Own Your Beauty!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Biking and Cooking

So - This whole riding my bike back and forth to school thing may possibly kill me before it gets me in shape! Ok, maybe not, but going from basic couch potato all summer (with one good 9 mile hike) to riding my bike all around campus does feel pretty intense and was definitely feeling more tired on the ride this morning than I did yesterday. I am taking it slow, not pushing myself, taking rests when I need to, and just knowing that if I keep it up it WILL get easier and I WILL get in better shape before I even realize it :-) In the meantime though...even with a padded seat (and a padded rear) my backside hurts! I just keep telling myself that I will get used to it and it is only day 2. And honestly, the good feelings, the exercise, the endorphins, the cured insomnia and the flexibility to get around campus without looking for parking is worth the trade off so I will keep the whining to a minimum.

So - I promised recipes yesterday and today I shall deliver! And both are vegetarian and I will note the easy substitution to make it vegan.

I LOVE making granola...it is so cheap, you can make it much lower fat and lower sugar than the stuff you buy in a box or bag, and you can add whatever you want to it! I see that Bear Naked granola selling for $7 a bag and it makes my head hurt because I could make the same amount of granola for about $2 and it tastes even better.

So here is the basic recipe:
2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
2/3 cup honey (or agave nectar to make it vegan)
1/3 cup nut butter or oil (choose your favorite nut butter, peanut, almond, sunflower, cashew...it all good!)
1 Tb. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup nuts
1/2 cup seeds
1/2 cup dried fruit

-Spread the oats out on an ungreased baking sheet and toast in a 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes stirring often and watching carefully to make sure they toast, not burn.
-While the oats are toasting in the oven, in a small pan on the stove bring the honey, nut butter and vanilla just to a simmer so it all melts together and remove it from the heat.
-Once the oats are toasted transfer them to a large mixing bowl and add the cinnamon, nuts, seeds and dried fruit and mix well.
-Pour the honey/nut butter mixture in with the oats and mix well so that the oats are all moist.
-Spray your baking sheet with cooking spray and spread the mixture evenly over the pan and return to the oven
***At this point I usually just turn the oven off and let the granola sit in the cooling oven for a couple of hours or overnight to crisp up. You could also turn the oven down to 250 degrees and let it bake for 30-45 minutes, stirring often until it is toasty. I think leaving it overnight is easier, less chance of burning it on accident, and then it is crunchy and ready for breakfast in the morning!***

Now, that is the basic recipe and it is endlessly customizable to your taste and depending on what you have in your cabinets. Almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, dried mango, dried apples, dried cherries, dried cranberries, grated coconut, chocolate chips, orange extract, almond extract, flax seeds, anything and everything you can think of would taste GREAT in this. You can even cut the honey in half if you want it to be a little less sweet and I find it is still enough stickiness to hold the granola together well. As an example, for my most recent batch I didn't have any peanut butter or seeds in the house but I wanted granola so I used 1/3 cup honey, 1/3 cup Earth Balance spread, and vanilla extract for the liquid. Oats, pumpkin pie spice, cocoa roasted almonds, orange flavored cranberries and unsweetened coconut for the granola base and it is totally AMAZING. Not overly sweet, tons of flavor, perfect to mix into my plain yogurt with an extra drizzle of honey. So try it out, use your imagination...it is a very easy, quick recipe and will make tasty granola for pennies of what you would pay in the store.

I am also making a smoothie every morning as my breakfast because it is easy to make and I can put it in a water bottle to take to school and drink during my 8am class. I absolutely love my smoothies so I wanted to share that recipe too.

Tina Version of a Green Monster Smoothie-
- 1 scoop protein powder (I use unsweetened chocolate flavor)
- 1 Tb. ground flax seed
-1/2 frozen banana
-handful of frozen fruit
- approx. 1/2-1 cup frozen spinach (to taste)
-2 Tb. 100% pineapple juice frozen concentrate
- 2 dashes cinnamon
-1 cup almond milk
- water as needed for consistency

I just put all of this into my blender and blend away until it is smooth and green and yummy! You don't really taste the spinach but it is a great boost of veggies and nutrients in the morning. The pineapple juice concentrate adds some natural sweetness. I add a little extra water if it is feeling too thick with just the 1 cup of liquid from the almond milk, you could also use more almond milk but I like my carton to last the week and a little water really doesn't change the flavor. Super yummy, super filling, super natural energy!

So that is my morning recipes right now. I apologize for there being no pictures, I was in a rush this morning and forgot to take any. I will try to update this post later to include some pictures so you can see my granola and green goodness and a picture of the Blue Bomber Bicycle that is transporting me every so faithfully around campus and kicking my butt into shape!

Have a great day everyone :-)