Crunchy Pecan Granola

Happy New Year! I hope you all enjoyed the holidays as much as I did. I’ve definitely got a bad case of the after-Christmas blues, especially after taking down my tree today. Well, technically I just moved it, fully lit and decorated, out of the living room and into the second bathroom that we never EVER use. Why spend hours taking a tree apart and putting it back together? When Christmas rolls around again, decorating will be a cinch! I think it’s a brilliant plan. Plus, if ever I’m in a bad mood I can simply draw up a hot bath in the old bathroom, plug in the tree, and listen to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”. It’ll be Christmas all year round in there!

Has everyone made their resolutions? I have quite a few, so I’ll just share a couple of them. More than anything, I want to continue to live a healthy lifestyle and be more committed to nutrition and daily exercise. Some others: Learn to drive stick. Develop lots of new recipes. Learn how to use my camera. Practice calligraphy. Learn to sew. Figure out what I’m going to do with the rest of my life. Blog more. Buy a bicycle. Oh yes, and stop hanging every darn thing on the refrigerator! It’s getting ridiculous.

Oh, and lastly, eat more waffles. My mom got me a Belgian waffle maker for Christmas, so look out; I’ve already named 2012 ‘The Year of the Waffle’. We’ve had them for breakfast twice already this year and it’s only January 2. I would hate for the world to end and have the regret of not eating enough waffles. I promise to post my recipe once I perfect it. Yesterday’s waffles weren’t so great, but today’s….mmm boy! They’re whole wheat, vegan, and use soy milk curdled with apple cider vinegar! Doesn’t that sound tasty? 😉

Now, about this granola: it’s without a doubt the best granola I’ve ever tasted. I gave it to some friends for Christmas and they all loved it, too. My husband says we could sell the stuff. I got the recipe from one of my dearest friends, who got it from her sister, who adapted it from a recipe she found…somewhere. The only trouble I see with it is that some of the ingredients, namely the coconut oil, pecans, and coconut palm sugar, are rather expensive and may not be something you have on hand or want to splurge on. While I do suggest sticking to the recipe if possible (because it’s perfection), you can make substitutions if necessary: other nuts of your choice for the pecans, butter, a butter alternative, or canola oil for the coconut oil, and a darker sweetener (such as brown sugar or sucanat) for the coconut palm sugar. Also note that the wheat germ can be omitted if you don’t have any, and oat bran is easily made by blending rolled oats into a coarse flour in a coffee grinder or food processor.

Crunchy Pecan Granola

Ingredients:
6 cups rolled oats
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/3 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup oat bran
1/4 cup ground flax meal
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (optional, I love them!)
1 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup molasses, honey, or agave

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients together.

 2. Whisk the oil and molasses together and add to the oat mixture. Mix well.

3. Divide the oat mixture onto two baking sheets and spread evenly. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, stirring all the way down to the bottom of the pan every 10 minutes or so. Bake longer if you prefer darker, crunchier granola. Let cool and serve.

Granola is one of my favorite things to eat for breakfast (besides waffles). I especially love it with Greek yogurt and chopped fruit for a delicious and healthy breakfast parfait. If eating healthy is one of your resolutions this year, make sure to eat breakfast; it’s the most important meal of the day!

I topped this parfait with banana, shredded coconut, and homemade blackberry sauce. What tasty additions do you put on your parfait?

~ Becky, a skinnyfat girl

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Christmas Traditions and Fresh Spinach Dip

I don’t know about all of you, but this skinnyfat girl has been BUSY!  Holiday parties, Christmas cooking, buying presents, et cetera, et cetera…

How was your holiday?  Mine was absolutely wonderful. 

On the 24th, my hubby, sister, and I headed for Oklahoma where my mom, dad, and little brother live.  When we got there we watched It’s a Wonderful Life, as we do every year on Christmas Eve.  There is always the inevitable moment about halfway through the movie where my mom will get annoyed at all of us for quoting lines and getting into philosophical debates over certain scenes.  It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen it, I am always beaming by the end of it.

After the movie, my siblings and I raided the fridge, well tried to anyway, it was pretty much filled with food for Christmas dinner.  This wouldn’t have been a problem if my mom hadn’t been watching us like a hawk.  We just had toast and then headed to bed.

In the morning, we had our traditional Christmas breakfast – each of our favorite sugary cereals.  It’s Fruit Loops for my sister, Reeses Puffs for my brother, the hubby has Frosted Flakes, and I have Lucky Charms.  My dad has Life cereal and then a bowl of Lucky Charms.  My mom rarely indulges, but she usually has granola or something similar.  I am responsible for this not-so-healthy tradition as I was the one who, at the tender age of about 4 or 5, convinced my mom to buy “special” cereal once a year for Christmas. 

And, of course, after breakfast there are presents.  I didn’t start this tradition, but I thoroughly approve of it.

I also approve of another tradition; one that I am implementing now.  Fresh spinach dip for Christmas, New Year’s, and mealtimes.

Fresh Spinach Dip

  • 2 cups greek yogurt
  • 8 oz. package neufchatel cheese (or vegan cream cheese)
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 8 oz. can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (you choose the color, I used red)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika

First combine the greek yogurt and neufchatel cheese together.  You will need to either mix it with a hand mixer or blend it in your food processor or blender.  It will not work to just mix it using a wooden spoon.  Trust me, I tried.  It may have worked if the neufchatel cheese was softened (note to self for next time).

Then chop your various ingredients.

Bell pepper…

Fresh spinach (chop off stems and discard)…

Water chestnuts…

If you do not have water chestnuts…

Go to the store and buy some right now.  This is the ingredient that makes this spinach dip so special.  Just trust me on this.

Now add your garlic powder, paprika, salt and that’s it!

Now it’s time to eat!  You can serve the dip in a bowl with crackers or you can get fancy and make a bread bowl like I did.

Happy (almost) New Year, everyone!  I wish you all the wonderful and happy things that life can bring, including spinach dip.

~Elesha, a skinnyfat girl (New Year’s resolutions: eat lots of spinach dip, post to SkinnyfatGirls once a week)

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