Just Losin' It

Healthy Peanut Butter Chocolate Granola

When a person starts a diet, they are on fire with will-power which has the strength to spread like a relationship status rumor. However, after you’ve been on a diet for a while[1], you start to search for ways to cheat, but not really cheat. You want to feel like you’re cheating without having to take in the empty calories of a cheat day. Insert granola here. It is crunchy, sweet,[2] and full of flavor. But the best thing is that granola, even a healthy recipe doesn’t taste like diet food or fake sugars; even the unhealthy granola is made in approximately the same way. Here is my favorite healthy recipe for granola.

Healthy Peanut Butter Granola[3]

½ cup of Peanut Butter[4]
¼ cup of honey[5]
¼ cup of coconut oil[6]
1 tbls lemon juice[7]
1 tbls cinnamon[8]
½ tsp salt[9]
4 cups of rolled oats[10]
2 tbls flax or chia seeds[11]
½ cup of chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Combine peanut butter, honey, and oil in a medium saucepan. Melt over low-medium heat.
Remove from heat and add lemon juice, cinnamon, and salt. Stir until completely combined.[12]
Add the rolled oats and stir until all the oats are dressed equally.
Spread out evenly onto a rimmed baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.
Sprinkle the top with the flax or chia seeds. Stir to combine.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until firm and slightly brown, stirring once half-way through.
Once out of the oven, let cool for 20 minutes.
Fold the chocolate chips into the cooling mixture and then use your fingers to break up the melting chocolate chips into pea sized morsels.
Allow to cool completely and store in an air-tight container or zip-top bag.

I serve this with unsweetened banana chips over low-fat greek yogurt.

 

 

[1] maybe even in the first week
[2]team oxford comma
[3] This is a loose granola that I designed for the purpose of adding to my yogurt. If you are hoping for something that holds together a little bit more up your honey to oil ratio; the more honey, the stickier (and sweeter) it will be.
[4] I used smooth but you can use crunchy or any other nut butter (cookie butter anyone?)
[5] Or maple syrup
[6] Why is this healthier than vegetable based oils? Unlike vegetable based oil, the fatty acids in coconut oil are metabolized by your body quickly and not stored as fat. It also has a high smoke point so is great for cooking as well as baking.
[7] Yes, lemon juice. Don’t skip it. Adding a little bit of acid will help balance the flavors of the granola without actually adding any flavor. I promise no one will be able to taste it!
[8] Cinnamon is great because it can help give your metabolism a little boost; although not enough to actually cause dramatic weight loss.
[9] I measure by pinches and this is about four pinches for me
[10] You could substitute some rolled oats for some chopped nuts or dried fruit if you want a complete snack – no yogurt or milk required.
[11] I used a blend of the two that I found at a health food store. Both flax and chia are high in Omega 3 fatty acids and fiber. Both will keep you fuller for longer and have health benefits that can help with high cholesterol, diabetes, depression, Alzheimer’s and more.
[12] If you stop here you have a delicious sauce to pour over your favorite low-calorie ice cream.

Just Losin' It

It’s The Climb

I love biking.

Well, I guess, some would call it cycling.

Regardless, I love it.

But I don’t want to bike across Iowa[1], I want to speed down the rolling hills in this corner of the state.

I love the mobility that being on the bike gives me. I love that I can bike a mile in less than 5 minutes[2].

I love that I can bike to my job in the summer unless there is a threat of storms.

I like that I can make a quick grocery run without having to start up my car[3].

I adore that the combination of living in a small town, owning a bike, and desiring an active lifestyle gives me the freedom to bike anywhere within the town I live without too much trouble.

But I had an issue present itself recently: I accepted a position as a worship coordinator at a church in a town 15 miles away. And although the commute is not long in a car, it is still more than a non-distance cyclist would want to do twice in one day.

But I came up with a fast solution; I can take my bike with me!

So every Tuesday and Wednesday morning, Sylvia (my bike) and I rest for the 15 miles in (or on) my car[4] on our way to the church.

Once I’ve finished working for the day, I gingerly remove Sylvia from her rack and bike towards the trails that are conveniently located only about a mile and a quarter from where I work. Although I have to bike on the highway[5], it is worth it; it is almost exclusively downhill all the way to the trail and it takes me only about 3 minutes to get there if I don’t have to stop for the stop light. Once I get to the trail, I usually do some exploring and 5 miles later I head back up the hill to the church[6].

But as I was saying, I love to bike.

There are so many things I love about biking, but my favorite are the hills.

I love a good climb.

I love the skill that it takes.

I love that as I climb the hill back to church, my quads are screaming at me to rest[7].

I also like the skill and knowledge it takes to know when to shift through the gears for the most effective climb.

In short, I like the challenge of the climb (cue Miley Cyrus here).

But more than the climb, I like the rush of the downhill.

And no, I don’t mean the coast.

I mean, I like knowing a hill is coming and biking as aggressively as I can up to and half-way down the hill. I like to get the speed. And although the trails around here are not super long, I regularly get close to 25[8] miles per hour making my way down them[9].

I love that the only thing I hear as I race down the hill is the rush of wind that comes from both sides of my face, as if it is pushing its way through my brain.

I love that I can close my eyes so tight for a millisecond.

I love that for that one moment, as I coast down the rest of the hill, I can’t remember a single thing. I’m not thinking about what happened at work or what I need to get done; I’m not thinking about my roommate or my family or my friends; I’m not thinking about any sin in my life or any negative thought that so easily pushes through; I’m not thinking about what a plus-sized woman looks like on a bike or whether or not my shirt is riding up.

I’m literally thinking about nothing.

In that one moment, there is peace. It is almost as if I pick up enough speed, I will literally take off and start flying with the angels in heaven.

In that single moment, that millisecond, there is nothing but peace.

I love that by the time I get down the hill there is water coming from my eyes and that I am never quite sure whether it is from the beauty of God or from the wind.

In that moment, I feel as if God and I are together without distraction, almost as if I am one with the angels.

This is what I imagine it will feel like in the new heaven and new earth; that this moment will someday last forever.

Someday I won’t have to exert myself to feel that kind of peace, but it will be gifted to me by a God who loves me more than I can imagine.

[1] Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI)

[2] This depends on whether or not I’m working against the wind or how many times I have to come to a dead stop.

[3] With the help, of course, of my bike rack and handy bag that hangs off the back of it.

[4] His name is Ted.

[5] relatively dangerous in my neck of the woods

[6] As you can image, it takes me a bit longer to go up the hill

[7] Or give up…

[8] It’s amazing to me that 25 miles per hour feels slow in a car, but so fast on a bike.

[9] Real cyclist with laugh at this. I have a friend who has gotten well above 50 with his small-tired road bike