Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Simple Goodness

We've been eating more and more healthy...reading labels and making better choices; eating more vegetables and fruits; purchasing more and more organic foods; finding and trying new things; and, even, finding out that some of the things we love to eat can easily and quickly be made at home...and, be more healthy than store bought versions.

I know where food comes from...my parents even raised our own meat, milk, and veggies for a few years when I was a kid. So, I'm not completely ignorant on that subject. However, I realize that I might be....just a little. There are some foods that I've only bought at the store and never imagined making at home. There are some that I'm not sure I thought were possible to make at home. But, seriously, if it can't be made at home...is it food?...can it be healthy?...is it something that can only be made in a lab/factory? Eeeew!!!

I didn't realize you could make crackers until I saw Martha Stewart do that a few years ago. We tried it and they were easy and good! Last year, we started making humus. Talk about simple! It literally takes only a few minutes to make and requires just a few ingredients. Fresh, easy, tasty and healthy! I tried making pickles a few months ago and couldn't believe how easy that was and how much better they tasted than the ones from the store.

Over the weekend, my daughter threw a party for local harpists and she made hors d'oeuvres from scratch that were super good. It was a version of bruschetta with pesto she made from scratch in a matter of minutes. It also had artichokes that she marinated the night before. The hors d'oeuvres were fresh, simple, healthy and everyone loved them! We've been playing around with herbs and starting to make pesto but had never tried marinating artichokes. They were so easy, took very few ingredients and they were better than what we've bought at the store.

On Sunday night, I finally got around to trying something I'd only bought at the store and never really imagined making until I started seeing it made on cooking shows. It's granola cereal. It turned out to be easier, quicker to make and tastier than I had even imagined! We couldn't even wait until the next morning to have a bowl full...we ended up having some as a snack that night. Yum!

I looked at a bunch of different recipes on the internet and ended up concocting my own recipe. I wanted less sugar, honey, and oil (that ingredient surprised me) than the recipes used. Mine turned out to have just the right amount of sweetness without being too sweet or too plain. Here's what I did...

I used the following Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped almonds (I chopped mine but it would be easier to buy pre-sliced or slivered)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of salt

In one bowl, I mixed the oats, almonds, cinnamon and salt.

In another bowl, I whisked the honey, brown sugar and canola oil.

Next, I poured the wet ingredients into the dry ones and mixed and mixed until they were evenly coated. I spread it out evenly in two large cake pans, leaving clumps for added texture. I baked it in a preheated, 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. I pulled the pans out, stirred the ingredients around, spread them out again, and put them back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes. I watched carefully and removed them when the granola became a light, toasty brown. I let it cool a bit and then mixed in the dried cranberries and raisins. I let it finish cooling and stored it in an airtight container.

I can't imagine buying premade again. This was so easy and tasty and I know every ingredient that's in it. There aren't things in it that I can't pronounce or even imagine where they came from. Plus, think of the possibilities! My husband would like a version made with vanilla and dried cherries. My daughter thought it would be good with dried apples and some pumpkin pie spices. We could even make a tropical version with dried pineapple, coconut and macadamia nuts. The possibilities are endless!

I feel better and better as I make and eat healthier choices. And, it's very rewarding to not only make some of these foods I never realized I could but to also find them to be more delicious than ever! That's simple goodness!

UPDATE:  I found out that my KitchenAid mixer works great to mix the wet and dry ingredients together and it's a lot easier.  Simply, use the standard padle attachment and turn it on to the slowest setting and allow it to mix for several minutes until all the dry ingredients are evenly coated.  Then, continue with the above directions.  Enjoy!


RodPrjónar said...

Home made food is always the BEST! Knowing exactly what your eating y making things from the basic ingredients has no price really. We are trying to do it as much as we can at home and the quality we get is always a lot superior than the already made foods :)
It akes some time but it is totally worth it and even lots of fun :)

Roxie said...

yum! If you have the time, it's SO worth it!

Cindie Kitchin eweniquely ewe said...

yum, I'm going to try this. I usually only buy the Trader Joe's lower calorie granola because there's so much oil/fat in them.

Sandra said...

It's so true - homemade is always better. I'm trying to do more of that myself - I've always tried to do that with baked goods, and like you, I'm trying to replace a lot of processed foods with homemade. It's a lot easier now that my 13 year old son has taken a interest and eats a much wider variety of stuff.