Make at your own risk

I rolled over and turned off my alarm this morning at 4:30 am, with no intention of going to run as Brad and I discussed before we went to bed.  I asked him if he wanted to run and he responded with some nonsense jibberish as usual when I talk to him when he’s half asleep.  I reset my alarm clock for 5:30 (my usual time) and reassured myself that I could run after work.  I needed more sleep.

But around 5 am, I realized that I could not sleep any longer.  If I engage my brain when I wake up, sleep is no more.  By engage my brain, I mean thinking too much, asking questions, answering questions…all these things engage my brain and once it’s engaged, sleeping is out of the question.

With no time for a five mile run, I figured that I should get started on my day and possibly even get to work a little early.

I’ve been starting my day for the past week with a glass of hot water and lemon juice.  The thought of cold water in the morning just doesn’t appeal to me and I’ve read that this combination is great to drink first thing in the morning.

As usual, I knew just what I wanted for breakfast this morning.  It is the reason I get up, after all.  I made my absolute favorite smoothie in a bowl.  That’s an SIAB for any of you newbies.

Chocolate Raspberry Smoothie in a Bowl

1 cup of almond milk
1/2 frozen banana
2/3 cup frozen raspberries
1 cup frozen spinach
1 scoop chocolate whey protein
just a pinch of Stevia

But the best part came last.  Actually, it came on top.  This is the best granola I have ever made.  It might just be the best granola I’ve ever tasted.

Go. Make this.  Put it on everything.  And be happy.

Almond Crunch Granola
This granola is deadly delicious.  I find myself reaching for a handful several times during the day.  However since you’re not coating the granola in oil, it is much healthier than the processed variety you find in stores.  This is such a simple recipe, but I have to warn you.  Make at your own risk.

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup pumpkin
1/4 cup agave
1 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. salt
2 oz. almond pieces*
2 oz. raisins

In a large bowl, mix oats with pumpkin thoroughly.  Add agave, almond extract, salt, almond pieces, and raisins and mix again until everything is evenly distributed.  Place on a oiled baking sheet (use an oil with a mild taste like grapeseed oil) and spread evenly over the pan with a spatula.

Bake on 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Remove from pan and stir with spatula flipping over the granola pieces.  Place back in the oven for an additional 10 minutes for a total cooking time of 25 minutes.

*You can purchase almond pieces or you can also place whole almonds in a bag and pound with something heavy like a meat mallet or a rolling pin.  I broke up my almonds by using my immersion blender.  It came with a tube-shaped container.  I placed the almonds inside, stuck the immersion blender inside the tube, tried my best to cover the container’s opening with my hand, and turned on the blender.  I’m sure a few pieces escaped the container, but Rascal didn’t mind one bit.

This was my view of the sky at the half way point of my work commute this morning.  Isn’t it beautiful?

Don’t worry, I was at a red light.  I do not drive and photograph at the same time.


If you’re looking for a unique Valentines Day gift for someone you love or in memory of someone you love, please consider donating to Hospitality House of Charlotte.

Hospitality House of Charlotte is thinking outside the box this Valentine’s Day. Inside these chocolates, you won’t find caramel or coconut. Instead, you’ll find the opportunity to provide a warm bed and a hot meal for families in medical crisis. Donors who participate in our Give A Piece of Your Heart virtual Valentine’s campaign can “purchase” a piece of chocolate and, if they choose, post a special message on our site in honor or memory of someone special. We’ll also send an e-mail message acknowledging this thoughtful gift made in their honor.

It’s a sweet Valentine’s Day gift from the heart with none of the calories!

With 22 pieces of candy in our box and 22 bedrooms in our house, you can help us raise funds to fill our house for a night.

Donations will provide shelter and comfort to families who are in unimaginably difficult circumstances. As a guest at Hospitality House, they’ll have a safe, homelike place to rest, launder clothing and prepare meals as well as the support of caring staff and volunteers if a sympathetic ear or a shoulder to cry on is needed.

Click here to donate.