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Fruit and Yogurt Parfait

Happy Fourth of July!

Yogurt layered with blueberries, raspberries, and honey, and topped with homemade granola.

Above is one of my favorite breakfast items, particularly in the summer when the fruit is fresh.  Protein-packed yogurt + nutrient-brimming fruit + fiber-filled oats = one complete, tasty breakfast.  If the fruit is particularly ripe and in season, keep it as it is.  Otherwise, consider macerating it with a little sweetener or mashed banana.  Enjoy!

Homemade Granola

A few weeks ago, I finally got around to making my own granola. It’s something I’d been wanting to do forever, but had for some unknown reason been dragging my feet on for far too long.

But alas, I reached for my old cardboard canister of oats and got to work on creating my own granola recipe. I’ve been tweaking the recipe ever since, and now have a canister full of delicious granola waiting for me in the kitchen.

I truly love granola. I love the crunch it adds to creamy yogurt. The toasty flavor it infuses into heart-healthy oats and nuts. The slight sweetness it can add to bland cereals/plain yogurts/etc. The energizing snack it inherently makes. I could go on…

My only dilemma with granola is that I find a majority of the store bought brands to be far too sweet for my taste. I guess growing up forbidden to eat sugary cereals (although not without tons of youthful Fruit Loops tantrums at the store) has now embedded within my taste buds an aversion to sweet foods for breakfast. Doughnuts in the morning? The thought makes me sick. (Pass me a warm, iced cinnamon roll for lunch though, and I’m all smiles.)

There are brands of granola I do really enjoy, including many of those raw varieties out there, but they tend to be insanely expensive. Paying $12 for a pound of granola—I don’t think so.

This is mainly why I’ve wanted to make my own granola for so long. So that I can adjust the sweetener to my liking, add every kind of nut and seed that I could ever want, and not have to pay a boat load in doing so.

The results of this recipe were excellent—Able to add a hint of sweetness to a plain yogurt without being overbearingly sugary. The granola doesn’t form a ton of clusters, which I sometimes enjoy. But if that’s what you’re looking for, simply add a tad more oil or sweetener. But if you want to keep the granola relatively low-fat, and not too sweet, stick with the amounts listed.

Click here for recipe…

Justin’s Nut Butter Review plus Giveaway

I’ve professed my love for nut butters countless times on my site. In my humble opinion, there’s really nothing better than a banana smeared with a little nut butter. Even more delicious than this fantastic combination is the combination of nut butter with proceeds that go towards a a good cause. This is just what Justin’s Nut Butter does.

What first attracted me to Justin’s Nut Butter was there individually-portioned nut butter packets. While the excess packaging of course isn’t favorable*, one can’t deny that a pre-portioned package of nut butter make a good grab-and-go lunchbox item. Backpacking for the weekend and don’t want to lug around a heavy jar of peanut/almond butter? That’s what I instantly though of when I looked at these cutesy nut butter packets. Nut butter serves as an awesome energy-dense source of food.

*(Justin’s is currently working on this issue. They hope to unveil 66% renewable packaging by Earth Day 2012.)

As I researched Justin’s further, I became more and more intrigued. First, most of what goes into their jars/packets is sourced from organic ingredients, with as many locally-derived ingredients used as possible. Second, the company stands behind two positive outreach initiatives.

The company primarily supports the Conscious Alliance, “a grass-roots organization that provides youth awareness programs on severe hunger issues through its Art that Feeds program and other outreach initiatives.”  The Conscious Alliance has collected and distributed over one million pounds of non-perishable food donations to food pantries and global disaster relief programs nationwide over the past six years.

This is where Justin’s comes in. The company donates one pound of peanut butter to Conscious Alliance for every item sold at an in-store product demonstration, in addition to putting in volunteer time with the outreach program.

Next on the agenda, Justin’s will begin to focus their support on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, the 2nd poorest county in the nation, located just 407 miles from the company’s offices.

While I prefer my nut butter in it’s simplest form (nuts, salt), Justin’s doesn’t fair all too bad in terms of keeping the ingredients list short. They steer clear of hydrogenated oils (Trans Fat, eeek) and don’t add sickening amounts of sweetener. They have a ton of fun flavors, like honey almond butter, maple almond butter, and chocolate hazelnut butter, the three flavors I was fortunate to try.

The honey almond butter was notably buttery with delicate hints of salt and subtle hints of honey, while the chocolate hazelnut was like a slightly more intense version of Nutella, favorably containing 2/3 less sugar and a few less ingredients. The only flavor I wasn’t a huge fan was the maple. I found it to be kind of bland, but Justin claims this to be his favorite.

You can click here to view their other products, which include my favorite, peanut butter cups. Yum.

Want to try some of Justin’s Nut Butter for yourself? Food-Fitness-FreshAir is giving away three jars (pictured above) to one lucky winner.

How to enter: (Leave a sepearte comment per entry.)
This contest closes on **Monday, March 14, 2011 at Midnight, 12:00am EST**

1) Leave a comment on this post telling me why you want to try Justin’s
2) Become a fan of F-F-F on Facebook
3) Follow me on Twitter
4) Link this giveaway on one of your blog posts and let me know that you did
5) Retweet this on Twitter: @GraceDickinson is giving away 3 jars of nut butter at Food-Fitness-FreshAir:

One winner will be chosen at random by

Creamy Whipped Wheatberry Porridge

When I think of wheatberries, “creamy” never automatically comes to mind. Wheatberries are instead one of chewiest grains I have yet to come across. The nutty kernels are obtained through the wheat grain, which is stripped of just its outer hull. The method produces whole wheat grain kernels known as wheatberries.

Lucky for us, the minimal processing leaves the wheat grain with nearly all of its nutrients in tact. Score!…Think tons of fiber, protein, iron, and antioxidants galore. Can’t go wrong with that, right?

The minimal processing also leaves the wheat with an extra chewy texture, its signature attribute that makes the berries perfect for adding to dishes like soups and salads.

However, I decided one morning I wanted to turn this nutty grain into a warm and luscious breakfast. And the thought of chewing through a whole bowl of wheat berries upon just waking up made me want to jump right back under the covers. To avoid an early morning mouth workout, instead I decided to throw those wheatberries into the food processor and whip them up into a modern-day Goldilocks delight. Who knew wheatberries could taste so good, creamy or chewy?

Creamy Whipped Wheatberries

(Serves 2)

-1 1/4 cup cooked wheatberries
-8 oz. strongly brewed green tea
-Scant 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
-2/3’s of a banana
-Salt, pinch
-3 Tbsp. chopped walnuts
-Maple syrup, drizzle
-Soy milk or almond milk

Place wheatberries, tea, bananas, cinnamon, and pinch of salt into a food processor. Process until smooth. Continue whipping for a few minutes to create a light consistency. If not hot, place in pan or nuke in microwave until warm. Top with walnuts, maple syrup, and a splash of soy milk.

Vegan Pina Colada Overnight Oats

Who says you can’t have a little Caribbean fun for breakfast? My mind’s been drifting to hot sand and rolling waves for weeks, ever since those cold winter days first started breaching through. I don’t care what time of day it is, my body wants Bermuda, Bahamas, BEACH. Since my bank account’s running on low, fat chance I’ll be flying into outdoor warmth anytime soon. For now, you’ll find me cozying up inside, settling for a hot mug of tea and nice bowl of Pina Colada Oats.

Picture pineapple picked fresh from the tree and sweet coconut milk spilling out of a real, native-picked coconut. Maybe you’re shimming up those fruit* trees, giving your nice tanned and toned self a little workout before breakfast (or afternoon drinks anyone?)…You know what I’ll be daydreaming of once I finish blogging. But let’s get real, not all is so bad on the home-front. At least we can bring a little Caribbean flavor to our taste-buds, right? Count me in on that one.

*FYI, a coconut is actually classified as a “drupe”—A fruit with a hard stony covering enclosing the seed.

Pina Colada Overnight Oats

-1/2 cup oats
-1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp. light coconut milk
-1/3 cup soy milk
-1/2 cup pineapple, cubed
-1/3 banana, mashed
-Slivered/chopped almonds, handful
-Drizzle of honey, optional
-1 tsp. chia seeds, optional

Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl. Cover with saran wrap and store in refrigerator overnight. Remove in morning, and top with almonds and a drizzle of honey. Sprinkle chia seeds on top, if desired.