Sunday, January 31, 2010

Yummy Homemade Granola

Yesterday, after returning from a chilly afternoon hike with my husband, I had a sudden urge to make some yummy homemade granola.  The version I make is sweetened with natural sugars - nothing artificial - and is chock full of healthy ingredients.  Not to mention that it is delicious!  I decided to adapt a Barefoot Contessa granola recipe that I have made in the past.  Since my granola-making project was rather spontaneous, I used what I had on hand in my cupboard.  But, I have to say, that is the wonderful thing about making granola - almost any kind of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and natural sugar can be used, whatever suits your tastes.  Here is the recipe:


4 cups rolled oats, old-fashioned or or steel-cut (steel-cut is best)
1/2 cup natural sweetener - honey and/or real maple syrup
1/4 cup canola oil (I like Smart Balance because it has omega-3s)
1/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup dried fruit - raisins, chopped dates, dried apricots, dried apples, goji berries, cranberries, organic coconut, dried cherries or any other dried fruit (I used goji berries, dates, coconut, and raisins)
1/2 cup nuts - almonds, walnuts, cashews, etc.
1/2 cup seeds - sunflower, sesame, and/or pumpkin
1/2 cup wheat germ (optional)

Preheat your oven to 300*
In a large bowl combine:  oats, honey and/or syrup, water, and vanilla, and cinnamon.  Mix well.
Then add the dried fruit, nuts, seeds and wheat germ to the oat mixture.  Stir well.
Get out a large jelly roll pan.  (Layer it with parchment paper, if available, to ease clean-up.)
Spread mixture evenly across pan.
Bake for 10 minutes, then stir to allow for even toasting and bake for 10 minutes more.
Let mixture cool, then store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Yum!  I ate about a cup of the granola with a small amount of unsweetened Blue Diamond Almond Breeze almond milk for breakfast this morning, and then I had a snack this afternoon of 1/2 cup granola sprinkled over some greek yogurt.  So, so good!  I love it because it satisfies my sweet tooth (and keeps it under control), but provides a lot of fiber and vitamins for my body.  I am finding that the key to keeping myself healthy and happy is to eat food that brings me joy, but that simultaneously feeds my body the nutrients that it needs.

Friday, January 29, 2010

So, If It's Not About the Food, Then What is It About?

So, if it's not about the food, then what is it about?  It's about managing your stress and your emotions.  In a nutshell, that's it.  It's a simple concept... but it's not easy.  If you are like me, you are someone who may know a lot about clean eating and healthy food, and you know what you SHOULD eat, you just don't always do it.  You may even be passionate about reading as much as you can about vitamins and minerals, protein and carbs, calorie counts, the benefits of monounsaturated fats, etc., and you can rattle off the nutritional value of almost any food.  But, if you are like me, you may not always eat the way you know you should.  And, you likely know that managing stress and life is not as easy as it seems.

It's not even that I go overboard  with my eating - well, except for ice cream from time to time - but I find that when I am stressed, unfocused, overwhelmed, tired, frustrated, or anxious that I automatically reach for something sweet or salty to calm me.  Usually I go for the sweets, but sometimes I just need that crunch of something other than a carrot.  Why is that?  I know that some describe these moments "emotional eating", but I think it is just "life eating".  Life eating away at me, at my healthy habits and my self-care.  It drives me nuts.

Fortunately, I now am aware of the pattern.  And, that's the first step.  I realize how I am feeling when I reach for the sweets.  I now know that I am just trying to make myself more comfortable in an uncomfortable situation.  It really is nothing short of a bad habit, and one that I have been finding ways to break.  One of my favorite yoga instructors, Baron Baptiste, says that is one of the goals in  yoga, just as in life, is "finding equanimity in an unbalanced world".  Finding the calm within storm.  Sitting with the discomfort.  You know, I think he is onto something.

Friday, January 22, 2010

My A-Ha Moment

For as long as I can remember, I have been passionate about nutrition and fitness. As a cross-country runner and cheerleader in high school and a marathon runner as an adult, I have always been athletic and active, but like many women, I have always struggled with losing "those last 10 pounds."

Through the years, I have sampled a zillion diet plans, bought every book, and subscribed to way too many fitness magazines (just ask my husband!).  I even became a certified Nutritional Consultant through the Global College of Natural Medicine and formally trained for three years to become a Life Coach through CoachU.

I feel like I have been swimming in knowledge about health and wellness, but I could never seem to put my finger on WHY it was so hard to take off the weight. If I know what, when, and how to eat healthfully, why isn't it working?

That's when it hit me. The realization. The light bulb. As Oprah would say, my "A-Ha moment". Plain and simple, a thought popped into my head: "It's Not About the Food, Silly!"

In fact, it is about everything BUT the food.  I finally "got" it.

And, as a result, I wanted to create this blog to share with others what I wished I had discovered myself many years ago.