Recipe: Homemade Granola

Granola was a staple in our house growing up. My mom rarely bought cereal, but we had granola at least twice a week. Homemade granola is simple to make, cheaper than cereal and much, much more nourishing which is why it’s one of our favorite healthy frugal breakfasts.

We eat it topped with raisins, chocolate chips, or craisins; with homemade yogurt; or as a layer in Eppli Cakka (a delicious Faroese dessert or breakfast).

Homemade Granola

Family’s Favorite Granola Recipe:

Ingredients: 

4 1/2 cups oatmeal (I prefer old fashioned oats)
1/2 cup whole grain flour
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1/8 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup oil (or melted butter)
1/2 cup honey (or agave nectar)
1 tsp vanilla (homemade is delicious!)
2 T water

Instructions: 

  1. Mix dry ingredients.
  2. Combine wet ingredients and add to dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Bake in a 9×13 pan (glass seems to heat more evenly and avoid burning as easily) at 300° for about 1 hour.
  4. Stir after 20 minutes, then 15, then 10, then 5 until evenly golden brown.
  5. Cool thoroughly and enjoy!

  May be linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeHealthy 2Day ,Works for MeWalking RedeemedGraced SimplicityFabulously Frugal & Simple Lives

Recipe: Homemade Lime Soda

When I was morning sick with Edmund, a friend recommended club soda to calm the nausea. It helped. For weeks, club soda was a regular staple at the dinner table. Even though it didn’t take the nausea away, it really helped take the edge off.

Then when three weeks of the stomach flu hit our home, we went through can after can of club soda.

Soda water has been used for centuries to calm nausea and it’s a staple in our pantry now.

Delicious homemade lime soda

Of course, it’s not just good for calming stomach complaints, it makes such delicious summer drinks.

My favorite is this refreshing lime soda that Joshua makes as a special treat for the kids (and me!) It’s made with freshly-squeezed limes and raw sugar or agave nectar and makes a delicious substitute to regular soda. Plus, it’s so easy to control the sweetness.

Homemade Lime Soda

Ingredients

  • Fresh limes (or lemons)
  • Agave nectar, liquid sugar in the raw, or homemade simple syrup
  • Club soda
  • Ice
  • Fresh mint, optional
Instructions
  1. Fill glasses with crushed ice.
  2. Fill glasses 3/4 full with club soda.
  3. Squeeze limes.
  4. Add lime juice and liquid sweetener to taste.
  5. Garnish with fresh mint, if desired.
Looking for more refreshing summer drinks? Try kefir water. It’s not only tasty, it’s filled with probiotics.
[Thanks Brooke!]

Recipe: Spinach Chips

“Mama, can I please have more spinach chips?” my two-year-old begged.

“Yes, but finish the rest of your food first,” I said. As I answered, I could hardly keep from chuckling. Since first trying these delicious spinach chips, “more spinach” has been a regular request at our dinner table. Spinach has become a reward for finishing the rest of their food.

A bed of spinach

I planted a whole bed of spinach, just to keep up with the demand.

We’ve made this recipe so many times, I thought it was high time to share our own favorite varieties.

Spinach (or Kale) Chips

Spinach chips tossed in oil

Ingredients:

  • Fresh spinach (or kale)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

Our favorite flavors (optional):

  • Fresh garlic & a touch of cayenne (I use about one clove per of garlic plus a teensy dash of cayenne per panful) OR
  • Lemon juice & pepper (about half a squeezed lemon and a generous dash of freshly ground pepper per panful)

Spinach chips ready to bake

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325° for spinach [or 300° for kale].
  2. Wash spinach thoroughly and pat dry
  3. Toss very lightly with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt
  4. Add flavors, if desired, and toss thoroughly
  5. Spread in a single layer on pan.
  6. Bake for 7-12 minutes, depending on the size of your spinach. The chips should be paper thin and crisp.

Enjoy!

 May be linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeWalking Redeemed, Fabulously Frugal Thursday, & Graced Simplicity

DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract

Want to fill your kitchen with heavenly scents? Want to create something fun and excellent quality and out of the ordinary to use in your own kitchen or give as a gift?

Make homemade vanilla.

It’s so simple and one of those fun projects that I’ve been wanting to do for ages. We were given a lovely bottle for Christmas two years ago but I’d used and reused the vanilla beans till there wasn’t any life left in them.

I bought fresh vanilla beans before Christmas and finally pulled them out of the cupboard.

Given the fact that it took all of fifteen minutes (and made the kitchen smell amazing for hours and hours) it’s pretty ridiculous it took this long to make!

Vanilla beans and alcohol= delicious pure vanilla extract

There are a whopping two ingredients you’ll need for your homemade extract: vanilla beans and alcohol. Can’t get much simpler than that….you just have to choose what kind of beans and what kind of alcohol.

Vanilla beans: there are several kinds of vanilla beans, but Bourbon (also known as Madagascar) is the popular scent we’d all instantly recognize as vanilla and the type I bought. Then there’s two grades: A and B. Grade A beans have more oil and are considered better for cooking. However, the grade B beans are generally preferred for making extract.

[I ordered my vanilla beans here or you can order certified organic and fair trade vanilla beans here.]

Alcohol: vodka, bourbon, tequila…any should work fine (just don’t use inedible rubbing alcohol!) I made one batch with vodka and one with bourbon to experiment. The bourbon lends a fun bourbon-esqe flavor, but if you’re after the true vanilla flavor, vodka is the way to go.

 (Whew, how’s that for making a simple recipe a bit more complicated!)

For a strong vanilla extract, use 1/4 pound of beans (approx. 25 beans, but it can vary a lot) to 1 quart of alcohol.

Slice the vanilla beans down the center, leaving them attached at the end if you think it looks pretty.

Place in clean glass jar. Cover completely with alcohol. Screw the lid on tightly and store for one to six months in a cool dark place stirring regularly (daily…or weekly…or whenever you happen to remember.)

Label and date, at least if you tend to forget exactly what and when you bottled as quickly as I do.

Start using when the extract smells vanilla-y enough to you. As you use the vanilla, you can add more alcohol. The vanilla won’t be as strong, but I kept reusing the vanilla beans we were given till they lost most of their potency.

Once they’re satisfactorily extracted don’t throw them away! Turn the beans into vanilla sugar. [Recipe coming soon.]

Linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeWalking RedeemedGrace Simplicity, & Proverbs 31

 [Full disclosure: links to some products in this post are my referral links.]

Recipe: Hearty Protein Bars

Slightly-crunchy with the perfect touch of sweetness, these protein bars are one of my favorite snacks. (If I’m in a hurry they work for breakfast too!) Unlike many store-bought protein bars, they’re jam-packed with nourishing whole foods.

Since first reading about these bars a couple years ago, I’ve made them dozens of times and adapted the recipe to suit our tastes. One of the great things about this recipe is its versatility! If you don’t have, or care for, one of the ingredients there’s usually at least one way to substitute.

Ingredients

All measurements are approximate. 

  • 2 cups almonds (soaking them increases their flavor and digestibility)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup oatmeal (thanks for the idea, Mom!)
  • 1//4 cup flax seed
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • dash of salt, optional
  • heaping 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • heaping 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 1 T honey
  • 1/8-1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 T coconut oil

Instructions

  1. Blend almonds, raisins, oatmeal, and flax seed in a blender until fine.
  2. Pour into a bowl, add the coconut flakes and salt and mix well.
  3. Over low heat, melt peanut butter, coconut oil, vanilla & honey in a saucepan.
  4. Add to “dry” ingredients and pour into an 8×8 pan.
  5. Refrigerate until firm.
  6. Melt chocolate chips and coconut oil over low heat and spread over bars. Refrigerate, cut into delectable pieces, and enjoy!

Due to the coconut oil, these bars are best just out of the fridge. 

For those interested, Country Life Natural Foods–has wonderful prices on bulk coconut flakes, organic raisins (just barely more than Aldi!), oatmeal, and much more.

Linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeWalking RedeemedGrace Simplicity, & Proverbs 31