June 03, 2010
Lately I’ve been trying to find ways to decrease our grocery bill while increasing our healthy eating. One of our favorite things to do is eat. We love food. Iowa City is a great supporter of our passion. Every Saturday Andy (www.andrewcasto.com), Amari (no website yet) and I walk to the farmer’s market downtown and get at least half of our week’s worth of fresh produce. A month ago Danielle (www.daniellekimzey.com) and I even bought some of our own vegetables to plant in her backyard (I’m sure there will be updates on this in the weeks to come). Most of our other groceries come from the local Co-op, and if we choose to go out to eat, there are sooo many wonderful locally owned choices who are cooking local fresh food (www.devotay.net is still our favorite). So in thinking about spending less money and eating even more healthy, I decided to make a change in our breakfast menu. Most mornings we are now eating one of two things in the morning: homemade oatmeal or homemade cereal. Read the secret to making these tasty and healthy in the recipes listed below.
I know, my first thought is pass the brown sugar or chocolate chips because that is the only way I am getting this pasty shellac to go down… but leave it to Amari joining our breakfast table to inspire a new tasty and healthy twist. First, I prepare the oatmeal (rolled oats) on the stove with water and no salt. While the oatmeal is simmering I am busy pulling things out of my fridge and cabinet to throw into the food processor. I never used the food processor until Amari started eating solids, but this my friends, is my new favorite kitchen tool!
Process any or all of the following in the food processor (or make up your own favorites):
Fresh fruit: bananas, apples, and/or strawberries to name a few that we use
About a ¼ C of your favorite kind of milk
A handful of dried fruit (raisins and prunes are our favorites)
A spoonful or two of peanut butter or almond butter
1 or 2 Kale leaves – remove stem first (great source of nutrients and really adds a nice hint of green flavor- don’t be afraid!)
a dash of cinnamon
Once you have your additions nice and blended, add in your cooked oatmeal and process it all together. The change in the oatmeal texture is so nice, and the whole family loves it! And since it is hot when you make it, it has forced us all to sit down at the rarely used dinning room table to enjoy breakfast together before we all depart and do our own things for the day!
Cereal used to be one of our family’s main food groups which filled us with carbs and drained the milk in the fridge faster than we could get home from the grocery with another carton (a real money suck since we mostly drink almond milk). The oatmeal really solves this problem, but sometimes you just need a bowl full of milk and crunchy goodness. So here is my “loose” recipe for homemade granola. My mom posted this recipe on fb a few months ago and if you like to follow directions, this is quite yummy: http://www.joyfulabode.com/2008/04/11/homemade-granola-bar-recipe-no-high-fructose-corn-syrup-in-these-bars/- but I prefer to just use what I have in my cabinet and experiment with using less sugar and bad fats.
I am not very good at remembering to measure my ingredients when I’m experimenting… I’m guessing this is about 6 cups of dry ingredients- it fills a 9 X 13 pan to the height of good brownies.
Dry ingredients- Any combo of the following:
Rolled oats (the main ingredient)
Protein powder (add after toasting the other dry ingredients)
Mix together and toast above ingredients at 400 degrees in a 9 X 13 pan for about 12 minutes- stirring every once and awhile to keep the top from burning. Pull out of the oven and add in a handful or two of your favorite dried fruit. Set aside for a moment.
In a saucepan (if it is large, you can use it for the mixing later- one less dish to wash) on medium heat melt and stir together any combo of the following:
4 Tbs. natural peanut butter and/or Butter
1 C honey, Brown Sugar, and/or maple syrup
2ish tsp. of vanilla
½ tsp. salt
Obviously if you want more protein add more peanut butter than butter… and feel free to experiment with using less of the sugar additives! You could also experiment with sweetening with apple juice or something of that nature (I’ve never done it). If you use the peanut butter option you might want to add some milk or yogurt to allow the liquid mixture to mix into the dry ingredients more easily. Once your liquid ingredients are well blended mix in the dry ingredients then spread back into the 9X13 pan , now lined with waxed paper. Press and compact granola flat using another piece of waxed paper on top of the granola and pressing down with your hands. When cooled break apart for yummy granola cereal or cut into bars for on-the-go breakfast bars (if you choose to do the bars having enough liquid so they will stick together is essential).
Enjoy inventing your new breakfast and get your family back to the table together.
Please share more ingredient ideas if you have your own favorites!