Granola-Whole Wheat Banana Bread

Have time? For extra goodness, make a day ahead and let rest overnight before cutting and enjoying.
Visiting Wile E. Coyote.

Totally a winter person, I’m never happier than when I get up early to find the world frozen solid with snowflakes dancing down in the glorious mist. Once the coffee is made, I cast my eyes around the kitchen to see what’s available to bake for breakfast. Who doesn’t want to turn the oven on when the windchill is below zero? This morning, I saw I had way over two hours before it was time to leave for worship (if we made it – the roads were looking slick) and quickly zeroed in on a bunch of blackening bananas. Banana Bread it was, but it needed to be banana bread with a healthy twist. Yes, I’m on a roll. Bad pun there.

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Nutcracker Granola

When you invite someone to go to “The Nutcracker,” it goes without saying it’ll be one of the events of the season complete with everyone dressed in their best holiday duds and ready for a yummy tea or fancy dinner before or after. It’s a special occasion and worth every bit of the extra effort it takes to get little girls’ hair tied up with ribbons or talking the teenager into some shoes besides banged up sneakers or clunker boots — even if you’re watching from the comfort of your own couch this year:

Your Guide to Streaming “The Nutcracker” in 2020/PLAYBILL

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Thanksgiving Granola–The Easy Holiday Gift

TIME TO PLAN, CLEAN, SHOP, COOK AHEAD for Thanksgiving. Scroll down to bottom for a list of ideas to get you going.    


 READ UP ON MORE TIME’S THANKSGIVING BASICS HERE  (includes links to my baking post, sides recipes, Thanksgiving for two, turkey thoughts, music, movies etc.)


Looking for something to take to friends or family for Thanksgiving? Crunchy dried apples, chewy sweet cranberries, toasted nuts, and warm spices (all the usual suspects plus a tad cayenne pepper) make this the perfect little take-along, especially if you’re traveling for the holiday. And, you know what? Granola doesn’t go bad, won’t melt, smell, crack, or crumble (much), is fine at room temperature, goes in suitcase or tote bag, and is the quintessential snack if you get hungry on the road. And really easily, (see recipe for changes and notes), this adaptable food makes a hearty vegetarian, vegan, and/or gluten free breakfast. It also solves the, “What’s for breakfast?” that everyone except the cook asks on Thanksgiving morning. Add yogurt, fruit, milk, or top a big bowl of oatmeal or other cereal with this crunchy goodness.  In fact, it’s great on ice cream!  Sorry, we were talking breakfast. Have time to get fancy?  Make my Bacon-Granola Pancakes with Fried Egg.

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I admit to a longtime fascination with healthy homemade granola; the blog bears me out. I make it about once a month and it’s the only breakfast cereal in my kitchen besides the whole oats I keep for oatmeal. We eat granola on yogurt with or without fruit, in a bowl with milk, as a grab and go snack, with ice cream, on vegetables, sprinkled over eggs and pancakes…the list goes on.  It’s so simple to stir up and bake a batch that I invited Alaena and Josiah (above) over to make some to take home for their own breakfasts and to see what THEY might do with granola. (One of their thoughts was with carrots. Yum!)  Continue reading

Agave Granola — A New Twist on my Granola + Did I Like It??

d6860-img_3253As longtime readers and my family know, I keep a jar full of low fat, high-taste granola on the counter pretty much all the time.  I know some of you make my granola on a regular basis just like I do and I thought I’d share a recent experiment.  While I have no problems with the amount of sugar I eat –neither Dave nor I are diabetic –I saw a really good buy on agave, the low-glycemic sweetener, at Costco and thought I’d try some in place of the small amounts of honey and granola I traditionally use for granola sweeteners.  I had not purchased agave before in any form; I’m an eat-a-little- sugar-if-you-want-it-type of person and have never been into sweeteners of any kind. I’m sure I’m way behind the posting and experiment curves here, but that’s the way it goes.


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38 Power Foods — Week 32 — Flax Seed — Flax Seed Granola with Dark Chocolate


well……maybe not ALL:

Granola has a bad rep.  I have relatives who, when they want to make a derisive remark, say something like, “Those granola eaters  are tree-huggin’ their way to ____. (Fill in the blank.) Others say, “Granola is just a crumbled up reason to call an oatmeal cookie breakfast.”  (That might have been Melissa Clark, but I’m not sure.)  And, definitely, granola has the reputation of being full of fat and terribly caloric, despite its delicious character.


Welcome to healthy granola you can eat in amounts larger than one tablespoon without fear, blame, or shame.  Scoop out a bowlful, top it with milk, and call it your own homemade cereal.  Smother your Greek yogurt with a handful of the stuff.  Sprinkle it lovingly on chocolate gelato.  Snuggle it sweetly beneath a mound of fresh berries.  Top fresh vanilla pudding with a  big spoonful plus a quick splash of brandy. Take a little bag when you travel  or go to work to satisfy your crunch attacks.  Put some in a ribboned jar for a birthday gift.   Drizzle a banana with honey for your kiddoes and roll it in this munchy food — for here, at least,  granola is not a snack; it is truly food.  And good food, at that.
Tiny slivers of dark chocolate quell your chocolate desire daily.  In a nice way.

Here’s why:

  • Only 2 tablespoons of heart healthy olive oil.  Applesauce stands in for the missing oil.
  • No white sugar and  no brown sugar.  There is honey; there is maple syrup. In my case, there is Minnesota honey and Minnesota syrup.  While you  might not be able to source local syrup, you should source local honey if possible.
  • More oats than anything, there are plenty of nuts for protein–but not enough to tip the calorie and fat balance.
  • This granola will be fresh and, while not cheap, is inexpensive and luscious compared to store-bought, sometimes stale packaged granola. (Which might not have your favorite things in it anyway.)
  • Dried fruit makes a cameo appearance, but doesn’t dominate as dried fruit is full of sugar, calories, and doesn’t have the fiber you can get in fresh fruit.
  • Plenty of seeds add crunch and nutrition, plus the flax seeds fight heart disease (among other things) as well as add additional fiber
  • Chocolate is for your heart (and mouth) happiness, of course, but can be left out if you’d rather.
  • Try this:

flax seed granola with dark chocolate

Cook’s Note:  Granola is forgiving, like lots of things.  If you don’t have all the ingredients, it will still make.  For instance, if you have only oats, nuts, and raisins, you’ll have granola none-the-less.  You would use a little less liquid or increase the oats a bit to make up for the missing fruit and seeds.  The seasonings are also to your taste.  Don’t like ginger?  Use a bit more cinnamon and skip it.  And so on.  BTW:   Make sure you use fresh nuts to make any granola; nuts become rancid fairly quickly due to their high oil content.  

Eater’s Note:  Granola should be well-chewed for digestive comfort. 

  • 5 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup flax seed meal
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves, optional
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or less per taste and diet)
  • 1/2 cup flaked, sweetened or unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup each; choose 2: chopped walnuts, pistachios,  pecans, or almonds
  • 1/4 cup each; choose 2:  pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and plain sesame seeds
  • 1/3 cup each: real maple syrup and honey  (can use all honey, but a mix is tastier)
  • 3/4 cup applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup total chopped dried  fruit: apricots, cherries, cranberries, currants or raisins (any/all) cut to 1/2″ pieces when possible (smaller pieces become quite hard later on)
  • 1/4 cup (about 1 3/4 ounces) good quality dark chocolate,  very finely chopped or slivered (optional and added after baking and cooling)

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees F

Mix dry ingredients, except dried fruit and chocolate, in a large bowl or soup pot.  (oats through dried fruit)  Meantime, heat liquid ingredients over low heat, in a small sauce pan,  stirring until just warm and well-combined– (syrup, honey, applesauce, and oil). * Pour liquid ingredients over dry and mix well for a few minutes until mixture is evenly moistened.  Pour onto two or three large, rimmed baking sheets lined with aluminum foil and bake 50-60 minutes or until dry, golden, and crispy, stirring 3-4 times during the baking time. Remove sheets from oven and let granola cool.

When very cool, sprinkle chopped dried fruit and chocolate evenly over all and mix well. (If the granola is only partially cooled, the chocolate will still melt. In which case just mix it in.)  Store in a tightly-sealed container for up to a month.  (This granola will not keep well in a plastic bag; use a large glass jar or Tupperware. Store up to a month.)

*The granola bakes crispier if you do not heat the liquid ingredients, but it’s much easier to mix with warm honey, etc.

{printable recipe}

2/23:  A friend has put this into the Weight Watcher point counter; it’s 4.5 points for half-cup.  WOW! Leave off the dried fruit and/or chocolate (or cut back) and it’s even less.

I like my large fish spatula for turning and stirring granola.

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I got the idea for using applesauce and very little oil for granola from the incredible pastry chef and food blogger, David Lebovitz–who says he got the idea from Nigella Lawson.  (I’ve blogged one version of my granola on an earlier post.)  If you haven’t been a frequent visitor at David’s addictive Paris blog, check out the granola, and peruse the site; you’ll be sure to enjoy the trip.  Also available on the site is information about taking tours with David–often sold out– when you’re in Paris.


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If you weren’t aware of it, flax–also known as linseed– is an attractive plant with blue flowers  (grown in many places in the world) from which fibers are spun and woven into linen–and have been nearly forever.  Linseed oil is used as a drying oil for painting and varnishing.

Added to the diet too quickly and in too great quantities, flax seed or meal can cause some digestive problems.  Experts recommend beginning with one tablespoon a day in oatmeal, for instance.

about flax from web md:
 Although flaxseed contains all sorts of healthy components, it owes its primary healthy reputation to three of them:

  • Omega-3 essential fatty acids, “good” fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s.
  • Lignans, which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. Flaxseed contains 75 to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods.
  • Fiber. Flaxseed contains both the soluble and insoluble types.
  • more here

 Check out Flax Seed Health Questions and Storage issues….at 
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38 Power Foods is a group effort!  

Stop by these other blogs and see what they’re cooking each week as we team up to bring you some of the healthiest cooking available:

Minnie Gupta from

Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink

  • All sites may not blog power foods every week.
    Are you a food blogger? Join us! 
  • We’d like to have you as part of the group.  Get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits: 

… … … … … …

Sing a new song,
10 Pounds in 8 Weeks Update:  I haven’t given up, but I’ve been sick for 10 days…  And whatever I’ve been able to eat, I’ve eaten—within reason.  WHEN I get well, I’ll be back on the program and exercising.  Will I be done by 17 March?  Hm. Good Question!

38 Power Foods, Week 29 — Pecans — Light Winter Vegetable Gratin with Savory Granola

Each Friday, a wonderful group of women reaches across cyberspace and joins culinary hands to salute one very healthy food, one single beautiful ingredient from Power Foods : 150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients.  (Scroll down for the list of blogs.)

I won’t say it’s not a challenge to come up to that gorgeous plate each week.  If I’m busy learning music for church or have my daughter home, or am busy with the soup book, I sometimes can’t give the opportunity the intelligent focus and attention it deserves.  I used one great recipe for more than one blog recently….life can get ahead of me sometimes.  Hopefully I’m forgiven!

This week, the week of pecans, I had the time I needed to give this a good stab.  To give it my undivided creative space.  I’m grateful for the opportunity and the chance to move one sweet iota further in my cooking and writing.  I hope you’ll enjoy the idea of this light vegetable gratin…which is maybe a bit more like a terrine in character, though not in the size and shape of a terrine.  There’s no cream and no butter here unlike most gratins.  There is a crusty, crispy topping; it’s a savory oatmeal granola without butter (yes, it has olive oil) to which I’ve added the traditional gratin component of cheese, but also finely chopped pecans.

While pecans are an American nut staple grown in the southern states, they’re not terribly common in other parts of the world, with the exception of South America. High in protein (though lower than almonds and walnuts), they are also high in healthy unsaturated fat, a good source of fiber and vitamin E,  calorically dense, and weigh in at nearly two-hundred calories per one ounce serving. Store them in the freezer and use as needed.  They are excellent for baking, cooking, and for general snacking.


Gluten-free and easily vegan (leave out the Parmesan), this winter vegetable gratin with healthful  pecans in its topping is not only a gorgeous side if you need or your partner really needs a chop… but is a lovely lunch or entree for those in love with vegetables. (You might add more pecans for protein for the vegan version.)  A sharp knife, a shallow dish (I used a heavy quiche pan in lieu of a gratin dish as I liked the shape, but even a 2 quart Pyrex would do), and a boatload of winter vegetables are the central components of your beautiful, filling meal.  Try this:


winter vegetable gratin with savory granola


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided (needn’t be extra virgin)
  • 1/4 cup red onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 stalks celery, trimmed, stringed, and sliced thinly
  • 2-3 parsnips, peeled, and sliced thinly
  • 1/2 fennel bulb, cored, and sliced thinly
  • 1 turnip, peeled and sliced thinly  
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth                                       
  • 2 tablespoons white wine      
  • finely grated lemon rind, optional garnish (at table)       

granola: (in a medium bowl, mix together well:)

  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon each:  kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1/8 (pinch) aleppo pepper (can sub crushed red pepper)
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese (omit for vegan version)
  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped finely
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, rubbed well in your hands or chopped finely
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable broth   


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205 Celsius).  In a small bowl, mix together red onion, garlic and parsley; set aside. With 1-2 teaspoons oil, brush the inside of a 9-10shallow casserole dish or gratin dish.
  2. Layer carrots, celery, parsnips, fennel, and turnips in dish, drizzling each layer with a little olive oil, salt/pepper, and sprinkling each layer with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the onion mixture.  (Place the rest of fennel at center if possible.)  Mix the broth with the wine and pour over the vegetables.
  3. Top  with savory granola mixture* by crumbling it evenly over the vegetables. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 30 minutes until granola is crispy and vegetables are tender.
  4. Serve hot with a bit of finely grated lemon rind, if desired.  

*You may not need all of the granola; you can eat the rest as is for a good snack.
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 If you liked this, you might like my Derby Pie–a Pecan-Chocolate-Bourbon specialty made only for the Kentucky Derby–May 3-4, 2013.

Or you might like my Go Nuts!  which can be made with all pecans or a mixture of  nuts:


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Here’s our wonderful group of bloggers.  Join us!

Minnie Gupta from

Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink

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P.S. If you linked my cinnamon rolls to your blog, I’d love to know who you are!  It’s now my top post in nearly five years.   I’d like to thank you….

Sing a new song,

Trading Granola for Eggs – My Urban Barter Tale

I was on the road a couple of weeks ago and checking my computer when my I-Spy Radar saw an email with a subject line that had something to do with too many fresh eggs and trading cookies for them.  I try and stay off email a lot when I’m away seeing my kids or on vacation, but I couldn’t NOT look at this one.  Backyard eggs just hook me right in.  And, of course, cookies fall right out of my oven.

My siblings and I grew up with fresh eggs; my dad either traded produce for them or shelled out a little cash to his Swedish farmer friend Munson.  When our  parents retired and took it (ha!) easy on a little “hobby” farm,  they had their own chickens and, hence, their own eggs, to say nothing of a garden that produced tomatoes the likes of which I’ve never again tasted.  When Dave and I visited as newlyweds, we had fresh eggs (fried in bacon or sausage grease) every morning early.  Why would you want anything else?  And why not at 6am?  There, of course, were also biscuits.  With sour cream and honey or molasses.  Unending pots of coffee.

To say that  mass-produced eggs pale in comparison is an apt description.  Don’t you love the looks of this egg produced by one of Cathy’s ladies?

(Read my post about this salsa here.)

So, anyway,  I missed great eggs for years.  I really missed them because I just love eggs.  I go through phrases where sure that the SB diet will take off my well-fed excess, I eat them daily.  Then I begin to worry about the cholesterol and switch back to egg whites.  Whichever, I always eat vegetables for breakfast, too.  (Alternately, I’ll eat yogurt and fresh fruit for weeks on end–with my homemade low-fat granola.)  But back to the email:  as soon as I could arrange it,  I was ready to start trading whatever I had for those eggs

In St. Paul, you can now raise chickens in your own back yard.  Right in the city.  Now I don’t have much space, and I’m only fond of eggs, not chickens, so I’m not putting up a coop back there in place of my postage stamp patio.  But I’m happy to oblige my friend Cathy and her family, who are the ones suffering from the overage.  Her “ladies” live in the yard, eat well, exercise daily, and are nearly pets who produce things like this:

 Here’s a closer up pic so maybe you can see the beautiful colors.  The whites are nearly blue:

One week, I traded some oatmeal chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies:

This week I made granola for Dave, so just made a bigger batch and traded that.

It’s lovely with milk, better with plain Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey, and best with homemade ricotta and fresh fruit. Naturally, you can scoop up a little and eat it out of hand.  (I do recommend leaving a scoop or spoon in the jar as you’re keeping this granola awhile.)  Your choice.   Whatever you do, I hope you find someone with whom to trade it so that you can eat eggs like I’m eating!  Thanks, ladies.

alyce’s low-fat granola with apricots, currants, and cherries
based on David Lebovitz’  recipe, which he says was based on Nigella Lawson’s!

  • 5 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 2t cinnamon
  • 2t ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves, optional
  • 1t kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups each: chopped walnuts and almonds
  • 1/2 cup each: pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and plain sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup each: chopped dried apricots, cherries, and currants or raisins
  • 1/3 cup each: real maple syrup and honey  (can use all honey)
  • 3/4 c applesauce 
  • 2T olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees F.

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl or soup pot.  (oats through seeds)  Meantime, heat liquid ingredients over low heat, stirring, in a small sauce pan until just warm and well-combined. (syrup, honey, applesauce, and oil).  Pour liquid ingredients over dry and mix well for a few minutes.  Pour onto two or three large, rimmed baking sheets and bake 50-60 minutes until dry, golden, and crispy, stirring 3-4 times during the baking time.  Store in a tightly-sealed container for up to a month.  (This granola will not keep well in a plastic bag.)

Cook’s Notes:

1.  I thought I’d share the differences between my granola and David Lebovitz’–his included 3/4 cup brown sugar (I skipped that) and had no fruit at all (I like fruit).  I also added ground cloves, which are optional.  But I definitely borrowed the idea of applesauce in place of the large amount oil usually used in granola and part of the reason it’s so caloric.  This is very low fat, crispy, tasty, and…  well, you’ll like it.

If you’ve never visited the magical David Lebovitz blog,  please do yourself a favor and make the trip today.  David is an American pastry chef living in Paris who always has a great story to tell—  The food’s lovely, too, but it’s the stories that bring me back again and again.  FYI–David also does things like Paris Chocolate Tours if you ever get to the City of Light.  If you want more info, check the blog or ask David yourself in the comment section of his blog.

2.  Changing it up:  The number of additions (and the size of their amounts), to the oats is rather flexible., as are the spices.   If you only have a few nuts and some raisins, for instance, you can still make this granola.  Or if you have only apricots and almonds…you can still make this granola.  Only have cinnamon?  Use 3 teaspoon cinnamon then.  See?   Do keep the main ingredients and proportions intact:  oats, honey, maple syrup, applesauce, and oil.

two-dog kitchen and a bit of travel

Mother Gabriela

Our lilacs through the piano window.  Two views–above and below.

Above: Tasting Sean’s brews in Colorado.  Our son’s on his way to becoming a master brewer.  Woo hoo!

Above:  In Princeton–a facade saved, ready for its new building to be built behind.  Meantime, you can see the sky!

My Easter cake…will blog soon.  Great for spring!

Dogwood blossom in Princeton

 With Dave and Emily eating lunch in the sunshine in the West Village

                                                  At The Spotted Pig in NYC,  April Bloomfield’s restaurant.
                                                        Couldn’t get in.  🙁

Dappled light –West Village/NYC (above)

Gorgeous window boxes in downtown Princeton (above)

Princeton spring–Dogwoods (above)

“Yes, we did,”  said Gab and Tuck

Sing a new song,