Honey Vanilla Granola

I LOVE granola. It's crunchy, versitile, flavorful ... but I often am asked if granola is healthy. Short answer is that it can be, but it also can be very high in calories, sugar, and less than desirable ingredients. Next time you're looking for a granola try reading the ingredients and you may find yourself surprised and returning it to the shelf. Which is why I decided to come up with my own recipe, and am so excited to share it with you!

So how do you make it a healthier granola?

There are two main things to keep in mind. The first being portion size, and the second being homemade. Let's chat first about portion size, because this is a subject that is all too familiar to a lot of us, and can make eating healthy challenging. When you think about the basic ingredients within granola, there are usually oats, nuts/seeds, a sweetener, oil, maybe some dried fruit or chocolate, and sometimes protein powder as well. Each of these ingredients in their own can be tricky to keep within portion size, but when you combine them you need to be more mindful.

  • One serving of almonds is about 15-20 almonds, and contains usually 14g of fat
  • One serving of dried fruit usually is a 1/4c and can contain up to 40g carbs
  • One serving of oats is about 1/4c and can contain about 30g carbs How this relates to your daily averages - your total fat for the day should make up about 15-20% of your daily calories, so for a typical 1800 calorie goal, you should aim for around 40g of fat per day. 14g is about 1/3 your daily total. Just something to keep in mind!!

Usually, a serving of granola is about 1/4-1/2 cup only. However many of us consume 1+c in a typical sitting, which if you do the math from above, can be quite a dense meal. Not to scare you off granola - in fact I eat it often and have a really delicious recipe for granola I'm about to share with you!

My tricks for enjoying granola are to use it as a addition to meals, unless I'm on a hike or something where having that many calories is actually a good thing!! If I'm having some plant based yogurt with fresh fruit on top, I'll sprinkle granola on there as well. Same goes for a bowl of gluten free oatmeal - add some berries, protein powder, and granola for crunch! Apples, almond butter, granola, and a drizzle of honey is another great snack ... as is banana, almond butter, granola, and coconut flakes.

Try out the recipe below!! It's easy but unlike a lot of my simple & fast recipes, this takes about 40 minutes to bake, and 10 minutes to cool so plan accordingly!


Ingredients:

  • 3 cups gluten free raw oats
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup raw local honey
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg white
  • Up to 3/4 cup mix-ins of choice: dark chocolate chunks, organic sulfite free dried fruit, other nuts or seeds, etc.
  • Optional to add 1 scoop vanilla plant based protein powder

Instructions:

  1. Take out a baking sheet(s) and either line with parchment paper or lightly coat bottom with coconut oil
  2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine the oats, coconut, almonds, flaxseed meal, wheat germ, salt, and cinnamon
  4. Add in the honey, coconut oil, vanilla and egg white
  5. Mix together and pour out onto the baking sheet in an even, thin layer
  6. Bake for 20 minutes, then flip, bake again for another 20 minutes
  7. Allow to cool and it will set while cooling, so you don’t want it to be too dried out in the oven
  8. As it’s cooling, with a spatula, loosen the granola from the pan and stir it around a bit to prevent sticking and clumping
  9. Once completely cool, remove from tray and store in glass containers!

My Post-Birth Control Journey; Part 2

Hopefully you're all caught up from my previous post, and this is where the journey takes some twists and turns. I was pretty okay all those years - my period came a few times a year when I decided to give my body a break, and I was happy, could exercise a ton, stayed thin, and was doing well with my career progression. All the things one could hope for -- so I never thought twice about it!

As I got older, I became much more aware and in tune with all the various ways we impact our health and really started cleaning up my act even more than it already was. Swapping tampons for organic cotton or discs, organic non-toxic cleaning products, glass containers, no straws ... you name it! But I guess I sort of purposefully overlooked the birth control pills because they served a purpose and I was afraid to go back to the period I knew I had.

I came off the pill in June, 2018. I spotted for three months – and what that really looked like was a pretty consistent flow from June until the end of August. I began to experience bloating, constipation, and intolerances to foods such as gluten, nightshades, legumes, eggs, and dairy which had already been on my list to avoid. Then it got worse and I couldn’t even pin what bothered my stomach but no matter what I was bloated and felt sick. I also started to put on weight rapidly, ballooning out to the point of feeling like I was squeezing into my clothing, and going from that too thin 99lbs for my 5’4” frame to 121lbs, which is more than I should be to feel comfortable.

Over the summer, I sought help from a naturopath who discovered through a saliva test and blood work that my Cortisol levels were very low and my DHEA-S, extremely high. That could mean PCOS, but no tests were ever done with it to confirm/deny at that point. I started taking some supplements to support my adrenals and began to see an acupuncturist, who, I still see and adore to this day.

By the time September came around, I felt like my spotting was beginning to taper so my acupuncturist encouraged me to stop using tampons to see what would happen and to my surprise and excitement my spotting had finally stopped. Knowing that Ethan & I were planning to conceive, we worked together to try to regulate my systems, my cycle, my hormones. Part of that meant that I needed to exercise less intensely, and focus on warm foods and a balanced diet. That seemed easy enough but considering the fact that I had gained so much weight and felt so uncomfortable for my height and bone structure, I wasn't all too thrilled about the exercise less piece. I probably gave that the most resistance. The eating part was gravy!

The ABSOLUTE WORST part was that twice I actually thought I was pregnant, and since I had no period, amenhorrea, I couldn't know otherwise without waiting and taking a test. In October my boobs even swelled up almost double the size they had been for years, and I started to feel a full, nauseous feeling every day again with intense bloating. I was sure I was pregnant, something Ethan & I truly welcomed, but to my dismay a blood test proved I was not. I just felt worse than I had, and was starting to feel gloomy about what the future held.

By November, I was trying to be patient but was feeling sort of hopeless. I knew it could take up to a year to regulate my cycle, but I was encroaching on six months and felt like things were getting worse. I think if I had seen progress, I would have been so much more motivated. But I also knew that my mood would play into my gut health and I tried hard to regulate that, to find ways to destress, to go to yoga and walk outside in nature. I can’t begin to tell you how hard it was to cover up and hide from everyone else, but it helped as well to not show it because it forced me to act the way I should be feeling and I knew that would benefit me.

NOW I realize how important it is to share what we're going through and to lean on the support and love of others as a source of strength. I also realize that had I not been thinking about nutrition and movement throughout this whole time, my experience may have been even worse and I remind myself that there are others whose journey is even more frustrating then my own. And in that way, I can practice gratitude. So many wonderful things came out of being to share and that's why I feel compelled to tell more of the story. Maybe some of you are nodding along, having gone through or are going through the very same. You're not alone in this. And together we can not only heal ourselves, but prevent others from having to go through this very same thing! I learned so much about how to use food to support my system and get everything in sync, effectively humming again. My next few posts will be more focused on that, plus telling you more of the story because, we're already in May! So I have a few months to catch you all up on... ;-)

Honey Banana Pancakes

On the weekends, I love to make pancakes. To me, they're a symbol of extra time and the ability to be more creative with breakfast. They encourage us to sit down together as a family and savor every bite; something we try to do during the week but isn't always possible. I know pancakes often fall into the unhealthy realm, with lots of butter and syrup, batter that is high in refined carbs and sugar. That is the main reason behind my quest to find the perfect pancake recipe, one that brings about soft and fluffy pancakes that are light and easy to eat -- but also with as few ingredients and as many whole foods as possible.

Cue weekend after weekend of poor Ethan recipe testing countless varieties of bricks or soupy messes, six different types of flour alternatives (millet, cassava, amaranth, banana, almond, coconut), and lots of washing of bowls and pans. But this past weekend was different. I finally went back to basics and figured that I was trying to add too many ingredients, too many variables, that were potentially my downfall. When I finished blending the batter, I could see the difference. The first round drops on my hot skillet were satisfying and I knew these were of a new calibur. Ethan's face said it all - I had figured it out! They were fluffy, had a good flavor, held my berry 'syrup' well ... VICTORY!!

And now my favorite part, I get to share them with all of you!

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Ingredients for Pancakes:

  • 1c gluten free oats
  • 1/2c water, or can use nut milk for fluffier pancakes
  • 2 tbsp raw local honey (if making vegan, swap for maple syrup or dates blended with hot water)
  • 1 very ripe large banana
  • 1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp pink sea salt
  • 1 or so tbsp coconut oil for the skillet
  • Optional: anything you want to add in after mixture is blended: dark chocolate chunks, banana slices, nuts, blueberries, etc.

Ingredients for Syrup:

  • 1/3c mixed berries: raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, blackberry
  • 1/3c very warm water (I boiled and then let cool a bit)
  • Optional to add monk fruit sweetener or dash of honey

Instructions:

  • In a blender or magic bullet, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth
  • Heat skillet with 1/2 tbsp coconut oil, and test a sprinkle of water to ensure it's hot enough (you should hear a crackle)
  • Put oven on warm if you won't be eating right away
  • Using a small spoon, slowly spoon the batter onto the skillet into 2-4" pancakes
  • Allow to sit for about 2-3 minutes, or until lots of bubbles form on top
  • Flip and repeat, allowing to sit 2-3 minutes
  • Remove from heat and place on plate in warmed oven to keep until ready to serve
  • While the pancakes are cooking, take 1/3c mixed berries, or single berry of choice, and combine with 1/3c very warm water. Blend until smooth and add more warm water to get desired consistency
  • If you're adding a sweetener, taste first before adding
  • Top with fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, and syrup!

As always, I'm so curious to see what you make and would love it if you tagged me in your creations! I love being able to share these recipes for free, to help make healthy cooking simple, easy, and accessible!

xo d