Homemade Granola

I have been making this granola for years now. It is such a simple recipe and is easily adapted. Even a non-baker like me can’t screw it up! I have made it a couple of times for my neighbor, Karin, and she wants the recipe. So here you go, Karin…this is for you!

I really love granola, but I don’t care for most of the options that you can get at the grocery store. They are usually too sweet for me and they are always stingy with the nuts! By making your own, you get it exactly as sweet as you want it, with the flavor you like, and whatever nuts you prefer.

This recipe is a great starting point. You can get creative with the flavors and ingredients to suit your mood. I love adding pumpkin seeds, pecans, and pumpkin pie spice for a yummy fall granola. Another favorite of mine is macadamia nuts and coconut! I will sometimes scale back on the sugar, or add more if it is for my special Christmas morning granola and yogurt parfaits. Get creative and make it exactly as you like!

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Make sure you use good quality oats (NOT instant or quick cooking) and raw, unsalted nuts. For sweetener I like real maple syrup. If you don’t like the flavor of maple syrup, honey or agave works well too. If you want to add any dried fruit, do it after the granola has cooked and cooled. I know this takes a long time to cook, but slow and low is the only way. I tried higher temps and less time and ended up with a slightly burnt taste.

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My perfect breakfast is plain Greek yogurt with fresh fruit mixed in topped with this granola…DELISH! Granola also makes a great holiday gift for neighbors and friends. You can get all cutesy with a mason jar if you are the creative type!

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Your kitchen will smell amazing while this granola bakes. It smells like sweet oatmeal cookies! The end result is just lightly sweet, crunchy, toasty, nutty and oh so good! This recipe makes a lot, but you will be surprised how fast it disappears!

 

Granola

For a printable recipe, Click here

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups rolled oats (I like Bob’s Red Mill Organic Oats)
  • 2 cups assorted nuts like walnuts, slivered almonds, pecans, or hazelnuts (raw & unsalted)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (Can substitute honey or agave syrup)
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar (Can substitute brown sugar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 250.

  1. Add the 3 cups of oats to a large mixing bowl. Roughly chop the nuts you would like to use (except for the slivered almonds…you can leave those whole). Add the nuts to the bowl and mix well.
  2. Add the coconut oil to a small microwave safe bowl (I like to use my Pyrex measuring cup). Heat the coconut oil in the microwave until completely melted. It should be warm which will help the other ingredients mix well with it. Add the maple syrup, the coconut sugar, the vanilla and salt and whisk well to combine all of the ingredients.
  3. Slowly pour the coconut oil mix into the oats/nuts while stirring to combine well and evenly coat all of the oats.
  4. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the mixture evenly filling up the whole pan.
  5. Bake for an 1 hour to an hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes or so to bake evenly.
  6. Once completely cooled, store in an air tight container for up to 4 weeks.

Optional Recipe Additions:

Hemp Seeds, Flax Seeds, or Unsweetened Shredded Coconut (add to dry ingredients before baking)

Cinnamon or Pumpkin Pie Spice (add to wet ingredients)

Dried Fruit – raisins, cranberries, chopped dates (add AFTER baking)

 

 

 

 

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Banana Breakfast Bread with Chocolate Chips

A little sweet and very satisfying!IMG_2471

I had to get this banana bread recipe on to Juicy Bites so that I can share how yummy this healthier version is! Its been my go to recipe for a while now because it’s simple to make and my boys love it for breakfast. Who doesn’t love breakfast with a little chocolate in it! It makes our crazy mornings before school a little easier when I have this ready to go. I slather on some peanut butter and they gobble it up. I think the chocolate chips (only a half a cup!) disguise that it is made with such healthy ingredients.

I basically took my regular banana bread recipe and substituted  some better options for the white flour. There is still some flour (whole wheat), but I took more than half the flour out to add in things like oats, flax, and almond flour. I love the hearty consistency and texture that has. It is really filling and satisfying!

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Ingredient Notes…

If you have a well stocked grocery store, you can find all of the ingredients for this without going to a specialty or health food store. My grocery store has a great “Bob’s Red Mill” section where I can get almond flour and flax meal and good quality oats. I like to make my own “oat flour” in the food processor and it just takes an extra minute to do. If you can find oat flour, you can skip this step. I used to use buttermilk in this but now I prefer to use plain kefir, or drinkable yogurt. I never seemed to get through a container buttermilk, but we do use the kefir in smoothies. I also like that the kefir is mostly lactose free and it is easy for me to find organic brands. The sugar that I use in this recipe is coconut sugar. It measures the same as granulated sugar, so you can use that if you want. Coconut sugar looks and tastes similar to brown sugar. I like the way it works in this banana bread and I like that it has much less fructose than regular sugar so it is much easier for your body to metabolize it.

Banana Breakfast Bread with Chocolate Chips

Click here for a printable version of this recipe

Ingredients:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup plain organic Kefir (drinkable yogurt) OR buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 3 small or 2 large very ripe bananas
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 3/4 cup PLUS 1/2 cup of whole rolled oats OR 3/4 cup oat flour and 1/2 cup whole oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Spray one 9×5 inch loaf pan with non-stick spray coating.
2. Add the eggs, the kefir or buttermilk, the coconut oil, the bananas (cut in thirds), and the vanilla to a blender. Blend on medium until smooth and mixed well
3. Put 3/4 cup of oats into a food processor and pulse several times until it resembles a course flour (if you are using oat flour, you can skip this step). In a large bowl, stir together the coconut sugar, whole wheat flour, flax meal, almond flour, oats from the food processor (or oat flour) and whole oats, baking soda and salt. Slowly add the mixture from the blender and stir until just combined. Gently mix in the mini chocolate chips.
4. Pour into prepared loaf pan (I spray mine with plenty of PAM for baking) and bake 1 hour and 20 minutes or until it is cooked through. Mine takes about 1 hour and 25 minutes in a glass baking dish.

Baked Oatmeal Cups with Coconut and Chocolate Chips

A perfectly portable breakfast or snack!

IMG_2218-001JUST when you were beginning to think…I wonder what happened to that juicy blogger girl? Here I am! Ok, so maybe I am flattering myself and no one was really thinking that because you all forgot I existed. I like the first scenario :).

I have a long list of yummy things that I need to get on Juicy Bites…and I am starting with these little guys. My Baked Oatmeal Breakfast Cups. I have seen a lot of different recipe ideas on the web with baked oatmeal. I love the idea for a few reasons – they can be made gluten free, you can throw just about anything in them, they are totally simple to make, AND they are tasty!

IMG_2219-001My version has lots of organic, gluten free oats, flax meal, chia seeds, and crunchy almonds. I added greek yogurt, bananas, and eggs too keep it all together.  They are the perfect package of whole grains, heart healthy omegas, and protein. These can be whipped up quickly (I use my blender!) and they are my go to breakfast all week. My 10 year old loves them in the morning with a smoothie.

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I use these gluten free chocolate chips from Enjoy Life. They don’t have any unnecessary ingredients and they are a good quality chocolate.

You can adjust this recipe to suit your taste/diet restrictions. Use 1 cup of almond or coconut milk instead of the greek yogurt if you want them to be dairy free. Also, leave out the nuts if there is an allergy. I love having the nuts for crunch and for some extra protein.

Now don’t get these confused with a yummy, cake-like muffin, because that they are not. There is no flour to speak of, so they are a little on the dense side. There is also no added sugar besides the coconut and chocolate chips, so they are not overly sweet. They get most of their flavor and sweetness from ripe bananas. You can definitely add a little agave, honey, or sweetener of your choice if you want these to taste a little sweeter. I think the chocolate chips and sweetened coconut give them what they need. My 7 year old (Mr. Picky) said he doesn’t care for them and that if I would make them without the oatmeal he would like them better. Well…sorry Mr. Picky, can’t please everyone.

IMG_2226-001I will be trying some different versions of these soon and I will post if they turn out as good as these. I think they would be great with shredded apple and raisins or with pumpkin. These last about 5 days in my fridge in a zip-lock bag. They also freeze well for longer storage. I throw them in the toaster oven for about 5 minutes to get them warmed up a bit before eating.

Baked Oatmeal Cups with Coconut and Chocolate Chips

Click here for a printable copy of the recipe

Makes 16 muffins

Ingredients:
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup low fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk of your choice (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups oats – not quick cooking (gluten free if desired)
  • 1/3 cup flax meal
  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 3/4 cup chopped nuts of choice (I used almonds)
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut (I used sweetened)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips, (gluten free if desired)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the bananas (cut them in half), yogurt, almond milk, vanilla, and eggs in a blender and blend until thoroughly mixed and creamy (about 30 seconds on high in my Vitamix).

In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, flax meal, chia seeds, chopped nuts, coconut, salt, and baking powder and mix well. Add the wet ingredients from the blender and stir to combine. Add the mini chocolate chips and mix well.

Spoon the oatmeal mixture into muffin tins lined with muffin cups (fill them just below the top of the muffin cup). Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until tops are starting to brown a little and they are cooked all the way through.

Store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.


Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Friday Indulgences…

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I love Fridays. Even more than I love Saturdays. No homework for my kids (I really don’t like homework). I don’t usually cook dinner (unless it’s really easy). And cocktail hour begins at 5:00 sharp! I also feel like every Friday is a mini celebration. A celebration that the weekend is beginning! I allow myself an extra treat or two and I may not eat the healthiest of dinners. I have been known to eat absurdly large burritos or a bit more pizza than I should. I make up for it all during the week with lots of green smoothies!

That leads me to these cookies…

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I was craving an extra yummy chocolatey treat so I thought I would bake something. You really can’t beat a home made chocolate chip cookie, and I had everything to make some. I took a quick peak on line to see if there were any ideas for a little something different and found this recipe for chocolate chip cookies with almond butter. YUM! Thanks Lynda from TasteFood!

You won’t find a ton of baked goods on Juicy Bites, even though I love them. I’m just not a huge fan of the exactness involved in baking. I’m more of an experimental baker, and that doesn’t always yield good results. It did in the case of my Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies…those were good! You must pardon the pictures on that post though…it was back in the beginning days of Juicy Bites and they just don’t look as good as they tasted. I will have to update that post one of these days.

IMG_1290The almond butter adds more to the cookie than you would think. It gives it a rich and nutty flavor with out being over powering like peanut butter can be. Not that I have anything against peanut butter! It also does wonders for the texture of the cookie. I also added a bit of coconut for no other reason than because my son asked if we could put some in. I liked the addition, so I kept it in the recipe. You can leave it out if coconut isn’t your thing.

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I did have one little problem with these cookies…I couldn’t stop eating them! I have a weakness for anything involving chocolate.  I solved this problem by giving some away. Now that they are gone, I’m a little relieved, and a little sad :(.

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Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Slightly adapted from TasteFood!

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1  3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4  cup unsalted butter, softened (1  1/2 sticks)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsalted creamy almond butter
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl; set aside. Cream the butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla. Mix well. Mix in the almond butter and coconut until smooth. Add the flour and mix to combine, then stir in the chocolate. Refrigerate the batter for at least one hour. (Batter may be refrigerated for up to 24 hours – if you can wait that long).
Heat oven to 350 F. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough on baking sheets lined with parchment. Bake until light golden, about 14 minutes.

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Extra Yummy Banana Muffins

These healthy muffins have a little surprise inside…

This week both my boys were in camps that started early so I wanted a quick and healthy breakfast for them so we could get out the door on time. Muffins fit the bill perfectly so I whipped up a batch of these Banana “Surprise” Muffins with the over ripe bananas that I needed to use. I found a recipe for Banana-Buttermilk and Oat Muffins and tweaked it a little to add some extra health benefits as well as the “surprise” in the center. I added oats, flax, and whole wheat flour to amp up the nutritional benefits. I also subbed coconut oil for the vegetable oil in the recipe.

Surprise! The middle of these muffins have a delicious dollop of my favorite Chocolate Almond Butter. I love all the nut butters from Justin’s, but the chocolate ones are my favorite. They are full of real chocolate flavor without a lot of sugar.

http://bebalanced52.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/justins.jpgThis stuff is good on just about anything, but in the middle of a banana muffin…it’s just dreamy!

All I did was fill the muffin cups 1/2 full with batter, then add a spoonful of the chocolate almond butter to the center before filling them up the rest of the way.

I’m really not much of a baker, but these tasty muffins are very easy to make!

So when breakfast time rolled around, I would pop one of these babies in the toaster oven for about 5 minutes which makes them a little warm and extra delicious. One of these with my Tropical Green Smoothie and you have a delicious, quick, and easy breakfast.

My boys really loved these and are asking when I will be making the next batch.

Banana Oat Muffins with a Chocolate Almond Butter Center

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 c buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil or *coconut oil
  • 1 c mashed ripe bananas (I used 2 bananas)
  • Justin’s Chocolate Almond Butter (or nut butter of your choice)

*Note: If you use coconut oil, you may need to heat it up under warm water or in the microwave depending on the temperature. Coconut oil is solid at room temp, but mine was liquid due to some warm weather we were having. You also need to have your buttermilk and egg at room temp so that the coconut oil doesn’t solidify when you mix the wet ingredients together.
Method:

Preheat oven to 400 F and line your 12 cup muffin pan.

In a small bowl, mix the dry ingredients together. In a large bowl, whisk or beat the wet ingredients together. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stop as soon as you see the last bit of flour disappear. Do not over mix. Fill muffin cups 1/4 full with batter. Next add a teaspoon full (or more!) of chocolate nut butter, then add the remaining batter on top. Bake for 18 minutes until the tops are golden brown. Cool in tin for 5 minutes and then leave them to cool completely on a wire rack. Enjoy!


Paleo Bread

Paleo Bread

I saw this recipe in a recent GOOP newsletter (Gwyneth Paltrow’s newsletter that I subscribe to). The issue was about “A Better Breakfast” and reducing the amount of sugar that you start your day with. I really do try to eat healthy and make the best choices I can but I struggle with the amount of sugar that is in everything I like to eat. Yogurts, cereals, and my nemesis…bread! I love having a piece of toast in the morning, but even a sprouted whole grain bread like Ezekiel bread doesn’t do me any favors. I am much better off with a bread free breakfast that has plenty of protein and heart healthy fats. That type of breakfast keeps me full all  morning and doesn’t leave me craving  carbs at my next meal. I am by NO means a non-carb eater. As you can see from my blog posts I love to cook whole grains and pasta. I’m just trying to start my day with the best option so that I can make better choices for the rest of the day. If I get my carb fix at dinner, at least I wasn’t eating them all day.

This bread was very simple to make in my food processor. It totally satisfies my morning toast craving. I will have a slice with almond butter and a berry and spinach smoothie – the perfect breakfast for me!

Here is the link to the newsletter about a better breakfast:

http://goop.com/newsletter/175/   There are a lot of good ideas in it.

Paleo Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup  flaxseed meal
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Place almond flour, coconut flour, flax, salt and baking soda in a food processor and pulse the ingredients together.

Add in eggs, oil, honey and vinegar and pulse.

Pour batter into a greased 7.5″ x 3.5″ non-stick loaf pan (or line with parchment paper.) Bake at 350° F for about 40 minutes. Cool and serve.
A slice of toasted Paleo Bread with Justin’s Maple Almond Butter


Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

This morning I noticed a couple of my bananas going south. I wanted to bake something other than the usual banana bread so I searched for a cookie recipe. I couldn’t find any with exactly what I wanted so I adapted one and it turned out great! These are seriously good cookies. I mean…like…dangerously good! They came out sort of cakey and chewy. There is plenty of good stuff in them with the oats, whole wheat flour, flax and bananas! For my picky 5 year old I left out walnuts in half of the batch.

    

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups oats (I used thick-cut organic oats)
  • 1/4 cup flax meal or ground flax seeds
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter (1/2 stick), room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unpacked brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2  mashed ripe bananas
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°; line two baking sheets with parchment paper or use a silpat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the oats and flax and mix well.

In a large bowl, with a mixer, cream together the butter and the sugars on medium speed.  

Add the egg, followed by the mashed banana and vanilla extract and beat well with a mixer.

Working by hand, stir in the flour/oat mixture  until just combined and no streaks of flour remain; stir in the chopped walnuts and chocolate chips.

Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of the dough onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for about 10-14 minutes, or until cookies become light brown at the edges. (Mine took 14 min)

Don’t forget to rotate pans half way through for even baking.

Let cool on baking sheet for 3 or 4 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container so you don’t eat them all in one sitting!

Makes about 30 cookies.