Crunchy Quinoa Granola

I went a little granola crazy this weekend. The hubs and I decided to do snacks and foodie items for Christmas this year, so I made two batches of granola. It went fast.

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Wholesome Crunchy Gift Giving

The first was adapted from this recipe by Joy the Baker.  I also got the mason jar idea from her. Genius.

Not gonna lie, I wasn’t sure about the goji berries, but they were awesome! 

The second was something  I sort of made up on the fly because I was running out of oats. And it was absolutely amazing.  It was also super festive because I used red quinoa, cherries and pistachios. Did I mention that it was delicious?

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Totally festive, crunchy, protein packed granola. No big deal.

This is a super savory granola, but if you want to sweeten it up, feel free to add more agave nectar. I don’t think it needs it…

The quinoa and cocoa nibs give this an awesome crunch and the coconut oil gives a super savory, rich flavor. I think this is my new favorite granola!

Look at this recipe as more of a guideline than something set in stone.

Crunchy Quinoa Granola

Ingredients

4 cups rolled oats.

2 cups red quinoa, uncooked–be sure to rinse and drain it!

3/4 cup sunflower seeds

3/4 cup cocoa nibs

1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut-I like the flakes because it adds some awesome texture

1 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped (I chopped mine a little too much, you’ll want big chunks for that beautiful green color!)

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 pinch smoked salt

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup agave nectar

1 tsp. Vanilla

1 1/2 cups dried cherries

What to do:

Preheat oven to 325.

Line two baking pans with parchment paper.

Combine all dry ingredients except the cherries in a large bowl, give it a good toss to make sure it’s well mixed.

Heat coconut oil and agave nectar in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir occasionally until combined. 

Remove from heat and add vanilla extract.

Add to dry ingredients and mix well, ensuring the mixture is well coated.

Pour granola onto baking sheets, making sure to spread evenly.

Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown, pulling out twice to toss mixture (so it doesn’t burn).

Let cool completely and add dried cherries. Granola will last several weeks in an airtight container. Serve over milk, yogurt or by the handful.

Enjoy!

Happy Wednesday!


June Foodie Penpals!!!

I am a day late on posting this, the last week has been nuts! Big Oops on my part!

I sent a package to Jenni from Saint Louis over at J. Ferris Wheel Of… you can see what I sent her by clicking here.

This month I received a lovely care package from Denise in Ohio… she rocks!!! Huge thank-you Denise, I’m enjoying all of your goodies!

A Box of Yum!

Here’s the low down on what I got from Denise:

  • Two bags of specialty popcorn (Coconut Curry and Parmesan Garlic) locally grown and made in her home state of Ohio.
  • A Jar of Pumpkin Butter
  • Candied Ginger
  • Baked/Dried Apples (organic)
  • Two Raw Nut snacks
  • An All Natural Fruit Strip

The Raw Nut bars were pretty good, packed with protein, they were good for a quick pick-me-up between breakfast and lunch. I really liked the chocolate cashew combination!

I haven’t broken into the pumpkin butter…I’m waiting until Ben makes some bread.. I hope this happens this week! Fruit butters of any kind are always a win!

The ginger and apples are being saved for baking/a rainy day/granola making. I’ll probably break them open this weekend for some experimentation.

I am pretty sure my husband ate the fruit snack. And I am sure he enjoyed every last bite. If not, it’s an unsolved mystery where this tasty little treat disappeared to.

The popcorn. Oh my goodness! This popcorn is delicious! Ben devoured most of the bag of coconut curry on the sly before I could get to it, but the parmesan garlic is being savored. Wowowowow!

This photo gives more information on the shop the popcorn is from as well as their other flavors.  Check them out!

So many choices!

Another huge thank you to Denise, everything has been wonderful!  

In case you’re interested in becoming a Foodie Penpal, here are some details. To sign up, visit this page! You must sign up by the 4th of the month.

 
-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal! 
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month. 
-Foodie Penplas is open to US & Canadian residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. 

***If you’re in Europe, please contact Carol Anne from This Is Rock Salt at rocksalt@thisisrocksalt.com to get involved!

 

Happy Monday!


Of Lunch and Lettuce

Something amazing happened on Monday.

Ben and I harvested lettuce from our garden. It was the first time this season and I couldn’t have been more excited. We had red oak and pirate’s butter lettuce-both were delicious (especially when mixed with spinach and sunflower seeds, topped with maple mustard, tarragon vinegar and olive oil).

Our lettuce patch as of Memorial Day… it’s since doubled in size!

It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to use fresh ingredients, especially when grown by your own hand. I admit that in this case, it’s mostly Ben… but I get such pride when I see baby basil plants poking through the dirt or beans popping up and knowing that I helped the growing process and I love learning more each and every day.

The greens were a perfect addition to my favorite kind of lunch. It consisted of salad, salmon, dilly scrambled eggs, grilled scallions(also from the garden) and green olives. Ben and I picked off of one plate. and just enjoyed the different flavor combinations and the first tastes of the season… all these things that don’t necessarily go together, but combined..they just work.

I’m loving all those greens!

This was perfect. I’m so looking forward to more salads and more fresh ingredients that we grow in our garden. I can’t think of a better way to nourish both body and soul.


May Foodie Penpal Reveal Day!

Holy Cow! How is it already May 31?!  This month has flown by and I have been aching to tell you about my foodie penpal experience and the day is finally here! Ah!
 
Before we start, a quick reminder that the Cheechako Taco giveaway ends today, please comment on the post in order to enter the drawing. I’ll announce the winner tonight! Click here to read/sign up.
 
Thank you to Nicole over at the Revved Runner for her awesome package! You totally nailed it: Pickles. Pretzels. Nuts. Chocolate. AMAZING!
 
I sent a package to Lauri P. out in Texas and am happy to report she was a fan of all of her Upstate NY/VT goodies!
 

I could barely contain my excitement.

First, Nicole sent this awesome card. The best part? You can use it again! I love perforated lines and postcards, especially in combination with recycling! Genius.

This doubles as a postcard!

 
When I opened the box, I couldn’t figure out why one side felt so much heavier. There was a large item wrapped in a plastic bag (I love that she did this, because that is totally how I package things, too!). When I removed the plastic, I got a huge grin on my face. It was a large jar of German pickles. I’m usually a dill girl, but these had the right kind of sweetness and still had a little bit of crunch. Major props, Nicole!
 
The box also contained a bag of Annie’s Organic Pretzel Bunnies. I love fun shaped foods…almost as much as I love pretzels.
 
Next, a Texas Staple-Cinnamon Honey Spread. Yum! I haven’t had a chance to crack this open yet, but I am thinking it will be divine on some homemade biscuits or popovers. I can’t wait! I love trying regional foods, so I am psyched about this spread.
 
The next few items were new to me. Sweet lord, what have I been missing?
 
Laura’s Wholesome Junk Food: These beauties come in bite form. Two bites are the perfect amount if you are looking for a little sweet…or a quick refuel after a workout. There was a whole lot of chocolatey-oaty goodness in this container.
 
Gone Nuts: This little package didn’t stand a chance in our house. It was a raw cashew almond blend with white and regular chocolate. Holy cow they were delicious! The package was instantly devoured and now I am obsessed…and trying to track down some more! If you haven’t had these, try them. Immediately!
 

So much flavor in one little box!

 Another HUGE Thank you to Nicole! I’ve enjoyed getting to know you through email and your blog…and you did an amazing job choosing all of my foodie goodies!
 
In case you’re interested in becoming a Foodie Penpal, here are some details. To sign up, visit this page!
 
-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal! 
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month. 
-Foodie Penplas is open to US & Canadian residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. 

***If you’re in Europe, please contact Carol Anne from This Is Rock Salt at rocksalt@thisisrocksalt.com to get involved!


To Plan, or Not to Plan?

I had a major garden score today. Completely unplanned! I took my empty coffee bag to Starbucks so they could recycle it (and so I could get my free cup of coffee for doing so!) and noticed that they didn’t have any of the small bags of used coffee grounds. So, I asked if they had any on hand. I ended up leaving with a garbage bag full of coffee grounds! Pretty exciting stuff…Farmer Ben is going to be ecstatic…and my car is going to smell like burnt coffee. I can’t decide if this is a positive or a negative.

Sidenote: I’ve realized that I am more awkward now than I was at sixteen. Scary.

In other news, big shout-out to Steph for sending me this very cool site/blog: http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/ 

I highly recommend checking it out. In short, it’s a blog that chronicles a family’s journey of cutting out processed foods, then going further and doing so on a budget. It also has a lot of great recipes, resources, guidelines and best practices.

I’ve said before, you have to read those labels, buy local, in season, and grow your own food, etc., etc., etc.! It’s definitely for your health!

Anyway, check this out if you are interested in making the change and wondering where to start. Thanks again, Steph!

Another cool health plan is The Daniel Plan. Here is the website: http://danielplan.com/ 

It’s a similar concept with a biblical base and more of a community/group-based site. It also focuses on fitness and scripture. Again, give them a visit to check them out. 

Neither of these are your typical “diets.” They are more of a lifestyle change, focusing on real food and health- NOT the next big weight-loss craze.  

I believe that anyone doing this will discover that real food just tastes better. No question.

I’m also still an avid myfitnesspal user-Find me (username: nre820)!-but if any of you are interested in having a partner/support group on a food-based journey, I am totally down! I also happen to be married to a guy with a pretty  awesome wealth of knowledge on the topic of food! And gardening! And eating local! You can also check out my list of “current web obsessions” for some pretty awesome food blogs that focus on real ingredients (namely, 101cookbooks).

Alright, time to step off the soapbox. 

I just witnessed a torrential downpour. Literally 63.5 seconds ago. Now, the sun is shining. Oh April, you kill me.

Lastly, mad shout-out to Liz for being awesome and making some major tracks on the Couch to 5k program.  And to Kristy for killing the Plattsburgh Half-Marathon. And to James for his awesome job on the Chattahoochee Half Iron Tri.

The end. More coming soon.


This is Why…Part Deux

Dear Friends, 

Monsanto=Bad News Bears.

 They are the gangsters of the agricultural world, trying to stomp out local farming…and sneaking GMOs into everything. 

…even though their own people in charge eat organic. There is probably something wrong when the people in charge of a company won’t eat their own product.

Please take a moment of  your time to sign this petition: Tell Obama to cease FDA ties with Monsanto.

Then, pass it on. Please.

Thanks!

Noelle


This Is Why…

Hello, hello, hellooooo!

As you can probably tell, I am feeling much better. I am finally getting over whatever it was I had, thanks in part to lots of tea and tissues, homemade soup, my wonderful husband and a ridiculous amount of sleep. One more day and I think I will be completely healthy again.

I am excited to bring you new posts, as briefly detailed in my last entry…and more! Again, I apologize for the lack of writing on my part, having been out of work for a few days last week things have been ridiculous.

Anyway… I saw this article yesterday. I think it pretty clearly outlines yet another reason why I try to avoid fast food, processed food or factory produced meats.  In case you missed my post on this the first time around, here is the link.

Basically, McDonald’s said that they would stop using ammonia treated beef (or as my friend BG put it, “Ghostbusters’ slime”)… my question? Why the heck were they using ammonia treated beef in the first place?! The answer: ammonium hydroxide is used as an anti-microbial, making (very) low quality meat okay for consumption.

The chemical is also used in many every day household cleaners and to darken wood. Yum.  The FDA has determined that the use of ammonium hydroxide is safe… regardless, I don’t personally believe that eating cheeseburgers-and other foods-containing a substance used in my window cleaner is very appetizing…or healthy, for that matter.

If you read on in the first article, it also discusses other substances used in everyday processed/pre-made/frozen/fast foods. Nothing wrong with eating shellac or sand, right? Thanks, but no thanks.

In short, I’ll be sticking with my local, grass-fed meat, vegetables from our garden and homemade breads… Buy local!

Sources: 

Yahoo! The Sideshow- http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/mcdonald-confirms-no-longer-using-pink-slime-chemicals-171209662.html

Wickipedia: Ammonium Hydroxide– http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ammonium_hydroxide

FoodInsight.Org: Questions and Answers about Ammonium Hydroxide Used In Food Production- http://www.foodinsight.org/Resources/Detail.aspx?topic=Questions_and_Answers_about_Ammonium_Hydroxide_Use_in_Food_Production