Guilt Free Munchies II

GUILT FREE MUNCHIES II

It’s that time again, the munchies are winning us over. We try to fight them, try to ignore them, but the munchies always win. What do we have this time to satisfy that sweet craving but is healthy so our body won’t complain later? How about something packed full of fiber, antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins and even some protein?

This is something that we will need to prepare ahead of time, probably the day before, unless you are like me and dig in that same night. Homemade granola. The great thing about homemade granola is that not only is it cheaper than store bought, it has no crazy preservatives so you know exactly what you are putting into your body. And if there is something you want to add or leave out, you can.

The main ingredients in granola are the oats and grains. Oats are full of fiber, which not only keeps your digestive tract clean, it helps lower blood cholesterol which is the cause of many types of cardiovascular disease. And don’t forget, oats can reduce hypertension and high blood pressure. Flaxseed also contains high fiber as well as those omega 3 fatty acids that are essential for human health, but your body cannot make them on its own. More great heart care.

Now throw in some nuts, almonds and pecans in this case, but feel to change it up. Almonds and pecans have vitamin E, magnesium and potassium. The magnesium allows your veins and arteries to relax, improving blood flow which then allows for better oxygenation of the body while also letting nutrients travel easier. The potassium helps with the nerve transmissions and contractions of all muscles, so we are really taking great care of our heart and satisfying our need to munch. Pecans also have some vitamin B complex groups and iron.

Coconut also contains a lot of fiber and helps speed up metabolism. It gives you a quick energy boost, relieving fatigue while also promoting healthy thyroid function. Coconut improves the bodies insulin secretion helping to reduce that sweets craving and in turn helping calm our munchies down.

Adding dried fruit to the granola mix gives us a boost of vitamin C and natural sweeteners and in this case since we are using cranberries we are getting something called phytonutrients, which have been studied for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties with impressive results. Not to mention cranberries are well known for being used to treat and prevent urinary tract infections. What an amazing little fruit!

Adding a little bit of orange juice to this recipe means we are getting even more vitamin C and again, natural sugars. Maple syrup helps give us a little bit more sweetness, but over all our granola is extremely good for us, and the munchies are loving the sugars. I have personally chosen to substitute agave nectar instead of the maple syrup. I think it tastes better this way plus agave nectar has a much lower glycemic index than the maple syrup. What does that mean? It is healthier for you, but still very sweet.

The great thing about granola is you can eat it however you want to. Plain and dry as a quick snack. Add milk or put it in yogurt, soy in my case for an even more filling snack.

You can also turn this into granola bars by melting ½ cup agave nectar and couple tablespoons of peanut butter on the stove. Put parchment paper into a casserole pan and mix the agave peanut butter mix with 3 ½ - 4 cups of the granola mix and packing them firmly down with a lightly oiled spatula. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes for chewy bars and 25 - 30 minutes for crunchy bars. Once you take these out of the oven, press the bars with the spatula again and let cool completely in the pan. Cut into bars while still in the pan and then use the parchment paper to remove them from the pan; stores in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks this way. ~

Cranberry Orange Granola

Courtesy of Krys Kagan

4 C oats

1 1/3 C slivered almonds

1/3 C ground flax seed

1/3 C coconut

½ C chopped pecans

½ C Maple syrup

4 T orange juice

1 T orange zest

¼ C Vegetable oil

1 t almond extract

¼ t allspice

1 ¼ C dried cranberries

Pre heat oven to 325* F

In a large bowl combine oats, almonds, flax seeds, coconut and pecans. In a small bowl mix syrup, orange juice, zest, oil, extract and allspice, stir well. Pour contents of small bowl into large bowl, stirring gently until it is all coated. Pour the mix into two large glass casserole pans and bake for 23 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to prevent burning.

Once done baking remove from the oven and let cool completely. Once cooled, poor into a large dry mixing bowl and stir in the cranberries, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This will last about 7 days in the fridge, and 3 days in the pantry, but with those munchies around, it may not last long at all. ~