Healthier Granola

Healthier Granola

I love to try new things.  Sometimes a dish can turn out delicious and satisfying.  Sometimes it can turn out bland and missing that certain je ne sais quoi.  Sometimes that dish may have loads of cream and butter that is so devine that I cannot stop eating it, only to feel sick afterwards.  There have been times that I have tried something new with guests over, only to feel embarrassed because it wasn’t what I had expected and I disliked the impression of mediocre.   There are times that I will try a different brand of food.  Even though I know, the one I always buy is wonderful, only to deside never to stray from my brand of food again.  My brand never fails and more expensive doesn’t always mean better.  However, I usually get what I pay for.  Phew, I think I just confused myself.

Sometimes, I’ll learn from my mistakes in the kitchen.  For example, I don’t try new dishes out on my guests anymore.  I believe Ina Garten once said not to do that, but I’ve always had to learn things the hard way.   My Father likes telling the story of when I was a little girl and I  placed my hand on a hot stove eye.  He had told me numerous times that it was hot.  That was the first, of many times, that I have gotten burned in the kitchen.  

Sometimes I will try at something until I am in tears.  I am terribly stubborn like that.  I tried making a Black Bean Dip once using dried black beans.  For whatever reason, those pesky things took three days to get soft and edible.  I could have gone and gotten a can but that would have been too easy.

In keeping with trying things out, I have concocted a new Healthier Granola.  I love my original Granola recipe from Neiman Marcus Taste cookbook but, it is like candy, as my friend said to me.  It is made with brown sugar and vegetable oil.  There is definitely a time and place for it, like when Lingering Sunday Mornings.  However, this Healthier Granola is good, really good (which says a lot because it does have to compare to the sweet one).  And, I feel good after eating it.  There is no sugar in it.  So, no early morning sugar crashes.   I found the original recipe in the magazine Clean Eating.  They had a wonderful article on Glorious Granolas.   I tweaked the recipe a bit by adding more goodies to the granola, like walnuts, flax-seed, and pumpkin seeds.  I  don’t use the sunflower seeds they suggested because I couldn’t find them shelled and unsalted at the farmers market.

I do make this for my client who is working to lower her cholesterol.  This is a great way to start the day. Add a little greek yogurt and fresh berries and make a granola parfait.  Yum-

Ingredients

1 cup pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup chopped roasted hazelnut

1/2 cup ground almonds (also known as an almond flour)

1/2 cup walnuts

1/2 cup honey

2 tbsp chia seeds

2 tbsp hemp seeds

2 tbsp freshly grated ginger

2 tbsp flax seeds

Zest and juice of one lemon, lime or a grapefruit (just use half of the grapefruit for juice)

1 cup dried cranberries (I do use the sweetened ones, unsweetened can be hard to find)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix together first seven ingredients and then spread them on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Stir around half way through.  After baking, mix in your citrus and cranberries.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

The trials and tribulations of the kitchen remind me of the Serenity Prayer.

“God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change,
courage to change the things we can,
and wisdom to know the difference.”

I am still learning and attaining more wisdom, mostly, by trial and error.  Isn’t life grand?  Here’s to enjoying a Healthier Granola, with a little not so good for you Granola spinkled in every once in a while.  Cheers to trying new things and coming out on top!

Healthy Eating

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I have a new and exciting project going on at G&H.  I have been working with a client for a few weeks on this and I am really enjoying it.  A client called after the new year to see if I would be interested in working with her to lower her cholesterol.  She is a very busy and successful woman who doesn’t have the time to plan her meals and cook.  (Remember when I said we all need to divvy out those things we may not be good at??  For me it is my taxes, and someone else will be handling those.)  Anyway, she has asked me for help in eating better and to see if we can lower her cholesterol with out introducing a prescription drug.  What an exciting challenge!

This is something I believe in whole heartedly.  I am not a scientist nor a dietitian but I know how food makes me feel.  Don’t get me wrong, I love eating pizza but I don’t eat it very often.   After many years of learning my mood swings, I see sugar is not my friend.  It is great for the moment, but as soon as my sugar drops, look out!  I get cranky!  Then after indulging on sugar for a week, let’s say around Christmas time, I begin to feel physically lethargic.

My excitement and passion for this is immeasurable.  My client was so excited that she had already lost three pounds and she is feeling great!  She will see her Doctor in May to see what her cholesterol has done.  And, I will keep you posted on that result.  Creatively, this is great too because I am trying out so many different recipes.

One of the soups that I have made for her and for an oyster roast last week was a Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower Soup.  It is not made with cream but it is so creamy, delicious and filling.  The 45 guests at the oyster roast loved the soup and no one there (that I knew of) was on a diet.  They loved it!  You don’t have to be on a diet to eat great foods.  We do it because it tastes great!   AND, we feel great!

Ingredients

One bag of cut cauliflower

2 heads of garlic

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 small chopped onion

3 cups chicken broth

Directions

Place your cauliflower on a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Add a half teaspoon of kosher salt and mix around before baking at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes.  You want your cauliflower to get a little browned and soft.  Put your garlic heads on foil paper, and drizzle another tablespoon of your olive oil over the bulbs and sprinkle with a little kosher salt.  Then wrap your foil around the garlic and roast it while you are roasting the cauliflower.  They take about the same time.

When your garlic and cauliflower are done, let your garlic cool so that you can handle it.  In a large pot, sauté your onion with the remaining olive oil.  When your onion is soft, add the cauliflower and broth.  If the broth doesn’t cover the cauliflower fully, just add some water to cover.  Peel and squeeze your garlic out of the casings of the bulbs.  When it is cool enough to handle, it should come right out.  It will look like a paste and smell divine.  Simmer the soup for around 30 minutes then transfer to a blender to puree.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

The garlic in the soup gives it a hearty and meaty taste.  I just love it and think you will, too.

We have all gotten ourselves into habits that aren’t great for our bodies at some time in our lives.  I know I have countless times.  Recognizing them and moving towards healthier habits can be challenging but so rewarding.  If I can help people to feel physically great and better about themselves, that is better than awesome.  Again, I will keep you posted on the final results in May.  Here is to feeling great, looking great, and eating great!  Cheers!

The Goose

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When I see my little Gabby Goose outside playing, content with herself, making up foods, cooking for her bug friends, chatting to herself and those made up creatures, my heart melts with love.  All of my girls did this at some point.  The older girls don’t do it anymore.  They are little ladies now, too cool to talk to stuffed animals or bugs.  But my Goose, she is turning 7, and she is still that sweet little girl with the imagination of Rembrandt or Picasso.  The computer, mini iPad, or cell phone hasn’t sucked her completely in.

She is grating chalk into cups and I see her nose and cheeks becoming rosy from the crispness in the air.  I wonder who she is chatting with.  She shirks her shoulders as if to say “I don’t know”.  I realize this moment is worth its weight in gold.  I want to cherish it like so many other fleeting moments.  There are so many of these moments, if, I just stop for a minute to notice them.

My Goose has this attraction that brings people to her.  They enjoy and want to be around her.   Her happiness and joy is a magnet to everyone who comes in contact with her.  Well, maybe not so much when she was an infant.  She was the loudest of any child I have ever heard.  I think most people who were around us when she was a baby would vouch for that.  Her scream was piercing.  But now, I wonder why this little, happy soul chose me to be its mother.  It is really cool to think about this with each of my daughters.  How these sweet spirits grow from a little bean in your womb into these human beings that are so precious.  They are all pretty damn amazing, and I get to be their mom.  There really is nothing sweeter!

For my goose’s birthday, we will make cupcakes.  She wants her sisters to make the cake and I will make the Buttercream Icing.  In her honor, I will share my Buttercream Icing recipe.

Ingredients

10 egg whites

3 cups white sugar

3 lbs butter (room temp)

1 tablespoon flavoring (vanilla, almond, or other extract)

Directions

In a double boiler, heat your egg whites and sugar until the sugar dissolves.  You need to whisk your mixture while it heats up so the egg and sugar doesn’t burn.  When your egg whites are hot to touch, pour the mixture into a mixer and whisk on high speed.  You will notice that your egg whites become fluffy white, and tripled in size.  Once they are stiff, take your whisk off and add your dough attachment.  Add half the butter and pulse so that the butter goes to the bottom.  Repeat until all the butter is added.  Mix on high until it is fully incorporated.  Your Buttercream Icing will be smooth and silky.  At this point, you can add your extract or favorite food coloring.  This can be kept in the fridge for a couple of weeks or the freezer for a couple of months.  Just, thaw and add back to the mixer to get that smooth texture.  If it looks watery, it has separated and is too cold.  Just heat it up to room temp. and it will combine right back together!

This Buttercream Icing is delicious with the Vanilla Pound Cake recipe thatI shared a few weeks ago.  I have made them for many parties and events.  There is never any left over.  I will be showing my love for my little Goose on her birthday by making her favorite icing.  Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.  I think some sweet cupcakes with Buttercream Icing are just the thing to show your love!  Make them for that special person in your life.  OR order them from G&H and take that time to enjoy moments in your life.  Cheers!