I love food. I mean L-O-V-E food. You know, the I think of what I’m eating for lunch as I’m eating breakfast kind of love. I love all kinds of food—foods from different regions of the world (that’s probably my favorite part of traveling—finding different cuisines and trying them authentically) healthy foods, fattening foods, sweet foods, salty foods, all foods. I’m actually trying to think of a food I don’t like right now and I’m drawing a big, fat blank.
Loving food can sometimes be problematic. For example, cookies and nacho cheese (two of my favorites) are not exactly helping my waistline as I creep towards 40. It used to be I could eat any amount of any food I wanted and I remained slim, however, now I gain 5 lbs by looking at some of my favorite foods. And let me tell you on my quest for Oola, no-one feels happy or awesome when their jeans are too tight. One more little tidbit, working out is awesome for weight-loss, but working out alone will not change your body or the amount of tired—I can feel a huge difference in my mood and my waistline depending on what I fuel my body with regardless of how much I work out.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m not really good at restricting myself to one certain kind of food or pulling too many things I’m used to eating out of my diet right away. My goal for now is to eat fewer grains, fewer treats, and add in more fruits and vegetables. I’m also trying to watch out for the evil ingredient: sugar, which is added to almost every food that you can buy in a box or can. Seriously, it’s crazy how many things contain added sugar and it’s not all cookies and cereals—ketchup, Triscuits, spaghetti sauce, peanut butter, salsa etc. Check the labels on the products in your pantry and next time you go to the store. It’s insane. Now, I will preface with a few things so you don’t think I’m all talk and no action:
1) I’m still eating foods with natural sugar already in them such as fruits, veggies, etc.
2) I’m not throwing things out, so if I have dried fruit with sugar added in my pantry, I’m going to eat it and then try to find a better replacement option next time. I’m on a budget and I don’t believe in wasting things I’ve already spent money on. Maybe that’s why Marie Kondo’s tidying up methods are so hard for me? But that’s a post for another day.
For me it’s all about baby steps and making lifestyle changes that I can keep. If I cut out everything all at one time I’m going to get frustrated and cave. I want to develop a healthy lifestyle that I can follow, not one that makes me feel cheated all the time, which leads me to the Not Granola.
Granola is thought to be a healthy food, but it’s typically a high-calorie food loaded with sugar and sweeteners. If you don’t believe me, read your labels. Granola bars are big culprits too, but that’s a post for another day too. Granola typically consists of rolled oats, brown sugar or honey, dried fruit and nuts. Making it at home ensures that you can add what you want and what you don’t want. The recipe I’m going to share with you today contains nuts and dried fruit but no added sugar. Yes, we are used to the taste of sweet things, but I promise it’s tasty.
Let me start with a little backstory, last winter, my husband, best friend and I went on a 21 day no sugar diet outlined by crossfit star Christmas Abbott in her book The Badass Body Diet: The Breakthrough Diet and Workout for a Tight Booty, Sexy Abs, and Lean Legs.
She is badass, excuse my language. Since my job is not fitness related and I enjoy my nightly glass of wine, I cannot adhere to this diet on a long-term basis. I was actually quite grumpy with the amount of food prep and restrictiveness. Plus it was a little too much meat protein for me. However, I did glean some great recipes and workout tips from it, Not Granola being one of them. She actually calls this recipe Grain-Free Granola (p 196), but I wanted to call it something that was a little more intriguing.
In the book, the recipe is written for 1 single serving, however, being a full-time working mom, I do not have time to food prep every night. Okay, so maybe I have time. Let me rephrase, I do not want to food prep every night. Food prepping every night leads to grumpy Amy. I prefer to food prep every couple of nights and just organize the food for the next day each night—you know put the lunches in containers and that sort of thing. I’ll provide you with the recipes for both, maybe you like to food prep nightly or maybe you prefer not to eat the same thing day after day. Regardless it’s the same ingredients, different quantities.
Here is the starting line-up: almonds, unsweetened shredded coconut, chia seeds, dried cranberries, ground cinnamon.
Yes, those are sweetened, dried cranberries, your eyes are not deceiving you. Remember, I’m using what I have first.
Single Serving Not Granola
1 tbsp sliced almonds (about 6 almonds if you’re slicing your own)
2 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tsp chia seeds
1 tbsp dried cranberries
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
This recipe yields about 1/4 of a cup of crunchy yumminess.
So I used my knowledge of proportions, multiplication, and measurements—see you do use that stuff in the real world—and created a recipe for a batch of Not Granola that you can keep in a sealed container for a few weeks. (If my math is wrong, I apologize, remember I’m a reading teacher). I don’t eat this every day, but one batch is about 9 servings so it’ll last me about 2 weeks, give or take a few days depending on how granola I’m feeling and if my husband decides he’s feeling granola too. My kids are not huge granola fans—I’ve tried.
Not Granola for Days (Yields about 9-1/4 cup servings)
1 cup sliced almonds (How many almonds is that? I buy them pre-sliced to save time)
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
3 tablespoons of chia seeds
1 cup of dried cranberries
2 1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon
I don’t think I said this before, but add all the ingredients to a bowl and give them a good stir. I also like to give my granola a good stir before I add it to a bowl to kind of mix it up so I’m not getting a 1/4 scoop of dried cranberries.
So, how do you eat it so it remains healthy? If you add it to a sugary fruit-already-added yogurt you’re not really helping yourself out. I usually just add unsweetened vanilla almond milk and blueberries and eat this like cereal. You can use any milk-or-milk-like product depending on your diet, but be sure to check your labels. I’ve tried several milk substitutes and many of them have—you guessed it—added sugar. I’m really not making this up. You think you’re eating/drinking healthy and you’re still consuming loads of sugar. I am certainly no expert, but companies do this to make it taste better, I think. If I’m eating this like cereal, then I usually will eat something else with it—unless it’s just a snack, a couple links of turkey sausage or an egg or both if I just worked out and I’m really hungry. If this is my only breakfast, which is currently my favorite way to eat it, I’ll put a couple of dollops of plain greek yogurt into a bowl with some fresh berries and 1/4 cup of not granola.
I like to add real fruit to add sweetness with natural sugars, but I know some people try to avoid fruit sugar too. Also, feel free to substitute any of the ingredients for similar ingredients that work with your diet. For example, walnuts for almonds or dried cherries for cranberries. I’d love to hear your recipes and substitutions. Happy eating!