Friday night, I finally had the chance to meet Maggy and Pam of Three Many Cooks, who invited me, my husband Tom, and my mom to a cozy dinner for seven at Pam and David’s home in Pennsylvania. I could go on and on and gush about the evening, but I’ll leave that for another post. (Or hopefully Maggy will be more on-the-ball than I am and post about it first.)
The Andersons are such a lovely family, and you immediately get a sense of how close they are to each other. Maggy is beautiful, inside and out, and she just lights up the room. And I will say this: Pam looks good. REALLY good. And after having read the story behind The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight and Eating Great, I was instantly drawn to how she managed to do it. It’s not rocket science, after all. It’s centered around creating a healthy lifestyle, not depriving yourself, and getting active. Most of it, we already know. We just need that push to put it all together and actually get started on creating that lifestyle.
We all have a few “unhealthy” habits, and in isolation, few of those are so damaging that they negate all the other healthy habits we do have. (I can name a few, but I’m not getting on that soapbox right now.) I’ve always had just those one or two bad habits, but for the most part, they’ve never given me trouble. And I was always able to whip myself back into shape in a matter of weeks.
But I’m not in college anymore, and my metabolism isn’t what is used to be. If I don’t watch myself, things can slide. Slide far, and sometimes, slide fast. And since age is going to handicap my metabolism, I better take stock of my unhealthy habits and start nipping them in the bud. Well, mid-life bud, really. But better mid-life than never.
So this weekend, I resolved to finally kick my worst habit of all: skipping breakfast. I’ve never been a breakfast person, and I think much of it has to do with the fact that, even as a child, everyone in my family was a night owl. We would be the house on the street with kids running around outside playing agawan base (our version of Capture the Flag) at 2 o’clock in the morning, and yes, the next day was a school day. When you get used to going to bed late and waking up late, you tend to rush into your day because now you already have to play catch up. Often, I’d decline breakfast, saying “my stomach isn’t awake yet.” It’s a habit I’ve carried on to today. Except now, when I’m alone working from home, there’s no one around who’ll make me stop for a few minutes to eat a proper meal. And when I start working on something, it can be hours before I take a break. More than once, I’d find myself having my first meal of the day at 2 or 3 in the afternoon.
Much of this also has to do with the fact that breakfast is the meal for which I’m least prepared. When I grocery shop, I get the mainstay eggs and milk, but I don’t really fit breakfast into my meal planning. I bake bread all the time now, so usually, breakfast for my guys at home is a slice or two of homemade bread with some butter and sometimes jam. Sometimes, they’ll put slices of cheese and slather hot sauce on it, but that’s a whole other story.
And so, to start off my renewed commitment to eating properly, this weekend I made a simple and yet flavorful Classic Granola. The cherries and almond variation was posted recently at Three Many Cooks, but since I’m allergic to almonds, I opted for the classic version (also in the book).
Recipe from The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight and Eating Great by Pam Anderson
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup coconut flakes
1/3 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons warm water
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Spray a 9×13-inch pan with cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients (except the cinnamon and dried cranberries). Bring the liquid ingredients and the cinnamon to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Drizzle over the oat mixture and stir to combine.
Pour the mixture into the pan. Grab handfuls of the mixture and squeeze to form small clumps. Bake at the middle rack position for 30 minutes, stir in the cranberries, and continue baking an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool. Store in an airtight container.
A few things: don’t be like me and fail to follow directions properly. Else, in your head you’ll think that the recipe calls for squeezing the oat mixture into small clumps AFTER the first half-hour of baking. Then you’ll do it, albeit very painfully, and wonder if maybe the Anderson family has genetically heat-resistant hands. My fingers were not happy about squeezing that hot granola. Oh, and when Pam says use a 9×13-inch pan, please use a 9×13-inch pan. Don’t go and use a cookie sheet. Especially if you’re clumsy like some buttheads I know, and then not only are you doing the whole squeeze-the-hot-granola-then-let-go-really-fast-while-biting-your-lip routine, but you’re also trying to avoid touching that hot pan AND not spill anything.
Other than that, it was a breeze! Coupled with my homemade yogurt, this made an excellent and filling breakfast. The batch should last me a week, unless my son devours half of it by Tuesday. (He loves granola.) Now I have no excuse not to have breakfast.
I also made whole wheat pumpkin spice mini muffins (from the book) for a midday treat, which will be the subject of my next post. I sometimes need a little sweet bite during the day, and it’s just the thing for me. The granola and the muffins didn’t take long to make, and now I’m set with breakfast and snacks for the week.
I absolutely love The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight and Eating Great, and I’m not saying that just because I got to have dinner with Pam and her family. The book is loaded with great recipes and tips, and honestly, I think it focuses more on the Eating Great part. These are recipes I’d make because of their flavor and ease of preparation (no more excuses!). The fact that they’re healthy and can help you lose weight is almost like a mere bonus.
My only lament is that now I really, really want to start walking/running again, but I’m stuck indoors for as long as we’re under a pollen siege. But as soon as the fresh spring air stops making me sick, that steep driveway outside and our hilly streets better watch out for me.
(It’s actually the other way around, but I’m feeling feisty today. It must be the granola.)