Going Granola – Recipe: Granola

I remember taking Ethan to one of the family practice doctors who we saw when he was younger, and her commenting that we were “going granola” when I mentioned some of the more natural things that we had decided to do.  I found it funny considering the fact that she was a healthy eating, pilates-loving doctor.  Other than that, I did not really know what to think about the comment.  My brother-in-law has often thought that I am a hippy, and it is more of a term of endearment from him…I think…because I tend to be more laid back, often have some new vitamin or supplement that I am trying, and typically try to convince him to do things such as go to a chiropractor instead of an orthopedic surgeon.

Anyway, whether our new lifestyle is just another step towards “going granola” is not really important right now.  My mission is to just find the best, healthiest, most natural food for our family.  That is not to say that I am using all organize products or never again eating sugar.  But, we are trying our best to eat as healthy as possible, while still allowing a place in our diet for treats and sweets.  I love granola and really wanted to find a recipe that would be a good, easy snack or breakfast.  It is apparently controversial whether oats should be eaten if you have a gluten allergy.  But, from what I could research, certified organic oats, such as this one, are safe.  Since Ethan does not have an allergy, but just a sensitivity, we luckily do not have to be as concerned about where the product has been made (whether there are nuts, wheat, etc. also processed there). However, we are still ready labels and trying our best to make sure that everything is as it appears.

This granola recipe was a hit.  Even the littlest little gave it a thumbs up.

Granola

Granola

This recipe is slightly adapted from Megan's Granola.

Ingredients

8 cups rolled oats

1/4 cup flax seed

1 cup sunflower seeds

1 cup finely chopped almonds

1 cup finely chopped pecans

1 cup finely chopped walnuts

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup maple syrup

3/4 cup honey

1 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups raisins or sweetened dried cranberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. Line two large baking sheets with parchment or aluminum foil.
  3. Combine the oats, flax seed, sunflower seeds, almonds, pecans, and walnuts in a large bowl.
  4. Stir together the salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, oil, cinnamon, and vanilla in a saucepan.
  5. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then pour over the dry ingredients, and stir to coat.
  6. Spread the mixture out evenly on the baking sheets.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven until crispy and toasted, about 35-40 minutes.
  8. Stir once halfway through.
  9. Cool and store in an airtight container.
http://cookingformykids.com/2011/07/24/going-granola/

It was a good day, make that a great day – granola, grilling, swimming, and family time…another perfect summer day.

Pizza Night – Recipe: Pizza Sauce

We have pizza and movie night every Friday unless we are out of town, and then we have it Thursday or Sunday.  It is a sacred tradition, one that I tell the children that we will continue even when they are teenagers and eventually dating someone.  Their boyfriend or girlfriend will simply have to do pizza night with us, too.  We believe that it is very important to have traditions, and pizza night is one of those things that brings us together at the end of the week.  It signifies family, togetherness, and the beginning of the weekend, which is also sacred in our house.

So, you can imagine my panic when I read Ethan’s food sensitivity results and saw gluten, wheat, and cheese on it.   I immediately started trying to research pizza crusts and cheese alternatives.  I knew that I wanted pizza night to continue, but there was no way that we were all going to make Ethan watch us eat pizza while he had something else.  We are in this together.  I knew that we all had tried and liked goat cheese, so I was certain that I would find a good mozzarella goat cheese.  What I was less certain about was the pizza crust.  We tried gluten free a few years ago, and I tried many of the pre-packaged cookies, pizza crusts, breads, etc.  This time I knew that I wanted to try to bake everything from scratch.  So many of the mixes have other things in them that I did not want our family to consume.  We did not want to remove one sensitivity just to create another one.

I tried a gluten-free pizza crust recipe tonight.  And, I did not like it well enough to post.  The boys both ate as much pizza as normal, and Gabriel gave it a thumbs up.  Summer only ate one bite and declared that she did not like it.  Sean and I were very much on the fence.  To us, pizza is as much about the toppings and sauce as the crust.  We were not disappointed, but we still think that there is a better crust recipe out there.  Or, once I get better at understanding the gluten free flour combinations, I hope to be able to create on myself.

Overall, it was another successful day.

Breakfast – Egg omelet with turkey and goat cheese (will post recipe later – it was delicious!), bacon, and fruit salad

Lunch – Noodle soup (easy as can be – organic chicken broth, V8 vegetable juice, gluten free noodles, and MSG free season salt), pineapple chunks, and nectarines

Dinner – Pizza

Dessert – Snickerdoodle cookies (They are currently cooling.  But, if they taste as good as they look, I will definitely post this recipe later.)

Pizza Sauce

Pizza Sauce

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 clove of garlic

8 oz. can of tomato sauce

small can of tomato paste

Salt

Sugar

Onion powder

Parsley flakes

Instructions

  1. Add the olive oil to a sauce pan and heat on medium-low.
  2. Add the garlic.
  3. Let it simmer for about 3-4 minutes, and then add the tomato sauce and tomato paste.
  4. Add the seasonings. I just kind of toss the seasonings in and then taste it to see if I need more or less of anything.
  5. Let simmer on low for about 10 minutes.
http://cookingformykids.com/2011/07/22/pizza-night/

Overall, I think that day 3 has been a success.  We have found that we are getting hungrier more often than before, and snacking on nuts and fruit is not always what we are craving.  So, I hope to find more healthy things that we can snack on to keep us all a bit more satisfied throughout the day.  Honestly, though, I could not have hoped for better results than we have had thus far.  I am finding that it has been easier than I thought at times.  It has certainly kept me on my toes, though.  I need to plan more and be more organized because cereal for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch are just not an option right now.  That is okay, though, because cooking for my kids (and my husband) makes me happy.  And, at the end of the day, isn’t that what we all want?

Recipe – Baked Tilapia

We had a great start to our cooking journey.  Sean was off work today, so he held down the fort while I went to four grocery stores.  As I mentioned earlier, we received the test results two days before our vacation, and we just returned yesterday. We agreed before we left to start the new cooking plan once we returned, so I was scrambling a bit today to plan some meals, buy groceries, and get started.  Of course, I complicated the day by being determined to find all of the ingredients for some gluten free, milk free, nut free chocolate chip cookies….more on that later.

We pretty much stuck to my initial meal plan.  I just tweaked it a little.

Breakfast – Boiled eggs, bacon, diced skillet potatoes, and juice

Lunch – Lentil Soup

Snack – Oranges and sunflower seeds

Dinner – Baked Tilapia,  zucchini/squash/carrots stir-fry, and rice

Dessert – Chocolate chip cookies

Baked Tilapia

Baked Tilapia

Ingredients

4 Tilapia fillets

olive oil

Old Bay seasoning

Onion powder

Garlic salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Line baking sheet with foil.
  3. Lay the tilapia fillets on the foil-lined pan.
  4. Drizzle each with olive oil and sprinkle with seasonings.
  5. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the fish can easily flake with a fork.
http://cookingformykids.com/2011/07/21/todays-recipes/

Everyone enjoyed the meals today, and it was nice that we were all pretty much eating the same thing, for a change.  My youngest did not eat everything, but she at least tried almost everything, which is new.  For lunch, she just had the broth from the soup, and for dinner, she had the rice with cashews and sliced bananas.  The boys both tried and ate everything, and this momma was smiling both inside and out.

As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to bake the kids some cookies today for being so good, patient, encouraging, and understanding with this new journey and phase of our lives.  Since they are only 4, 6, and 8, I want them to understand that meal time is not something to dread.  I will still prepare meals that they like; we will just simply be omitting some things.  This is a lifestyle change for the good of all of us.  The oldest and youngest have both been very sweet and kind about the fact that we are doing this as a family because “it would not be fair to Ethan if we ate something that he could not eat”.

So, back to the cookies…I am not going to post the recipe for that yet….because it did not turn out as well as I would have liked.  The kids gobbled them up. And, Sean said that they were really good.  We all liked the taste.  The cookies just did not present well, and they were very, very soft.  We love soft cookies, but these were hard to even hold the shape of a cookie.  I got the recipe out of a cookbook, and I still think that the cookbook is going to be great.  Once I perfect them (and make some tweaks, if necessary), I will post the recipe.  This is our new cooking challenge and adventure, and I am excited to cook healthy food and also bake treats, as well.