Happy first day of spring!
There are so many things that I love about this season, but, to me, one of the best things is all about the blooming and re-birth of flowers, trees, and nature, in general.
Of course, the beautiful weather, Easter, and my youngest little being born in spring are all reasons that I love the season, too.
And, another thing….the fruit. I love berries, and they are so fresh, beautiful, and sweet during the spring.
That is what inspired me to make this granola yesterday. After researching many recipes, I created my own with all of the flavors that I thought would create the perfect granola. My littles like things simple, so I just wanted plain ‘ole granola that we could eat by the handful. Adding some fruit and granola to yogurt or ice cream is just another way to get in an extra serving of fruit for the day, and it is the perfect after school snack. It turned out just like I had hoped that it would – crunchy, just a little sweet, and clustered….perfect for a beautiful, spring day.
4 cups oats
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon Karo syrup
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 egg whites
- Preheat oven to 300.
- Mix oats, cinnamon, salt, and brown sugar in a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl, mix together honey, olive oil, vanilla, and egg whites.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir to combine.
- Spray one very large or two small baking pans with cooking spray.
- Spread the granola mixture onto the baking pan(s).
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes.
- Break into small or large clumps, and store in a sealed storage container.
- Serve with fruit and yogurt, or enjoy it plain and simple. It is delicious either way.
As I have mentioned before, my littles are not big breakfast eaters. So, that leaves me always trying to find something that they will eat that has some nutritional value each morning. After buying some granola bars for my husband last week, I decided that I could make them because they would likely be A) Better, B) Healthier, and C) More Inexpensive.
We were all pleased with the results. The first batch lasted one day. So, I made another batch a few days later. They are delicious and can be served as an after-school snack, a healthier dessert option, or a quick breakfast.
I found the recipe at Smitten Kitchen. From what I could tell, Deb has been blogging for around 5 years, and it is evidenced by her beautiful photography, thoughtful explanations, and amazing recipes. I love everything about her blog, especially these Thick, Chewy Granola Bars.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Chewy Granola Bars
1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor or blender)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup M&M's, optional (to make them more festive)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Line an 8? x 8? x 2? pan with parchment paper. Lightly spray the parchment paper with cooking spray.
- Stir together all the dry ingredients.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter, peanut butter, honey, corn syrup, and water.
- Toss the wet ingredients with the dry until the mixture is evenly crumbly.
- Gently mix in the chocolate chips.
- Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan.
- Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes (my oven took 40 minutes), until they’re brown around the edges. They will seem soft and almost under-baked when you press into the center of the pan. But, do not worry, they will set once completely cool.
- Cool the bars in their pan completely on a cooling rack.
- Once cool, remove from the pan and gently slide from the parchment paper onto a cutting board. Use a serrated knife to cut the bars into squares.
- Store in an airtight container..
I shared this recipe at Cooking with Karyn, Creations by Kara, Sugar and Dots Lil’ Luna, Mrs. Foxs Sweets, The King’s Court, Polkadots on Parade, This Chick Cooks, Remodelaholic, My Girlish Whims, Lady Behind the Curtain and Hugs & Cookies.
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.
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
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
- Line two large baking sheets with parchment or aluminum foil.
- Combine the oats, flax seed, sunflower seeds, almonds, pecans, and walnuts in a large bowl.
- Stir together the salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, oil, cinnamon, and vanilla in a saucepan.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat, then pour over the dry ingredients, and stir to coat.
- Spread the mixture out evenly on the baking sheets.
- Bake in the preheated oven until crispy and toasted, about 35-40 minutes.
- Stir once halfway through.
- Cool and store in an airtight container.
It was a good day, make that a great day – granola, grilling, swimming, and family time…another perfect summer day.