Melissa at A Fit & Spicy Life was my surprise blogger for this month’s Secret Recipe Club. She seems like the kind of woman who juggles all the details life throws at her with grace and skill. When I feel grown up and balanced someday (truthfully that will most likely never happen) that is the kind of gal I want to be. Balanced and in tune with life and myself. As long as my wild and crazy children are letting me pretend I run my world (they are so kind to continue letting their mother believe her own delusions) I’ll just keep taking those small moments where I can get them. Like taking control of what we eat.
Honestly, sometimes I feel like that is the only area of our lives I really have some say in. So it’s no wonder that food and it’s role in our lives is so important to me. For this month’s recipe I chose to make my version of Melissa’s Apple Agave Granola. It’s lightly sweetened and extra crunchy and clumpy. Normally I wouldn’t add raisins to anything, but my boys are the main granola eaters and they love them. Well, the small boys anyway – the large husband/boy hates raisins and in fact says it’s the only thing he won’t eat. Since I’ve seen him eat some things I’d consider pretty far out there I believe him (let’s just say there were lamb *parts* involved in the desert in Dubai in January and leave it at that shall we?).
Back to small moments and control. Actually, I want to talk about the small moments and embracing them so we have a stockpile to draw strength from in those moments when we have no control and are swept away by what life throws at us. Sometimes it may just throw a few small obstacles in our path and others it throws up a brick wall.
As I was making this granola, I thought about what ingredients were going in to the recipe. Even more so I thought about what affect those ingredients would have on my children’s bodies, their moods, their growth, their health. I was grateful I have the means to provide good, healthy, nutritious food for them (even when they make me crazy and sometimes won’t eat it!). I’m humbled that it’s readily available and although we have challenges, we are so truly blessed and lucky. I think sometimes that the simple process, even of something that seems as silly as making granola, is one of my most favorite things to make because of the impact a simple, good-for-them meal can be. My two boys especially eat a lot of granola and I love that it is a wonderful vehicle for sneaking extra healthful things into their bodies.
This online life can be both very lonely and very rich and rewarding. In the past five years of blogging I’ve made amazing friends and learned so much about the world and people and myself in general. I think one of the main things that I’ve learned about myself is that I really want to be a good friend. I don’t always feel like I am or even that I can be, but when I can do something, even if it is small, I like to think that perhaps the smallest ripples can eventually make a difference.
When I recently worked on that #KraftFreshTake challenge I had the pleasure of working with a new found friend, Rosanna. She was fantastic to work with and made the experience a great one. In the midst of all that Rosanna let me know about some serious, typhoon sized challenges of epic proportions that a friend of hers was going through. You really can’t miss her story and the best way to find out how you can help is to read it straight from her. Please, please take a couple of minutes and pass this on if you can!
That is the situation I find myself in as I read the story of another woman and mother, on the other side of the country, who I don’t know and will more than likely never meet. This beautiful and inspiring woman was introduced to me by yet another lovely lady who I have only met through my blog. And yet, in my heart, because I can see a glimpse into her life, I feel touched, blessed and lucky. It makes me want to make sure others know her as well because there are important lessons to be learned and simple ways to help that can easily be given. Even just by sharing her story.
This was what I received and I hope that in passing this on to you we can all affect a ripple of help and love to send to this family.
Devorah is a 39-year-old mother of four who’s been challenged by enough heartbreak for many lifetimes. For years she suffered fertility issues and speech impediments, and battled against her young daughter’s tumor. Her home was totally devastated by Hurricane Sandy, and as she and her family faced the struggle of getting back on their feet, Devorah was tragically diagnosed with ALS just a few weeks later. The disease has no cure. She has been given 2-4 years to live as her body degenerates.
As you can imagine her family life is in total disarray, with insurance companies bringing little relief for mounting medical bills, necessary home repairs and crucial stem cell trials. More than emotional comfort, what Devorah really needs is to bring her experiences to the public eye, in hopes that her family will have the support they’ll so desperately need when she’s gone.
You can read her full story here: My Story.
We can’t spend our lives waiting for that perfect combination of things to go right and be what we expected. That’s why I really hope for a few things for you and your family this week, especially you Mom’s out there. I know I’m going to try to follow this little wish list myself (and although I’m writing this to you, I’m really talking to myself even more!):
- Slow down. Childhood goes fast. Immerse yourself in those small moments with your kids. Even if they are making you feel crazy and there are a million things to do, try harder every day to remember that these moments that you dismiss in frustration are the ones that you don’t want to miss.
- There is always enough time to be kind. Especially to your children. Life is hectic and busy, but we can’t spend all our time focusing on what we think needs to get done instead of enjoying the here and now.
- Don’t take what you have for granted. It may not be what you expected or wanted, but it is amazing all on its own.
- Reach out and help others because, especially when it is difficult, there is always a chance for you to learn and grow there. What a lesson and example to pass on to your kids! Much better than how to get all the laundry done and have a perfectly kept house.
I hope you’ll take a few minutes this week to give yourself some time to reflect on life and how precious it is. I know that is the gift I want this Mother’s Day.
Melissa’s Apple Agave Granola used whole nuts, chopped and apple pie spice as well as old fashioned oats. I wanted a granola that was clumpier and also wanted to use what I had on hand. That’s one of the great things about granola is it’s adaptability. I actually used some quick cooking steel cut oats and almond meal to help me get that clumpy texture. I also doubled up on the sunflower seeds and added some ground flax. I did increase the amount of agave to help this very lightly sweetened version appeal to my kids and also increased the amount of oil a bit to help with that texture. A splash of vanilla and the granola was complete. The only thing I would do differently next time, and I have noted in the recipe, was I forget that agave browns more quickly and I usually turn my oven temperature down. Though this was crunchy, dark golden and done in about 40 minutes, I would actually reduce the temperature next time to get a slightly lighter golden. While it was certainly not burnt, it was definitely well toasted. Depending on how you like your granola, adjust accordingly
Apple Pie Granola
Adapted from A Fit & Spicy Life
- 2 1/4 cups quick cooking steel cut oats (Bob’s Red Mill)
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup ground flax meal
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup applesauce (plain, unsweetened)
- 3 tablespoons agave nectar
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Line a baking sheet with parchment and preheat the oven to 325 degrees (I baked the granola at 350 for 40 minutes and got the dark golden, toasted version you see here – 325 for 45 minutes should create the same toasted texture with a slightly lighter golden hue).
In a large bowl stir together the oats, almond flour, sunflower seeds, flax meal, cinnamon, allspice, raisins and salt. In a small saucepan gently heat the brown sugar, applesauce, agave, oil and vanilla until warm and mixed and pourable. Pour over the oat mixture and stir well to coat. Spread the granola in clumps over the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Stir the pan gently and bake another 20 to 25 minutes until golden and toasted.
Makes about 4 cups granola.