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In the Kitchen: {Yummy & Healthy} Granola

19 April 2013

About five years ago I started to really change the way that we eat. I started to become more informed and reading as much as I could about food, where it comes from, what goes in to it, etc. It's really quite interesting...and really quite shocking, when you start to uncover the truth about food. I had a hard time finding a balance the more I learned about chemical processes in food, etc. I couldn't find a common ground where we could ever eat outside of the house. Well, after months of toiling over my new-found knowledge, I settled on this - I can control what we eat in our home. I cannot control what restaurants serve, etc. We can become knowledgeable about these things and make the best decisions we can, but for us, we have to have balance. After all, my husband works in the quick-service food industry. It's a part of our life. 

In all the years that John and I have been together, which is now 8 years, we have always eaten in far more than we have eaten out. This includes our time dating. I'd say early in our relationship and marriage, we ate at home about 85% of the time. These days, I would say it's more like 90% and sometimes more. For the most part, we eat 1 dinner and 1 lunch out a week. So, if a good 90% of the time, or more, we are making good, healthy decisions, then we can continue to live in this world the other 10%. 

I also strive to not put anyone else down or make them feel inferior because they don't see things the same way we do. I know many people, whose thoughts and philosophies I completely agree with, that come across the wrong way and put people off. Once you walk down the rabbit hole of truly understanding the food industry, it's a LOT to process. I have found that more often than not, people aren't eating better because they simply don't know better. I do try to inform and educate when I can...and I'm going to do a little bit of that today. 

Lately I've been spending more and more time in the kitchen and that's something that is going to start showing up more on this blog. It's a big part of our life and there are some great recipes as well as simple and convenient tips that I'd love to share with you. I like to not only know which foods are good or bad, but why are they good or bad?  Periodically I will be sharing with you the why behind it all, because the why is important. It helps you to know why you believe what you believe or think the way you think. We don't have to just take everything at face-value. Research and become informed. 

A month or two ago I posted a picture on Instagram after I made a fresh batch of granola and a few people asked for the recipe. I am finally just getting around to putting it together. I thought I would share it here. 
The original basis of this recipe is from one I got from my sister-in-law years ago, but I have since changed and tweaked it quite a bit. Honestly, I don't even have the original recipe written down anymore, nor did I have my version written down until today. I've just been putting all the pieces together for years and didn't really pay too much attention. 

Yummy & Healthy Granola

4 cups     Old-Fashioned Oats  (don’t use quick oats)
1 cup       Steel Cut Oats
½ cup     Sliced Almonds
½ cup     Pumpkin Seeds
½ cup     Sunflower Seeds
½ cup     Ground Flaxseed
½ cup     Wheat Germ
2 tsp       Cinnamon
2 tsp       Nutmeg (grate fresh if possible) 
¾ cup    Coconut Oil (can use canola oil)
½ cup    Honey

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9x13 baking dish.
Pour all of the oats, seeds, flaxseed, and wheat germ in a bowl and stir until just mixed. Add cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir throughout mixture. Then add coconut oil and honey and mix until all is combined. You want to make sure that all the granola mixture gets wet from the oil and honey.
Pour granola mixture into baking dish and bake for 25 minutes.
Allow granola to cool in dish for at least 10 minutes, then put in an air-tight container. Granola will keep in air-tight container for 2 weeks. 

In the interest of helping to inform you, I thought I would give you a little insight in to why I chose some of the ingredients that I chose and let you know some of the health benefits you will get from this granola mixture. Also, I have a couple 'secrets' that I use that make it SO good and SO good for you. I guess they aren't really secrets anymore if I just gave you the recipe above. Ha! 

Let's look at all the goodness that you'll be getting from this granola...

Oats (Old-Fashioned and Steel Cut)
  • rich in soluble fiber (this helps slow the passage of food through your digestive tract so that you absorb the maximum benefit from the vitamins and minerals). Soluble fiber also helps to lower your LDL (the bad cholesterol that you want to be low) and keeps you regular :)  
  • includes many vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, folate, and vitamin E 
  • good for your heart! mono-saturated fat, protein, and potassium in almonds are all good for the heart 
  • vitamin E serves as an antioxidant and can help reduce the risk of heart disease 
  • helps to increase HDL (good cholesterol) and lowers LDL
  • good source of folic acid 
Pumpkin Seeds 
  • they are the only seed that is alkaline-forming (this is especially helpful if you have a highly acidic diet)
  • contain phosphorous, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, vitamin K, vitamin E, and vitamin B 
  • help with lowering LDL, can help lower depression and are a natural protector against osteoporosis 
  • also, they are great for prostate health! 
Sunflower Seeds
  • great source of vitamin E, selenium, magnesium
Flax Seeds
  • contains omega-3 essential fatty acids - which are great for your heart 
  • may reduce risks of cardiovascular disease, lung disease and certain cancers (breast, prostate and colon) 
Wheat Germ
  • it's a fantastic source of folic acid, as well as zinc and iron 

  • regulates blood sugar, reduces LDL
  • reduces arthritis pain 
  • contains fiber, calcium, iron and manganese
  • good remedy for anxiety and depression, also can improve concentration
  • has strong anti-bacterial properties 
Also, do you only ever use nutmeg that comes in a little shaker from the spice aisle? It's so much better when you buy whole nutmegs (which you can do in the same aisle) and grate them yourself with a zester. You really should try it. The flavor is so much more fresh....and much better. Don't have a zester? They are really pretty inexpensive and can be picked up most anywhere. It's super functional and I guarantee you will find that you start using it more in cooking. It's fabulous for getting the zest of citrus fruit - such as lime, orange, lemon...or shaving Parmesan cheese. It's a great tool to have in your kitchen.
Coconut Oil
  • helps to regulate blood sugar 
  • can boost thyroid which can help to increase metabolism and energy 
  • great for your hair and skin; also great for stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss and so much more! 
I'm actually going to stop and talk about coconut oil for another minute. Have you used it? Does it scare you? I think it scares some people because it's not like other oils, it comes in a solid form. This is the one I use.

But, it's really simple to just heat it up until it melts, then it's exactly like other oils that you would use in cooking/baking. I highly encourage you to start incorporating it in to some of your meals. It's SO, SO good for you. And, don't be intimidated.

There you have recipe for granola that is not only super healthy for you, but also yummy. On top of all that, it's incredibly easy to make. I hope you will have some soon!
I also want to emphasize one other point, I am NOT a nutrition expert, RD or medical professional. I'm just a girl, who is a wife and mom, who is striving to become more knowledgeable about food, it's function and where it comes from...all while providing my family with the healthiest meals possible. (So, if I'm misquoted on something, please don't hold it against me).

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