Friday, February 14, 2014

Apple Cinnamon Granola

Today's a big day! In addition to being Friday, it's also Valentine's Day, and my hamster, Bijou's, 2 year adoptaversary! I feel so lucky to have found my forever-Valentine and also to have this furry little girl in my life. Apologies to my fiancé, but Bijou may be cuter... Many small pets like Bijou are left at shelters for a long time, simply because no one knows that they are there for adoption! So if you are thinking of adding a pocket pet to your life, I urge you to see if there are any you get along with at your local shelter. Adoptable pets currently at the Boston MSPCA (where I found Bijou!) can be found here.

I love Valentine's Day. I am not at all a romantic, but I think a day to celebrate love is just a fantastic idea. For most of my life, I was single on Valentine's Day and as such, I use it to celebrate the awesomeness of my other female friends. Because let's be honest: Valentine's Day is a girls' holiday! My celebration often ends up looking like Leslie Knope's Galentine's Day, except I save the festivities for the 14th. These days I also have my fiancĂ© to celebrate, and this weekend we are going on our second annual Valentine's Day snowshoeing B&B getaway. But I'd still like to use today to give a shout out to all of my lady friends. Thanks for being there for me, you're awesome!

Anyways, this year has gotten of to a really hectic start. While I did have time to gather up some heart-themed goodies for a few key people, I did not have time to make a special Valentine's themed treat. Instead, I thought I'd use today to share a recipe for apple cinnamon granola. I've been sitting on this recipe for some time but just the other morning I ate a bowl of my granola right after tasting a handful of some of the store bought stuff and was reminded how much better homemade granola can be. The second ingredient in most store bought granola is almost always sugar. This results in a cereal that can be tasty, but somewhat less satisfying an hour later when your blood sugar crashes. Like my pumpkin granola, I use vanilla protein powder and omit oil to make a granola that's high in protein and low in fat. It's also filling and deliciously cinnamony! If you have the time and oven space, I recommend making up a double batch.

Apple Cinnamon Granola

1c quick cook oats
1 1/2c rolled oats
1/4c sunflower seeds
1/4c chopped almonds (this can be done in the food processor)
1/4c vanilla protein powder (I like this unsweetened vanilla from Life's Basics)
1/2c apple sauce
2T cinnamon
1/4c maple syrup

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. In a large bowl, combine apple sauce, cinnamon, protein powder, and maple syrup to make a slurry. Add oats and stir to coat. Add additional maple syrup if you like a sweeter granola.
3. Press granola mixture into a greased pan. (Pressing it in is key to getting the big chunks that are so tasty!)
4. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring at 20.
5. Remove from oven, let cool and enjoy.

Happy Valentine's Day!

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