Simply beautiful...

Simply beautiful...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Homemade Granola

Yesterday was a treat. What I mean is that my two kids napped at the same time... for a long time. When you have a toddler and a newborn, you learn very quickly that this is a treat. Along with a few other things I had to get done, I decided to make homemade granola during that quiet time. Our family loves having yogurt and granola or oatmeal for breakfast on a regular basis. I have tried purchasing several different kinds of granola and have found a few we all really like, but recently I had the itch to make our own.

I started simply by trying out my Aunt Mary's recipe. I remember going over to her house when I was younger and her pulling the freshly made granola out of her oven. It looked and smelled wonderful! So, that's where I started... with the one from my childhood memory. It turned out just as I remembered (even though I forgot to add the oil) and was perfect for breakfast this morning.

Aunt Mary's Granola:

2 cups organic old fashioned oats
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 & 1/2 cups nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, etc.)
1 tsp. salt
1 can Eagle Brand organic condensed milk
1/4 cup oil

*** Mix all and spread in a foil-lined pan. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Stir occasionally. Remove and add 1 & 1/2 cups dried fruit (preferably unsweetened raisins, cranberries, apricots, etc.).
When I spend time making something, I love to know the health benefits as to why I chose certain foods. Here are a few for this granola recipe:
  • I used organic condensed milk to be sure it is free of any unnecessary antibiotics and hormones (I use all organic dairy products for this reason).
  • I also used walnuts for their omega-3 fatty acids. Having a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can reduce risk of heart disease and stroke and can also reduce symptoms of hypertension, depression, ADHD, joint pain, etc.
  • I also like how this recipe incorporates wheat germ. Wheat germ is full of health benefits such as: digestive health/cleansing (through fiber), antioxidant power to defend cells against free radical damage (Vitamin E), helps your body with the metabolism of food (Vitamin B5/pantothenic acid), helps in the formation of hormones and "good" cholesterol (Vitamin B5/pantothenic acid), helps the body break down proteins and make red blood cells (Vitamin B6/pyridoxine), helps in the creation of antibodies in the immune system (Vitamin B6/pyridoxine), helps to make DNA (Vitamin B9/folate/folic acid), helps maintain normal brain function and is a critical part of spinal fluid (Vitamin B9/folate/folic acid).
I've seen quite a few variations I'd like to try, but next time I think I'll try a recipe that substitutes honey and brown sugar for the organic condensed milk. I'd also like to try using a different nut, but still get the health benefits of the omega-3 fatty acids by adding ground flax seeds to it. My sister-in-law has also given me another challenge... to make an allergen-free granola - one that is gluten, dairy, nut, and egg-free. I'll keep you posted on how those turn out!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

If Only we Knew What we are Eating...

My husband and I have been spending a lot of time in our car over the past few weekends as we have been driving around looking for a house to buy. This time-consuming process of checking out neighborhoods and areas in a city that is rather unfamiliar (when it comes to buying a home) can lead to a few extra meals out. One of those "on the go" meals led us to dine at a fast-food restaurant chain here in Oregon called Burgerville. It has made it's stamp as more of a "gourmet" fast-food burger joint, purchasing many of their products from local farmers and businesses in the area.

We each ordered a typical meal consisting of a burger, fries and drink. I looked forward to every bite as we had sufficiently let ourselves get hungry. As I checked the contents of our bag, I pulled out the receipt and was surprised to see more than just a monetary total listed on it. Our receipt had the nutritional values of each item we ordered on it!

My first reaction was to the caloric and fat totals. There were far more calories and fat grams than I would normally eat in a single meal... the thrill of each bite diminished slightly. Then... I reminded myself that I don't eat like this everyday. It's ok to enjoy such things in moderation.

My next reaction was one of excitement that the nutrition facts are at the fingertips of consumers! Awareness of one's choices is the first step towards healthier decisions in the future. Having the numbers stare back at me from my receipt made me think twice about my portion control and about how often I should be eating a meal like that... not in an obsessive way, but in a way that educates me about what I want to be putting in my body. Have you seen other restaurants take this approach when it comes to publishing their nutrition facts?

On that note, check out this article on healthier fast-food places to dine. One of the criteria to make the list is precisely this. You'll be shocked at number 8!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Welcome Bentley David Swift!

On October 14th we welcomed Bentley David Swift into our family! I know, I know... it's been a month since then, but I can honestly say we have been BUSY (adjusting to 2 kids, living with our family who also just had their 2nd baby and actively looking for a house to buy!). Bentley weighed 9lbs. 6oz and was 21 inches long... all of which received a gasp from everyone in the delivery room (especially by me!).Our little (or should I say big) guy wouldn't come out on his own, so we chose to induce - which made me extremely nervous since I know not all of them go well. Thank you to all of our friends and family for your prayers because we definitely felt God's presence throughout the entire process. I was especially thankful for God's guidance to the right doctor, as the move made us switch at 7 months along... she was outstanding!Since bringing him home we are loving getting to know our son. He is a very mellow and content baby, but has a set of lungs when he does cry. When he is awake he is very alert and that's often when I think he looks like me when I was a baby. We are thankful that he is a great eater and sleeper too! I think having 2 toddlers and another newborn in the house have helped him sleep through LOTS of noise.Harper has adjusted pretty well to having a little brother. She knew mommy had a baby in her tummy, but she wasn't quite prepared to have to share her mama and dada. When she visited him in the hospital, she acted quite stunned and overwhelmed. Since then, however, she is increasingly loving towards him. She often wants to hug or kiss him, hold him, help change his diaper and thinks he MUST always want his "paci" since she does (this often means her trying to cram it in to his mouth with toddler force). I love how she will squeal and laugh with excitement whenever he makes any movement or noise. I know they will be the best of buddies when they get old enough to play together and that warms my heart.

Here are a few pictures of what we've been up to since his arrival...
Bentley's first ride in the carseat leaving the hospital... I'm sorry sweet boy for the pink wings... hopefully you won't hold it against us later in life ;)
Our first family picture as the 4 of us!
The first time Harper got to hold Bentley... she found it extremely entertaining that he has all the same facial features as her... a nose, a mouth, 2 eyes, etc.
Mimi and Auntie Kara talking to Bentley while he was awake.
His first bath was successful with no tears!
We had a great first family outing to the pumpkin patch on Sauvie Island. Both sides of our families joined us and braved the cold weather.
Nana (with Bentley) and OoOo (with Jensen) holding the boy cousins... so precious!
Harper on Halloween being the perfect pumpkin fairy. Mimi gave Harper her first bite of candy and boy oh boy... it was a hit!
Me and my boy!
The Stude's flew all the way up here and braved the cold, wet weather just to meet Bentley. We had a fantastic time with them and soaked up the much needed love from friends.
Harper loved having Auntie Jordan and Uncle Josh visit... they are GREAT playmates!
Just the girls... Harper was having SO much fun playing with J & J that she was upset to have to stop for a quick picture. And... our little man at 4 weeks old!