Category Archives: Healthy Eating

Black Bean Avocado Salad

Black Bean Avocado Salad @ NancyC

I’ve been on an avocado kick lately! So I was drawn to this recipe from the new cookbook Lose Weight By Eating (William Morrow, softcover). This side dish has so many ingredients I love–LoseWeightByEatingavocados, of course, along with black beans, red onion, bell pepper, and corn. I just knew I would like it!

There are lots of other great-sounding recipes I found in my review copy. Author Audrey Johns developed more than 130 clean eating recipes during her 11-month weight loss journey, losing more than 150 pounds and proving that you really can lose weight if you’re eating the right things! There’s a good variety of recipes for every meal and healthy desserts, too–things like Chili Cheese Omelet, Strawberry Scones with Lime Glaze, Meatball Sliders, Skinny Chicken Alfredo, California Club Pizza, and Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes.

I decided to try the Black Bean Avocado Salad, which is described in the book as a crisp, salsa-like side dish–and just 131 calories per serving. You can serve it with chips as a snack, or top a chicken breast with it for extra flavor and protein.

BLACK BEAN AVOCADO SALAD from Lose Weight by Eating

Makes six 1/2 cup servings

  • 1 (16-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl, combine the beans, jalapeño, bell pepper, avocado, red onion, cilantro, corn, lime juice, and garlic. Gently mix and add salt and black pepper to taste.

Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour and serve.

I really liked the way this tasted–it’s nice when a dish is both healthy and yummy, isn’t it? Do you have a favorite healthy snack that you like to make?

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Gingerbread Granola

Gingerbread Granola @ NancyC

It was time for me to make granola again and I love trying out different flavors! I had thought about making Gingerbread Granola during the holidays, but didn’t get around to it. I still wanted to try it this winter season, though, and I thought adding some dried cranberries into the mix, a little touch of red, would make it a wonderful granola not only for the holidays, but for Valentine’s day, too. So this is a perfect granola for all winter long…for breakfast, brunch, or a healthy sweet snack. And people love receiving treat bags filled with granola–it makes a great homemade food gift!

As you might be able to tell from my photo, I mixed in both dried cranberries and golden raisins into my granola.  I really like the sweetness and color they add.  I also like the rich molasses flavor blended with the other spices in this!

GINGERBREAD GRANOLA by NancyC

Makes about 6 cups

  • 4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup ground flaxseed or wheat germ
  • 2/3 cup raw shelled sunflower kernels (if using roasted and salted kernels, add them to the mixture after baking)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup light olive oil or non-GMO canola oil
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries or golden raisins (or 3/4 cup of each)

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a 10 x 15″ or 13 x 15″ baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a large bowl, toss the oats, flaxseed or wheat germ, sunflower kernels, chopped pecans, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. In small microwaveable bowl, heat molasses for about 15 to 20 seconds to make consistency thinner and easier to stir. Then in a medium size bowl, blend molasses, oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract, stirring everything well (the oil may separate from the other ingredients, but blend it as well as you can). Add this syrup mixture to the dry oat mixture, mixing until everything is thoroughly coated.

Spread granola mixture onto prepared baking sheet and bake at 350˚F for 30 minutes, until mixture is golden, stirring every 15 minutes so granola bakes evenly. Remove from oven; stir in dried cranberries and/or raisins, if using, and then let the granola cool completely (the mixture will get crunchier as it cools). Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks (or you can store a little longer in the refrigerator).

I have a good-sized jar of organic ground ginger, and I used some of that for this. I still have quite a bit of ground ginger, so I may be making more gingery recipes! Are you a fan of gingerbread-flavored treats?

Linked to Fiesta Friday.

Cranberry Quick Oats Granola

Cranberry Quick Oats Granola @ NancyC

I’ve always made homemade granola with old-fashioned rolled oats–I’ve read that they work better in granola recipes. But one evening when I was wanting to make some granola, I discovered I didn’t have enough rolled oats. And no time to run out and buy more. But I had plenty of quick oats! So I decided to try making granola with those instead. I found a recipe from The Daily Dish that I modified by using more dried cranberries, adding pecans, and making a few other small changes.

This granola is really yummy! It has a great crunchy texture when eaten while still warm (it’s a little less crunchy when it cools off) and the maple syrup gives it a nice sweetness. It’s definitely worth trying the next time you want to make some granola! I’m sure this recipe would work fine with old-fashioned oats too, if you prefer using those.

CRANBERRY QUICK OATS GRANOLA by NancyC, adapted from The Daily Dish

Makes about 10 cups

  • 6 cups quick oats
  • 1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup light olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups dried cranberries (added after baking)

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line two 9 x 13″ pans or one 13 x 18″ rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In large mixing bowl, combine the quick oats, pecans, coconut, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg (the dried cranberries are added after baking).

In a small bowl, stir together the maple syrup, oil, vanilla, and salt.  Add this mixture to the oat mixture, blending until everything is thoroughly coated.

With large spoon, spread mixture on parchment-lined pan or pans. Place pans on middle rack in oven and bake for 30 minutes total, or until golden–as mixture is baking, you’ll need to remove the pan or pans from the oven every 10 minutes, stir mixture, then return to the oven. After 30 minutes, remove from oven and cool completely. Then add in the dried cranberries. Store in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.

This granola makes a great healthy snack and also is good served as a cereal with milk or in a breakfast parfait with plain or vanilla yogurt. Have you ever used quick oats in a granola recipe?

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Breakfast Berry Scooper Cake and Yogurt

Breakfast Berry Scooper Cake @ NancyC

It’s hard to believe we’re almost through November already and looking forward to the 51oDdaQDHAL._SX442_BO1,204,203,200_Thanksgiving holiday! I didn’t realize until this year that November is also American Diabetes Month. In 2012, 9.3% of the American population (or 29.1 million Americans) had diabetes, so chances are that you or someone you know has been diagnosed with it. I recently received a review copy of the Two-Step Diabetes Cookbook by Nancy S. Hughes, so I thought I’d share a little about the book and try out a recipe.

This cookbook includes over 150 recipes that are simple, quick, flavorful, and healthy. And everyday ingredients are used to create these diabetic-friendly dishes. Some of the recipes include:

  • Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
  • Apple-Walnut French Toast
  • Pepperoni Mozzarella Pita Crisps
  • Corn and Black Bean Salsa Salad
  • Vanilla Honey Sweet Potatoes
  • Veggie-Loaded Sweet Corn Muffins
  • Herb-Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables
  • Cinnamon Raspberry Cookie Cake Squares

I decided to try the Breakfast Berry Scooper Cake, which is served with Greek yogurt. This breakfast cake is very, very moist, lightly-sweet and packed with fruit. If you serve this hot, you can scoop it out of the pan. If you serve it warm or cool, you can cut into squares, which is what I did. The yogurt is a nice creamy pairing with the cake, giving you a slightly sweet, slightly tart taste combination–a great option for your morning meal!

BREAKFAST BERRY SCOOPER CAKE AND YOGURT from Two-Step Diabetes Cookbook

Makes 9 servings in an 8″square pan (2 1/2″ square and 1/3 cup yogurt per serving)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (I used unbleached flour)
  • 7 Tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup nonfat buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 (1-pound) bag frozen mixed berries
  • 3 cups plain nonfat Greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Meanwhile, combine the flour, all but 2 teaspoons of the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, buttermilk, egg, oil, and extract in a medium bowl. Whisk together until smooth and pour into an 8-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray; top with the frozen berries.

Bake 1 hour or until browned and wooden pick inserted 2 inches from edge comes out clean. Remove from oven, place pan on cooling rack, and sprinkle with remaining sugar (I forgot to sprinkle on the remaining sugar, but I didn’t really miss having it on there). Serve hot, warm, or room temperature with yogurt on the side.

Cook’s Tip: If serving hot, use a spoon to remove. It will be a “loose” pudding cake texture. If serving warm, carefully cut into squares and use a flat spatula to remove; it will be a very moist pudding cake texture. If serving room temperature, cut into squares. Use a flat spatula to remove. It will be a firmer, but still very moist, pudding cake texture.

EXCHANGES/CHOICES: 2 Carbohydrate, 1 Protein, lean 1/2 Fat

BASIC NUTRITIONAL VALUES: Calories 215 (Calories from fat 45), Total Fat 5.0 g (Saturated Fat 0.5 g, Trans Fat 0.0 g), Cholesterol 20 mg, Sodium 175 mg, Potassium 180 mg, Total Carbohydrate 30 g (Dietary Fiber 2 g, Sugars 17 g), Protein 11 g, Phosphorus 170 mg

My cake had browned quite a bit on top, so next time I’ll check to see if it’s done at 55 minutes instead of 60. You may want to do that too, especially if your oven tends to run hot.

Even if you don’t have diabetes, the recipes in this cookbook give you lots of great ideas on ways to eat healthier. What are some of your favorite healthy breakfast dishes?

Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

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Homemade Applesauce @ NancyC

Homemade Applesauce (Sweetened with Honey or Maple Syrup)

Homemade Applesauce @ NancyC

I’ve had homemade applesauce before, but this is the first time I’ve made my own. And let me tell you, it’s so much better than store-bought! It’s not as convenient as buying it, but I think it’s worth the extra effort to make homemade applesauce if you have the time. It’s really easy to make your own–the most time-consuming part is peeling the apples. After that, it’s just a matter of mixing the ingredients in a saucepan and letting it cook for 25 minutes until the apples are soft. If you like chunky applesauce like me, you can just use a potato masher to mash those apples into applesauce. If you like your applesauce smooth, you can puree the cooled apple chunks in a blender (you may have to do that in several batches).

I like sweetening my applesauce with honey or maple syrup. If you prefer using brown sugar, you can use that instead. The cinnamon and nutmeg also give this applesauce a great flavor.

HOMEMADE APPLESAUCE (Sweetened with Honey or Maple Syrup) by NancyC

Makes about 4 servings

  • 8 cups (3 pounds) apples, peeled, cored, and chopped or sliced (this would be about 8-9 medium-size apples; use your favorite variety)
  • 1/2 cup apple juice or cider
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 Tablespoons honey or maple syrup (or substitute 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

In a medium-size saucepan, combine apples, juice or cider, honey or maple syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir ingredients together, then cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes, until apples are soft. Let apples cool, then mash them with a potato masher. Or you can puree them in a blender until smooth. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

You can serve this applesauce chilled as a side dish or snack. Or for dessert, heat it and use as a topping over ice cream. You can also serve it warm or cool at breakfast as a topping for pancakes, a bowl of oatmeal, or a cup of plain or vanilla yogurt.

Have you made homemade applesauce before?

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Maple Cinnamon Raisin Granola @ NancyC

Maple Cinnamon Raisin Granola

Maple Cinnamon Raisin Granola @ NancyC

Homemade granola is so good–I started making it a few years ago and I guess you could say I’m hooked on homemade granola! I’ve made several granola recipes, including Vanilla Almond Granola, Pumpkin Spice Granola, and Dark Chocolate Granola Bars. I like experimenting with different variations and flavors, and I decided to try a version with some fall-inspired flavors like maple syrup, cinnamon, and raisins. There’s nothing fancy about this granola, but it has that great classic cinnamon-raisin goodness. And the maple syrup makes a wonderful natural sweetener. There’s no sugar in this, just the sweetness of the maple syrup. Which is great if you’re trying to cut back on sugar. And even if you’re not, it’s still a really good granola!

MAPLE CINNAMON RAISIN GRANOLA by NancyC

Makes about 9 cups

  • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (don’t use quick oats)
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1 cup sweetened or unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup raw shelled sunflower kernels (if you use roasted and salted kernels, add them to the mixture after baking)
  • 1/2 cup raw pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds–if you use roasted and salted pepitas, add them to the mixture after baking)
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons non-GMO canola oil or light olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 325˚F. Line a 10 x 15″ or 13 x 18″ rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a small bowl, blend the maple syrup, oil, salt, and ground cinnamon; set aside.

In a medium bowl, toss the oats, walnuts, pecans, coconut, sunflower kernels, pepitas, and wheat germ (you’ll be adding the raisins after the granola is done baking). Mix in the maple syrup, oil, salt, and cinnamon mixture and toss again, combining and coating all ingredients well.

Spread this mixture on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 325˚F for 20 minutes; remove pan from oven to stir and toss the mixture for even baking. Return to oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes, until mixture is golden.

Remove from oven and add the raisins to the mixture on the pan; toss to combine. Let mixture cool completely on pan, then store in a tightly-sealed container for up to 2 weeks.

This granola is great with milk or sprinkled over vanilla yogurt for breakfast. And it makes a great snack any time of the day. It’s not super-sweet, but everyone who tasted this for me said it was sweet enough for them.

Do you make you own granola and do you have a favorite recipe?

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CucumberDillHummus@NancyCreative.com

Cucumber Dill Hummus

CucumberDillHummus@NancyCreative.com

If you’ve ever grown cucumbers in your garden, there’s a good chance you end up with more than you know what to do with! So here’s a recipe you can use some of those cucumbers in. If you’ve never tried making hummus before, this would be a great time to try it out–you can whip it up in a blender or food processor–it’s very easy to make! This hummus has a mild cucumber and dill flavor–if you really like dill, you might want to add in a little more for a stronger flavor.

CUCUMBER DILL HUMMUS by NancyC

Makes about 1 3/4 cups

  • 1 (15-ounce) can Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas), rinsed and drained
  • Half of a medium-size cucumber, washed, peeled, and coarsely chopped (about 1  cup)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill or 1 Tablespoon fresh dill (for a stronger dill flavor, add a little more)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • optional garnishes: a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of fresh or dried dill, a sprinkle of paprika, 1 1/2 Tablespoons finely chopped cucumber

In a high-speed blender or food processor, add the Garbanzo beans, cucumber, and lemon juice; blend until smooth. Add in the olive oil, tahini, dill, salt, paprika, and minced garlic; blend all ingredients until smooth.

Spoon hummus into a small serving bowl and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of fresh or dried dill, a sprinkle of paprika, and/or some finely chopped cucumber. Serve with toasted pita bread, crackers, or veggies–cucumber slices are great with this! Cover and refrigerate any leftover hummus for up to 5 days.

It’s hard to believe there are just a few weeks left of summer! I’m really going to miss those long, sunny days and the abundance of home-grown fresh fruits and veggies. Have you grown any cucumbers in your garden this year?

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SummerFruitSalad@NancyCreative.com

Summer Fruit Salad

SummerFruitSalad@NancyCreative.com

One of the things I love best about summer is all the fresh fruit of the season, especially berries of all kinds. And this is a great fruit salad to make in the summertime because it has blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries…mixed in with lots of other delicious, colorful fruit! Berry season is pretty much over where I live, but the berries are still available at the grocery store. Some of you may still be at the tail end of berry season–lucky you!

This salad also has some canned pineapple chunks and it’s sweetened with the pineapple juice from the can. So there’s no extra sugar, and I think the sweetness is just right. I love all the colors in this salad–it’s so bright and summery–and I wanted to post it before summer comes to an end!

SUMMER FRUIT SALAD by NancyC

Makes 10 servings

  • 1 (20-ounce) can pineapple chunks in juice (not syrup), undrained
  • 1 (11-ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1 cup fresh blackberries
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries (you can use 2 cups blueberries if you don’t have blackberries)
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 cup sliced or halved fresh strawberries  (you can use 2 cups fresh strawberries if you don’t have raspberries)
  • 3 kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup halved seedless red grapes
  • 2 medium size bananas, sliced

Combine all ingredients in large bowl, tossing to coat all the fruit with the pineapple juice. Serve immediately.

If you need to make this ahead of time, combine the pineapple, mandarin oranges, strawberries, kiwi fruit, and grapes, and refrigerate. When it’s close to serving time, add the berries and bananas; gently toss all the fruit and serve.

Note: If you’re using blackberries in this salad, don’t use an enamelware bowl to serve it in–I found from past experience that blackberries can stain enamelware! 

There’s still about three weeks of summer left, but we’ve already had some fall-like days. I’m always sad to see summer end, since it’s my favorite season. Is it still feeling like summer where you live?

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Orange Reboot Detox Smoothie @ NancyCreative.com

Orange Reboot Detox Smoothie

Orange Reboot Detox Smoothie @ NancyCreative.com

When I heard about the book Whole Body Reboot by Manuel Villacorta, M.S., R.D., the thing that got my attention was the 5-day smoothie detox plan, because I love smoothies. But this book is about much more than smoothies–it’s about Peruvian 51lJxBM4BoL._SX359_BO1,204,203,200_Superfoods and, as the cover mentions, includes a healthy eating diet plan and recipes to detoxify, energize, and supercharge fat loss. The book explains that Peruvian super foods fight cancer, reduce inflammation, boost energy, and enhance memory. There’s lots of great-sounding recipes and color photos in Whole Body Reboot–some recipes that sounded good to me were:

  • Roasted Artichoke Mashed Potatoes
  • Power Trail Mix
  • White Bean Avocado Wrap
  • Quinoa Parmesan Pizzettes
  • Sweet Potato Waffles

And there’s lots of recipes for different ways to fix chicken, fish, and pork in healthy ways.

At the beginning of the book, in chapter 2, is where you’ll find the Jump-Start Reboot Diet Plan. And that’s where you’ll find the five detox smoothies. The one I decided to make, the Orange Reboot, is supposed to be made on day 2 of the plan. It’s a lightly-sweet smoothie made with a blend of carrots, orange, and papaya, along with a few other very healthy ingredients. It’s also flavored with cinnamon, which gives the smoothie a nice spicy flavor. Considering I’m not that crazy about carrots, I thought the smoothie was pretty good.

So if you want to give your body healthy reboot, you’ll have to check out the book. And here’s the Orange Reboot smoothie recipe if you want to try it out!

ORANGE REBOOT DETOX SMOOTHIE from Whole Body Reboot

Makes 1 large serving, about 21-22 ounces

  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh carrots
  • 1/3 of a peeled orange, chopped (I used a medium-sized orange)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh papaya
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut water
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon Chia seeds
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons (or 20-25 g) Protein Powder (rice, pea, or whey)

Put all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.

There are a total of 135 recipes in Whole Body Reboot and 4 weeks of menus. You might need to add some new ingredients to your pantry to make some of these recipes, like Lucuma and Pichuberries. It sounds like a very healthy way to eat. Have you ever tried a diet like this?

VanillaAlmondGranola@NancyCreative.com

Vanilla-Almond Granola

VanillaAlmondGranola@NancyCreative.com I’ve been putting off making granola because it’s been so hot outside! I try to avoid using my oven if I don’t need to when the weather is really hot, but I was really wanting to make some granola. So I got up very early one Saturday morning–which lately has been the coolest, least humid part of the day–and made this Vanilla-Almond Granola. It seemed like a nice, basic, summery flavor to try. I really like the vanilla-almond combination. You’ll notice that it does have quite a bit of vanilla in it–2 whole Tablespoons! It’s a slightly sweet granola, so if you like yours more sweet, add in the brown sugar, which I have listed as an optional ingredient. It’s sweet enough for me without the brown sugar, though, and I love eating this sprinkled on top of some vanilla Greek yogurt–a good, easy breakfast for the summer months!

VANILLA-ALMOND GRANOLA by NancyC

Makes about 6 1/2 cups

  • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (do not use quick oats)
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced or slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ or ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower kernels (if you use roasted kernels, add those to the mixture after baking)
  • Optional: 1/4 cup packed brown sugar (if you want your granola sweeter)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup plus 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • Parchment paper for lining baking sheet

Preheat oven to 300˚F. Line a 10 x 15″ or 13 x 18″ baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a large bowl, toss the oats, almonds, wheat germ or ground flax seed, sunflower kernels, brown sugar (if using), salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg; set aside.

In a small microwaveable bowl, heat honey for 20 to 30 seconds to make the consistency thinner. Then, in a medium size bowl, blend honey and melted coconut oil. Stir in the almond and vanilla extracts, blending everything well. Pour honey mixture over oat mixture and toss until the oat mixture is well coated.

Spread granola mixture on prepared baking sheet and bake at 300˚F for 45 minutes, until mixture is golden, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let granola cool completely (the mixture will get crunchier as it cools). Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three weeks.

I’ve heard that you can also freeze homemade granola for two to three months, although I haven’t tried that myself yet. This granola would also be good sprinkled over ice cream for dessert. Have you made any special homemade granola flavors this summer?

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