Monday, February 18, 2013

Bright and Sunny Granola

My sister's recipe for granola has always been a favorite of mine. The oats are perfectly toasted, and just a touch sweet, from the addition of pure Vermont maple syrup. I've tried making several other renditions of this cereal, but few compare to Annie's. I'll have to ask her permission to give out the recipe in a later post!

Over the past few days, I've been on a tropical fruit kick. I think the long winter days are getting to me! So, I channeled this "desire for sun" to my breakfast. The result, a bright and flavorful combination of coconut oil, dried pineapple and sweet papaya. Sprinkle a little over greek yogurt... Tastes like vacation!

4 cups old-fashioned or quick-cooking rolled oats
3/4 cup unsalted raw sunflower seeds
1 cup walnuts or macadamia nuts, chopped into halves or quarters
11/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
11/2 cups assorted unsulfured dried fruits (try tropical fruits like dried pineapple and dried papaya), chopped
Grated zest of 2 oranges
3/4 cup raw mild-flavored honey
1/4 cup coconut oil

Preheat the oven to 300°F and set aside 2 rimmed baking sheets.

Combine the oats, sunflower seeds, walnuts, coconut, dried fruits, and zest in a large bowl. Heat the honey and coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat, whisk to thoroughly combine, then pour over the oat mixture and stir until everything is well coated.

Divide the mixture between the baking sheets and spread into a thin layer. Bake, stirring every 10 minutes, for about 40 minutes, until toasty golden brown. Cool completely, then store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Yields: 10 Cups

*Recipe from Heidi Swanson, Super Natural Everyday

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Valentine's Day Baking Essentials

I can always justify a reason to bake, especially on Valentine's Day! While I'm still finalizing exactly what I'll be making for the Mr :) ... Rest assured, it will involve LOTS of chocolate. So, as I continue to ponder and flip through cookbooks, here are a few of my favorite kitchen tools for homemade and love-filled sweet treats. Enjoy!
Heart-shaped cookie cutters are essential for making these yummy treats: conversation hearts.

Who else loves red velvet cupcakes?

Share your recipes with a friend on cute cards like these.

Stay organized by pre-measuring ingredients into latte bowls.

There's nothing wrong with having an apron collection. 

How to write... on a cake, or plate.

Gourmet doughnuts make for a perfect Valentine's Day breakfast. 

Decorating desserts with sugar and sprinkles is the best part of baking!

Cookbooks from pretty pastry shops are charming.

Last but not least... Williams-Sonoma is my "go to" for all cooking essentials... Like my bright red spatulas.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Modern Workout Day 3:: Ballet Beautiful

Last week was SO cold and windy in New York. The gloomy, grey days made the work week seem endless and depleted my energy. All I wanted was to be at home in our warm, cozy apartment.

As there was no getting me to the gym, I had to resort to a workout DVD to maintain my fitness routine. I've never been a big fan these types of things because they're just awkward.

However, Ballet Beautiful is different. The philosophy is that you can really transform any body type int one looking like a ballerina: long, lean, sculpted and strong, but still very elegant.

Sound too good to be true? Let's give it a try!

Mary Helen Bowers, former member of the New York City Ballet, instructs the entire practice. She is probably more famous for teaching Natalie Portman the technique needed for her role in Black Swan.

The workout is divided into six 10-minute segments: Inner Thighs, Outer Thighs, Arms, Abs, Standing and the Bridge. The only equipment needed is a yoga mat. But, I'm sure if you had a carpet or a rug, that would suffice.

During each interval, Bowers teaches proper ballet form and pushes you to stretch and lengthen your muscles... Toes pointed, chin up, core engaged.

At no point over the entire hour did I break a sweat. But, I can assure you, I felt relaxed, confident and toned. The exercises were calming, yet vigorous in nature. And, I felt stretched, but quite sore the next day.

While this workout won't blast the calories like Soul Cycle and Boxing... That's not the intention. Ballet Beautiful provides the techniques to build and maintain the beauty, grace and strength of a ballerina.

For the days when you need a little extra time at home, Ballet Beautiful is the perfect solution.

*Images via Vogue