Unrefined Living

maintaining a healthy balance of the mind, body, and plate


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Chocolately Cranberry and Ginger Spiced Granola

So, you might say I have a slight infatuation with granola.  I do.  I admit it.  But, it’s so yummy and fun to make I can’t help myself.  It also gives me a valid excuse to make a smoothie or nana ice cream so I can top it with my granola.  Not that I ever needed an excuse before…

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Anyway, I made this batch for the holidays and I am just now getting around to talking about it.  It’s been such a busy holiday season.  I am not even sure where the holidays went, or 2014 for that matter.  Oh, before I forget, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

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Ok, ok, back to baking.  If you haven’t tried making your own granola yet, then put this on your 2015 to do list.  You probably won’t buy store brands after learning how easy and tasty (and healthy) making your own can be.  Unfortunate for Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s 😉

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I adapted my recipe from Cookie and Kate, hope you enjoy as much as I do.  And quick side note, feel free to increase the chocolate sauce measurements…if you are a chocoholic!

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 What you will need:
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup buckwheat groats
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 3/4 cup pecans
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 molasses
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder (plus 1 tbsp more for thicker sauce)
  • 1/3 maple syrup
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 chopped dried cranberries
  • 1 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
  • (Optional) carob or chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat.  In a large bowl combine oats, nuts, salt, cinnamon, and ginger, and mix well.  Add in molasses.

Heat coconut oil in double boiler or microwave until melted (microwave is about 30 seconds on high).  Add raw cacao (or cocoa) powder, maple syrup, and vanilla to create a chocolatey sauce.  Pour chocolate sauce into bowl with other ingredients and mix well.

Spread granola mix evenly onto baking sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes checking once to make sure edges aren’t burning.  The granola may need a nudge.  Then add the coconut and cranberries and bake for another 7-10 minutes, again keeping an eye on it to prevent from burning.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.  If the center seems slightly wet it’s ok, it will continue to cook as it cools, and it should get crunchier.  You might also like to add some carob or chocolate chips to your granola.  Chocolate makes everything better!

Store in an air tight container (mason jars work well), and will last for a few weeks.

Enjoy granola as a yogurt topping, or add to banana ice creamsmoothies, or smoothie bowls.  You might also enjoy adding granola to a bowl of warm milk as a warm cereal alternative.  Or just eat straight from the jar!

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Pumpkin Spiced Granola

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Ahhh, October!  You had me at “pumpkin spice.”  For the first time this past summer I made my own granola.  And I must admit, it was really quite amazing.  It started with a few batches of lavender flavored, then when I realized there is a world outside of lavender, I played with a chocolate version (still tweaking this one). And then this week, I hit the jackpot on the first try.  Pumpkin Spiced Granola…made with love!  How can you beat that?  I want you to know that I am surely not a granola making expert, so I researched a few different recipes before I sort of just mocked up my own.  So if you try this, and you don’t like it….I am truly sorry for you.  Seriously.  🙂
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Getting down to business…here is what you will need:
  • 1.5 C rolled oats
  • 1 C buckwheat groats (or additional oats)
  • 1/3 C pepitas/pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 sliced almonds
  • 1/4 C dried cranberries (or raisins)
  • 3 Tbsp coconut sugar (or sugar of your choice)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp pumpin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 C pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 maple syrup (or agave or honey)
  • 1 egg white (optional)

 

Preheat oven 350F.  In a large bowl mix oats, buckwheat groats, seeds/nuts, cranberries, coconut sugar, sea salt, and spices.  In a smaller bowl whisk [melted] coconut oil, pumpkin puree, and syrup.  Pour mixture over dry granola ingredients and toss until thoroughly coated.  An added step (which can be omitted) is to whisk one egg white until frothy.  Pour egg white over granola and mix well.  This step will create granola “clumps’ for you hard core tree huggers who love clumpy crunchy granola (hehehe) 🙂  Prepare baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat and spread granola evenly.  Bake 25-35 minutes poking and turning granola every 10 or so minutes to prevent burning on the edges.  Remove from oven and cool fully. This will also allow it to dry up and get even crunchier!!!  And then, top your your favorite yogurt or nana icecream.  You can even throw in a handful of carob or dark chocolate chips if you so desire.  Be sure to also enjoy the lovely aroma this will create through your home!

 

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Healing Golden Milk

IMG_2980I’ve recently discovered a new love:  Golden Milk.  Last winter when I felt like I was getting sick I searched high and low for new home remedies (rephrase–new to me) to help boost my immune system and fight the nasty germ invaders.  And that’s when I stumbled across golden milk.  Although at that time I had no idea it was even called golden milk.  It was more recently, last month at a party, that a friend and I were talking and she mentioned that she drinks this regularly for it’s health benefits.  How did I not think to do that?  How did I not think to make this fabulously soothing drink on a more regular basis, not just when I was feeling sick?  And so this prompted me to begin my obsession with warm morning drinks.  And what better time then October to start drinking orange colored beverages?

So let’s get to the reason why this is a great drink for your body to have.  Sure the taste is smooth and creamy, pleasantly sweet and warm with a teeny tiny fiery kick….but there’s so much more to it.  Here is the condensed version:

Turmeric – a strong anti-inflammatory (helps relieve chronic inflammation); antioxidant; anti-aging; anti-fungal; anti-bacterial; boosts immune system (great for flu and cold season). Be careful, turmeric stains clothing..and fingers!!

Ginger – improves absorption and digestion; relieves nausea; anti-inflammatory (helps reduce pain and inflammation); strengthens immune system (also great during cold and flu season).

Ghee  – reduces inflammation; helps to improve digestive system; rich in Vitamins A, D, E, and K (promoting bone and brain health); contains minimal (if any) lactose, and is preservative free.

Raw Honey (local) – contains essential vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants; anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties; strenghtens immune system; helps relieve (in some instances eliminate) allergies; balances blood sugar; aids in digestion.

What you will need:

  • 1 inch of ginger root, grated (or 1 tsp ground ginger)
  • 1 inch turmeric root, grated (or 1tsp ground turmeric)
  • 2 tsp Ghee*
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond/coconut milk (or your own alternative)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp raw honey

Begin to heat milk and water over medium-high heat.  In a small bowl (I used a mortar and pestle) combine the ginger, turmeric, and ghee until it becomes a paste.  Add paste to milk while heating and when it begins to lightly bubble, turn heat off and let mixture steep for about 5 minutes. (Note:  you will either want to strain it with a fine mesh strainer, or what I did was use a mesh tea ball for the paste and let that simmer in the milk, even while I drank it).  Add honey and enjoy!

*Ghee can also be substituted with coconut oil, or omitted completely.IMG_1553


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Cashew Truffles

Do you ever have a severe snack craving?  I am sure you do.  Maybe salty, maybe sweet, but you don’t want to waste your energy eating something processed or store bought and unsatisfying?   Well thats what I love so much about making these little energizing treats.  First of all, despite the title “cashew” truffles, the truth is you can make these with any nut you have on hand.  I chose cashews because I prefer their smooth sweet taste, but I’ve made these with other raw nuts and they are just as tasty!  Not to mention, you can eat a bunch and instead of guilt, feel like you are snacking with a purpose (assuming you don’t eat them all in 5 minutes).  And, its fun to experiment. So, let’s get to it….
What you will need:

  • 1/3 c unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/3 c raw cashews (also tossed in a tablespoon of mixed raw nuts because I wanted to use them up)
  • 6-7 pitted medjool dates
  • 1 tsp vanilla protein powder (I used SpiruTein)
  • 3 Tbsp cacao powder (raw unsweetened)
  • 2 Tbsp water  (more if too dry)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of pink himalayan sea salt (regular sea salt will do)
  • hemp seeds )option for sprinkling on top)

 

Combine coconut, cashews (and/or any other nuts you have), and dates in food processor or Vitamix and blend until it becomes a fine mix, a few nutty chunks are ok.  Add in protein and cacao powder and blend again. Add the water one tbsp at a time using your judgement to decide if it’s too moist or dry. Adjust as necessary.  Add the vanilla extract and sea salt.  Layer the bottom of a small bowl with shredded coconut. Make small quarter sized balls and roll into shredded coconut and set on a plate or tray. Refrigerate until ready to serve. If you are in a hurry like I was, freeze for about 20 minutes then stuff your face and enjoy 🙂

 

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Mocha Iced Frappucinno (healthier version)

 

IMG_0956Have you ever had an iced frappucinno at Starbucks or any coffee shop?  Well, as tasty as it might be, it is most likely loaded with GMO’s, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavoring and sweeteners, and antibiotic injected milk. Not to mention extremely high in calories!  Actually, incase you haven’t heard, Starbucks is a big supporter of Monsanto.  If you are a Starbucks addict, you might be interested in learning more about this issue before you make your next purchase.

Even though I have always opted for a plain old basic coffee shop cup of joe, I have enjoyed the occassional fancy high calorie drinks from time to time.  And I won’t lie, they are so good, and often leave me feeling so bad!  And although I successfully gave up coffee last year, I do still crave the flavor some days. Which is what led me to find an easy healthier version I can make at home, and it’s way cheaper!  I even think this version tastes better.  But who knows, maybe thats my healthier taste buds talking!  Anyway….if you like fancy coffee then you should try this.  I swear it’s not hard and you probably have most of the ingredients needed.  I add a frozen banana to mine to create a smooth creamy ice cream like texture, but you can omit that if you don’t love bananas like I do.  You know how I feel about ba-nana ice cream.  Enough chit chat, let’s get started!

What you will need:

  • 1 1/2 c almond/coconut milk (or your choice of healthy milk)
  • 2 tsp instant coffee (I use decaf, organic when possible)
  • 1 Tbsp. raw cacao powder (omit if you don’t like “mocha” and just want it plain)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut sugar (can substitute with agave, pure maple, honey, stevia, etc)
  • 1/5 frozen banana (not necessary but gives ice cream-like creaminess)
  • Dash of sea salt
  • 5-7 ice cubes

Blend everything together in high speed blender until smooth.  I find that this comes out better when I heat a few tablespoons of water and mix the instant coffee/espresso first then add that to the blender with the rest of the ingredients.  Either way, the result is still delicious!  Sprinkle with cinnamon and guzzle.  Be careful of the brain freeze!

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Chocolate Cherry Smoothie

 

 

IMG_1005I am loving smoothies lately.  I used be a juicer, and I still am.  But recently my needs have changed and I crave thicker denser beverages.  Not to say this won’t change again soon, but for now I am addicted to chocolate smoothies.  Who wouldn’t be?  It’s chocolate for crying out loud!  And I love that I have the liberty of adding whatever the heck I want.  I always make sure to add veggies and protein so I can justify replacing a meal or snack with something chocolatey.  It’s a win win!!!

 

What you will need:

  • 6 frozen cherries
  • 2 frozen bananas
  • Handful spinach or kale
  • 1 C water/coconut water/milk
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. cacao powder
  • 1 scoop protein powder (optional)
  • 4-5 ice cubes (optional)

Add everything to high speed blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!


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Crunchy Homemade Granola

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Guess what?  I found an easy flavorful granola recipe for you to try.  So far I’ve made it four times, and inflicted it on many friends (some family) who raved about it.  It’s a keeper.  Actually, I’ve never made granola before this.  I used to by it but having to read labels and deal with sugar content and additives is just a pain in the butt!  Not to mention if I didn’t eat it quickly it would go stale and have to get tossed in the trash.  A waste of money if you ask me.  So now I have no excuse.  If I take the time to make something, I am damn well going to eat it before it goes bad.  And so far this recipe is the best I’ve had…in my entire granola life!  Of course, like all other things in life, that too is subject to change.  But for now, I am true to this granola!

I came across this recipe while looking up something entirely different, not even sure I remember what I was searching for.  Anyway, I am glad I accidentally stumbled across it.  The original source is a recipe for Lavender flavored granola.  I happen to love eating lavender flavored anything, so for me this was a win win.  However, if you can’t stand the thought of eating something flowery, you can simply eliminate the lavender and have yourself plain ole granola, or add something you do like, if you so choose.  Again, win win!

This recipe was inspired by Healthy Nibbles & Bits.

What you will need:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup shredded or flaked coconut (unsweetened)
  • 1 cup buckwheat groats
  • 2/3 cup cashews (raw is best, but any will do)
  • 2/3 cup walnuts or almonds (chopped/slivered)
  • 1/3 cup pepita seeds
  • 1/3 cup honey (use raw maple or agave if vegan, or any other sweetener of choice)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried lavender (slightly less, or omit completely)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • dash of sea salt
  • egg white *(optional – see note below)
  • carob chips (optional and to be added after granola is cooked)

Preheat oven at 325 (F), and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon mat.  Mix ingredients in a large bowl (except egg white).  If you are using the egg white, whisk in a separate bowl until frothy, then pour over granola and lightly toss. *The original recipe called for egg white to create a cluster-like effect.  I’ve done with it it and without it, both options are lovely!  Bake for 30-45 minutes. I like to check mine halfway through and move it around with a spatula so the sides don’t burn.  Keep an eye on it, you want it to get golden brown.  If you went with the lavender option you will soon have an amazing aroma throughout your kitchen. Remove from oven and cool completely.  Store in airtight mason jar or container.

This recipe is so fabulous that I barely changed a thing, and luckily I had all of the ingredients on hand.  You can substitute as needed.  And if you have no idea what to do with granola, here are some of my favorite suggestions:

  • Top your favorite yogurt
  • Add to your overnight oats
  • Garnish your nana icecream
  • Add to fresh fruit salad
  • Enjoy as a hot cereal by adding warmed milk  (preferably almond/coconut)
  • Add carob chips and divide into small ziplock baggies to bring to work as a snack
  • Add to favorite smoothie or smoothie bowl
  • Make your own granola bars or balls

There are many more options.  I am currently experimenting with various granola flavors and will blog about it soon.  I hope you enjoy as much as I did!

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