Friday, July 27, 2012

Homemade granola {gluten free}

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Granola is one of my favorite foods.  I love granola with fresh fruit and some greek yogurt, and Hubby likes to top his smoothies with granola for a crunchy post-workout snack.  We've been buying tons of granola and the other day I realized that we could - and should - be making this at home.

Store bought granola can be loaded with oils, flavorings and preservatives, all of which I'd rather not indulge in.  Anything made at home gives you the ability to control what goes into your food.  In the case of this granola I used healthy coconut oil instead of vegetable or canola oil.

Coconut oil is something I'm only beginning to experiment with.  It is pretty easily found in most grocery stores - I get it at Trader Joe's.  It is high in saturated fat (hold on, don't freak out yet!) however the saturated fat in coconut oil is different from other oils in that it does not increase LDL levels.  Coconut oil has been found to be useful in losing weight, and increases metabolism by reducing stress on the pancreas.  It also strengthens the immune system and promotes healthy digestion.  Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, so must be melted before being added to most recipes.

When it comes to granola, you can customize with whatever ingredients you like.  I added in ground flax seeds and raw almonds.  You could also toss in some dried fruit or shredded coconut.  I think I'll make this a fall treat next time and use some pumpkin pie spice in place of the cinnamon.  Yum!

Homemade Granola
2 c rolled oats (make sure they are gluten free if that is a concern)
1 tbsp cinnamon (scant)
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/3 c honey
1/2 c raw sliced almonds
1/3 c ground flax seeds

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium bowl, stir together oats, cinnamon and salt.  Add in coconut oil and honey, stirring until thoroughly combined.  Spread mixture on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  (If you wanted the nuts toasted, add during the last 5-10 minutes and make sure to stir frequently to prevent them from burning.)  The longer the granola cooks, the crunchier it will be.  Cool completely before adding almonds (unless toasting) and flax seed.  Store in an airtight container.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Veggie & Feta Quinoa {Family Weekend}

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Like I mentioned last week, we've been busy little bees lately.  We had a fabulous family weekend in San Francisco, complete with city traffic and stunning views from the Golden Gate bridge.  Before we knew it the weekend was over and it was back to the real world.


Many Montalvos!

After a busy weekend I knew I wanted to keep dinner simple and light.  I made a nice big batch to have some leftovers for lunch the next day (it was great as a cold salad), and you could easily sub whatever veggies you have on hand to make your life easier.  This is a great dish for Meatless Mondays.

Veggie & Feta Quinoa
1 cup organic quinoa
1 medium (or 2 small) zucchini
1 1/2 c fresh corn
1/2 c crumbled feta

Cook the quinoa according to directions.  While the quinoa is cooking, slice the zucchini in half lengthwise and then cut into 1/4" half moons.  That's the technical term, right?  Quickly blanch the zucchini so that it retains its beautiful green color and remains crisp.  Set aside.  Steam the corn, if desired (I left mine fresh).

Once the quinoa is finished, combine with veggies in a large bowl.  Gently fold in feta right before serving.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Bars

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It's no secret that I struggle with fitting breakfast into my day.  We have been so busy lately that I'm completely shocked I haven't run out the door wearing pajama pants and heels.  There's always tomorrow!

We have been busy with great stuff, though, so I can't complain.  I got to attend my first Montalvo family reunion since becoming a Montalvo, and last weekend got to cheer on my Mister as he completed his second Tough Mudder challenge (can you believe?!).  We also got to spend 4th of July and the weekend following with great friends and their adorable girls, Noah and Piper.  This weekend we will be heading up to San Francisco for a very exciting family gathering (more on that in a later post) and I thought these bars would be a good snack to take on the road with us.

These would be great to make on a Sunday night to have on hand for weekday breakfasts/snacks.  Store the bars in an airtight container to ensure they stay nice and fresh.  I think next time I'll add in some chopped nuts for a little crunch.

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Bars
1 c flour
2 1/2 c oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 c applesauce
2 beaten eggs
1/2 c honey
1/4 c brown sugar*
1 medium apple, peeled and diced

*Note: I somehow spaced adding the brown sugar.  The bars turned out okay but needed a little something, so I drizzled mine with additional honey for a little more sweetness.  It was super yummy, especially topped with a little bit of greek yogurt!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Set aside.

Mix the flour, oats, baking soda and cinnamon in a medium bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine applesauce, eggs, honey, brown sugar and mix well.  Combine the wet and dry ingredients until thoroughly combined.  Fold in the diced apples.  Spread mixture into prepared baking dish and bake approx. 17 minutes, until lightly golden brown.  Cool completely, cut into bars, enjoy!

Snacks are better when shared :)