Simply Perfect Crunchy Granola

Well, here we are, getting settled into our new homestead here in Alaska and life has been crazy to say the least.  We have so much work to do, spending every morning leisurely enjoying a hot breakfast of bacon, eggs and fried potatoes is nothing more than a picturesque fairytale right now.  As busy as we are, I need a few quick-fix tricks up my sleeve for breakfast and rather than falling back on store bought cold cereal, homemade granola is the ticket. Unlike the sugar-laden, empty calorie fluff from the store, (which, let’s face it, does no one any good because everyone is hungry 15 minutes later.) Hearty, homemade granola is made with healthy ingredients and will stick with you 10 times longer than that stuff with unpronounceable ingredients.
Aside from a few stove top suppers, our first experiment in cooking with my Kitchen Queen wood cook stove was some toasty, yummy homemade granola. I spent a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon attempting for the first time, to use the oven in my wood cook stove.  To be honest, there was more of a learning curve than I had expected in using said oven and after 2 hours trying to bake the stuff, we ended up toasting the granola on sheet pans on the stove top rather than baking it. It still came out great!

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Granola is one of those things that can be changed up 1,000 different ways depending on what you have on hand and what your own dietary restrictions might be. We use whole grain oats as our base then boost the nutrition value with all the yummy add-ins that take it over the top like flax, pumpkin & chia seeds and nuts.
The only downside to this recipe is that when I make it I have to make a seriously monster-sized batch because at all stages of preparing it (raw, cooking, cooked, cooling and put away in the pantry) I have greedy granola gobblers steeling it by the handful.
Hubby and kids alike can’t stay out of it.  We also love using this recipe when making trail mix by adding nuts, dried fruit and chocolate chips or candies.

For a long time my granola, while quite tasty, never held together in the big, crunchy clumps that I was looking for.  It always fell apart into individual oats, nuts and seeds which was rather disappointing.  So in order to save you from my own frustration, here are 2 simple tips for getting big clumps of crunchy granola that is the perfect breakfast cereal or trail mix base.

  1. Make sure that ALL the oat mixture is thoroughly coated with your honey/oil mixture.  (If you increase the oat/nut/seeds to more than what I have listed here, you will also need to compensate by increasing the honey mixture as well.)
  2. DON’T stir the granola while it is baking.  (This is so important.)

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Simply Perfect Crunchy Granola

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

• 6 cups whole oats
• 2 cups sliced almonds
• 1 1/2 cups pecans (chopped)
• 1/2 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or sunflower seeds
• 2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes (sweetened is also fine but an unnecessary addition of sugar)
• 1 1/2 cup raw honey or organic maple syrup
• 1/4 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
• 3/4 cup coconut oil (butter is also okay but will not yield the same crunchy results) 

  • 1 Tbl cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 Tbl cardamom
  • 2 tsp Vanilla extract
    • Optional super-seed addition
    • 1/2 cup flax seeds
    • 1/2 cup chia seeds
    • 1/2 cup water

1. In a small bowl, mix the flax & chia seeds with water and allow to soak while you get the rest of your granola mixture ready. This will produce a sticky clump of seeds that you will gently break up into large chunks and fold into your oat mixture later.
2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together your oats, nuts & pumpkin/sunflower seeds.
3. In a sauce pan, add coconut oil, honey and coconut sugar. Stir frequently while heating until just melted & combined. Do not boil.
4. Add vanilla, maple or other extract to your honey mixture.
5. Gently add super seed mixture to your oat mixture, keeping gumball sized chunks if possible.
6. Heat your honey, sugar & oil mixture over the oat mixture and toss to coat thoroughly.
7. Spread out on sheet pans (I like to line mine with silicone baking mats or parchment paper)

8. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, rotate your pans to ensure even cooking and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes.

9. Turn off the oven and let the granola continue to toast and crisp up for up to 1 additional hour. If it is browning too much, remove it from the oven and allow to cool.
(Or if you are using a wood stove with a broken temperature gauge like me… Bake for 1 hour, then pull your baking sheets out of the oven and put them on the stove top to finish crisping up.)

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I promise that you and your family will love this, especially once you fine tune your own personal adaptations to the recipe.

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Coconut, Almond & Flax Energy Bites

If you haven’t yet discovered the world of “energy bites” AKA “healthy cookie dough bites” you have been missing out.  Energy bites can be made with a variety of ingredients and fit a variety of needs.

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#1  FEED THE TINY HUMANS

Let’s face it folks, it ain’t easy keeping the tiny humans fed.  They are ALWAYS hungry or… “snacky” I should say.  (Is snacky a word?  I guess I just invented a new word.)

Snacky = the insatiable need to continually put things in your mouth.

My girls are snacky kids and I’ll admit, it isn’t always easy to find something that satisfies their hunger for longer than 20 minutes.  It is also not easy to find kid friendly snacks that are either not processed crap food (I’m looking at you cheese puffs) or foods that are disguised as being healthy and will therefore break the bank (yep, that’s you “Bunny snacks”…)

On that note, energy bites are the perfect snack to actually satisfy a hungry cookie monster.

#2  Hangry Mama

I am one of those people who tend to be queasy in the morning if I don’t get SOMETHING in my tummy when I first get up in the morning.  And I’m not very clear headed in the morning so my decision making skills are not always the best.  I tend to reach for ANY snack food within reach especially if it is carbs.  I also tend (as does my 7 year old daughter) to get a bit “hangry” when I have not eaten well.

These energy bites are the perfect quick snack to take the edge off.

#3 “On The Go Jo”

Who isn’t in some kind of rush these days?  It seems like we all, if not every day, then most days are in a rush to get out the door for one reason or another.  For our family it tends to be Church on Sunday and CC Community day (our homeschooling group) on Tuesdays.  As I’ve confessed before, I am not quite on top of my game in the mornings so I tend to realize last minute that I haven’t made enough time for breakfast.

Once again, these babies are an easy grab and go option.

However, as is usually the case, there is often one downfall to these delicious bites… when you search the interwebs for a recipe, you will be invariably bombarded with about 200 recipes which may look delicious but aren’t exactly on the healthy side, or they claim to be… but contain oats or other grains.  That may be fine and dandy for some, but if you are Paleo, Whole Food, Keto, THM or anything else that either cuts grains or separates carbs from fats, then all of these recipes are taboo.

This recipe is gluten-free, grain free, sugar free & delicious.   And that, in my book, is a beautiful thing.

As I have made it a self-sufficiency goal to reclaim my health through healthy foods and essential oils, I have learned that one facet to keeping my hypothyroidism in check, is by starting the day with a Breakfast incorporating Protein/Fat/Fiber.  These little gems are just that.  If the total amount of protein doesn’t meet your needs you can always add some Collagen to your tea or coffee and you will be good to go.

So after all that talk, the process is really very simple.

Mix Coconut oil & almond butter until fairly smooth.

Add in unsweetened coconut flakes, ground flax, cocoa nibs, vanilla, salt and pure stevia extract powder.IMG_3093

Mix well and place the bowl in the refrigerator for a few hours to harden.

After a few hours the mixture will be a nice scoop-able texture.

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You can then roll into balls and place on a lined cookie sheet.  (I prefer to use non-stick silicone mats to eliminate waste and unnecessary trips to the store, but parchment paper will also work fine.)

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Return the cookie sheet to the fridge and let them harden again before putting into a bowl or dish for storage.

 

Coconut, Almond & Flax Energy Bites

  • Servings: 18-24
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

3/4 cup coconut oil

*3/4 cup almond butter (other nut butters are a fine option)

1 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

**1 1/2 cup ground Golden Flax Meal

1/2 cup cocoa nibs or Lily’s brand, stevia sweetened chocolate chips

2 tsp  vanilla extract

1/2 tsp mineral salt

***1 “doonk” (1/32 tsp) pure stevia extract powder or a few drops of  liquid stevia (a “doonk” is a tiny scoop that is 1/32 of a teaspoon.)

  1. Mix coconut oil & almond butter 
  2. Add in unsweetened coconut flakes, ground flax and cocoa nibs 
  3. Add in vanilla, mineral salt and pure stevia extract powder.
  4. Mix well and place the bowl in the refrigerator to harden.
  5. Roll into balls and place on a lined cookie sheet
  6. Return the cookie sheet to the fridge and let them harden again before putting into a bowl or dish for storage.

Store in the refrigerator in order to avoid the mixture melting again.

A few notes:

*Natural peanut butter is okay too, I have just found that with a low thyroid condition, it is best to avoid over-doing it with peanuts/peanut butte

**For best results using Flax meal, grind your own Golden Flax seeds rather than buying “flax meal” as it loses it’s benefits shortly after being ground and who know how long the store bought meal has been sitting around.

***Pure stevia extract is NOT to be confused with store bought stevia blends like Truvia which are highly processed and contain fillers.  Blends such as Truvia will measure entirely differently and also have a completely different flavor as the chemical fillers leave a bitter after taste that pure stevia will not.  (I like THM brand’s pure stevia powder) – You can also add liquid stevia (but I have not tested a measurement for or a little raw honey rather than the stevia powder, just be aware that if you use honey they will no longer be sugar free or low carb.

Other notes:

You can also spread the mixture into a cake pan (well greased or preferably lined with parchment paper) and the cut into squares rather than rolling into balls.

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Zucchini and Eggs Breakfast (THM S/Whole 30/Grain Free/Paleo friendly)

I decided this morning that I just HAVE to take a few minutes and share this breakfast with you.

It just wouldn’t be fair to keep this one to myself.

As I have said before, one of the most important keys to developing a “homestead state of mind” is reclaiming your health by the means of homeopathic remedies and nutrition.  I have also shared with you that in my own health journey with Hypothyroidism, a breakfast made up of Protein/Fat/Fiber is super beneficial.  On that note, one day I was trying to come up with a breakfast that contained those three things and this is what I came up with.

It’s totally cheating for me to even call this a “recipe.”  It is so crazy simple but SOOOO very good.  The tiny humans and even my mountain man LOVE this breakfast.  I mean really, when you tell your kids they are having vegetables at breakfast and they literally cheer… you have struck gold my friend.

It’s also a bonus that this meal is “homestead to table” for any of us who garden and have chickens.

So let’s break it down.

Melt butter, (ghee or bacon grease for Paleo or Dairy-free) in a cast iron skillet.  Saute diced onions until the edges start to brown (if your kiddos just can’t do the onions, you can omit them but the flavor is really awesome so try it.  Seriously.  Keep trying.  My kiddos have come to LOVE cooked onions in their food.)  When the onions are starting to brown, add in your sliced zucchini and more fat if needed.  Season well with mineral or sea salt, fresh cracked pepper and a good amount of garlic powder.  Continue to saute the zucchini and onions until the onions are soft and brown and the zucchini are beginning to brown as well.

(When it comes to flavor, just remember, “brown food is good food.”)

You can complete this dish with either poached or fried eggs but you really want those yolks to be nice and runny so that they break over the zucchini. My stubborn sister would disagree about the runny yolk… but she’s wrong.    

That’s all folks.  Super simplicity, super deliciousness.

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