Sunday, March 2, 2014

Homemade Granola + Creamsicle Smoothie = Off to a Good Start

Let's start things off with the most important meal of the day. Breakfast should be enjoyed, not hastily crammed in our mouths as we rush out the door, or worse, skipped entirely in favor of more sleep. I like a strong cup of coffee when I wake up, or at the very least some black tea, but if I don't get some solid food in before I head to work I might as well stay in bed.

While the creation of this breakfast isn't as important as the digestion of it, it's still about as simple as they come. These recipes are both extremely flexible--changes, additions, substitutions, and subtractions to suit taste are all fair game.

I'm guilty of going the lazy/convenient route and buying granola, but now that I've finally made a batch for myself (I make it bi-weekly at work), I don't think I'll go back to store bought any time soon. The entire process took me 40 minutes, tops (including eating the finished product), and required minimal dishes. The basics of granola are dry ingredients [oats + nuts/seeds] + wet ingredients [sweetener + fat]. Yes, fat! It makes things taste good, people. And we need it--in moderation. Without further ado, here's my take on it:

Weekday Granola (I made it on a Thursday morning! Before work!)

2 c old fashioned oats
1 c mixed chopped nuts/seeds/coconut (I used walnuts, pecans, and coconut flakes.)
¼ c oil (I used sunflower, but use what you prefer. My next batch might use butter instead, why not.)
⅓ c honey
⅓ c brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp salt (I like my granola sweet, so I didn't use much salt. Some recipes call for more.)
1 c chopped dried fruit (I used apricots, blueberries, cranberries, and cherries.)

Preheat oven to 300
Mix oats, nuts, seeds, coconut, and salt in a large bowl
Mix oil, honey, and sugar in smaller bowl until sugar dissolves
Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and stir until fully coated
Spread onto baking sheet (if you have parchment paper it comes in handy here)
Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes
Add dried fruit after baking
Enjoy...on some yogurt, added to your cereal, with fresh fruit, or straight from the pan...

I've been a smoothie maker for a while now (ever since I commandeered Bailey's blender a few summers ago), and I don't think it's possible to mess them up. Smoothies are like mature slushies or responsible milkshakes. Maybe it's not wise to drink our calories, but smoothies let us drink our vitamin C, protein, calcium, and fiber. Again, this recipe isn't set in stone. You do you. Here's what I did:

Orange Creamsicle Smoothie

1 c plain yogurt (I used Greek.)
1 c orange juice
1 banana, cup up
1 handful of spinach (Yep, for real.)
Honey to taste (I usually blend it all first, taste test, then add honey if I want it sweeter.)

Throw it all in a blender
Sip through a straw and pretend it's March 2012.

And there you go. Breakfast is fun. And cheap. And simple. And healthy.

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