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Blonde Brownies

My kids had a piano recital Monday night and they asked if we could go out for frozen yogurt after, but we had just did that last weekend after another special event and taking out a family of 7 for FroYo is not cheap. So I asked them what would be a good in-home alternative and they requested these Blondies. I’ve had this recipe for years and years and we’ve made it multiple times and love it, but because it does have quite a bit of sugar, I save it for special occasions or when we’re going to share it with a crowd.

I like to bake these in my 11×7 inch rectangular pan (2.2 quart) because they cook very evenly and turn out looking beautiful with very few breaks/cracks. But I have also made it in my 8×8 and it works, but I like the way they look better when they come out of the 11×7. So just putting that out there. You could also double this recipe and stick it in a 9×13 pan.

I’ve used both coconut oil and butter in this recipe and both turn out fabulous. Just make sure they are softened when you cream them together with the sugar (10 seconds in the microwave should do it if they’re pretty firm).

For the flour, I wouldn’t try and go all whole wheat, I’d stick with the half and half as I have it in the recipe. If you’ve ever tried this in a chocolate chip cookie recipe, you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say they don’t quite look or taste the same. But half and half in this recipe works beautifully.

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Blonde Brownies
*makes 12 bars

1/4 c coconut oil or butter, softened
1 c brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c whole white wheat flour
1/2 c white flour (I like to use an unbromated white)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 c chocolate chips (or white chocolate or butterscotch)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 11×7 inch pan (2.2 quart); can use 8×8 but they bake a little more evenly in the 11×7 and there is less breaking/cracking. In a large mixing bowl, combine softened coconut oil and brown sugar. Using a hand mixer, beat until blended. Beat in egg and vanilla. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour, baking powder and salt and mix together. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread into your greased pan. Bake about 25 minutes until light golden. Cut into 12 bars. Eat warm or, once cooled, cover and save to eat within a day or two.

*These freeze well in a freezer ziploc bag.

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Eating healthy while traveling 

We are currently driving home from Washington, where we travel each year to visit my family. It’s about a 14 hour drive from our house, one way, without stops. We don’t stop much, just to fill up the gas tank at which time we use the restrooms, and maybe we’ll get one meal at a gas station (subway or something similar) and that’s about it. But even then, that’ll still add about 1-2 hours time when 7 people need to use the bathroom :). 

Because we mostly don’t stop for meals, and because I don’t want us to feel gross when we arrive from eating  junky snack foods, we have learned to pack some healthier foods that we enjoy  and that travel well. 

First off, the only thing we drink is water, unless I also pack a little green smoothie for myself if we’re leaving super early in the morning. Everyone has their own water bottle, plus we bring a gallon of water for refills. 

Sometimes we will pack pb&j sandwiches (whole wheat, natural pb, fruit sweetened jelly) for something more substantial, but since we just drove to Grand Canyon the week before, and that’s what we brought then, the kids were kinda done with sandwiches, so instead I packed some protein bars I know they like, which we don’t buy often because they’re not really a whole food with their many ingredients, some of which are hard to pronounce which means it’s not really a food, but it’s okay for sometimes ;). If we had more time, I would’ve made some granola bars or muffins, but as we are moving soon, time is hard to come by and some of my kitchen stuff is already packed; but that would be another good option (if you need recipes, search under the snacks heading on my recipe tab). 
There are several of us in the family that get motion sick, and I’ve found that snacking on Cheerios (and/or smelling an orange essential oil, and keeping my gaze directed forward) helps to settle my stomach. Now, you can find better Cheerios than these with less ingredients, but we were in a time crunch and didn’t want to travel to a health food store and these are still better than most, so we made do. 

If you, like me, get the munchies on road trips, blueberries are perfect. I’ll eat a handful or put some in a plastic cup and slowly snack while we drive.

If you like roasted seaweed sheets, those are another perfect munchies food. They’re not filling, they’re good for you and super low calorie so you could eat a whole package and be fine. Apples are another fruit we always bring because they travel so well. Bananas on the other hand, get soft and bruised pretty fast so I only bring those if I know we will eat them within the first hour or so. 

These Aussie bites are another more substantial snack. I will usually eat one or two at a time and am good for a bit. Most of the ingredients on the Aussie bites are really good, they are filled with lots of different whole grains. And Scott and I think they’re very yummy; we find them at Costco. 
Rice cakes are another good traveling food, as are cashews, pistachios, sunflower seeds (the shelled ones help my Hubby stay awake  when driving) all nuts really, grapes and the kids always enjoy it when we pack some gum. It’s nice to pack some fun things, but it’s also nice to feel well when we travel and when we arrive and these foods have worked well for us. I hope this helps you as you get ready for your travels! 

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Eggs

Two posts in one week, and in fact, in one day which is not normal for me! That’s because I didn’t have this recipe ready for this morning, when I normally post, so I used another one, but I still wanted to share this with you before Easter since it’s a fun, festive treat that is SO yummy(and a healthier version than the store bought kind)! I made these chocolate peanut butter eggs yesterday and they are sitting in the freezer just waiting to be eaten in a few days, on Easter Sunday :). I covered half of them in white chocolate and half in carob…I would have used chocolate instead of carob but I didn’t have any on hand.

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I made half with creamy and half with crunchy peanut butter and liked them both. The crunchy peanut butter container was full which meant it was pretty oily which made those ones take a little longer to freeze, but they still worked great.

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Once they were all covered in chocolate and I let them freeze for about ten minutes, I pulled them out and individually wrapped them into saran wrap since we want individual servings for the kids to throw in their Easter baskets on Easter morning. Once wrapped in plastic, I put them all into a gallon ziploc bag and stuck them back into the freezer which is the best way to store them.

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THE RECIPE:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Eggs
*makes 12 eggs

1 c natural peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
4 Tbsp pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp whole wheat flour (or coconut flour if gluten free)
1/4 tsp sea salt

1 c white chocolate chips (can also use dark chocolate chips, dairy free, or carob chips; if using unsweetened chips, add 1/4 c pure maple syrup to your melted chips and coconut oil)
2 tsp coconut oil

In a medium bowl, combine the peanut butter, maple syrup, flour and salt. Mix well. Use a spoon to scoop the batter into 12 balls on a small cookie sheet lined with a piece of parchment or wax paper . Use your hands to shape the dough into an ‘egg’ shape(they can be almost touching). Place them in the freezer and allow to chill about an hour. Once peanut butter mix is frozen, melt the chocolate chips (on stove over med-low heat or in microwave safe dish for 30 seconds at a time and then stirring in between) and stir in coconut oil. Remove the peanut butter eggs from the freezer and using a fork, dip each one into the chocolate and flip to cover completely.  Lift the fork and gently tap the edge of the bowl to allow any excess to drip back into the bowl. Return the chocolate eggs to the parchment paper and spoon any additional chocolate over the tops for a thicker coating, if you like. Allow to set in the freezer for at least 10 minutes before serving. For best consistency, store and serve directly from freezer; once frozen you can move to a gallon ziploc bag to save space.

*Because I wanted these stored in individual servings for my kids for Easter, once all covered in chocolate and frozen, I wrapped each one in plastic wrap and then put them in the ziploc bag. Easter morning once the kids are looking for their baskets, I will put one inside each basket.

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Strawberry Cream Smoothie

We like to have this smoothie for dessert on the weekend or any other time we’re feeling like having something sweet.

2016-03-14 14.15.59 It only takes a few minutes to make which I love, and I always have these ingredients on hand (I buy my dates from Costco because they are cheaper there than any other place I’ve looked). Put your milk, frozen strawberries, pitted dates and vanilla in your blender and blend until smooth. Serve immediately.

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THE RECIPE:

Strawberry Cream Smoothie
*serves 2; makes about 12 oz

1 c unsweetened almond milk (can use another milk)
1 1/2 c frozen strawberries
2 dates, pitted
1/2 tsp vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

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Alfalfa Sprouts

Sprouts are one of the most powerful foods for cellular regeneration(restoration and renewal) and health. Their nutrients are extremely easy for your body to use and they are full of antioxidants, protein, enzymes and minerals. Sprouts are an amazing food that you should be including in your diet! They’ve become a staple in our home which I like to eat on sandwiches, on salads and in my green smoothies.

Sprouts are easy to make, not fast because they have to grow over a few days times, but easy and you don’t need a sproutmaster to make your own sprouts. All you need are alfalfa seeds(they last a long time because you only sprout 1 Tbsp of seeds), 2016-02-23 14.18.57a quart sized jar, and a screen repair patch (you can buy a small screen repair patch for really cheap; here is a pack of five on amazon for $3.50 and free shipping). Cut your screen to be the same size as the circular lid on  your quart jar and use that in place of the lid. You won’t need that lid anymore, just the ring that goes around the lid.

 

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Put 1 Tbsp alfalfa seeds in your jar and fill the jar with filtered water; I put in about 3 cups water. Put the screened lid on top and allow the seeds to soak on your counter overnight or for about 12 horus.

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Stand over the sink and with the screen on tight, dump the water out. Pour water in the jar, about half full, and swish the water around with the seeds, by moving your hand in a circular motion, drain the water and place the jar on it’s side. You will rinse and drain 2 times a day for 3-5 days until your sprouts have grown long tails and are ready to eat.

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Once they look about like this, they are ready to eat. You no longer need to rinse and you can store them in your fridge for a week or two.

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Sprouts are a great addition to salad,

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to sandwiches like my open faced avocado sandwich, and in smoothies!

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Alfalfa Sprouts

1 Tbsp alfalfa seeds
3 c filtered water
quart sized jar with screen (read above for description on how to make this)

Put 1 Tbsp alfalfa seeds in a quart sized jar and add water. Put lid on and allow seeds to soak on counter overnight (about 12 hours). Drain water and place jar on it’s side on the counter. Twice a day, for about 4 days, you will rinse your seeds with water (swish them around in a circular motion), drain water, and place jar back on it’s side. After a couple of days, you’ll notice little sprouts beginning to form and after a couple of more days they will have grown full size. The sprouts will fill up this quart jar. After 4 days, transfer the jar to the fridge to store and use within the next week or two.

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Shopping at Costco and Sprouts

Happy New Year! I’m one of those people who likes to regularly set new goals for myself, but at the beginning of a New Year, I actually write those goals down and take extra thought and planning into how I’m going to accomplish those goals. I’ll share a couple of those with you today, that deal with health/nutrition. Besides maintaining my current exercise program that I’ve done for years now, I also want to be better about eating a lot more vegetables and greens(with every meal and snack), less sugar, and not eating so often. Ideally, I’d like to have my three meals, one of which is a green smoothie(and which I’ve been having daily for 5+ years now), and one snack; I used to have two snacks, but I don’t feel like I really need it, I just like it :). I’m currently reading and listening to, The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder, CN, which I am loving and which is helping me understand the science behind how our bodies work and the why’s and when’s and how’s of the foods we put into our body. I’m also having fun experimenting with her recipes in the back of the book; I’ve just borrowed it from our library but I may need to purchase a copy for my personal library.

Now, onto the subject of my post. People often want to know  what I have in my fridge, pantry, and food storage and where I buy these things for the best price. I did my best to write down staples  from the stores I shop at most often, but I’m sure I’m forgetting some things. It’s important to me to have these items on hand and in my storage because it makes cooking and eating whole foods that much easier, when you’re prepared and stocked. Before we go into that list, here’s a quick look at our food storage:

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From top to bottom: Spelt(LOVE this grain; usually do 50/50 with wheat which helps cooked foods  be not so dense and heavy had you just used only wheat ), almond milk, puffed brown rice cereal, Izze drinks for special occasions, Unbromated white flour (used sparingly), molasses, olive oil, coconut oil, pure maple syrup, powdered sugar (I decorate cakes), coconut sugar, rice cakes, vital wheat gluten(for bread making), spices, raisins, brown rice, applesauce, popcorn kernels, parmesan cheese, marinated artichokes, corn tortillas, canned beans and coconut milk, marinara sauce, natural peanut butter, almond butter, almonds, triscuits, canned fruit and tomatoes, more marinara, pasta and on the floor are big buckets of oats and whole wheat berries.

The two stores where I do most of my grocery shopping are Costco and Sprouts. Here is a list of the items I generally buy from those stores:

Costco Buys:

almond butter
peanut butter
wheat buckets
oat buckets
whole wheat bread
coconut oil
olive oil
organic cane sugar
parmesan cheese
marinara sauce (no sugar!)
diced tomatoes
canned corn
tomato sauce
spices
vanilla
nuts: almonds, cashews, peanuts, walnuts, pecans, sliced almonds
short grain brown rice
raisins
pure maple syrup
artichokes
raw honey (just the small bottles for drizzling on sandwiches. I buy a big 60 lb bucket from a local bee keeper for baking)
toilet paper
dish soap
laundry soap
Quinoa
salsa

lettuce
almond milk
eggs (no hormones and antibiotics, vegetarian fed, cage free)
2 lb block of cheese ($5) cheddar and mozzarella
vegetable bouillon
spinach, chard, kale mix
rotisserie chicken (large, already cooked, $5; no hormones)
boneless, skinless chicken (no hormones)
butter
frozen berries
hummus
plain yogurt
minced garlic
feta cheese
pesto

Sprouts Buys:
all produce besides greens (I love all of it! and it’s so inexpensive!)
popcorn kernels
chia seeds
flax seeds
pepitas
lentils
carob chips(Chatfield brand)
puffed kamut, brown rice and millet cereal
spelt (sometimes here or sometimes through a website: azure standard, which is usually cheaper)
unsweetned coconut
coconut sugar
spices
Bragg’s liquid aminos (soy sauce substitute)
rice cakes
Friday night treats from the bulk section (we love the lemon covered almonds and the strawberry Aussie licorice; my hubs loves the dark chocolate covered peanuts)

I should have organized my fridge and pantry shelves before I took these pictures, but I didn’t, so you get it just as I see it everyday :). We go through a lot of produce so that’s mostly what the bottom half of our fridge contains, along with some eggs and plain yogurt. The top half has salsa, almond milk and whole cow’s milk, parmesan cheese, almond and peanut butter, hummus, home made chicken stock, pure maple syrup, and various leftovers including black beans, indian brown rice and coconut curry, and oatmeal. On the door we have some fruit sweetened jelly’s, feta cheese, lime and lemon juice, butter, cream cheese, curry paste, minced garlic, coconut water, banana peppers, mayo, hot sauce, newman’s own olive oil and vinegar dressing, ketchup (no high fructose corn syrup), artichokes and a yam.

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In this cabinet I have a shelf with lots of quart and pint sized jars with various grains, seeds etc that I buy from sprouts in their bulk section.

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And Here’s our pantry…sorry I had to do it in two pictures because I couldn’t fit both top and bottom in one picture. Also, not pictured is my big bucket of honey and my big bucket of oats which I keep in my kitchen behind my counter, and my produce that I keep on the counter with avocados, bananas, oranges and more apples. In the pictures below we have my wheat bucket, peanut butter, raisins, triscuits, whole wheat bread, peanuts, corn tortillas, homemade granola, sliced amonds, popcorn kernels, dates, chopped dates, quinoa, spelt, brown rice, puffed brown rice cereal, carob powder, coconut sugar…basically a lot of the stuff that’s down in my food storage.

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I hope this helps you get an idea for some whole foods items to keep on hand which will make cooking and eating whole foods easier.

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Oriental Marinated Chicken

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This is an easy chicken marinade that goes so well over rice and we love it the most when we also serve it with a peanut sauce. I use Bragg’s Liquid Aminos which is a soy sauce alternative, but feel free to use what you have. Put your defrosted, raw, sliced chicken into a gallon ziploc bag or glass tupperware dish etc, add in the soy sauce, olive oil, garlic, molasses and red pepper flakes, mix around, close it up and allow it to sit and soak in those flavors for 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil (for super easy clean up), and place chicken on foil with a little space in between pieces, and cook until done and no longer pink, about 15-20 minutes if sliced thin.

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Oriental Marinated Chicken

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, thawed, sliced into thin, small pieces
1/2 c Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or soy sauce
1/2 c olive oil
1 1/2 tsp(3 cloves) minced garlic
1 Tbsp molasses
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Soak chicken in marinade mixture for several hours or overnight, in a large ziploc bag or covered glass dish. Cook on a foil-lined baking sheet with a rim (so marinade doesn’t drip onto oven) at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until done.

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Real Food Christmas Holiday Favorites

Since this week is Christmas, I decided to gather up some old favorites from this blog that would make great Christmas Eve and Christmas Day foods. We have a lot of ancestors from Italy and Mexico and so we like to serve traditional foods from those countries for Christmas Eve and Christmas day dinner which opens up conversations about our heritage and family traditions and stories. This year we’re making tamales for Christmas Day dinner which I’m excited about because although it’s been years since I’ve made them, I remember making them with my mom, aunt and sisters on Christmas. I don’t have that recipe posted here yet, but I should have it available soon. Another traditional Mexican food that we make often and love are these enchiladas. This is my dad’s recipe, who was born and raised in Mexico and who owned his own Mexican restaurant in Seattle for awhile. The sauce is made from scratch and is simpler than you’d think. This would be a wonderful Christmas dinner.

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Homemade whole wheat pizza is a family favorite and since we have Italian in our heritage as well, this is another Christmas favorite. This year we’re going to use this same pizza dough recipe and make stromboli for Christmas Eve dinner.

Cinnamon rolls Christmas morning are a family tradition. I love this recipe and I make them ahead, the day before, so that I can enjoy Christmas morning with my family.

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Quiche would be another good breakfast food to have Christmas morning. You could make the pie dough crust the day before, scramble up your eggs and keep them in a container, along with any other ingredients you want to add to the quiche (grated cheese, cubed ham, chopped spinach, broccoli etc), and then Christmas morning, dump everything together and bake while you open gifts. You can find my Quiche recipe here with a yummy whole wheat crust.

This candied nut green salad,

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and this holiday quinoa salad would be great with a variety of dinners.

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A pretty, and tasty, green side of Asparagus with Parmesan.

These candied pecans are a great sweet snack that are sweetened with pure maple syrup.

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This peanut butter popcorn sweetened with brown rice syrup and coconut sugar is divine!

We love these peanut butter cups. They are a nice treat to have on hand(can make ahead too!) that won’t make you feel too guilty for eating since they’re made with real food ingredients.

These almond blonde brownies are not only delicious, but they’re good for you too! Ground flax, whole wheat flour, almond butter to name a few, and they are sweetened with raw honey.

And you could finish off with these glazed maple pecan cookies! So yum!

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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Granola

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This granola is crunchy and has so many clusters, I love it! I learned a couple of new tricks recently that can make just about any granola recipe crunchy and filled with flusters which I’ll share in the recipe below! I love granola. My family loves granola. I love that I can have a small bowl of granola and fill satisfied because of the high nutrition content. It’s full of nuts, oats, and seeds. Oats give you that satiated feeling, nuts are high in protein and good fats and flax is high in fiber and the omega-3 essential fatty acids. I use raw, local honey in this recipe. Raw honey contains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Raw, local honey seems to help both my husband and I with our seasonal allergies which makes sense since it’s coming from bees that are local and the honey will have some particles of pollen from local plants. This granola is so yummy by itself as a snack, or with a little milk, or, my personal favorite, with some plain greek yogurt and a little agave, and sometimes I’ll throw in a few blueberries! I know this recipe is large, but we have seven family members, and most of us eat it either every morning for breakfast or as a snack.  We go through this amount in about 7-10 days. You can easily halve this recipe if you’re single or have a smaller family. It’ll stay fresh for a week on the pantry shelf or a couple of weeks in the fridge. Alright, let’s get started! 

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Line two large jelly rolls pans (cookie sheet with edges), or a roaster pan, with parchment paper. It is important that you line with parchment because we do not stir the granola part way through cooking, because this will allow clusters to form. We also cook it for a long time which means if you skip the parchment, your granola will most likely stick to the pan and the edges will burn. Once they are lined, set them aside.

In a small saucepan over low-medium heat, warm up oil, honey, vanilla and pure maple syrup. You don’t need to watch it carefully, unless you turn the heat higher than what I’ve mentioned, and you don’t need to stir it much, we’re just wanting to melt all the liquids together.  IMG_1812 IMG_1814 Get all your dry ingredients out. I buy some of my nuts prechopped for convenience but if they’re not, you’ll want to chop up your nuts and seeds. I buy my nuts from Costco, and a lot of the other ingredients from this recipe you can get from Costco as well like the flax, coconut oil, honey, syrup, cinnamon, and vanilla(salt is pictured below because I used to put it in, but it’s totally not necessary and I never use it anymore). IMG_1813 I used my high power blender to chop my nuts and seeds more when we had a baby in the house who ate granola because it chops it pretty fine, and very fast. Now, I mostly use my pampered chef chopper. When using my blender, I pulse it about 2 or three times(just for a second each), shake it, and then pulse it again one or two times. IMG_1819 My kids don’t like raisins so I just throw a few in my own personal bowl but you can definitely bake this with raisins, if you like; or you can add them in after it’s all done baking if you want your raisins to stay nice and soft. IMG_1820 Pour the oil mixture over everything and then stir it well to combine. IMG_1822 Divide the granola between your two pans.

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We cook this granola low and slow to help prevent burning since we’re not stirring. Bake it in the oven for about 45 minutes on the middle rack. My kids don’t like raisins so I just throw a few in my own personal bowl but you can definitely bake this with raisins, if you like. Allow the granola to cool completely before stirring so that the clusters will hold better. Break up the granola and eat immediately or store in an airtight container on your pantry for a week or a couple of weeks in your fridge. IMG_1828 IMG_1858 IMG_1868 THE RECIPE:

Granola

*makes about 20 cups

12 c rolled regular oats
2 c crisp or puffed brown rice cereal (or puffed red wheat or kamut)
1 c ground flax (Costco has a big bag; refrigerate after opening)
2 c raw nuts, chopped (I like sliced almonds, cashews, pecans and walnuts)
1/2 c seeds, chopped (I like pepitas and sunflower seeds)
1 c shredded unsweetened coconut (found at health food stores or Winco)
3 Tbsp cinnamon (depending on how much you like cinnamon)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (optional)
1 c coconut oil (can do 1/2 olive oil or butter)
1 c honey (raw if possible)
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/4 c pure maple syrup
1 c raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees and line two large jelly roll pans (cookie sheet with edges), or a roaster pan with parchment paper. We cook this low and slow with no stirring, and the parchment keeps the granola from sticking to the pan.  In a medium saucepan over low-medium heat, combine oil, honey, vanilla, and syrup to melt together. Combine oats, flax, coconut, cereal, nuts, seeds, ground spices, and raisins(optional) to your large, parchment-lined, roasting pan (or just in a large mixing bowl if you don’t have a roasting pan) and mix together. Pour melted liquids over oat mixture and stir very well until thoroughly combined. Spread out in both pans and bake at 250 degrees for about 45 minutes or until golden brown. In order to get the crunchy granola clusters, we don’t stir the granola until it has cooked the entire 45 minutes AND you have allowed it to cool completely, at which time you can break up the granola into smaller clusters.  Store in an airtight container on pantry for a week or in fridge for a couple of weeks. Wonderful snack all on it’s own, also great served with plain greek yogurt sweetened with a little agave, or some almond milk. 

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Dinner Rolls

We’ve lived here in Colorado for over a year now and I’m learning that the weather can change quite drastically from day to day, or even hour to hour. You might have rain and thunderstorms in the afternoon, and then 15 minutes later the skies are clear and blue. You might get several feet of snow one day, and the next day it’s 65 degrees, all the snow has melted away and kids are running around at the park in t-shirts. One thing that stays pretty constant here in Colorado is the sun. The sun comes out most days. On average, Denver gets 250 days of sun in a year. That is a stark contrast to where I grew up, in the Pacific North West, where we get, on average, 58 days of sun in a year; it’s basically one season all year, which is overcast skies with a light drizzle and about 60 degrees :); This postcard is fairly accurate :):

I love Seattle, I love the green and the mildness of the weather, but now that I live in Colorado, I’m loving Colorado weather and I love that Colorado gets all four seasons; which is similar to Utah, where we lived for nearly 10 years while we went to BYU and then during our early married years. We’ve recently had several crisp ‘Fall’ days, scattered between many warm and sunny days, and so I’ve taken advantage of those crisp, cool days by cooking up different soups and chilies(and muffins and various pumpkin foods :)). I’ll share a couple of those recipes soon, but today I want to post a super soft and yummy dinner roll recipe that we serve with our soups and chilies and that I think you’ll enjoy, and which would be great with Thanksgiving dinner next month!

I love these rolls because not only are they amazingly soft and tasty, but they don’t have any white flour and I can freeze half the dough and then pull it out on a day when I don’t have time to make homemade rolls, like on Thanksgiving (because I’m cooking up a million other things) and many other days of the week. Because the foods we eat are whole foods, mostly from scratch, in order to be successful, I like to plan ahead of time, what we’ll be having during the week so I know what to prepare and when.  I plan our menu around my calendar for that week. Which days are the busiest when I have church meetings and kids to bring to soccer and piano? Which days are busy mostly around dinner time and the couple hours leading up to dinner? If there are days when I’m only home for a short time, I’ll throw something in the crockpot in the morning so it’s ready once we’re home for dinner. For me, nearly every day is busy during the couple of hours leading up to dinner because I have five kids, and they’re all home by 330 and I like to visit with them and help them with homework and piano and getting snacks. Because of that, I do a lot of my dinner prep in the morning or when my 2-year-old is napping; cutting veggies, making a salad, starting rice in the rice cooker, or beans or chicken in the crockpot etc.  If I have a day where I’ll be home more, that’s probably the day where I’ll make rolls because they’re a yeast bread and even though they’re not terribly difficult, they do require some time.

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I didn’t take a picture of all the ingredients so if you want an ingredient list, scroll down to the bottom where I’ve posted the recipe.  Let’s get started. Over medium heat in a medium saucepan, melt your butter and add your sugar, stirring well to combine.

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Add the whole milk(you want whole because this will help with the lightness of the roll and the flavor) and water. I like to watch the temperature with a candy thermometer. If you don’t have one, you should. They’re very inexpensive, I think a few bucks at Walmart and it’ll save you the pain of having to start a recipe over again because you killed the yeast. You want this mixture to get to about 110 degrees f. Once it’s there, remove it from the heat and set aside.

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In your Bosch with the dough hooks attached, add 3 c of whole white wheat flour and 1/2 c ground flax. If you don’t have flax, that’s fine, you can just use another 1/2 c whole white wheat flour. I like to add flax in random things to get more omega-3 fat, but it’ll taste the same with or without the flax.

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Add milk mixture and yeast and mix to combine. Cover and let stand about 5 minutes to allow the yeast to activate. You should get puffy bubbles like below. If you don’t, let it sit another 5 minutes. If you’re yeast is still not doing it’s job and puffing up, your yeast may be old and not working and you’ll want to buy new yeast start over again. Just a little tip, I buy the big thing of yeast from Costco, divide it in half into two quart-sized Ziploc freezer bags, and store them in my freezer, just taking out what I need when I need it.

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Add the remaining 3 cups of wheat flour and enough spelt flour that the dough will begin to stick to itself and clean the inside of the bowl. Don’t add too much flour because the rolls won’t be as light and fluffy. The spelt is the key to getting these whole grain rolls to not be as dense as 100% whole wheat rolls. If you don’t have spelt flour, white flour will do the same thing.

Put your bowl in a warm place and cover with a clean towel; let it rise about an hour.

Punch down dough. Lightly flour your work surface and then divide the dough in half. If you’re going to want all 24 rolls all at once, then spray two 9×13 glass pans with cooking spray. If you only need half that amount, spray one 9×13 pan and then get out a small cookie sheet which you will use to put the other half of your rolls on, close together, to freeze the dough for another day(half size cookie sheet if you have it so that it’s taking up less space in your freezer). Divide your first portion of dough into 12 equal sized pieces and form into a ball shape and place on your prepared pans. I use my kitchen scale to ensure rolls are the same size, but if you don’t have one, just eye ball it; or roll it out into a rectangle and then cut into 12 pieces with a pizza cutter to give you more even sizes. If you’re freezing rolls, cover those rolls (which are on a small cookie sheet) with plastic wrap and put in the freezer. Allow them to sit in freezer for at least an hour on the cookie sheet before you take them off and put them into a gallon ziploc for longer storage (a month or so). I will be making these rolls several times over the next month and freezing the other half, so come Thanksgiving morning, I can just pull my frozen homemade rolls out in the morning to thaw and they’ll be ready for Thanksgiving dinner.

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Don’t forget to label your bag of frozen rolls with the date. I’ve experimented with them, waiting a month before I took them out and baked them and they were fantastic! As good as if the dough had never been frozen!

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Cover your 9×13 pan with a clean cloth and allow to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes. When the dough has 15-20 minutes to go, preheat oven to 375 degrees.

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Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. When done, remove from oven and rub a cold stick of butter over the tops of the rolls.

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Enjoy your warm and soft rolls!

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THE RECIPE:

Dinner Rolls- adapted from Our Best Bites

1/3 c butter
1/2 c evaporated cane juice(or other granulated sugar)
2 c whole milk
4 1/2 tsp yeast
2/3 c water
2 tsp sea salt
3 eggs

6 c whole white wheat flour
1/2 c ground flax (or can replace with another 1/2 c whole wheat flour)
2-3 c spelt flour (or white if you’re in a pinch, preferably unbromated)

Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add sugar. Add milk and water and heat until between 105-125 degrees using candy thermometer. Remove from heat. In a Bosch or large mixing bowl add 3 c wheat flour and flax. Add milk mixture and yeast and cover. Let stand 5 minutes. It should get bubbly. Add salt and eggs. Add enough wheat and then spelt flour for dough to pull away from the bowl and stick to itself. It should stick to your finger just slightly. If you add too much flour, the rolls will be heavy and dense. Place bowl in a warm place and cover with a clean towel; allow to rise 1 hour.

Punch down dough. Lightly flour work surface and then divide your dough in half. If you’re going to want all 24 rolls all at once, then spray two 9×13 glass pans with cooking spray. If you only need half that amount, spray one 9×13 pan and then get out a small cookie sheet which you will use to put the other half of your rolls on, close together, to freeze the dough for another day(half size if you have it so that it’s taking up less space in your freezer). Divide your first portion of dough into 12 equal sized pieces and form into a ball shape and place on your prepared pans. I use my kitchen scale to ensure rolls are the same size, but if you don’t have one just eye ball it; or roll it out into a rectangle and then cut into 12 pieces with a pizza cutter to give you more even sizes. If you’re freezing rolls, cover them with plastic wrap and put in the freezer. Allow them to freezer for at least an hour on the cookie sheet before you take them off and put them into a gallon ziploc for longer storage (a month or so).

Cover your 9×13 pan with a clean cloth and allow to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes. When the dough has 15-20 minutes to go, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. When done, remove from oven and rub a cold stick of butter over the tops of the rolls.

*When you’re ready to cook your frozen rolls, take them out of their ziploc and place them in a sprayed 9×13 glass baking dish(if you use a bigger pan to bake them in, they won’t rise as high; they’ll spread out more). Cover with plastic wrap or lid and allow them to sit out at room temperature, to thaw and rise about 4 hours(can speed up thawing by putting them in cold oven or microwave with a pan of boiling water). During last 15 minutes of thawing/rising, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. When done, remove from oven and rub a cold stick of butter over the tops of the rolls.

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