butter

3.  Add some finely chopped fruit.  I usually go with strawberries or grapes – kind of a classic PB&J combo.

Put fruit in bowl

4.  If you like, top with your “nutrition booster” of choice, such as wheat germ, ground flax seeds, chia seeds (I haven’t tried these yet, but I want to), granola, chopped nuts, etc.  This is wheat germ here.

Add wheat germ

5.  Stir it all up.  Then smell it.  I always do.  Smells so yummy!

Stir it up

6.  Enjoy!

The Bug eating yogurt

Clearly this is Bug-approved!

Empty bowl

What do you usually eat for breakfast?  Is there something that you eat pretty much everyday?

Chocolate Almond Banana Oatmeal and “Gateway Foods”

So I had planned a completely different post to go up today – a nice, healthy snack/breakfast for you or your kids, no measuring involved.  Well, that will go up tomorrow.  I just had to share what I had for breakfast today.  If you have been following the March Foodie Photo a Day on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, started by The Purple Carrot, then you may have already seen a preview.  But here it is in all of it’s chocolaty, nutty goodness.

Chocolate Banana Almond Oatmeal, garnished

My new bloggie friend, Nescett, at Bananaoats eats oatmeal with bananas cooked into it pretty much everyday (hence, the name of her blog).  Before even finding her blog, I tried this, just with bananas in plain oatmeal.  I was not a fan.  Typically I like my oatmeal plain, cooked with a little milk, a pinch of salt, and some sort of sweetener – used to be Splenda, but I am trying to get away from artificial sweeteners, so now it is usually agave nectar.  But I also do like occasionally treating myself to a nice chocolaty breakfast by stirring in some cocoa powder.  But then yesterday I saw this Nutella Banana Oatmeal.  Sumptuous Spoonfuls has been inspiring a few of my meals lately, and when I saw this, I knew I had to try it.

The problem.  No, it wasn’t that I don’t have Nutella.  It’s that Nutella is like a gateway drug for my.  I open the jar to take out a tablespoon, and somehow the jar would magically be empty, and I would be curled in the corner with chocolate all of my fingers, denying any involvement.  And then I would be moving on to the bag of Ghirardelli chocolate chips in the pantry. So I thought I would go with a version that utilizes jars that are already open, and won’t lead me down a  path of consumption followed by self-loathing.  Plus, she uses quick oats, and I typically only have regular Quaker Old-Fashioned Oats in the cabinet.  And I am obsessed lately with Blue Diamond Almond Breezes Unsweetened Almond Coconut Milk.  But, you could definitely use plain almond milk, or regular milk (maybe with a little almond extract added).  And I am sure it would be equally as good with any other nut butter of your choosing.

Chocolate Banana Almond Oatmeal on wood

You really should try this.  It’s like dessert…  at breakfast…  but with no guilt in the form of added sugars or artificial sweeteners.  Or an empty jar of Nutella.

Shared with:

Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop

Pennywise Platter Thursday 3/14 at The Nourishing Gourmet


Chocolate Almond Banana Oatmeal (serves 1)

Adapted from Sumptuous Spoonful’s Quick & Easy Banana Nutella Oatmeal

Ingredients

Chocolate Banana Almond Oatmeal on OrangeHalf of an over-ripe banana, mashed up a bit

1/3 c old-fashioned oats (I use good ol’ Quaker Old-Fashioned Oats)

2/3 c milk (I used Blue Diamond Almond Breezes Unsweetened Almond Coconut Milk, but you could use any almond milk, or even regular milk, but the you may want to add a little almond extract)

1/2 t vanilla

1 T almond butter (or other nut butter of your choice)

1 T cocoa powder (or cacao, if that’s how you roll)

Pinch of salt

Slices of bananas and/or almonds, if desired

Directions

1.  Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl.

2.  Microwave on High for 2 minutes.

3.  Stir.

4.  Microwave for another 2 minutes, or to desired doneness.  If you like it really soft, you may want to add a little water and cook longer.

5.  Top with banana and almond slices, if using.

Enjoy!

Chcocolate Banana Almond Oatmeal on pink cloth