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Granola Goodness

Are you a label reader? I am. I read every label before I put an item in my shopping cart. Years ago I spent 20 minutes in the cereal aisle, trying to find a “healthy” cereal to keep at the office for an emergency snack. EVERYTHING had SO MUCH SUGAR. And most of the them listed multiple types of sweeteners in one cereal… high fructose corn syrup, sugar, brown rice syrup, pure evaporated cane juice. Do we really need more than one kind in a single box of cereal?

A N Y W A Y.

homemade granola with almond milk

Homemade granola with homemade almond milk.

It was at this point that I decided to make homemade granola, so I could control what goes into it and how it tastes. Granola is still something we try to eat in moderation, because nutritionally it is not really an “A student”… more like a B-/C+ 🙂 Sometimes I try to add things that will boost its grade, and the beauty of homemade granola is you can do the same! Use this recipe as a guide and get creative with your favorite flavors. (Please note, this is an updated version of an existing recipe I’ve had on the blog since 2013. I’m trying to update as many of my old recipes as I can, to reflect my new tastes, experience in the kitchen and ingredients.)

Granola Goodness
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Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 8 cups

Serving Size: 1/2 cup

Granola Goodness

Ingredients

4 c. old fashioned oats (look for gluten-free oats if you are celiac)

3/4 c. almonds, chopped

1/2 c. raisins

1/2 c. dried cranberries

1/2 c. dried papaya or pineapple, unsulphured, unsweetened is best

1/2 c. coconut flakes, unsweetened

1/4 c. sunflower seeds, raw

1/2 c. maple syrup and or coconut nectar (I used half and half)

1/2 tsp. Real salt

Instructions

    Preheat oven to 325°F

    1. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl in the order they are listed.

    2. Stir to combine and evenly distribute ingredients.

    3. Line 2-13"x18" baking sheets (or similar size) with parchment paper and divide the granola mixture among the two sheets, spread out into an even layer.

    4. Bake 1 sheet at a time for 10 minutes.

    5. Remove pan from oven and use a spatula to flip and rotate mixture to ensure even baking.

    6. Place back into oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes. NOTE: Trust your nose, if the smell of the granola baking changes from delicious to something slightly different, it's ready to come out. You don't want to burn the almonds.

    7. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.

    8. Repeat with second sheet.

    9. This made ~8 cups of granola. I filled up two, 4 cup mason jars and put one in the freezer and one in the fridge.

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Homemade Granola Goodness {Slideshow}

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Homemade Almond Milk

One of the first changes I made in my kitchen, was back in early 2013, when I started making my homemade almond milk. We enjoyed it so much, I raved about it all the time to anyone who would listen. The common complaint was that it would be quicker to run to the store and buy some off the shelf. I would always assure people it was NOT the same.

Then I took it a step further and made this video to show people you could do it from start to finish in 10 minutes. I even went so far as to get my blender out of the pantry during the video! Every step counts, right? If you haven’t tried making homemade almond milk, I highly recommend you give it a shot while the homemade granola is baking in the oven. The two pair together perfectly!

homemade granola

Delicious with homemade almond milk

Have you ever made homemade granola or homemade almond milk?

Sweet Fruit Drops

I’m panicking slightly right now at the thought of this 30 Day Sugar Detox Challenge I have coming up. You see, I was born and raised with sugar in my blood, as some of you may know by now. It has taken me years of shifting my thinking when it comes to sweet treats. There was a time when I’d sit down and eat half a coffee cake and think nothing of it – that was breakfast! Now, we don’t even have a bag of sugar in our house. We make our own peanut butter and spaghetti sauce and I can’t remember the last time I put sugar in my coffee. (In case you don’t know this, 99% of store bought peanut butter and spaghetti sauce are loaded with sugar.)

However – I still love sweets. As much as I try to cut them out, I still always crave them. Luckily the period of time in between bouts with sugar get longer and longer. Therefore each time I splurge and throw caution to the wind and eat a cupcake (or whatever), I typically regret it about 30 minutes later when I can quite literally feel the sugar stomping through my veins.

All from ONE cupcake. Seriously!? What happened to this baker’s daughter??

I’ve come a long way. But then there are the dark chocolate covered almonds we always keep in the pantry, that I always go to in case of a sweet attack. Or the sweet drinks from the Dutch Brothers Coffee drive thru on my way to ceramics class. My biggest sugar attacks usually happen outside the home, which is where the biggest challenge will be for me.

I guess technically now that I think about it, I’ve been doing “no sugar” (aka sugar detox) since my last sugar infested cupcake binge; probably 2-3 weeks ago. We also stopped buying the chocolate covered almonds in anticipation of the upcoming challenge. With that major temptation out of the house, and knowing I’m about to seriously go a full 30 days without any extra sugars, I’m already finding I need a replacement for when the sugar attacks come. Because I’ve found myself wishing for those chocolate covered almonds at LEAST once a day.

What did I do!? I got creative.

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There are natural sugars all around us, provided by Mother Nature, which don’t involve any processing! And while the debate could go on FOREVER on if these kinds of sugars are OK, I’m sticking with yes, fruit is ok. Especially since I know of some Fruitarians.

Tonight I whipped up the easiest, most delicious dessert in a matter of 5 minutes – and it was plenty sweet too! (Dinner was amazing by the way and I will be posting that recipe soon – Pad Thai!)

Sweet Fruit Drops

1/2 banana
1/2 fresh pear (in season!)
2 fresh dates, pits removed
~1/4 c. unsweetened coconut flakes

Slice the banana, pear and dates and place into a small bowl. Sprinkle some of the coconut on top and mash it all together with your hands. Scoop out 1 tablespoon at a time and plop into another small bowl that has the remaining coconut flakes. Roll the fruit drop around until it’s completely coated with coconut. That’s it! You can firm them up by sticking them in the fridge, but we couldn’t wait that long. 🙂 I feel pretty confident that I will find some creative ways to still feed my sweet monster during the sugar detox challenge, but in healthier ways.

Have you cut added sugar out of your diet?

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