So, here we are again. Starting a New Year full of hope and life changing resolutions—filling our minds with platitudes (New Year, New You! Your best in 2010!) and putting our faith in the power of positive thinking. We look to gurus for answers: Dr. Oz? Joel Osteen? Jillian and Bob? Oprah? The Secret? All with fingers crossed that this will THE YEAR. The Year of: eating right, exercising more, spending less, reading Anna Karenina, learning how to drive (ok, that one is very specific to me), being generous to our family and friends, becoming more patient and less judgmental, letting go of toxic relationships and giving healthy ones room to grow. Tall order? Um, yes.
I’ve never really understood why it takes the flip of the calendar to commit oneself to being a better person and living a fuller life. I suppose it’s better than not committing at all, but really shouldn’t we be striving for this every day of the year? Not that I am able to live that way but I’m just saying. And when your list of resolutions is longer than your grocery shopping list, you’re in trouble. I believe in biting off little pieces I can actually chew and digest (forgive me) and not setting myself up for the kind of failure that will make me feel worse than I felt before I made the resolutions in the first place.
Take Anna Karenina; maybe she is still sitting on my bedside table because I am 'just not that into' her. Plus I’m really enjoying Frank Bruni’s Born Round right now and I’m too cold to read about Russia. What about driving? If I thought I could get behind the wheel and not kill anyone wouldn’t I have done it already? And I live in New York City so my day-to-day life is not affected by this specific skill deficiency. The most I will commit to is thinking about it in the spring (when getting out of town becomes more of a reality). I can certainly work on my patience, since I have none. Being judgmental? I thought these were resolutions and not a personality transplant. Exercising more? Sure, I suppose it’s time I find my nonexistent core. Relationships? Ugh, it’s exhausting just thinking about them, but if I have some down time I promise to sort things out. Eating right? Okay, now we’re talking.
Although I have something sweet before, during and after every meal I do manage to be somewhat mindful of those meals. But there is absolutely room for improvement and I am resolving right now to cook more and order in less. Which is a two-for-one resolution since it also hits on reining in the spending! So what if my apartment smells like fish for a week or my hands get red and chapped from washing kale—I’ll be healthy and vibrant!
Before I deal with my supper let’s start at the very beginning. With breakfast! We’ve already established my rigid morning meal but what I haven’t shared is my recipe for the granola component of my cereal medley. One thing to keep in mind is that despite the absence of added oil, the nuts, seeds, and dried fruit add up calorie-wise (I think of a portion being ¼ cup). But you are consuming ‘good’ calories—healthy Omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, lots of fiber, cholesterol lowering phytosterols and tons of vitamins and minerals. Most importantly, it tastes great. The key to bringing out the nutty, toasty flavor is to really let this bake until it is deep, golden brown. No pale flakes of oats please. You might as well eat muesli. (Below=too pale)
WARNING: After making this you (and your kitchen and my hair) will smell like baked apples and maple syrup which may cause people standing behind you in yoga to whisper “Do you smell pancakes?” Hey lady, just be happy I wasn't grilling salmon.
Enjoy your first resolution.
Easy to Keep Resolution Granola
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3 cups rolled oats (not quick cook)
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup hulled pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup flaxseeds, ground (I buy mine whole and grind them in a coffee bean grinder. If you don't feel like it buy them pre-ground.
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/3 cup thawed apple juice concentrate
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dried turkish apricots, diced into small 1/2" pieces (I am too cheap to buy pre-cut dried fruit. Up to you.)
Preheat oven to 350.
Spray 9x13" pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl mix oats, almonds, pumpkin seeds, ground flaxseeds and wheat germ.
Pour apple juice and maple syrup over oat mixture and stir to coat evenly.
Spoon mixture into pan, spreading evenly.
Bake for @ 30-35 minutes giving mixture a stir every 10 minutes or so until granola is a dark golden and smells nutty and maple-y.
Let granola cool completely.
Toss with dried fruit and store in airtight container or Ziploc bag in cool, dry place.
If you do not plan on eating regularly, store in refrigerator. Yield 6 cups granola.