Thursday, June 6, 2013

Homemade Granola

Granola. The un-healthy, healthy snack. 

Well, this version is a healthier one. Pretty much any homemade granola is going to better than store bought. With store bought granola you get all kinds of extra ingredients, a TON of sugar, and all those wonderful preservatives. 

The thing I like about this recipe is that it makes a lot! And you can play around with it, adding things or taking things out. I've added a couple things to our version because I have found that no matter what I put in this, it still gets eaten. So I sneak things like almonds and chia seeds into it, which would never be eaten otherwise. 

The main ingredients
I found this recipe on a website called Out of the Box. It's a website that has homemade recipes for food you normal buy in a box at the store. There is granola, granola bars, pop tarts, other snack foods and lunch box type food. I like it because they break down the nutrition for you. They list out the ingredients in the store bought box and then the difference in the homemade version. It's nice to see all of the things you are NOT putting in your kids' bodies by making it at home.

Mix all of your dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
The granola recipe I found on the website is a Nut-free recipe, but we are lucky enough to not have any nut issues so I add nuts. I also sometimes add chia seeds and today when I made some I tried adding raisins. It looks and smells great, so I'm thinking the raisins are a success. 

Whisk wet ingredients on low heat for 5 minutes.
What I really love about this recipe is the quantity. It makes about 13 cups which completely fills a large Glad container. We have a family of four and it lasts us a little more than 2 weeks even after making a batch or two of granola bars with it. In a lifestyle where you feel like you are constantly in the kitchen cooking or baking, it's nice to have a recipe that you can make and then forget about for a while. 

Pour sauce over oats and mix well.

Baking it does take some attention. You want to check it every 10 minutes to stir and switch the cookie sheets to around to different racks. That's what I do anyway, I find that if I switch the cookie sheets every time I stir them, then it cooks more evenly.

So here is the recipe - 

Homemade Granola
original recipe by Out of the Box

  • 9 cups of Traditional Oats
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds (unsalted)
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sea salt (or regular salt if you don't have sea salt)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tsp vanilla
My additions:
  • 3/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 3 TBSP chia seeds
  • 1 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside.

Whisk together all the wet ingredients over low heat for about 5 minutes. Once heated through, pour mixture over the oat mixture and mix well. Make sure you get all of the oats covered with the sauce.

Pour mixture in a single layer onto parchment lined cookie sheets. Bake for 40-50 minutes. Every 10 minutes stir mixture to cook evenly and prevent burning.

Let it cool and then store in air tight container. 

Some of my notes:

As far as the nuts go, I buy whole, unsalted almonds and then chop them up myself. It's a little more work, but cost efficient. If you don't like almonds, I would think you could really put any type of nut in here. 

You definitely want to buy parchment paper for this recipe if you don't already have it. I like to find ways around unnecessary kitchen items, but this one is necessary. Plus, if you make the granola bars from this recipe you can re-use the paper. I will be posting the recipe for the granola bars (and my failed attempts at experimenting with them) soon.

I know there are TONS of granola recipes out there, but we really like this one. I'd love to hear if you try it what you think or if you have any other great granola recipes to try!

Now if you'll excuse me, it's time to try out the batch with raisins!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Fighting My Inner Dragon Lady...and Winning

School is out! School is out? Oh, wait...School is out...

In the words of my sister-in-law, I don't know how I feel about that. 

I have an array of "mom" friends. And I can tell you that half of them are excited by the aspect of having all of their kids home all day for three months and the other half want to go screaming for the hills. I don't judge either.

Last summer I went back to work. Since I was training in a new job I worked 4 days a week, so essentially I missed out on summer with my kids last year. At the time I was okay with it because that's where I felt God had led me. 

Well, guess what? I just quit my job! So this summer I get to be home with my kids all summer. In my long-laid plans I saw sunny days at the pool, trips to the zoo, play dates at the park, and just having fun with my girls. Very optimistic I would say.

Today was the first of summer break for us. Tomorrow is Report Card Day, if you even want to call it a day. It's ten minutes that they make buses run and parents drive kids in just to pick up report cards. Luckily we live across the street, so it doesn't bother me too much. 
Our Front Yard Picnic

It started out as a decent morning. I made the kids eggs for breakfast, managed to get a shower in before 9:00am (!), got our June schedule all figured out and finally signed Olivia up for a camp she had been asking about. I had to mail the forms for the camp so I thought we could take advantage of the perfectly beautiful day and walk to the post office and then stop at the library. We did just that and it went great! We got home and I read a book and soaked up some sun while the kids played in the yard and then we had a picnic lunch in the front yard.
Cheese Taco anyone?

We even had a surprise visit from Daddy on his lunch break!
So far this reads like those Facebook posts that everyone is annoyed by because they state how "wonderful" and "perfect" my day/kids/life is. Keep reading. 

Honestly, nothing major happened. No one broke a lamp or painted the dog blue or scratched the car with their bike. But I was really tired this afternoon...and we all know how things can get when Mom gets tired. 

Lately I've been tired, like really tired. Like got-hit-by-a-mac-truck-and-only-a-four-hour-nap-will-revive-me tired. Know the feeling? And I don't even take naps! So after our picnic lunch I finally got my 3-year-old down for her nap (or so I thought) and decided that I was going to try and take one myself. I informed Olivia that I was going to lay down for a while and I got an "uh huh" from behind the game she was playing on my phone. 

Basically my nap didn't happen. You know when you are just on the verge of falling asleep and then something wakes you up? That happened about every 15 minutes. The thing was that it was constantly Olivia doing something that she was told not to do or waking me up to ask me something that I had already told her no to three times. So I was starting to get pretty irritated. Jillian never actually fell asleep and when she heard Olivia walking up the stairs she called out for me. Usually I would just let her go or call up and tell her to lay back down, but Olivia decided to go in her room and get her up. This of course caused a big issue when I got up and put Jillian back down for a second time. Luckily the second try worked and she fell asleep. But then I was being kept up by the dog barking at the neighbor kids because Liv kept putting her out after I got up and brought her in so she wouldn't bark, and then there were a couple requests for ice cream that I had already said no to. I think the thing that broke me was that I even faked sleeping to see if she would really wake me up to ask for ice cream a third time. And she did. 

So now I'm laying on my bed, with a throbbing headache from being almost asleep 8 times and that over all feeling of exhaustion and I wanted to snap. I felt like I had a war going on inside me between the calm, rational mom that I knew I should be and the evil dragon lady that I really wanted to be. To anyone looking at me, I looked totally normal laying on my bed trying to sleep. But on the inside raged a battle between Super Mom with the cape and a shirt that says PATIENCE shielding and striking at a giant dragon spiting fire about people not obeying or respecting her. Dragon Lady spouts fire and Super Mom raises her shield just in time. Who will win? Will Dragon Lady win and get up from her failed attempt at a nap only to be in a bad mood and yell at everyone and send kids to their room because of not listening to her? Or will Super Mom win and take a deep breath, come up with a plan of action to present to the children at dinner time so that this doesn't happen tomorrow? Or maybe they will tie? 

Anyone else ever have this inner struggle? Between the mom we are being and the mom we want to be? Sometimes even as I'm shouting at one of my kids, I'm thinking in my head "What are you doing?? You are going to ruin them!". 

At this point as my literal and imaginative brain is picturing this fight between good and evil inside me, I had an all-too-clear thought pop into my head. God will win this fight for me. If I feel like I'm fighting a battle, who better to go to for help? The God of angel armies, as Chris Tomlin sings, is always by my side. So why am I fighting this battle? Hey, God...if you have a minute...HELP! 

Thankfully, having this thought made me smile. And then I started composing this blog in my head...and somehow the battle inside disappeared. Am I still irritated that Olivia seems to have no regard for my authority? MOST DEFINITELY. But did I get up and start acting like a big baby about it? No. Even though it was in a round about way, God helped me calm down and win the battle. Now, would I say Super Mom won? No way. I'm not even close to Super Mom, but seriously, she is a way better example to use for fighting evil than regular old me. 

So my advice for the days when you feel the inner struggle between your raging Dragon Lady and your more rational Super Mom? Start a blog! But just in case you aren't the blogging type, then give the battle over to God. All we have to do is ask and He is right there for us. Even with something as simple as whether or not to freak out on your kids. Doesn't that blow your mind? The God of ALL the universe, who has billions of people he loves and cares about, who is constantly fighting spiritual battles against the enemy, has the time to help me with my tiny little inner struggle with being a better mom. WOW. 

I leave you with this:

"In the day when I called out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul." Psalm 138:3

I'm going to go make dinner now. I've taken some Tylenol to help with my headache, and I've decided that the best way to get through the summer is to come up with some special guidelines that we are going to follow. Once I have those figured out I will hang them on the fridge so that we can all remember them. Will it work? Who knows...but I figure it's better than unleashing the dragon lady and making every one miserable. Here's to making it through the rest of the day...and the whole summer. 

I have a feeling "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" is going to be my mantra this summer...

What will yours be?