Friday, January 7, 2011

Homemade Granola

Who doesn’t love granola?! I usually buy the store-bought stuff even though there aren’t a lot of decent options out there. I guess I never realized how easy it is to make your own! When my amazing friend Liz (we’ve known each other since junior high!) posted this simple easy and super yummy granola recipe on her blog, I decided we needed to give them a try! Here is her recipe below. We didn’t have any coconut butter on hand so used vegan earth balance butter. We also added dried cranberries and some cinnamon.

  • 2 cups raw, whole rolled oats (aka old fashion oats)
  • ½ cup sliced raw almonds
  • ¼ cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup (100% maple syrup, preferably grade b)
  • 1 tbsp raw agave nectar (or raw honey)
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp coconut oil (aka coconut butter)
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large pinch sea salt
Preheat the oven to 300º. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and use your clean hands to mix and toss to coat. The coconut oil might be liquid or solid depending on the temperature of the room you are in (it has a melting point of about 75ºF.) Your hands will warm it up and melt it into the mixture if it's solid. Spread the mixture in a thin layer on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, until very lightly toasted. Cool before serving or storing.

Note of caution: It is very easy to over cook this granola. Don't let it get too toasted brown - it will taste like burnt popcorn. Take it out after 10-12 minutes, it will come together more as it cools.

This granola can be kept in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks. Even better, put it in an airtight mason jar with a fun card and ribbon and give it as a gift!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Homemade Juice

I'm terrible at drinking water. I'm bad. I know. I love juice and so do my kids. Unfortanatley, many of the juices in the supermarket are quite misleading and full of sugar.

Most commercially made juice has been pasteurized, meaning it's been cooked at low temperatures to kill bacteria. Unfortunately, it also kills important nutrients and enzymes. And who knows what condition the fruit was in that was used? Or how long the juice was sitting on the shelf at the store before you bought it?

Fresh juices are a tremendous source of enzymes. In fact, the "freshness" of juice is one of their key features, because as mentioned earlier, enzymes are destroyed by heat. When you eat cooked foods, whether its grains, fruits, or vegetables, if the food is cooked at temperatures above 114 degrees, the enzymes have been destroyed by the heat. Since fruits and vegetables are juiced raw, the enzymes are still viable when you drink the juice.

Plus, since juicing removes the indigestible fiber, these nutrients are available to the body in much larger quantities than if the piece of fruit or vegetable was eaten whole. For example, because many of the nutrients are trapped in the fiber, when you eat a raw carrot, you are only able to assimilate about 1% of the available beta carotene. When a carrot is juiced, removing the fiber, nearly 100% of the beta carotene can be assimilated.

Sure, as busy parents we use store bought juice, but if you really want the health benefits of drinking juice, you really need to make it at home! Investing in a juicer was one of the best things I've ever done for my family. My girls think it's the coolest thing ever to make fresh juice! What a great way to get your kids involved in their own health! You can even let them experiment and make their own concoctions.

Here are a few of our very favorite juicing recipes!! You can bottle them and store them for up to a week :)

**Should be done in a blender!

**Pineapple Mint
2 cups fresh pineapple 10-15
10-15 leaves fresh mint
1 ½ cups ice
Blend until smooth

Watermelon Cucumber Lime
1 small watermelon cubed
1 small cucumber sliced
Juice of one lime

Apple Carrot Ginger Beet
2 Granny Smith Apples
2 cups shredded carrots
1 large beet
1-inch piece of ginger

**My Favorite!  Spinach Celery Cucumber Lemon
3 cups spinach
1 English cucumber
2 stalks celery
squeeze of lime or lemon
1 cup ice