Granola is one of the most versatile breakfast foods around; it goes well with any fruit, it can be eaten with yogurt or milk, it can be an ingredient in baked goods, or it can be simply enjoyed as-is. The word granola can conjure up images of hippies and the “health food movement” of the 1960s, when eating something other than sugar-infused packaged cereal was considered a radical departure from mainstream breakfasts.
Packaged granola, however, can be just as sugar-infused as those cereals. Making your own granola is easy, and you can customize it to your own tastes. This recipe has less sugar than most packaged granolas and it's also loaded with good fats, protein, and fibre. I use a variety of nuts, often depending on what I have on hand, but you can certainly substitute in your favourites — or omit them altogether. The beauty of this recipe is its versatility. It’s a flower-child, go-with-the-flow kind of recipe that won’t alter your state of consciousness, but will bring you peace, love, and happiness at the breakfast table.
In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts and seeds, and shredded coconut.
In the microwave or in a saucepan over low heat, melt coconut oil. Add maple syrup, salt, and vanilla and stir well.
Pour mixture over the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
Spread evenly over two parchment-paper lined baking sheets.
Bake at 300 degrees, or 275 degrees if you have a convection oven, for 35 minutes or until granola is golden brown. If you do not have a convection oven, rotate pans halfway through the baking process.
Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container. Serve with dried or fresh fruit, yogurt, or milk.
Yield: approximately 7 cups
Nutritional Information per 1/3 cup serving, granola only (approximate): Calories: 150, Carbohydrates: 14 grams, Fibre: 3 grams, Sugar: 4 grams, Protein, 3 grams, Fat: 9 grams
The end of summer is such a bittersweet time for me. I love the relaxed mindset of largely unscheduled days, but I also love the excitement and feeling of promise and new beginnings that come every September. I love the heat and sunshine of summer, but I also like thick sweaters and tall boots. The leaves are starting to change on the trees in my front yard; the air is crisp and cool in the mornings and evenings. Fall is right around the corner and so I am desperately hanging on to the last vestiges of summer. I do love soups and roasted squash and root vegetables that go hand in hand with autumn, but I'm not ready to let go of the tastes of summer.
Along with fifteen pounds of tomatoes, my mother-in-law also gave me several lovely zucchinis from her garden. Zucchinis and tomatoes make the perfect late-summer combination, I think. I created this salad to take advantage of those flavours, which go nicely with a simple balsamic reduction. It's a celebration of summer, on a plate.
In a small saucepan, bring vinegar to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced by half, approximately ten minutes. Vinegar should be thickened and syrupy in appearance. Remove from heat and cool completely.
Slice tomatoes into 1/2 inch thick slices, arrange on a plate.
Using a vegetable peeler, cut zucchini into ribbons, turning zucchini as you cut, discarding the seedy centre. Arrange over top tomatoes.
Dice avocado, add to salad. Crumble goat cheese or cashew cheese over top, and garnish with basil leaves.
Drizzle olive oil and balsamic reduction over salad; enjoy the flavours of summer.
Yield: Makes 2 large or 4 side salads
Nutritional Information, based on 1 of 4 side salads, made with goat cheese (approximate): Calories: 155, Carbohydrates: 13 grams, Fibre: 4 grams, Sugar: 8 grams, Protein: 4 grams, Fat: 10 grams
I have just returned from a summer vacation at my in-laws’ home; my mother-in-law has an enormously prolific garden and every day — sometimes twice a day — she would walk down to the garden with a large empty bucket and then return to the house, the bucket overflowing with fresh produce. I ate my favourite Greek salad with abandon, and when we left, my mother-in-law packed a box full of sweet, vine-ripened tomatoes for me. A fifteen-pound box of sweet, vine-ripened tomatoes. All of which is to say that the next few weeks will feature tomato-based recipes as I scramble to find ways to enjoy each and every one of these delectable orbs.
This week’s lesson: when life hands you tomatoes, make salsa!
Is there any better condiment than fresh salsa? I think not. Fresh salsa is especially delicious when made with sweet, vine ripened tomatoes. I love this recipe with tortilla chips, quesadillas, or anything at all that needs a little zing. I’ve even been known to stir this into cold leftover quinoa for a spicy impromptu salad. This recipe allows you to adjust the heat accordingly, depending on whether you’re mild and sweet or a red-hot tamale.
Finely chop tomatoes, removing seeds. Place in a colander over a bowl; sprinkle salt over top and allow the excess juices to drain out.
In a food processor, pulse together red onion, jalapenos, and garlic until very fine.
Place drained tomatoes into a medium bowl; add onion, jalapenos, and garlic mixture. Add lime and cilantro, if using; stir until combined.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer salsa to an airtight container. Enjoy with tacos, chips, Huevos Rancheros…and maybe a margarita or two!
Yield: Makes 4 cups
Nutritional Information, 1/4 cup serving (approximate): Calories: 14, Total Carbohydrates: 3 grams, Fibre: 1 gram, Sugar: 2 grams, Protein: 1 gram