Maple Quinoa Granola with Almonds and Dried Cranberries + 5 Granola Snack Links You Should Check Out!

mqg0022My life is a bit hectic lately. Three kids, 6 and under. I have three kids 6 and under. I say it, I type it, but it is hard to believe. Three little people who depend on me and Bubba entirely. Most days I feel overwhelmed and exhausted. At times I find myself fantasizing about sitting on a beach, alone with a good book and an ice coffee. I dream about the sun on my face and the sound of the waves crashing near me, and then I am catapulted back to reality by the sound of little voice saying “mama.” Mama I need you. Mama can we have breakfast now? Mama the baby is crying again. Mama…I gather what energy I have left and take care of them. 2o years from now I may miss this time or parts of this time at least. Or maybe 20 years from now I’ll feel relief; relief my life is more my own again. Maybe the only thing I will miss is a small voice saying “mama.”

One thing I won’t miss is eating sandwich crusts, stale Pirates Booty and half eaten apples. I am constantly eating their leftovers instead of giving myself a real snack. Before N was born I occasionally made granola. It is the perfect snack food for me. I eat a handful and it keeps me going for a while. After my 6 week post-partum check and weigh in, I decided eating more healthy snacks is necessary. I need to take care of me, so I can take care of everyone else.

I found a recipe for Big Cluster Maple Granola by Smitten Kitchen and altered it a bit. This is one thing I loved about granola. Make it however you like it! I added quinoa because it is time to get cozy with this super food. Quinoa is not going anywhere so I will embrace it! Any nut or dried fruit will work here. I had raw almonds, golden raisins and dried cranberries on hand. I love the maple syrup; the real stuff not the imitation junk. I recommend using real maple syrup in this recipe. I used 1/2 cup of syrup, but add 1 cup of maple syrup if you prefer a sweeter granola. The granola takes about 50 minutes to cook and an additional hour to cool completely. It will last in air tight container, at room temperature for up to two weeks.  Maybe make a double batch and take some to a new mom. She’ll thank you for it!

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Maple Quinoa Granola Clusters with Almonds and Dried Cranberries

recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

makes about 7 cups

Ingredients:

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup quinoa, pre-rinsed

1 cup raw almonds, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup toasted wheat germ

2 tbsp. coconut oil

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 large egg white

1 1/2 cups dried cranberries and golden raisins (any dried fruit will work here. if in large pieces, chop small)

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 300. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Combine all ingredients except for the dried fruit and egg white in a large bowl. Toss to combine ingredients evenly.

Whisk the egg white in a small bowl until frothy. Pour egg white on granola mixture and stir to combine thoroughly. Spread the granola on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer.

Bake for 45-55 minutes or until golden brown, rotating the pan the tossing the granola half way through baking. Once brown transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool completely. Once the granola is completely cool, break it up into chunks, big or small, whatever you prefer. Gently add dry fruit.

The granola will last in an air tight container at room temperature for up to two weeks. Enjoy!

5 Granola Snack Links You Should Check Out!

Do you love chocolate? You should try chocolate granola! What Should I Eat For Breakfast? has the recipe for you.

Need a gluten-free granola option? Cannille at Vanille has a delicious, basic, gluten-free granola recipe for you.

Nut-free. Sugar-free. Vegan granola bar? Yes, it exists. Oh She Glows has a great recipe for soft and chewy granola bars.

Sometimes I can’t decide whether I wan to eat a granola bar or a cookie. Barbara Bakes has a solution: Granola Chocolate Chip Toffee Bars! Problem solved.

One of my favorite Girl Scout cookies are the Samoas. I have no will power when that little purple box is around; so good and so damn hard to resist!  Averie Cooks has a recipe for No-Bake Samoas Cookie Granola Bars. Wow!

 

 

Birthday Granola and Funfetti Cookies

My little sister, Jamie, is about to turn 32 on May 3rd. She lives in Denver with her fantastic husband, John and their sweet little boy Dezmond. She is strong, smart, loyal and loving. She is a great mother. I miss her terribly. The years speed up once you have kids. That saying “the days are long but the years are short” rings more true now than ever. The miles that separate us frustrate me. I miss her. I miss my nephew. The days go by too fast. Slow it down. Lets just stop for a minute and breathe. I wish I could hop on a plane and be with her for the start of her 32nd year but I can’t, not this time. So instead I bake two of her favorite things to eat and ship them to her hoping that when she opens this package she will know that I love her and think of her often.

Happy Birthday Jame.  Miss you so. xo

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Basic Granola Recipe

slightly adapted from Cannelle at Vanille

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Ingredients

3 cups  rolled oats (you can use gluten-free)
1 1/2 cups  nuts and seeds – I used a combination of whole almonds and pumpkin seeds (any kind of seed and nut combination can work here)

1/2 cup  apple juice
1/2 cup  maple syrup (or honey)
1/4 cup coconut oil or canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cup (180 g) dried fruit – I used dried blueberries, strawberries, bing cherries and cranberries

Directions

Preheat oven to 325F

Combine the oats, nuts and seeds in a large bowl.

Mix together apple juice, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla extract, cinnamon, sea salt and black pepper in a medium saucepan. Gently heat all together until salt is dissolved and coconut oil is melted. Pour liquid over the dry oat mixture and toss to coat. Spread the mixture evenly on a baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes until golden. Be sure to stir the mixture about every 15 minutes to make sure it is evenly baked.

Let the granola cool completely. It will become crunchier as it cools. Stir in the dried fruit when completely cool. Store in an airtight container for a few weeks. Makes a great gift too!

Funfetti Cookies

barely adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

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Ingredients:

1 cup butter (2 sticks) at room temperature

1-¼ cup sugar

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 egg

2-½ cups flour

¼ cups cornstarch

¾ teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoons salt

½ cups rainbow jimmie sprinkles

2 tablespoons nonpareil sprinkles

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Cream the butter and sugar in stand mixer (or hand mixer) for about 2 minutes, until fluffy. Add the vanilla and egg. Beat until well combined.

In a separate bowl, sift in the flour, cornstarch, soda, and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, and continue on low-speed until it’s all added and combined. Mix in the sprinkles (don’t overmix or the sprinkles will start to bleed into the dough). I mixed them by hand.

Using an ice cream scoop, scoop cookie dough onto cookie sheets, about 1 1/2 inches apart (fits 8 cookies per sheet). Bake for about 15 minutes. (Note: Only bake until they very slightly start to turn light golden brown just on the edges. You don’t want them to totally turn golden or they’ll be crisp cookies. Check them around 10 minutes, then 12, and so on.) Cool on baking sheet for a few minutes and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container up to 4 days.