MAMA’S HOMEMADE GRANOLA

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I currently eat granola at least 3 times per week, usually for breakfast. Whether it’s mixed with a banana and almond milk as a cereal, or topped with berries and coconut yogurt for a parfait. I absolutely love it; it’s just as easy to eat at home as it is on the go, simply throw it into a glass jar and you’re ready. However, I have a little confession to make… I often end up buying {though organic and preservative free} packaged granola. Why I didn’t think of making my own granola sooner, I don’t know. Luckily, my mama is in town and I’ve asked her to show me her secret to a delicious, filling, and heart-healthy granola that can easily be made into large batches to last through the entire week.

Having mom in town also means taking her to some my favourite shops in the city. We spent an afternoon this past weekend perusing, which lead to a minor splurge on my part. I stumbled upon a really neat reusable plastic wrap alternative, Abeego hemp & beeswax food wrap, which I ended up using to seal the lidless vintage glass mason jars I bought. So cool right? The food wraps come in 3 different sizes and are just so versatile. Not only do they cut down on waste but they last forever and also keep food fresher, longer.

Whole grain rolled oats are an all-natural, gluten-free source of fibre and iron. By adding hemp hearts, you’ll get an extra boost of fibre and iron, as well as protein and complex carbohydrates, providing long-lasting energy for the day ahead. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different ingredients, either! Other delicious options to consider are cacao nibs, unsweetened shredded coconut, dates, dried apricots, and warm spices {think nutmeg, all spice and cloves}. Not only is this granola simple to make but it’s also a convenient portable meal for all the super busy “I have no time to breathe, let alone eat breakfast” folk.

The Ingredients {Yield: 6-8 servings Total Time: 30 minutes}

  • 3 cups whole grain rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup raw pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dried cranberries
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons agave nectar, honey, or maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon hemp hearts
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • sprinkle coarse salt

The Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and in a bowl, mix together all ingredients using your hands, making sure all dry ingredients are fully coated

2. Scoop granola mixture onto baking sheet and spread out, creating an even layer

3. Place in oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. After the first 10 minutes, mix granola using a wooden spoon to ensure a golden colour throughout

4. Let cool and serve as a snack or with almond or soy milk and a generous serving of fresh berries

NATURAL CURES FOR YOUR WINTER COLD

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Well here we are, smack-dab in the middle of winter. Cold & flu season has arrived, but what does that even really mean? Contrary to popular belief, cold weather itself has little impact on whether or not we get sick; we will not simply catch a cold by going outside with our hair wet, either.

We tend to get sicker during the colder months likely due to a number of reasons. Firstly, people are spending much more time indoors and in close proximity to others, making it much easier for the body to pick up nasty germs. Lack of vitamins A, C & D, and lack of sunshine in general, are also factors that are essential in keeping the immune system happy. According to Raymond Francis, author of the book Never Be Sick Again, if you’re already sick, take vitamin C every half hour to bowel tolerance, which means taking it up to the point where you begin getting excessive gas or diarrhea then back off. It is claimed to be so effective that in a matter of hours, the cold will be gone! I have yet to be sick this winter, so I can’t confirm that the above method works but you won’t know if you don’t try. Lack of rest also plays a role as to why we get sick. Sleep is critical to health and getting adequate amounts strengthens the immunity. Your best bet is to slow down this winter and take more time to relax and sleep {helloooo, glorious naps}. Lastly, poor diet is also known to contribute to colds and flus. As a preventative measure, focus on incorporating whole foods high in nutrients; dark leafy greens, root vegetables, and seasonal fruit are all great options.

Should you find yourself bedridden, all congested and snotty-nosed, then see below for 10 natural cures sure to bring you back to life:

1. Oil of Oregano, containing antiviral and antioxidant properties. When sick, apply 4 drops under your tongue, twice daily. This stuff is potent; if it’s too strong for your liking, mix the drops in a glass of orange juice

2. Vitamin C, take fresh or as a supplement. Try juicing 2 oranges and 1 lemon for a perfect glass of OJ

3. Clear Fluids, helps break up congestion and keep you hydrated

4. Sweat, either in a steam room or sauna. Sweating eliminates the body of toxins and is also a sleep aid

5. Homemade Lemon Ginger Tea, an anti-inflammatory tea that is packed with vitamin C and known to relieve nausea

6. Raw Honey, taken by the spoonful to suppress cough and sore throat

7. Raw Garlic, can be taken by the spoonful {do not chew or eat on empty stomach} or added to dishes to boost the production of white blood cells, helping to fight off bacteria, parasites, and viruses

8. Rest, lots and lots of rest. Not providing your body with enough rest while your immune system is down is a surefire way to remain sick

9. Epsom Salt Bath, not only will the bath relax you, it may also relieve headaches

10. Positivity, every thought has a physical effect on your body, for better or worse. Something as simple as having a daily mantra can work wonders

LEMON LENTIL SALAD

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As much as I like to stay away from the doctor’s office {I most always choose to see a Naturopath as opposed to a Medical Doctor}, sometimes the visit is inevitable. I recently had blood work done and was told that I am very low in iron, bordering on anemia. This is likely due to the fact that I follow a vegetarian diet, as the iron found in plant-based foods, as opposed to meat-based foods, is more difficult for our bodies to digest. The most common symptoms of iron deficiency that I had been experiencing were hair loss, fatigue, lightheadedness, and inability to focus. Experiencing these symptoms on their own were bearable but on days in which they all would occur were less than pleasurable, to say the least.

I have yet to begin taking iron supplements as I hope to increase my iron intake simply through diet. Dark leafy greens, lentils, tofu, chickpeas, dried apricots, and organic dark chocolate have all taken up a permanent place in my fridge and cupboards. These foods high in iron are best eaten with vitamin C as it helps speed the absorption of iron traveling from our digestive system into the bloodstream. A few iron and vitamin C pairings to keep in mind include citrus fruits & edamame, red bell peppers & spinach, tomatoes & broccoli, and last but not least, lemons & lentils!

The Ingredients {Yield: 4 servings Total Time: 40 minutes}

Salad

  • 2 cups lentils {I used: green lentils}
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup raisins, or dried fruit of your choice
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • handful arugula
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • handful parsley, chopped

Vinaigrette

  • juice of 1 1/2 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon mustard {I used: my favourite brand, Kozlik’s, Bordeaux mustard}
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • dash of cinnamon & nutmeg
  • dash of s&p

The Directions

1. Rinse lentils and place in a pot. Pour in 4 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until al dente; about 30 minutes

2. While lentils cook, chop onion and red pepper and place in a serving bowl along with the remaining salad ingredients

3. For the vinaigrette, place all ingredients in a blender or food processor to emulsify, about 30 seconds

4. When lentils are cooked, drain and run under cold water to stop cooking process. Mix lentils in with salad ingredients and toss. Pour dressing over and toss again

5. Add leftover parsley and lemon zest to garnish. Leftover salad is best kept in an airtight glass container and is good for up to 3-4 days

PS. If you’re looking for a quick snack high in iron, try making kale chips tossed in olive oil and lemon juice, baked in the oven for about 15 minutes

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