Oat and Almond Spice Granola

On Saturday evening I discovered our water wasn’t working. How does water not work you ask? The hot water wasn’t coming out of the faucet at all and the cold water was trickling. There wasn’t enough pressure to flush the toilets. Panic! I called a local small plumbing company solely based on the fact that they were located close to our house. As I dialed I thought “I didn’t ask neighbors for a referral. I didn’t even read Yelp. What’s wrong with me?”. But Mike picked right up, confirmed based on my description that we probably had a pipe burst and told me that he had gone to 20 jobs that day! He agreed to help us come turn off the water BUT he couldn’t do the repair until today. We freaked because WATER. And then we freaked because COST. But we really got lucky. Our water was only out of commission for around 20 hours and the total repair cost under $400 (we had heard “thousands”). I still couldn’t help but think that I could have bought the crib I want for that money. BOO!

burst pipe

In other, less dramatic news, I had granola on my grocery list and completely forgot it. It was either run to the store or sift through the cabinets because I MUST HAVE GRANOLA! I chose to make some while waiting for the plumber.

granola fixin's

I made a similar granola a couple of years ago called Spiced Pumpkin Seed Granola. This version is better! The roughly chopped almonds have so much more crunch and flavor than the sliced almonds. Also, the balance of the other ingredients just worked better. I frequently have a issue with homemade granola being either to crunchy/over-baked or too soft. This was the prefect texture and balance of flavors.

PUMPKIN PIE SPICE COCONUT OIL GRANOLA

PUMPKIN PIE SPICE COCONUT OIL GRANOLA

The water is back, the dishes are clean and the plumber is paid. Still would have rather have had a crib!

Oat and Almond Spice Granola

  • 1 1/4 cups unsalted raw almonds
  • 2 heaping cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • raisins or dried cranberries, optional

Method

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Chop the almonds coarsely and pour them into a large bowl.
  • Add the oats, salt, brown sugar, sunflower seeds and pumpkin pie spice into the bowl with the almonds and stir to combine.
  • In a small microwaveable bowl, combine honey and coconut oil, and heat for 40 seconds. Stir to dissolve the coconut oil and add the vanilla extract.
  • Pour the honey mixture over the oats and stir so that they are evenly coated.
  • Pour the oats evenly onto a Silpat or parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Bake the oats for 5 minutes and then stir them around. Return to the oven for 5-7 more minutes (I cooked for 7). Watch closely so it won’t burn. (It didn’t look ready to me but I took it out, trusting the recipe, and I’m glad I did. The stated cooking time produces a perfectly crunchy granola)
  • Pour the granola and onto a piece of wax paper to cool. Spread it out into a thin layer, about 1/4 inch thick.
  • After it cools completely, break the granola into clusters and store in an airtight container.

I adapted this recipe slightly because I only had 2 cups of oats vs. 3. Also didn’t feel like getting the food processor out so I chopped the almonds by hand. Recipe from Lovely Little Kitchen

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Baked Sweet Potato Bites

Before I started making sweet potatoes like this about six months ago I may have eaten them 2-3 times a year. I baked them whole and I would eat it but I would get grunts and groans from the guys in the house. Then the only other time was at Thanksgiving or Christmas when they were covered with yummy walnut topping in the form of a casserole.

Once you prepare them this way I promise you’ll want them more often!

diced sweet potatoes

I use a veggie peeler to remove the skin but I’m not super careful about it. You could probably even skip that step. Then I slice the sweet potatoes in 3-4 sections lengthwise (depending on the size). Then cut them into a dice and try to keep them about the same size. Otherwise you’ll have mushy pieces and burnt pieces šŸ™‚

melting coconut oil

Before baking melt a tablespoon of coconut oil (per 2 sweet potatoes) in the microwave and drizzle it over the diced potatoes. Season with salt and a bit of pepper and toss around with your fingers to coat. Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. A shorter amount of time will work if you have diced them very small and bake longer for a more crunchy result (but be careful not to burn!).

baked diced sweet potatoes

I like to have these as a side for lunch or dinner.Ā Here I had them for lunch with some leftover thai rice noodles and peas. They are also great with scrambled eggs, black beans and salsa for brunch. Make extra because leftovers are amazing!

Vegan Apple Crisp

My sister Zandria and I made Sunday brunch for a few friends last week. When I was thinking about the menu I wanted to make something sweet but not “french toast and pancakes sweet”. My sister and my mom try to stay away from gluten so that eliminated a lot of possibilities (without having to spend extra time and money stocking up on new flours and ingredients). I wanted to use up extra apples laying around and it was Zan that came up with the idea of using my buckwheat flour…ta-da!…vegan apple crisp was born!

We studied several recipes and I wrote up one of my own on my Google Docs. That’s what I was checking on here whileĀ simultaneouslyĀ pouring honey:

Me checking my recipe while pouring honey at the same time

It’s so great that I had my sister in the kitchen taking pics of me! I wish we had one of her!

Focusing on the honey measuring

I melted the coconut oil for a second by setting the jar in a small saucepan of boiling water. It made pouring it a breeze! (note: coconut oil is usually soild)

close up on measuring coconut oil

The end result was yummy! It was juicy and the “crisp” part was crunchy and just sweet enough due to the honey, almonds and pumpkin seeds. Perfect with the frittata and sausage that we prepared to go with it.

Vegan apple crisp

Vegan Apple Crisp

  • 6 medium fuji or honey crisp apples
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 1/4 cup buckwheat flour
  • 2 pinches kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup local honey
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) coconut oil

Method

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash apples, core them and cut them into chunks. I used organic apples and did not peel them. Squeeze the juice of one lemon over the apples and toss to combine. I used the 13×9 dish that I baked the apples in as my bowl.
  • In a separate bowl combine buckwheat flour, salt, spices, almonds and pumpkin seeds and stir. Add coconut oil, vanilla and honey and stir until well combined. Spoon it in chunks over the apples and spread to cover. Cover the top of the dish with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes.

Chocolate Hazelnut Butter

AKA super-healthy homemade Nutella.

Chocolate Hazelnut Butter

Some of the many interesting facts about hazelnuts (foundĀ here):

  • A specific B vitamin found in hazelnuts called thiamin works to help regulate your nervous system and aid healthy muscle and cardiovascular health.Ā This valuable vitamin and antioxidant eliminates free radicals within your body that have connections with causing cancer.
  • Hazelnuts lack both sodium and cholesterol, making them a healthy choice for those watching weight and looking to improve heart health.
  • The small nuts contain viable amounts of magnesium and calcium, both of which greatly improve bone and teeth formation and density. Each also helps regulate metabolic functions.
  • The copper within hazelnuts plays a vital role in protecting against and improving some forms of arthritis, slowing down the overall aging process, and even stimulating brain cells. Copper also works to increase immunity, protecting you against common sicknesses.

Hazelnuts and coconut oil

Some benefits of Coconut Oil (found here):

  • Coconut oilĀ increases the body metabolism by removing stress on pancreases, thereby burning out more energy… Hence, people living in tropical coastal areas, who eat coconut oil daily as their primary cooking oil, are normally not fat, obese or overweight.
  • Coconut oil also helps in preventing premature agingĀ and degenerative diseases due to its antioxidant properties.
  • You should read the whole section under “Other”!

For this recipe after the hazelnuts have been roasted you have to try to remove most of the skins…they won’t all come off…

Hazelnuts having a skin removal party

Layer the ingredients in the blender:

chocolate hazelnut butter

Look at that goodness!

Chocolate hazelnut butter

Doesn’t it look great in this jar? Give me a spoon!

Chocolate Hazelnut Butter

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons organicĀ coconutĀ oil
  • 1 teaspoon organic pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups organic raw hazelnuts

Method

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place hazelnuts on a baking tray and roast for 10 minutes. Take them out and shake them around about halfway through. Once roasted place them on a clean kitchen towel and try to remove as much of the skins as possible. Discard skins.
  • I used my Vitamix and placed all ingredients in the order listed. Start at level 1 and move dial very slowly to level 8. Run for 20 seconds and turn off.
  • Place in an air tight container andĀ refrigerate.
  • Makes 2 1/4 cups of chocolate hazelnut butter.
  • Enjoy on toast, apples and slathered on crepes etc.

Spiced Pumpkin Seed Granola

Apparently there was a pumpkin theft in my neighborhood yesterday which I was unaware of until I woke up this morning to an amusing string of emails from people in the neighborhood:

Jason (condo owner across the street from the town houses): A girl got out of a black car and took two pumpkins from the corner town house front stoop yesterday. What is this neighborhood coming to?

Erica (sent to a couple of the town house owners who could possibly have missing pumpkins):Ā Did one of you have two pumpkins stolen? Just checking. Iā€™m hoping that a lady was supposed to pick them up or something and did not just take them.

Terri (a town house owner): They were stolen from my front steps!

Laura (another town house owner):Ā IĀ wasn’tĀ home last night. Iā€™m not sure if mine are still there.Ā Ā Elissa had a couple of pumpkins on her steps too.

Elissa (that’s me…also a town house owner):Ā Laura your pumpkins and our pumpkins are thankfully safe and sound!

Funny!!? Well…I thought it was! My bedroom is on the 3rd floor and the first thing I did this morning after reading this email was to walk down to the first floor to check on the pumpkins and send my email reply.

This whole pumpkin situation was also great inspiration for this granola. I plan to enjoy this for myself and share it my sister Angela (who is going to have a baby ANY DAY NOW).

I did some granola research today and then adapted my own unique recipe. It smelled deliciouslyĀ of spice and coconut while it was baking. It’s crispy and slightly sweet and really good! I can’t wait to try it with some frozen yogurt šŸ™‚

Pumpkin Seed Granola

  • 6 cups rolled oats (not quick cooking or instant)
  • 2 cups sliced almonds
  • 2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup local honey
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 2 big pinches kosher salt
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup white raisins

Method

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In the largest mixing bowl you have add oats, almonds, pumpkin seeds and all the spices. Mix together well. In a separate small bowl mix together theĀ coconutĀ oil, honey and maple syrup. Add the wet ingredients to the oats mixture and using a rubber spatula fold it around and around the bowl until combined. (It think it’s better to fold the mixture instead of stirring it so that the almonds won’t break up too much)
  • Spread out mixture on a large baking sheet. Stir every 20 minutes so that it bakes evenly. Bake for about an hour.
  • Add the mixture back into a large mixing bowl and fold in dried cranberries and raisins. Divide into airtight containers for storage.