yogurt

Fall Granola

Fall is by far my favorite season. It’s that time of the year when I get to bring out my scarves, oversized sweaters, leather boots, and- oh yeah, it’s socially acceptable to eat basically all of my favorite foods: pumpkin, sweet potatoes, apples, brussels sprouts, you get the idea.

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Greek yogurt has taken grocery stores by storm for quite some time. But have you ever had Icelandic yogurt? It’s slightly thicker, a little less tangy and, when made by Siggi’s, just sweet enough without being overwhelming, and FREAKIN delicious. My favorite fall flavor? You guessed it- Pumpkin & Spice. The other day I made a batch of homemade fall granola, and I knew it would go just perfectly with the yogurt, with hints of pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg. See recipe below and please go out and buy this yogurt ASAP!!

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FALL GRANOLA

INGREDIENTS

2 cups rolled oats

1/3 cup shredded coconut (I like the big shards)

1/3 cup uncooked quinoa

2 tbs honey

2 tbs coconut oil, melted

1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce

2 tsp brown sugar

dash of cinnamon & nutmeg

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a small bowl, combine coconut oil, apple sauce and honey. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine oats, quinoa, coconut, brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir to combine. Drizzle in coconut oil mixture and stir until the dry ingredients are completely coated. Spread the granola into an even layer on a nonstick cookie sheet and cook 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to a week. Great with yogurt, milk, or just as a crunchy snack!

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Best Ever Granola

When it comes to granola, I must admit, I’m a bit of a snob. Most store bought granolas are either too sweet, too caloric, or too full of things other than oats (i.e. chocolate chunks, too much dried fruit, too many nuts). It blows my mind to read nutrition labels on store bought granola, only to discover they can contain up to 140 calories per 1/4 cup serving! I thought granola was supposed to be a healthy snack or breakfast. That’s why I created my own granola recipe, so I know exactly what’s going into it. It has the perfect balance of salty and sweet, with just the right ratio of dried fruit to nuts to oats. I’m planning on adding variations to this base recipe as the seasons change, but here is the original.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups quick cooking oatmeal

1/4 cup chopped pistachios

1/3 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup craisins

2 tbs agave nectar

2 tbs honey

2 tbs canola oil

2 tsp brown sugar

a dash or two of cinnamon

DIRECTIONS

Preheat over to 325 degrees fahrenheit. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the agave, honey, oil, brown sugar and cinnamon and stir until well incorporated. Pour mixture onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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See! Easy as that. Compared to store bought granolas, my recipe only has 122 calories in 1/3 of a cup! This is the perfect amount for a nice yogurt parfait (see below). I like to add fresh fruit to greek yogurt and granola for a well-rounded and hearty breakfast or snack. I promise, after making this recipe, you’ll never buy granola at the grocery store again.

Mangoes and strawberries make the perfect summer yogurt parfait

Mangoes and strawberries make the perfect summer yogurt parfait

Greek Cherry-Basil Pops

One of the best things about coming home from New York City was being able to actually experience a true, suburban summer. Hearing the birds chirp, smelling freshly cut lawn and actually being able to lay outside without hearing 14 ambulances drive by are just among the list of things I love about a suburban summer in Cleveland. While I’m still in the pre-back-to-school-summer mood, I wanted to create something that would capture summer in just one taste. Alas: the popsicle. A summer dessert icon- so sweet and frozen, with all the flavors you want compacted into one swift lick. I would make popsicles.

My mom bought me POPS! Icy Treats for Everyone, by Krystina Castella at the beginning of the summer, after I raved about Jeni’s Mango Lassi Pop. I was unable to utilize the cook book in New York but was determined to make at least one of the recipes while I was home for just 10 short days. I have tweaked the recipe a little to make it my own, but it was definitely inspired by this amazing book full of more popsicle recipes than you could ever make in your lifetime. Here is my recipe for Greek Cherry-Basil Pops (inspired by Bing Cherry and Vanilla Pops):

Ingredients

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup water

1 bunch basil leaves, roughly chopped

3 cups fresh cherries, pitted and chopped

3/4 cup cherry juice

1 cup greek yogurt

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Sweet Summer Cherries

Directions

In a medium saucepan, bring the water, sugar and basil to a light boil. Allow the sugar to dissolve. Remove from the heat and let cool before straining into a bowl. Discard the basil. This will be your basil simple syrup.

In the same saucepan, simmer the cherry juice, 1/4 cup basil simple syrup and cherries over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool, then add the yogurt and vanilla extract. Stir until the mixture is completely uniform in color. Pour into six 8-ounce popsicle molds and freeze for at least six hours.

Cherries in 3 beautiful shades of pink (from left): cherries in the pot, cherries with juice and syrup simmering, cherry mixture once yogurt and vanilla were added.

Let the pops stand at room temperature for about five minutes before removing from the molds. If they are still stuck, try running the molds under hot water for a few seconds, and they should slip right out! Your result: sweet summer in one swift lick- just what I intended.

So they didn’t come out perfectly, but tasted just as sweet!

Note: if you have extra mixture, like I did, you can pour it into small ramekins and freeze for a frozen yogurt-ice cream-like treat instead!