Better Bites

My experiments in healthy eating, cooking, and living

Archive for the tag “Baking”

An Oil-free Blueberry Peach Cobbler-like Granola

Blueberry Peach Granola 1

I’ll admit it. I make granola fresh almost every morning for breakfast. Maybe it sounds crazy that I spend time in my kitchen actually making my breakfast each morning instead of pouring it from a box or reaching for it from a paper bag that has that has that famous orange and pink lettering and says Dunkin’ Donuts on it, but now that I’ve started making these homemade breakfasts, I just can’t stop. Don’t get me wrong in the past I coveted box cereal, going through phases of favoring certain brands and eating it every morning without missing a day. I’ve also enjoyed many of Dunkin’s bagels.

Simply put, this granola is healthier and tastier than any breakfast I’ve gotten out of a box or bag and much cheaper too! When I have to go back to work come August, I probably will have to deal with the idea of not making my own breakfast each morning, but that doesn’t mean I won’t make a big batch on Sunday for week mornings (though I would probably leave the peaches and blueberries out until the day of serving – so the granola doesn’t get mushy).

*In case you missed my last post on oil free banana walnut granola, you can find it here! It is fairly similar to this one in terms of the ingredients used.

Blueberry Peach Granola 2

Oil-free blueberry peach granola: 

*Serves 1

Ingredients:

1/2 of a banana

1/4 tsp of vanilla extract

1/4 – 1/2 tsp of cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp of maple syrup

1/2 cup of rolled oats

1 tbsp of unsweetened coconut flakes

1 small to medium peach, halved and then sliced

1/2 cup of blueberries, washed and patted dry

*optional: a dash of nutmeg to coat the blueberries and peaches

1/4 cup of pecans

Method:

1- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Then cut the banana in half and add it to a mixing bowl. Mash it with a fork or potato masher. Then add the vanilla, cinnamon, and maple syrup. Stir well.

2- Add the rolled oats and the coconut flakes. Mix all of those ingredients together. Then, slice the peach and toss it in the nutmeg with the blueberries (if you choose to use the nutmeg – I personally enjoyed it, but not everyone is a big nutmeg fan). Add the fruit to the granola bowl. Stir once more before spreading the granola onto a baking sheet.

3- Bake for about 12 minutes or until the granola begins to turn golden brown (or longer if you like it extra crisp). Top with pecans (if desired). Serve immediately or let it cool a bit and it will crisp up even more. Some serving suggestions would be to add cacao nibs, ground flax seed, or another type of chopped nuts before serving with the milk of your choice. Enjoy!

Raved About Healthy Blueberry Scones Made with Spelt Flour

Blueberry scones 1

After reading the title, you already know these blueberry scones have been raved about. I made them twice in one weekend when I went up to Boston with my family and they were promptly gobbled up each time. I was also asked for the recipe multiple times, which I take as a good sign, but watch out, if you make them once you are bound to be asked to make them again (and again – and for good reason too).

This recipe produces light, fluffy scones that you don’t need to feel bad about eating. With only 1/3 of a cup of oil and 1/3 of a cup of agave nectar per recipe these are fairly guilt-free. The whole spelt flour produces a lighter scone than white or all purpose flour would and unlike wheat flour these scones don’t have the heartiness or the taste of being a whole grain (which I find as a plus when it comes to baked goods). They are also incredibly moist and a few anti-scone family members even enjoyed them (and came back for seconds). My dad (who sometimes acts like a foodie, but isn’t – but is still full of “helpful” criticisms) even said they were the best scones, which is what I consider a huge accolade coming from him. The word “best,” is uttered very sparingly by him.

I found the recipe on Shannon’s amazing blog (which you should check out if you haven’t – it’s full of wonderful recipes, musings on running, book reviews, and more), Move Eat Create, and only made a couple of changes. I used vegan buttery spread by Earth Balance instead of using hazlenut or coconut oil, which I found to produce a more flavorful and lighter scone (as I have used coconut oil in making these scones in the past, but I can’t speak to using hazlenut oil, as I haven’t used it). I also used fresh blueberries, which I felt made all the difference in the world. They just added this little pop of sweetness, as they are now in peak season in New England. Read on for the slightly altered recipe below.

Blueberry scones 2

Healthy Blueberry Spelt Flour Scones: 

*Recipe from Shannon’s blog titled Move Eat Create (find the link to the recipe in the paragraph above)

*Makes about 9-10 scones

Ingredients:

2 cups whole spelt flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp of fine grain sea salt

1/3 cup of Earth Balance buttery spread, melted (sub with butter if you aren’t trying to make them vegan, and if you want to be a bit healthier but still not have them be vegan, you can use 1/6 cup melted butter 1/6 cup vegetable oil combination)

1/3 cup of light agave nectar

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup hot water

3/4 fresh blueberries

Method: 

1- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2- Meanwhile, mix the dry ingredients and stir with a whisk to ensure they are well combined.

3- Then, after melting the 1/3 cup of buttery spread, combine the melted buttery spread, agave nectar, and vanilla extract. Stir once and then pour over the spelt mixture. Gently mix together.

4- Add the hot water and again gently mix until it’s combined (try not to over mix spelt flour).

5- Gently fold the fresh blueberries into the batter. Use a 1/4 cup measure to spoon batter onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (to ensure that the scones will be the same size). Bake the scones for 15-20 minutes or until they are golden brown on top. These kept well in an air tight container for 3-4 days. I stored mine in the fridge and heated them in the microwave or toaster before eating.

If you missed my other scone recipes here are the links for my raspberry chocolate chip spelt flour scones and my ginger peach spelt flour scones. Enjoy!

Oil-Free Banana Walnut Granola

Banana Walnut Granola

Lately, I haven’t been one to eat conventional boxed cereal. I’ve been leaning towards alternative breakfast ideas like breakfast quesadillas with peanut butter and bananas, green smoothies, stove-top oatmeal, and homemade granola (my personal favorite, aside from pancakes that is).

I love the crunchiness of granola, as well as its sweet flavor, but I find that most store bought granolas are full of sugar and have many grams of fat. I sought out to make granola without using any oil. Instead of using oil to bind the mixture, I used mashed banana, which gave the breakfast cereal a lightly sweet flavor. Luckily, it was a success. I made it everyday this week  for breakfast. I fully expect to make it tomorrow morning too. It tastes like banana bread topped with toasted walnuts.

Oil-Free Banana Walnut Granola: 

*Serves 1

Ingredients:

1 banana

1/4 tsp of vanilla extract

1/4 tsp of cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp of maple syrup

1/2 cup of rolled oats

1 tbsp of unsweetened coconut flakes

2 tbsp of walnuts chopped (plus more for after baking)

Method: 

1- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Then cut the banana in half and add one half to a mixing bowl. Mash it with a fork or potato masher. Then add the vanilla, cinnamon, and maple syrup. Stir well.

2- Add the rolled oats, the coconut, and the chopped walnuts. Mix all of those ingredients together. Then, slice up the other half of the banana and add it to the bowl. Stir once more before spreading the granola onto a baking sheet.

3- Bake for about 12 minutes or until the granola begins to turn golden brown. Top with extra walnuts (if desired). Serve immediately or let it cool a bit and it will crisp up even more. Some serving suggestions would be to add cacao nibs, ground flax seeds, or raisins before serving with the milk of your choice. Enjoy!

Vegan and Gluten-Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I’ve had a thing for raisins lately. I just can’t get enough of them. Since I’ve practically been dreaming of the “perfect” oatmeal cookie, it was no surprise that I whipped these up last night. These came pretty close to being “perfect.” They were moist, sweet, and melted in my mouth. I made them yesterday and a little more than half of them have already disappeared. I’ve been one very happy oatmeal cookie-loving  lady.

Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies:

*Makes about 10 cookies

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of gluten-free oat flour (or if you don’t have oat flour whole wheat pastry flour might work also)

1/2 cup of rolled oats (for a crispier cookie that is less moist, add more oats)

1/2 cup of quick oats

1 tsp of baking powder

1/4  tsp of sea salt

1 tsp of cinnamon

1/3 cup of raisins

1/3 cup of chopped walnuts

1/4 a cup of sucanat (I used the Wholesome Sweeteners brand, though I’m sure you could use regular brown sugar or turbinado sugar)

1/4 of a cup of vegan butter spread, packed in the measuring cup and then melted

1/2 cup of applesauce

1 tsp of vanilla extract

Method: 

1- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then whisk the flour, oats, raisins, walnuts, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together.

2- In a separate bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients (the vegan butter, applesauce, vanilla, and sugar). Mix the wet ingredients.

4- Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Make sure you stir the batter enough so all of the oats are coated by the wet ingredients. Note that the batter will be very moist.

5- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

5- On a lined baking sheet, drop cookies onto a baking sheet using a tablespoon. You may have to form them a bit just to make sure that all of the cookie stays together (as the batter crumbles easily before baking).

6- Bake for about 10 minutes (depending on your oven). When they are finished the bottom should be a golden brown color.

7- Let the cookies sit on the baking sheet for about five minutes and then move them over to a cooling rack for five minutes or so. Note that the cookies are fragile when they immediately come out of the oven, so be gentle when taking them off of the cookie sheet.

In case you missed my recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, find it here!

Chocolate Goji Berry Crunch Granola

Goji berry crunch

Okay, I admit it. I broke down and bought a couple of different superfoods. After watching Food Matters, I became curious about why people were running out and buying foods like goji berries and raw maca. I didn’t know the first thing about superfoods, aside from the idea that they were supposed to be very good for you.

Not too long after watching that documentary, I gave in and bought both goji berries and cacao nibs. Almost immediately, I found myself adding the cacao nibs to different foods I normally made like oatmeal and in trail mix.

The goji berries, however, were a different story. At first bite, I didn’t really like them. They were fairly tough on the outside and had a fruit flavor that I didn’t like the taste of (which is odd because I’d loved every fruit I’d tasted prior to this experience assuming goji berries are a fruit?). I knew they were supposed to be good for me and I’d paid a pretty penny for a small bag of the pretty, coral-colored berries, so I tried to eat a small handful with other dried fruits I enjoyed, like apricots. I tried hard to like them, but efforts were to no avail. They sat in my cabinet for a couple of months with little or no use.

One day, I was talking with the guy who lives upstairs from me and he was telling me how he and his girlfriend were on this superfood kick. They’d bought all different powders, berries, and seeds in hopes of adding them to their diet. I admitted how I’d tried goji berries, but wasn’t too fond of them. He then told me how he loved eating them with chocolate.

Ding, ding, ding. It was like the light bulb went off in my head. I’d never tried the berries with chocolate. What a genius idea. Almost immediately, the idea for chocolate goji berry granola was born.  The combination was a success and now I have a new use for all those unused berries I bought. Whether eating them with granola defeats the purpose or not, is not something I’d like to consider. It was too delicious to contemplate the idea of how healthy it was.

Goji berry crunch 2

Chocolate Goji Berry Crunch Granola: 

*Yields about 3-4 cups of granola

Ingredients:

1 1/3  cup of rolled oats (I used GF rolled oats)

1/3 cup of dried, unsweetened coconut flakes

2/3 cup of chopped nuts (I used a mix of walnuts and cashews – both tasted delicious with the chocolate flavor of the granola)

2 tbsp of cocoa powder

1/3 cup of raisins

1 tbsp virgin coconut oil, melted

3 tbsp of light agave nectar

(possible substitution: maple syrup)

1 tsp of vanilla extract

1/3 cup of goji berries

1 tbsp of cacao nibs (*optional)

Method: 

1- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Then add your rolled oats, coconut, chopped nuts, raisins, and cocoa powder to a mixing bowl. Mix the dry ingredients together.

2- Melt the virgin coconut oil either in a small pan or in the microwave. Add the Coconut oil, agave nectar, and vanilla  into a glass measuring cup. Stir once before pouring over the rolled oat mixture. Mix the oats with the wet ingredients, making sure all of the oats are coated.

3- Spread a thin layer of granola onto the parchment paper. Bake for 12-15 minutes. The granola is finished when the raisins on the edges of the pan begin to turn puff up. After the granola has cooled for about five minutes add the goji berries and cacao nibs (I thought cooking them would make them lose their many nutritional benefits such as the antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that they provide). Let the granola cool before using it (it will become crisper as it cools, it will still be slightly soft when it comes out of the oven).

*Store in an airtight container. Other possible additions: substitute goji berries for dried cherries, dried cranberries, dried apricots, or banana chips

In case you missed my two other posts on granola, I’ve also made a banana walnut version, as well as maple pecan granola. Enjoy!

Nearly Fat Free Vegan Banana Blueberry Muffins

Nearly Fat Free Vegan Banana Bluberry Muffins

At school, my kids have been learning how to write poetry and recently we’ve been talking about similes. Tomorrow, I’m going to read them a book called My Dog is as Smelly as Dirty Socks . I think they’ll get as much of a kick out of it as I did. Since similes have been on my mind so much, here are a few that came to me when I made (and devoured) these vegan blueberry banana muffins:

As light as a croissant

As sweet as a strawberry picked fresh in June

As fluffy as angle food cake

As satisfying as early morning homemade pancakes

In case you were questioning whether you should make these muffins, well I’m telling you yes you should (they are nearly guilt free). If you do, you will be as happy as a child with a popsicle in hand. I know, I’ve got to stop thinking in similes. Until then, enjoy the recipe!

Nearly Fat Free Vegan Banana Blueberry Muffins:

*Adapted from Somer’s recipe for oil free banana muffins, which can be found on her blog Vedged Out (I used her awesome recipe as my base and added my own spin on it)

*Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients:

3 ripe bananas, peeled

1/2 cup of milk (I used almond milk)

1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar

1 tsp of vanilla

1/4 + 1/8 cup of sucanat (or brown sugar)

1 1/2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp of baking soda

1/2 tsp of salt

1 tsp of cinnamon (for the muffin batter)

3/4 cup of blueberries (frozen or fresh)

1 cup of oats (I used half rolled oats and half quick oats)

2 tbsp of maple syrup

1 tsp of coconut oil, melted

1/2 tsp of cinnamon (for muffin topping)

Method: 

1- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. I followed Somer’s recipe advice and blended all of my wet ingredients (and the sugar), which included the bananas, milk, apple cider vinegar, vanilla, and sugar. This was very fast and had such an easy clean up. I think I will be doing this again with other banana recipes!

2- Mix the dry ingredients separately and whisk them together to ensure that they are well combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and gently mix them with a spatula. When they are combined, fold in the blueberries.

3- Grease the muffin tins and fill each cup with about 1/4 cup of muffin mixture. Then make the muffin topping. Mix together the cinnamon, oil, maple syrup, and oats. Top each muffin with about 1 tbsp of the mix. Bake the muffins for about 20 to 25 minutes.

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Scones

Raspberry chocolate chip scones

Lately, I’ve undergone some major life changes, which have made writing seem difficult. It’s almost like these changes have created writer’s block. I almost wasn’t going to write this post, but then I watched a video of Neil Gaiman giving a speech at a commencement ceremony, which was posted on Change For a Year. It was then that I knew I couldn’t just stop writing even though the writing wasn’t coming and it wasn’t going to be the best writing. Sometimes you just have to keep going or as Neil Gaiman said “Make good art. Make it on the bays days. Make it on the good days too. And fifthly while you’re at it, make your art…The urge starting out is to copy and that’s not a bad thing. Most of us only find our own voices after we’ve sounded like a lot of other people. The one thing you have that nobody else has is you, your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.”

While this scone recipe is not completely my own, we all have to start somewhere. Someday I aspire to create my own scone recipes, but for now I’ll adapt the recipes of others until I get to that point.

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Scones: 

*Adapted from Shannon’s recipe for delicious blueberry scones found on her blog Move Eat Create (mine are also nearly identical to a Babycakes recipe – I think the only difference from mine and the Babycakes’ recipe is the chocolate chips)

Ingredients: 

*Makes 11 scones

2 cups whole spelt flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp of fine grain sea salt

1/3 cup of coconut oil, melted OR use Earth Balance’s Buttery Spread, melted (UPDATE: using the buttery spread produces a lighter and more flavorful scone than using coconut oil, as I recently found when making them again)

1/3 cup of light agave nectar

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup hot water

3/4 cup frozen or fresh raspberries

1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips

Method:

1- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2- Meanwhile, mix the dry ingredients and stir with a whisk to ensure they are well combined.

3- Then, after melting the 1/3 cup of coconut oil, combine the coconut oil, agave nectar, and vanilla extract. Stir once and then pour over the spelt mixture. Gently mix together.

4- Add the hot water and again gently mix until it’s combined (try not to over mix spelt flour).

5- Fold the chocolate chips and the raspberries into the batter. Use a 1/4 cup measure to spoon batter onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (to ensure that the scones will be the same size). Bake the scones for 15-20 minutes or until they are golden brown on top. These kept well in an air tight container for 3-4 days. I stored mine in the fridge and heated them in the microwave before eating. They taste great with fresh raspberry jam, if you have any on hand.

*If you missed my version of ginger peach scones, find the recipe here.

Vegan Coconut Macaroons In Four Flavors and the Thanksgiving of Ten Desserts

 Coconut macaroons 2 Coconut macaroons 3 Coconut macaroons 1

 About two Thanksgivings ago I ate ten desserts in that one day. Yes, I admit it. It happened and I certainly didn’t feel good afterwards, but the eating part was so wonderful I just couldn’t stop myself. I shoved my mouth full of my grandma’s ricotta cheesecake, pumpkin and apple pies, as well as many different types of cookies and cake. Now, I know that ten sounds like a lot, but I’m a grazer by nature. I like to nibble on lots of different types of foods. It wasn’t like I just plowed through ten full size desserts, though I must admit, that would be impressive. Really, what led me to eating my plateful(s) of mini-sized desserts and what also let me to bake four versions of coconut macaroons is my indecisiveness.

Who could make just one version? Certainly not me. Nope, I needed to make four and I’m sure I ate nearly half of them myself. I mean when you bring these things to a function (and they’re the only dessert there you can eat), you’re going to devour a bunch of them just because of how delicious they are. These macaroons hit the spot (all four versions). They were lightly crunchy on the outside and oh so moist on the inside. The citrus macaroons were refreshing, while on the other hand, the chocolate and chocolate chip ones were decadent. You choose or don’t and make multiple types of macaroons like I did (I certainly didn’t regret it, especially since these aren’t all that bad for you).

Coconut macaroons 4

Coconut macaroons:

*Adapted from the Coconut Macaroon Thumbprint Recipe found on Oh She Glows

*Makes 16-18 macaroons

Ingredients for citrus macaroons:

1 1/2 cups unsweetened finely shredded coconut

1 cup of almond flour/meal

1/4- 1/2 tsp of fine sea salt

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup of coconut butter, melted (I used Earth Balance Coconut Spread) *this is not the same as coconut oil

1/2 lemon juiced or 1 lime juiced (depending on the flavor you want)

zest of 1 lemon or lime, depending on the flavor you choose

Ingredients for chocolate and chocolate chip macaroons: 

1 1/2 cups unsweetened finely shredded coconut

1 cup of almond flour/meal

1/4- 1/2 tsp of fine sea salt

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup of coconut butter, melted (I used Earth Balance Coconut Spread) *this is not the same as coconut oil

1 tsp of vanilla extract

2 tbsp of mini chocolate chips or regular chocolate chips, chopped

*for the chocolate version add 4 tbsp of cocoa powder and 1 tbsp extra of maple syrup and top with cacao nibs (optional)

Method (same for all recipes): 

1- Preheat the oven to 275 degrees and cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Then combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Whisk them together. Then add in the syrup, the melted coconut oil, and any citrus juice or vanilla extract. Mix well. *If you are creating the chocolate version – add the extra maple syrup and the cocoa powder now.

2- Fold in the chocolate chips if creating the chocolate or chocolate chip macaroons. Then use a medium sized-melon baller to create even sized macaroons. Space them evenly apart on the cookie sheet (they don’t need too much room in between because they don’t spread at all).

3- Bake them for 20-22 minutes. They should be slightly crisp on the outside when you pull them out. Let them cool completely before serving (though I’m sure they would taste good warm too). Top the citrus macaroons each with a pinch of fresh zest.

These were delicious. I wouldn’t have made them if there wasn’t a special occasion because otherwise I would have eaten them all on my own. They were that good.

Ginger Peach Scones

Ginger peach scones

My love for scones came rather late in life. I have to admit that I only really began to enjoy them about two summers ago. Oh how I’ve missed out on these delicious baked goods. These ginger peach scones were just delicious- they were light, filled with flavor, and slightly moist. In short, they were everything a scone should be. No hockey pucks here. Just a tasty baked treat. As Shannon from Move Eat Create said, they make wonderful comfort food. I made them and then promptly ate two as soon as they came out of the oven. They were that irresistible   I had to start making up for all those scones I’ve missed out on eating over the years.

Almost ready for the oven!

Almost ready for the oven!

Ginger Peach Scones: 

*Adapted from Shannon’s recipe for delicious blueberry scones found on her blog Move Eat Create (originally adapted from a Babycakes recipe)

Ingredients: 

*Makes 9 scones

1 1/2 tsp of coconut oil (for sauteing the peaches)

1 1/2 cups of fresh or frozen peach slices

1 1/2 tsp of coconut sugar (or something similar to brown sugar)

1 tsp of freshly grated ginger (for the peaches)

2 cups whole spelt flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp of fine grain sea salt

1/3 cup of coconut oil, melted

1/3 cup of light agave nectar

1 tsp freshly grated ginger

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup hot water

Method: 

1- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then heat the one and a half teaspoons of coconut oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When its melted, add the peach slices. Turn them to allow for even cooking and to make sure both sides defrost evenly (if they are frozen). Allow the peaches to cook until they begin to soften (about 5 minutes). Then add the coconut sugar and the ginger. Stir and allow the mixture to cook for about 1-2 more minutes. Then take the peaches off the heat and allow them to cool.

2- Meanwhile, mix the dry ingredients and stir with a whisk to ensure they are well combined.

3- Then, after melting the 1/3 cup of coconut oil, combine the coconut oil, agave nectar, ginger, and vanilla extract. Stir once and then pour over the spelt mixture. Gently mix together.

4- Add the hot water and again gently mix until it’s combined (try not to over mix spelt flour).

5- Cut the peach slices into 1/2 inch chunks and fold them into the batter. Use a 1/4 cup measure to spoon batter onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (to ensure that the scones will be the same size). Bake the scones for 15-20 minutes or until they are golden brown on top. (If you had any juice left from sauteing the peaches, drizzle it over top of the scones). These kept well in an air tight container for 3-4 days. I stored mine in the fridge and heated them in the microwave before eating.

Ginger peach scones 3

My love for scones lives on. Especially when they are as light and fluffy as these. Feel free to post any of your favorite scone recipes and flavor combinations!

Goldilocks Takes Over My Kitchen & a Recipe for Crispy Banana-Walnut Granola

banana granola 1

Once upon a time, there lived a little girl from the suburbs who loved stories (and food – especially food). That little girl was me. Before bedtime, on most nights my dad would tell me a story. As he sat on my twin bed, me and my sister listened closely to the fairy tale or fable of choice. Usually, he told us Goldilocks and the three bears. While he told it over and over again as we were growing up, I never got tired of listening to it. I always giggled hearing him do the best little girl voice he could muster, when he was pretending to be Goldilocks.

That story has stuck with me over the years and today I felt like I was playing Goldilocks in my own kitchen. It all started off so innocently.

This morning, I didn’t want just any old box cereal for breakfast. I longed for crunchy banana-walnut granola. After arriving home from my 8 am eye doctor appointment, I set out for the ripe bananas in the kitchen. Then the fun began. After putting my banana slices in the oven, I started to mix the granola. As usual, it tasted delicious right from the bowl, even before even being baked. I could hardly contain my excitement and I soon rushed the banana chips out of the oven to put in the granola into the 400 degree oven.

Like a good little cook, I set the timer for 12 minutes. Then, I walked into the living room and saw my poodles modeling on the couch. I got distracted from my granola endeavor and immediately began taking pictures of the poodles. They looked so cute, the opportunity was hard to resist.

The poodles looking adorable. Max is the apricot-colored dog and Layla is the chocolate poodle.

The poodles looking adorable. Max is the apricot-colored dog and Layla is the chocolate poodle.

A few minutes later, in a fit of panic, I ran into the other room and remembered the granola was still cooking. I saw that the timer still had three minutes and breathed a sigh of relief. I opened the oven to peek and the feeling of relief began to melt away. The oats and nuts on the edges of the pan were quickly turning a dark brown. A burnt smell filled the room  as I threw open the oven door and hurled the baking sheet onto a pot holder covered table.

I looked at the contents of the pan sitting in front of me. I scraped off the darker granola from the sides and quickly discarded it. I tasted some from the center and deemed it good enough to eat.

Now this is when Goldilocks walks casually into the story. The granola wasn’t “just right.” I wanted to have a baby bear moment, when the crisp cereal tasted as I envisioned it. Instead, it was a tad over done. Last time, my granola was a little underdone. Will it ever be “just right?”

Next time, I will lower the heat and monitor it consistently to get it to that baby bear standard of being “just right.” For now, my slightly overdone granola will do. Don’t get me wrong, it was still good and the bites filled with apricot were delightful, but it wasn’t the baby bear granola I envisioned.

I guess in a way wanting something just right is a feeling everyone can relate to. Sometimes it takes a while to find that just-right fit. I certainly am still working on that goal career-wise and now I have an ambition to make perfectly-toasted granola. Someday I’ll get there. Hopefully I’ll achieve my granola goal sooner rather than later. Until then, read on for the recipe for banana-walnut granola.

banana crisps 1

Banana Walnut Granola: 

*Yields about 3 cups of granola (with the banana chips mixed in) /Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Banana Crisp Ingredients:

*Adapted from the lovely blog Something We Whipped Up (these crisps also make a great snack on their own, as this blogger found)

2 bananas, peeled and sliced

1 tsp of coconut oil, melted

1 tsp of agave nectar or maple syrup

1 tsp of coconut sugar or brown sugar (or just add another teaspoon of maple syrup instead)

1/2 tsp of cinnamon

Apricot-Walnut Granola Ingredients: 

1 1/4  cup of rolled oats (I used GF rolled oats)

1/4 cup of dried, unsweetened coconut flakes

1/4 cup of apricots, chopped

1/2 cup of walnuts, chopped

1 tsp of cinnemon

1 tbsp virgin coconut oil, melted

1/4 cup of pure maple syrup

1 tsp of vanilla extract

banana granola 2

My very crunchy granola.

Method: 

1- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. While the oven is heating, put a cooling rack inside of a baking pan. Then slice the bananas and mix all of the banana crisp ingredients together. When the bananas are well-coated, place a single layer of the slices on the cooling rack (look a few pictures above). Pop the pan into the oven and bake for about 30-35 minutes or until they begin to brown and crisp up.

1- In the meantime, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Then add your rolled oats, coconut, chopped walnuts, apricots, and cinnamon to a mixing bowl. Mix the dry ingredients together.

2- Melt the virgin coconut oil either in a small pan or in the microwave. Add the Coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla into a glass measuring cup. Stir once before pouring over the rolled oat mixture. Mix the oats with the wet ingredients, making sure all of the oats are coated.

3- Spread a thin layer of granola onto the parchment paper. When the banana crisps are done take them out and let them cool. Meanwhile bake the granola for 5 to 7 minutes at 400 degrees OR lower the heat to 325 degrees and bake for about 12 minutes, or until the granola begins to brown. Let the granola cool before using it (it will become crisper as it cools, it will still be slightly soft when it comes out of the oven – unless you over cook it like me!). Then toss in the banana chips and serve with your favorite nut milk and ground flax seeds!

I hope your version comes out more Goldilocks-approved than mine. Are there any recipes you’re still trying to get “just-right?”

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