Coconut brown sugar granola

My mental to do list today involved "clean out the pantry". You know, those little loose items that either need to go in a mason jar or get used up? 

I jotted down in my mind: about 1/3 cup sunflower seeds, a cup-ish of shredded coconut, the last shake of those sesame seeds, a quarter jar of wheat germ, the rest of that brown sugar about to dry out, and the dried cranberries. Oh and, Amy, don't forget: finish those berries and that open almond milk before they go bad.

Then as I opened the kitchen cupboard to a large bag of organic rolled oats it all came together like a lightening bolt: GRANOLA!

While I usually just wing it with granola I wanted to see what some recipes online do with brown sugar (as I've most often just used equal parts coconut oil and honey or maple syrup). But then ... *THEN* ... the first recipe that popped up for my search literally called for these ingredients:

2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup sunflower seeds (no shell)
1 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup each: brown sugar, honey, butter
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 cup raisins (I used dried cranberries)
Serve with: berries and milk

SAY WHAT! Things like this happen to me all the time. Sometimes I make a recipe then as it's baking I will look up how other people make the same thing and it'll be identical to what I just totally made up. Kitchen coincidence!

So here's how you do it:
1. Preheat to 300F. 
2. Grease or line a baking sheet. Toss the first 4 ingredients and let toast in the oven for 20 min. Toss if you need to, a few times. Turn up to 350F. 
3. Warm the next 3 ingredients til liquified and mixed, then toss with oat mixture, adding the raisins and germ also. (I added sea salt and cinnamon now - mmmmm!) Toast another 10-20 min. Stir a few times during. 
4. Use a wooden spoon to remove from pan into a large container and let cool, then seal up. Will keep for at least 2 weeks. Eat with almond milk and berries!

Four-berry chia jam

Been seeing this one around the web for months now but it's simply time. 

In a sauce pot, warm 3 cups of berries (I used strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries). Drizzle in 3 T honey or maple syrup.

Stir and mush til saucy. (Took me about 15 min, low and slow.)

Toss in 2 T chia seeds and turn off the heat. 

It's that simple! Let cool in a jar and enjoy on toast, pancakes, etc. So healthy, so easy!

Best Foodie Instagrams

@thatspaleo -- if you're looking for some inspiration on your newly grain free diet, you'll get all the protein you need on this feed
Lots of: eggs, coconut oil, almond meal

@davidchang -- a cool look into the life of a chef, he owns the famous Momofuku group of restaurants (including Milkbar in Toronto) and wrote one of the most intelligent and interesting food books out there
Lots of: noodles, radishes, cereal milk

@tracyshutterbean -- I can't get over her unique (and informative) photography style, especially her "prep for the week" photos 
Lots of: tacos, sriracha, ice cream 

@run_wilde -- no one has ever made healthy, simple food look this great
Lots of: fruit, oatmeal, chia

@blisssedout -- also a killer photographer 
Lots of: herbs, avocado, flowers 

@weelicious -- this is the type of lunch I want to pack my children, from a very talented Food Network star who may just slip some red carpet shots in (care of her Hollywood husband)
Lots of: heirloom raspberries, hormone free cured meats, cute mini sandwiches 

@mynewroots -- the most gorgeous chef of life, living in Copenhagen, happens to make healthy, gorgeous, mostly vegan food and has a degree in holistic nutrition 
Lots of: rice bowls, berries, raw dessert

@heidijswanson -- I don't know what is more beautiful: her recipes, her photography props, or her travel-happy life. She is the blogger behind 101cookbooks which I've made more recipes from than anywhere else on the internet (and they're always bang on)
Lots of: maple syrup, fresh lemon juice, squash 

@thesmitten -- this just makes me hungry
Lots of: cake, pasta, restaurant meals 

@ohladycakes -- more swearing that you're used to from an adorable, vegan food blogger 
Lots of: caramel, coconut cream, almond milk

@minimalistbaker -- a husband and wife collab that have lovely, and skillfully described, food as well as awesome tips for food bloggers 
Lots of: chickpeas, peanut butter, chocolate 

@simplegreensmoothies -- great daily inspiration for your healthful liquid breakfast: all colours welcome!
Lots of: kale, banana, pineapple

@joythebaker -- not anyone in history has come across Joy and not fallen in love, a person you'd like to be friends with but will settle for following on Instagram 
Lots of: doughnuts, bourbon, shrimp

@sproutedkitchen -- I was already in love before they went and had an adorable newborn baby
Lots of: waffles, sprouts (naturally!), salad

Cider beer for summer

It is summer HARD here in Ontario. Last night driving home from a friend's place Calvin looked at our car's outdoor temperature reading and said: "Wow, when's the last time it was 25 degrees out not including humidity at 10:30pm?" It's hot. 

In this weather most Canadians crack open a cold beer, and while I get on that train sometimes, I really just love hard cider. Call it a girly love of sweetness or my over exposure to gluten-free options growing up with a Celiac-heavy family or just being so used to promoting fruit and veggie consumption but I love a good apply (or peary) cider! They have anywhere from 4-8% alcohol and come in the same sizes - cans and bottles - as typical beer. Prices can be similar too. The main difference is that instead of fermenting barley/wheat/hops, hard cider is made from fermented fruit juice, using yeast. Because yeast eats sugar, the fermentation process will decide how sweet or how dry the final product is. Typically if it's drier (less sweet) it'll also have a little more alcohol content.

Nutritionally it's no easy choice. The nutritional profiles are similar to beer with a few more carbs per serving for ciders typically. Where beer is great in b vitamins, cider is rich in antioxidants and vitamin c. And many are made entirely of local produce! 

I've tried a good handful of ciders out there. From the big names like Strongbow, Magners, Somersby, Seagram and Grower's ... to the "side projects" of major brewers like Keith's cider and Stella Artois' "cidre" ... and a delightful cider by our friend's family orchard (Twin Pines Orchard) ... For me there's no clear winner. 

Another one I gave a go was Molson Canadian's new Cider. Calvin came home with a six pack of bottles and after his first one decided he'd prefer one of PC's new "cervezas". I didn't hate it but it wasn't anything special, and hey I just got myself sole access to the rest of the pack. Sweet (pun intended). 

But then!!!

We also had a chance to try Molson Canadian Stone Fruit which is made with peaches and apricots. Wow wow wow! This is going to be my rest-of-summer drink. It's sweet without being syrupy, more like a mild nectar with a boozy kick and that bitter hit that we all love from beer. It's anything but average with the unique flavour of apricots. I was stoked with every sip. 

I think you'll love this option whether you're into supporting local, need to eat/drink gluten free, or just appreciate good taste. 

Full disclosure: I was able to receive product free of charge for review. The opinions are 100% mine. 

Healthy homemade gummy candy for kids

Although Oliver's toilet training days are just about complete he still often asks for a treat after using it. I've gotten pretty concerned about the number of smarties, Lindors and Easter eggs he's eaten and the trick of offering cherry tomatoes and blueberries just isn't cutting it anymore.

Solution? Healthy homemade gummy candies!

I came across the recipe, in various forms, a while back but could never remember to buy gelatin. Then when my mom had a package at her house, it was happenstance.

It takes only a few minutes to throw together and is ready to eat in about half an hour. 

Here's how you do it:

2/3 cup fresh fruit, washed and cubed
2/3 cup fresh lemon, lime or orange juice
2 T honey 
5 T gelatin powder

1. Warm the first three ingredients in a sauce pan over medium heat until the fruit is soft like a compote. Allow to cool slightly. 
2. Blend with an immersion blender or stand up blender. (This is too dangerous to do while the mixture is hot so don't skip the cooling step.)
3. Whisk in gelatin. If it gets lumpy send for another blend. 
4. Pour into an 8x8 dish and refrigerate until set (about 20 minutes). Then cut into desired shape. Alternatively, use a mini mold for ice cubes or chocolate to get great shapes. 

They are sweet and tangy and have the perfect chew for an addictively yummy treat!

Skinny shaming -- not okay

So I came across this photo today...

It's definitely nothing new. I've seen these "real women have curves" images all over the place. And you'd think that, being in huge support of having a healthy relationship with food, I would love this message. 

I don't. 

First of all, the above photo features seven different women -- all seven of them are real. Believe it or not, real women have curves, or don't; they wear size 0 or they don't; they have eating disorders or they don't; they have a coveted thigh gap or they don't. Every woman is different but it doesn't make one less real than the other. Granted many of the thin models we see in magazines have been air brushed to all heck but I'd be surprised if the "normal size" women above weren't. Look at their perfectly done hair and makeup. Should we start a movement that "real women have uneven winged eyeliner"? (We mostly do, by the way.) 

Real women don't have white teeth?

Real women can't put hair extensions in very well?

Real women don't always match their bra to their underwear?

We are all real so let's get over that. If the message is that "normal" women do, sure. On "average" we are slightly over weight as per Health Canada's recommendations. I don't see why that's something to promote. "Let's be as close to normal as possible!" 

Next, how is it a wholesome, inspirational message to outright say that one group is hotter than the other? We are inclined to feel good about this statement because we are rooting for the underdog. The below Vic-Secret-type women are likely often found attractive so when we see the bigger women being preferred we love it. Guess what? It's rude no matter how much privilege the group has. Racism has long seen major privilege for white people, does this mean a poster stating "Blacks are smarter!" is in good taste? Nope. Placing your judgment on someone based on their body appearance and then publicizing it on the internet is mean and unnecessary. Were it the other way around (flip the photos) it would be seen as rude and horrible. 

We also need to remember that sometimes being bigger is unhealthy. If a woman is big but healthy - awesome - but if it's causing her issues with her heart health and/or blood sugar, let's not glorify that. I know that thinness and health are not synonymous but when we drive home the point that "fat is okay" it can create a complacency for people to not desire to get healthy. 

Lastly, the skinny shaming needs to end because not all skinny people intend to be that way. Now I'm not saying I'm even in the realm of thinness as these bikini-wearing women but I've certainly been the victim of skinny shaming. 

Go eat something. Give her the last cookie she needs it. Oh my pants would hang on you. You don't even need to work out.       These are just the beginning. And I'm a "normal" weight by my Body Mass Index. 

Skinny shamers only think they are building up bigger women but really they are bringing down thin women at the same time. It's hurtful. Some skinny women work hard to be that way, some are that way naturally and don't care, and still others hate being thin so much that they so everything they can to gain weight and it doesn't work. 

It is never your job to judge how someone looks and then make them feel badly about it. 

When Oliver turned 1 I was nursing him a lot and it caused me some weight loss. This drove me crazy mainly because I wanted to be fertile again soon but also because my clothes didn't fit. I did EVERYTHING to put on weight. I would drink a smoothie filled with protein powder, coconut oil & half and half cream almost daily. I put in extreme effort to not drop below 115 lbs. Sometimes putting on weight isn't an option. Sit back and think; if this was the case for you, how would you feel about a photo that says other women are hotter than you? Gladly that period of my life didn't last long but now I can sympathize. 

Oh, and, girls? From what I see above these are women. 

Update: 5 months & 35 months


Size-- 13 lbs and 26 inches at last appointment - how how how can a little girl be average weight for her age but in the 97th percentile for length, and still look this chubby?! I love her. (Hashtag HonestCoDiapers)

Food-- according to this book I'm supposed to do grains first (ugh, this goes against all my former hippie knowledge - why Alicia why?) 
Kota has also been getting a little organic coconut oil just because it's this perfect food that I want to share with her. I may or may not have let her lick some organic banana and avocado off my finger too :) okay okay, she ate 1/3 cup of puréed strawberries yesterday afternoon!

Activities-- kissing kissing and only kissing. It takes up my whole day. 
She really likes playing with her toys now. And being tickled by Daddy or Ollie. And chewing on stuff. 

Favs-- can I just not even feel bad about my obsession with cute diapers?! Come on, I'm sure they are her fav...

Least favs--
Her least fav is like littering & not recycling and stuff... (See shirt) no really she only hates her car seat. 


Size-- Oliver wears anything from 18months to 4T. Because of this his clothes get pretty chaotic. Recently I organized his shorts. 

Food-- well, he made up some lie that he doesn't like blueberries or green peas anymore (balony!) but he eats everything else and has been particularly hungry ("sooo honnn-gee") for about a week. Like, eating an adult portion of food every hour.
Here's a grilled cheese he had at a local food truck. 
Here's his ultimate snack. He asks for "seeds and chocolates" 200 times a day. 
A frozen yogurt (actually sorbet) we shared. Apparently he liked daddy's cake batter & peanut butter cups better ??

Activities-- his usual like baseball, hockey and painting. And then this happened. 
Yes, Kota's toys. He also has done some trampoline jumping recently. And he's a great gardener. Still loves wagon rides. Still loves doing age inappropriate cooking tasks for me, like stirring a hot skillet of veggies. :D

Favs-- he really likes day trips to Great-Nanny's house in Goderich. He will swim for like 4 hours other than eating lunch. 

Least favs-- Waking up in Ikea and finding out we aren't buying any toys??!!!