We've been making some changes to how we eat over the last few months. I doubt you want to hear all of my philosophy, (it's a bit complicated and I'm not as well-informed as I'd like to be and it doesn't really align with any of the similar "movements" like "clean eating," completely...) but in summary, after talking to a dear friend who was trying a more "natural" diet as part of fertility efforts, I decided to put our family on a similar plan. Not for fertility reasons, but just to be healthier It's something I've been feeling strongly about, and good about, and it's been great for us, but I don't want to sound all preachy and act like I think you should try it too--obviously it's a personal thing. But for us, it's been awesome. Part of our new lifestyle involves not eating food that's full of artificial stuff, and that means cereal is a lot more expensive than our old standbys. We still buy a few boxes every month (loving the "Cascadian Farms" stuff, just for the record), but we're also making granola now, and we love it. It's yummy, and I love knowing exactly what's in it. It took a while for me to find a recipe that works well for us, so I thought I'd share our new preferred granola recipe.
Adapted from "Better Homes and Gardens"
2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup coarsely chopped raw, unsalted almonds (or walnuts or cashews, or a combination) (optional)
1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut (optional)
1/4 cup ground flaxseed (optional)
1/4 cup wheat bran (optional)
Dash of sea salt
1/4 cup honey
2 Tablespoons brown sugar or pure maple syrup
2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted (butter or grape seed oil also work)
3/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins (optional)
Grease a large, rimmed cookie sheet or baking pan; set aside. In a large bowl, combine oats, almonds, coconut, flaxseed, bran, and sea salt. In a microwave-safe bowl melt coconut oil (in microwave). Add honey and sugar. Stir well and pour into oat mixture. Mix well, until everything is combined (it'll look a bit wet and sticky). Spread evenly into greased pan.
Bake at 300 for 20 minutes, then stir carefully and bake an additional 10 minutes. Allow to cool on a sheet of parchment paper or foil. Sprinkle dried fruit evenly over and store in an airtight container. It's stayed good for us for 2 weeks.
This is the before/after shot, except backwards (the left jar is the "after," the better version):
My first attempt is on the right--see how I had to add sugar? No bueno. I was trying to make it healthier and cut back on sugar, but took it waaaay too far! So then i had to add some when it was finished. Anyway....
And I found this recipe for Raw Vegan Snickers on pinterest, and when I looked at the ingredients and realized I could make them, I totally did. I halved the recipe, so it made 4, and they definitely only lasted one day. Shaun loved them too! They're pretty calorie dense, and are something we won't make often, but they're perfect for the days when you really want a candy bar but you don't want to eat what's actually in a store-bought candy bar...if you ever feel like that...maybe it's just me ;) .Here is how I made them (it's a bit different than the linked version):
Raw "Snickers" Candy Cups
1/2 cup soft, pitted dates
1-1/2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp peanut butter or almond butter
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp coconut oil
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup peanuts (or more!) (I used raw, unsalted)
4 squares dark chocolate (or more!) (I use Lindt 90% cacao, which is really dark. I think having super dark chocolate balances with the sweetness of these well, but I think 70% would be good too)
In a food processor, process until smooth: dates, honey, peanut butter, sea salt, coconut oil and vanilla extract.Scrape down the sides of the food processor as needed in between pulsing until the mixture is smooth. (When I made these the first time, my food processor was having a rough time, so it was a bit chunky, but still delicious.) After everything is mixed well, divide the mixture between 4 parchment muffin liners. Push the mixture down with a spoon, and then sprinkle each cup with a tablespoon (or more!) of peanuts. push the peanuts in with a spoon.
Melt dark chocolate squares. (I usually do this one of two ways--I'll either put boiling water in a bowl and then place the chocolate into a smaller bowl, and place that inside the boiling water bowl, or letting any water in, and stir every now and then until the chocolate is melted, OR, if I'm in a hurry, I'll melt the chocolate in the microwave with a bit of coconut oil, checking and stirring often to keep it from scorching.) Drizzle melted chocolate over each cup to cover well. Refrigerate the candy cups for at least 30 minutes or a couple hours before eating. Store leftovers in airtight container in fridge.
If you get a chance to try either of these recipes we are loving, let me know what you think.