Springtime Granola

Healthy Breakfast Granola | www.kiwiandbean.com

The Bean and I have spent a lot of time over the last couple of (very cold) months talking about the arrival of spring. When she has trouble sleeping at night, I implore her to close her eyes and think about all the fun things we will do when spring comes: play in the park, pick flowers, hunt for easter eggs, etcetera. Just like in the storybooks:

SpringBook

Unfortunately, the first day of spring came and went, and our backyard looks like this:

SpringYard

And no, that’s NOT a crocus you see sticking up in the corner near the fence. It’s four-month old cat poo. Welcome to “spring” in the great white north.

If we don’t have spring in our backyard, at least we can have it in our breakfast bowls with this refreshing granola recipe.

Now before you go all “since when is granola refreshing??” on me—whip this up and taste for yourself. It was not even me, but the world’s best friend and recipe tester (you know who you are) who declared “The orange zest makes it refreshing – a good ‘springtime’ granola!”.

Refreshing, but also “sick,” (translation: awesome) said the recipe tester’s husband, whom I know to be among the toughest of taste critics!

If you haven’t made your own granola before, you are in for a real treat. Once you try it, you will never go back to the boxed or bagged stuff you buy in the store. Because no matter how “artisanal” or “all-natural” or “made by hand” the store-bought stuff claims to be, it doesn’t hold a candle to the kind you make yourself.

There are lots of recipes out there for homemade granola. I have tinkered with a whole bunch of them, and landed on this winning formula—oats plus your favourite nuts and seeds, dried fruit and coconut, sweetened with maple syrup, bound with olive oil and punctuated with cinnamon and orange zest. The result is a not-too-sweet, super flavourful cereal that you can actually feel good about serving up for breakfast. The Bean loves it with milk and blueberries or banana slices. Kiwi and I prefer it over raspberries and yogurt with a drizzle of maple syrup or honey. Packaged in a mason jar with a pretty ribbon, it also makes a perfect—and always appreciated—gift.

Healthy Breakfast Granola | www.kiwiandbean.com

Like my favourite smoothie recipe, this is really more of a formula than a strict recipe. Which means you can adapt it to your tastes and dietary restrictions, whatever those may be. If you like it sweeter, add more maple syrup. If you’ve got a nut allergy on your hands, or want to make this school/daycare-friendly, use pumpkin and sunflower seeds instead of the nuts. Leave out the dried fruit altogether, if you aren’t a fan.

 

Springtime Granola

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Adapted from Super Natural Every Day, by Heidi Swanson

Ingredients

  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups mixed nuts and/or seeds (I like pecans and pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 cup large flake coconut
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon maple syrup (add a few extra tablespoons if you like a sweeter granola)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Grated zest of 2 oranges
  • 1 cup dried fruit (cranberries, currants, cherries or chopped apricots work well)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Divide the mixture between two parchment paper-lined baking sheets and spread it into a thin layer.
  4. Bake for about 20 minutes, then remove the pans and stir the granola well and return it to the oven for another 15 to 20 minutes, or just until the coconut flakes are golden brown.
  5. Let the granola cool completely before transferring it to a large ziploc bag or mason jar. Store at room temperature.
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Weekday Weenie Bake

Weekday Weenie Bake | (Cooking for) Kiwi & Bean | www.kiwiandbean.com

As weeknight family dinners go, this Weekday Weenie Bake ticks all the boxes: delicious, healthy, one-pot, make-ahead, kid-proof (with a side of ketchup, perhaps), and wallet-friendly. Are you reading this Kiwi? I said WALLET FRIENDLY. Cheap and cheerful. Economical.

Kiwi and I have a long-standing debate about our monthly grocery spend. For the sake of marital endurance, I will not hang out this piece of dirty laundry. Suffice it to say that I like to spend (on leeks, not on Louboutins, in my defense!), and he likes to save, or at the very least spend more modestly.

Weekday Weenie Bake | (Cooking for) Kiwi & Bean | www.kiwiandbean.com

So this recipe is dedicated to Kiwi. And to everyone out there looking to trim their grocery bill. Continue Reading →

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What’s Cooking This Week: V-Day Edition

LOVE

I’ve never been much for Valentine’s Day. Not since the late 1980s, anyway, when I dutifully filled out the “TO” and “FROM”s on drugstore Valentine’s cards and deposited them in my classmates’ cubbies.

But now that I’m a mom, these types of holidays appear to be taking on on a renewed importance. I got an email from the Bean’s preschool last week “inviting” me to provide Valentine’s Day cards for each of the 28 children and four teachers in the class. Wait, this is still a thing?! Indeed.

In a moment of sheer insanity, I decided the Bean and I ought to make the Valentine’s Day card ourselves. This is what good moms do, right?

2 sheets of red cardstock, 6 bottles of glitter glue, 2 temper tantrums, and 180 heart stickers later, we have 7 cards. Even this sleep-deprived baby brain can do that math—25 left to go. There may be a trip to the drugstore in my future. Continue Reading →

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Blueberry Oatmeal Chia Milk-Making Muffins

So I’m making you milk-making muffins today. Yes, I’m talking about THAT kind of milk.

Blueberry Oatmeal Chia Muffins | KiwiandBean.com

I hesitated for a minute before going all boobie on y’all, but yo that’s mah life right now: 10 lb milk-sucking leech attached to my tatas; 2.5 year old attached to my leg. Thank god for cartoons on demand. And chocolate chips. These pacify big Bean while I pacify the little one.

My friend Katia nailed it when she said of her 10-day-old-baby-feeding status: “I am the milk”. (She has since turned this mantra into a blog where she writes—hilariously—about parenting and motherhood.)

Yup, I am the milk. The milk is me.

As any nursing mom (and cattle farmer) will attest, milk-making requires a pretty constant source of fuel. With some types of fuel—say the old wives—being favoured for their milk-encouraging attributes. Continue Reading →

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Sausage and Kale Spaghetti

Sausage Kale Pasta | (Cooking for) Kiwi & Bean | www.kiwiandbean.com

Do you ever have those “how did I get here” moments? As in one minute I’m sitting in a university dorm room watching (the original) 90210 and the next I’m sitting on the couch watching Dora the Explorer with MY TWO KIDS. Yes…MY kids. Two of them. Ack. Remind me how I got here? Sure there were 15 intervening years of school, work, ill-advised relationships and the rest of it…but seriously how the heck did they disappear so darn fast? When did I become a mortgage-paying, casserole-making, SUV-driving mom? And if the past 15 years are a blur, what of the next 15? Before I know it I will be lamenting my pot-smoking teenage kids between hot flashes and Botox injections.  Is that how it goes?

This is not a novel thought, I realize. Ya ya ya time flies when you’re having “fun”. But I’ve been reflecting a lot on this lately. Explainable by the pregnancy factor, perhaps. You know, those hormones that cause one to weep uncontrollably at that flipping Apple FaceTime commercial. (Or is that just me?) Continue Reading →

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New Year’s Resolution Brownies, from Cooking with Coconut Oil

Dark Chocolate Brownies, free of grains, refined sugar and dairy | www.kiwiandbean.com

Happy New Year everyone! I took a longer-than-I-should-have Christmas break from blogging to entertain house guests, hang out with friends, organize my house and sleep (while I still can!). Oh, and to clean up after a little ice storm that brought down trees, power lines and Christmas spirits. Aye.

But I’m back just in the nick of time to talk resolutions. Have you got any food-related ones? I’ve got my mind on two: (1) scour the bazillions of cookbooks sitting on my shelves and make at least one new recipe each week (stay tuned), and (2) experiment with alternatives to wheat, refined sugar and dairy. Continue Reading →

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Big Batch Pulled Chicken Chili

Pulled Chicken Chili by KiwiandBean.com

It’s now T-minus 5 weeks until my new little guy is scheduled to make his appearance, and I am in full-on freezer stocking mode. If we are sleep-deprived and overwhelmed in those first few weeks, at least we won’t be hungry.

So far I’ve got shepherd’s pie, beef chili, barbecue chicken quesadillas, lentil dahl, pulled chicken chili, and a good stockpile of staples—fish filets, shrimp, turkey sausages, chicken breast, ravioli and pesto. It’s getting to the point that I may have to plug in my *second* freezer. Yes, that’s right, I have TWO massive mom freezers in my basement. The mini van dealers are salivating…

Among the current contents of my freezer, the pulled chicken chili is a family favourite. And today I’m sharing the recipe over at the Belly Bootcamp website. This dish is a hearty combo of slow-cooked shredded chicken, black beans, corn, and a rich tex-mex-spiced tomatoey broth. We like to eat it with grated cheddar cheese, chopped cilantro, diced tomatoes, sliced avocado and sour cream. Tasty family fuel for the cold (and in my case sleepless, poop-filled, hectic) days ahead. Head over here for the recipe.

Pulled Chicken Chili by KiwiandBean.com

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The Sideshow: Maple Roasted Acorn Squash Wedges

Roasted Acorn Squash by KiwiandBean.comI love fall for its crisp cool days, magnificent colours, sense of renewal, and frenetic pace. But mostly for the squash. Acorns and butternuts, delicatas and hubbards; I don’t discriminate. My door—and stomach—are open to gourds of all colours, shapes and sizes.

When I first met Kiwi he was alarmed at the degree to which squash figured in our weekly fall and winter menus. Having not grown up on it like I did, he took it for baby food. Mush. Not being one to give up, and particularly not where squash was concerned, I continued to dish it out. Roasted, mashed, sautéed. As a side dish, an appetizer, tossed with pasta and bitter greens. And years later, when I pressed him for his thoughts on squash, he declared: “Ya sure, I like squash.” Which, if you know my skeptic of a husband, is some serious progress. Continue Reading →

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Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa

Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa by KiwiandBean.com

I’ve said before that quinoa does NOT need more publicity. And yet here I go again…fawning over the prom queen, the football star, the UN’s food of the year. I can’t get over it, people! It’s quick; it’s healthy; it’s versatile; and you can buy it in inexpensive bottomless sacks at Costco. The International Year of Quinoa may be coming to an end, but—in my house at least—quinoa is here to stay. Sigh.

This recipe started in a special place. A fabulous mom-marathoner-multi-tasker blogger named Maya (check out her musings, product reviews and giveaways over at Mayhood) asked me to contribute a guest recipe post to her blog. Which of course I was honoured to do. I wanted to create a recipe that was just right for her family: simple and healthy—but tasty—fuel for two active boys, and their toddler-chasing marathon-running parents (yes, Maya’s hubby runs too!).

From this, Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa was born. And by cheesy, I mean spiked with molten cheddar cheesy, not Celine Dion Titanic theme cheesy.

Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa by KiwiandBean.com

This dish has quickly become a favourite of everyone in my family. It can be assembled from basic ingredients in less than 30 minutes (= win for me); it tastes faintly like mac and cheese (= win for the Bean); it’s about as low-carb friendly as carbs can be (= win for Kiwi) and it contains broccoli (= win for family health and longevity!).

Hop on over to Mayhood for the recipe!

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Purple Carrot Soup

Purple Carrot Soup by KiwiandBean.com

I considered writing an entire post on riding public transit while pregnant. What is it about that cede-your-seat-to-the-gestating infographic that is so difficult to understand? On yesterday’s ride to work, I stood with my belly pressed into the face of a seated 30-something male who alternately napped (yes it was 815 am), ate a breakfast wrap, and blew his nose. And they say chivalry is dead! Geez. Earlier in the week, an ELDERLY woman offered me her seat on a very crowded subway, and would not take no for an answer. We had a lengthy awkward exchange, while the other passengers sat still and silent.

But this is a food blog. And there are more pressing issues to discuss. Like soup! Any doubts I might have had that soup season was in full swing were dispelled this week, when I walked outside to find frost on my car. Ugh. I finally dug out my mittens, too. There is no turning back; Old Man Winter is settling in. Continue Reading →

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