Honestly Healthy Nutty Granola

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I feel a bit stressed if I don’t have a stock of homemade granola available. It not only makes a great breakfast, but it also makes an even better late snack. Without it I have visions of myself absentmindedly tearing through a pile of double stuffed Oreo cookies while watching a Hollyoaks omnibus (Yes, I have very high / low tastes in television. Sue me.)

This nutty granola was the very first recipe I tried when I bought the Honestly Healthy cookbook more than two years ago. It is so simple to make, and it tastes absolutely delicious. Lately I have also been adding a 1/3 cup of quinoa to the granola which I feel adds a bit of depth to the flavor. The recipe in the book calls for:

1/4 cup dried dates
1 cup jumbo rolled oats
2 tbsp honey
1/2 cup mixed cashews and pecans
15 grams raw pumpkin seeds
3 tbsp olive oil

I double this which yields enough to fill a large Tala jar just because I go through it so quickly.

To prepare it all you have to do is simmer the dates in 1/2 inch of water until soft and then blend them until smooth (I just do this with the back of a fork until they break down into a paste.) Stir in the remaining ingredients and mix well.

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Spread the mixture on to a baking tray and bake at 160°C for 15 minutes in a preheated oven until golden, then reduce the oven temperature to 110° and back for a further 30 minutes or until the mixture is dry and crisp.

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Leave to cool completely before transferring to an airtight container.

I cannot recommend the Honestly Healthy cookbook enough. The recipes in it are all pretty fantastic and really gave me such a new appreciation for vegetables. I no longer saw them as just an obligatory side dish because this book really showed me how wonderful and diverse cooking with vegetables could really be. I believe I went for about half a year solely cooking from this book and not eating meat. And to be perfectly honest I didn’t miss it at all. Even now that I have begun eating meat once again, I still have at least three or four meat free dishes each week, and that all stems back to this fantastic beetroot stained, page-stuck-together-with-tamari cookbook.

What I also learned, well what really began with cooking from this book, is just how satisfying cooking and putting thought and effort into what I was eating can really be. I have come to find it almost cathartic to take a bunch of ingredients, cook them together in a certain way, and then be left with a delicious meal or dessert (my day is not complete without a sweet) that I then get to share with people I love and enjoy. To me it is like a direct cause and effect exercise with often times (yes, I have had the few odd disasters here and there) a thoroughly tasty result.

Drinking my Greens

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I try to have a green smoothie almost every day, and my latest favorite recipe is a mash up between two different green smoothies recipes from the Honestly Healthy recipe book and Deliciously Ella.

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One banana
One small portion of cucumber
One celery stick
Half an avocado
Large handful of kale
Small piece of fresh ginger
Four dates
tbsp of ground flaxseed
tbsp of chia seeds
tbsp of spirulina powder
tbsp of almond butter (Meridian is my favorite)
half tbsp of coconut oil

I tend to switch between coconut water and unsweetened almond milk and will fill the blender until it covers 3/4 of the ingredients which usually gives me more than enough for two large pint glasses.

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I know it is probably not the most attractive of colors, but trust me it tastes a lot better than it looks! If you feel it is lacking in sweetness you can always add an extra date.

So what are the benefits you may be wondering??

According to Deliciously Ella: “Green veggies are bursting with chlorophyll which has incredible alkalising, anti-inflammatory and detoxifying benefits, and so leaves you feeling perfectly energised and refreshed. Cucumbers and celery are also full of antioxidants, which are amazing for your skin, while the avocado is bursting with all the good fats you need to feel amazing. Ginger is an amazing addition to the drink too as it’s deliciously soothing for the stomach and works to aid digestion, while the banana doses you up on potassium which is vital for a healthy heart and blood pressure.”

Just what is spirulina??

Described as one of the oldest life forms on Earth, spirulina, the original “superfood”, is a nutrient dense blue-green microalgae that helped produced oxygen in our atmosphere billions of years ago. “Hundreds of studies have confirmed spirulina’s powerhouse status. It has 60-70% complete protein, meaning it has all 8 essential amino acids and 10 non-essential ones that support good health…it contains concentrations of nutrients “unlike any other single grain, herb, or plant.” Some of its other valuable components include: gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), linoleic acid, arachidonic acid, vitamin B12, iron, nucleic acids RNA & DNA, chlorophyll and phycocyanin. Spirulina is highly digestible, protects the immune system, aids in mineral absorption and reduces cholesterol. The high content of vitamin B12 makes it excellent for the development of healthy nerve tissue and the metabolism of every cell in the body. Spirulina is also known for its high content of beta carotene, which is converted into vitamin A, an essential nutrient needed for healthy immunity, teeth, bones, mucous membranes, skin and eyes.”

Learn more:
http://www.naturalnews.com/036101_spirulina_superfood_nutrients.html

Chia seeds are packed with Omega 3 fatty acids and are excellent sources of calcium, manganese, phosphorus, protein and tryptophan which helps regulate appetite, sleep and improve mood. Chia’s stabilizing effect on blood sugar also fights insulin resistance which can be tied to an increase in belly fat.

Flaxseeds are rich in lignans, one of the major classes of phytoestrogens. They are estrogen-like chemical compounds with antioxidant qualities, able to scavenge free radicals in the body. Flaxseed is also a great source of soluble and insoluble fibers as well as Omega-3 fatty acids.