Happy New Year!!
January brings such inspiration for me. Not in the ‘I have to create a resolution and stick to it’ kinda way but, in the ‘okay, what has worked in the past year and what has not’ kinda way. I always seem to be reminded of the need to slow down and appreciate those around me and this year is no different.
Most people rush to make resolutions and feel the need to magically transform themselves and I have a question….
January is the dead of winter around here. The earth is deep into resting before life springs forward, offering beautiful flowers and blooms of greenery. The skies are usually grey, overcast and dreary. The most beautiful of days holds a hint of cold, reminding us we are in the thick of winter.
Since my days in surgical sales, I’ve always taken ‘vacation’ the first full week of January. Originally, it was out of necessity because everyone rushes to fulfill their deductible before year end and I worked CRAZY long hours. But, it’s now become a week of solace for me that I ‘jokingly’ call hibernation week.
The children are back at school, the adults are back to work…the stores are EMPTY and EVERYTHING is on sale. The best part? It’s like a ghost-town. Open parking, no lines, NO hustle & bustle.
Pretty magical, right?
It’s easier to rest, reflect and reconnect without so much chaos around. Meditation flows with less resistance and it’s easier to hear what your body needs. Well, after a month and a half of cheese, wine and LOTS of chocolate what my body needs is NUTRITION.
Since January is National Oat Month I thought I would dig into the humble oat to find out why this little grain so important that it deserves an ENTIRE MONTH named in it’s honor.
First, I discovered there are a MULTITUDE of reasons to eat oats. They are nutritious, (delicious,) rich in anti-oxidants and have been proven to lower cholesterol levels and may help with blood sugar control.
I like that it’s filling and keeps me from stacking between breakfast and lunch.
As I dug into which oat is the best, I discovered Groats. Heard of them?
The groat is the oat BEFORE it is chopped to make steel cut oats or rolled to make oatmeal. It contains the endosperm, the germ and the bran…preserving all of the nutrition this mighty grain has to offer. It has a more chewy texture and seems a little more high maintenance than I need for a busy morning.
I learned how to make granola from Cookie and Kate. Her recipe is easy to use and walks you through the benefits of each component she uses.
I’ve adapted her recipe to meet my nutritional needs, using elderberry and farm to table strawberries. While any combination will do, I use dehydrated strawberries often. They go into my tea blends, into homemade chocolates and are powdered to stretch a sweetness of flavor in many of my dishes.
I’m blessed to know a few farms that grow beautiful strawberries and I feel like the dehydrator runs for a solid 6 months, drying strawberries alone.
Unfortunately, I have yet to find a fresh elderberry source so I buy the dehydrated berries from a farm I trust in Vermont.
This recipe is easily customizable once you get the hang of the base. I prefer Pecans from our friends at Rio Grande Organics. While the pecans come from the Valley, my friend, Nora, lives in Cypress and runs several local markets to share their nuts with our community. They are THE BEST pecans I’ve had.
As you probably know, I, really like having a close the connection to the farm.
However, walnuts will do. You just want a hearty, meaty nut. I’ve added some flax and hemp hearts for an extra boost in nutrients (and, protein!)
Have you ever tried Maca powder?
I discovered Maca when I was looking for ways to reduce my anxiety and take the edge off of when I had the ‘blues.’ But I fell in LOVE with it’s mild and nutty flavor. To me, it tastes like dried honeycomb.
For the lemon zest…any zest will do. But’s it’s not necessary.
My lemon tree, Meyer, (yes, I did….) provides us with the sweetest lemons I’ve ever tasted. I end up with a HUGE crop once a year. Between sharing with the co-op, offering to friends, juicing to freeze into ice cubes and dehydrating for tea I am always searching for ways to use our bounty.
Dry Granola Base
- 4 Cups Rolled Oats, Organic
- 1 Cup Nuts (Walnuts or Pecans)
- 1/2 Cup Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds)
- 1/4 Cup Flax Seeds
- 1/4 Cup Chia Seeds
- 2 TBSP Maca Powder
Wet Granola Ingredients
- 1/2 Cup Unrefined Coconut Oil Melted
- 1/2 Cup Local Honey (Or, Maple Syrup)
- 1/2 Cup Hemp Hearts
- 1/3 Cup Coconut Chips Unsweetened
- 1/2 Cup Dried Fruit (I used farm fresh strawberries that I dehydrated)
- 1/4 Cup Elderberry
- Dash Lemon Zest
- Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line cookie sheet with Parchment Paper.
- In a large bowl, mix together ingredients in the Dry Granola Base.
- Stir in the melted coconut oil. Then, the local honey. Mix thoroughly; then, turn out onto lined cookie Sheet. Cook for 10 minutes.
- Remove from oven and stir Mix-ins of Hemp Hearts and Coconut Chips into Granola Base. Cook 15 minutes more.
- Remove from oven, add dried fruit and lemon zest. Pack down with spatula and allow to cool completely.
- Store in airtight container and enjoy within 3 weeks.
So, there you have it! My granola favorite recipe…I enjoy it for breakfast with some Malk, fresh strawberries and sliced bananas.
Do you have any adaptations that you LOVE? Drop me a line!! I’m FOREVER looking to expand my options!!