real food. real life.
Yummmmm - so glad I finally got around to making homemade granola! It is so sweet and crunchy! And super, super easy. It will be so great as my 'cereal' tomorrow morning!
Since taking a serious look at our unnecessary purchases, a big chunk was from our grocery list. Over the past couple years, I have slowly eliminated buying anything pre-made that I couldn't make at home for cheaper. It has saved us, financially for sure, and also, we have learned so much about making food! Sadly, we have learned how much processing, extra sugars, and additives are included in packaged food that doesn't need to be there. A few items we no longer buy, but make, are bread, tomato sauce, hummus, salad dressings, sweet and spicy sauces, dry pasta, canned beans, and cereal. There's still so many more I could explore - mayonnaise, yogurt, ketchup... So much to learn!
Anyway, sticking with the idea of no longer buying cereal, I was okay with this for a while, enjoying peanut butter toast, pancakes, eggs, oatmeal. But lately, I've been really missing a nice bowl of crunchy cereal and cold milk. (Almond milk) I used to eat it every morning before work. It's been awhile and I miss it! So, insert substitute for crunchy cereal - GRANOLA!
Who doesn't love granola? It's sweet, crunchy, versatile, can be a meal or snack! So good.
Here's the recipe I used to create my first, successful batch of granola. Using natural sweeteners, I eased in with only adding almond and sunflower seeds. There are so many other options though! Dried fruit (watch for added sugars here, though), other seeds and nuts, coconut flakes. Use honey, coconut sugar. Lots of options.
Total time: 5 min prep + 30-45 minute baking
3 cups rolled oats, old fashioned style
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
What to do:
1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees fahrenheit. Grease large cookie sheet (with sides).
2) Mix together oats, cinnamon, sea salt, almonds, seeds and any other nuts/seeds you are using.
3) In a small dish, combine maple syrup and oil. Add to the oat mixture. Stir well to combine so that all pieces are coated.
4) Spread evenly on greased baking pan. Bake in oven for 30-45 minutes, until golden brown. Stir once, around the 20 minute mark.
5) Remove from oven but let sit in pan, cooling, for another 15 minutes or so to let it crisp up even more. Then remove from pan, adding in any dried fruit, if any, at this point. Store in an airtight container, in the refrigerator. Yum!
Ok, if you're ignoring that slow cooker/crock pot in the bag of your cupboard or you don't have one, for no real major reason, dig it out and start with this recipe! Seriously easy and it makes the best chilli. And HEALTHY! I promise! I think that's why I didn't use the slow cooker before - I had only ever seen recipes for slow cookers that used pre-packaged ingredients like a can of soup over chicken, or ketchup, sugar, soy sauce, etc. to make sweet and spicy sauces. I knew I couldn't eat that stuff and so I thought that's what slow cookers did.
They are, honestly, awesome for making your supper for you. I don't use it a lot, because I love chopping, stirring, sautéing, over the hot stove. But for days when you know suppertime is going to be rushed and probably not 'together as a family', use a slow cooker! Give yourself a bit of time in the morning to get things in the pot and then set to low. By dinner time, your house smells amazing, supper is ready, and your meal is bursting with flavour as it's been slowly steeping all day!
For this chilli, I used all the ingredients I would use otherwise over the stove. The only extra prep work that I did was cooking the meat in a pan before putting in the slow cooker. Then just topped it with all the rest of the ingredients, stirred, cover on.
All day, as piano and tutoring students came and went, I got comments about how amazing dinner smelled.
I'm definitely a fan of the slow cooker now. No more ignorance. It's amazing.
Total Time: 10 minutes prep + 6--8 hours in the slow cooker on low
Ground Pork - or any ground meat - OR MEAT FREE! - I don't use a lot, usually half of the small package at the grocery store... not sure how much that really is. Sorry, lack of measuring...
Veggies of choice - we used 1 half sweet pepper, 1/2 cup frozen corn, 1 handful of spinach.
1 can diced tomatoes + 1 can water
1 can tomato paste
1 organic chicken or vegetable bouillon (or just omit and use water, or omit water/bouillon and use stock)
1 can kidney beans, rinsed
Spices - I don't tend to measure, but it should work out to about 1 tablespoon of chilli powder, garlic powder and cumin, 1 teaspoon cilantro... also optional: hot pepper flakes.
2-3 Bay leaves
Dash of sea salt/pepper
Also, just for fun, in this recipe I added: 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/8 cup maple syrup... yes, I know, totally random, but I did and it make the chilli not as spicy but sweeter, I loved it!
What to do:
1) Cook meat until no longer pink in a pan before adding to slow cooker.
2) Add all other ingredients. Give a little stir. Place cover on top and set to low for 6-8 hours. Chilli should smell delicious and should be saucy. Yummmmm, Enjoy!
Today's recipe post is brought to you by.... the lack of tomato sauce in our freezer and the half-cooked supper that I had already started!
Haha, sorry, not very inspirational, I know, but it's the truth, folks!
And, like usual, the tastiest dishes, at least for me, just like my teaching, are the ones I didn't plan! It turned out tasting yummy! With no plan in place, it turned out great. I say just like my teaching because, as my good friend and talented teacher mama Meghan knows, the best lessons in the classroom are the ones you don't plan for. Those amazing teachable moments where something completely random takes you way from the planned activity and leaves you in a wonderfully deep and meaningful discussion or activity that, at least you think, makes a lasting impression on the kiddos.
I can also give credit to my awesome farm share from TapRoot Farms for providing us those frozen basil pucks! They are so useful!! Just a mix of basil and oil, frozen into a puck-sized portion. Added to any recipe, gives the taste of fresh basil without really having fresh basil... because, well, let's face it, the weather here is nowhere near providing us with fresh basil...
Here's the recipe from last night's impromptu awesomeness! Pretty easy, and the add-ins are optional, honestly, because I was really just planning to make a basic tomato & pasta meal... change of plans! :)
Total Time: 20 minutes
Pasta of choice (Lee's favourite is penne, it worked well)
1-2 lemons - depending on size, and honestly, the more the better!
1 basil/oil frozen puck! Or, about 1/2 cup finely chopped basil & olive oil as needed
1-2 garlic cloves, minced, or about 1-2 tsp garlic powder
sea salt/pepper to taste
1 small onion, finely chopped
Optional add-ins (as seen in pic)
Chicken, Pork, Steak, or Sausage (We had italien sausage)
Snow peas would be good, I think!
What to do:
1) Boil water for pasta.
2) While water is heating up, heat a drizzle or two of oil in the pan over medium heat (deep dish pan works great for pasta dishes!). If adding meat, cook this first in the pan until no longer pink. If not, start with the next step.
3) Add onion and garlic to the pan, and maybe a bit more oil if needed to avoid sticking too much. Stir around the pan for about 3-4 minutes until it's smelling amazing! Using the outside skin of a lemon and a zester, sprinkle about a tsp worth of lemon zest into the mixture. Stir around. Then add the basil puck or basil/extra oil and stir around until you've created this green oily mess! Haha, seriously.
3) Add other veggies now, if using. Stir around until greens wilt, tomatoes become soft, etc. Turn heat to low.
4) While this is happening, you should be cooking the pasta. If the pasta is still cooking, maybe remove the other pan from the heat to not overcook. Once pasta is done and drained, add to the pan with the onions, garlic, basil, etc. Stir around, turn heat to medium-low.
5) Cut lemons in half and squeeze, squeeze, squeeze overtop the pasta dish! Stir, squeeze, stir, squeeze, until you just can't squeeze anymore! Test a noodle and decide if you'd like to add sea salt/pepper for more flavour. I added a few shakes of each. Should taste lemony but sweet with the basil. Oh, so yummy, and kind of springy! Enjoy!
We really cooked these things. From scratch. On weeknights. And we even had time to do the dishes.
They have real, simple ingredients that you'll find in your cupboards. They're healthy and delicious. No lies.
Thanks for reading. Leave a comment below!
Here's a pic of me and my babies. Just because.
A Bit About Me...