Well, I’m back and, folks, I don’t even know where to begin with all the gastronomical soul searching I’ve been doing over the past almost two weeks: swearing off sweets, vowing to kick the “chain restaurant” habit, nearly devouring the actual menu at my new favorite eatery because absolutely everything on it looked divine… I could go on but this is all such good fodder for future blogs that I will pace myself.
So I begin at the beginning…my week long fast from sweets.
I made it!
Okay, actually, I took kind of a Jewish approach to the topic. In the Jewish tradition, a day actually begins and ends at sundown so the fact that I didn’t eat a plate full of assorted desserts until the sun went down on Sunday could qualify as a successful completion of my task.
Folks, throw me a bone here. I passed up a foot-high (no lie) chocolate and peanut butter cake mounded with Reese cups at the bridal shower on Saturday; I earned a loophole for Sunday.
Anyway, all that to say, while I loved each bite of the desserts I had on Sunday and all of last week while we were on vacation, I came to the supernatural realization that eating sweets just makes me feel like crap. I get headaches, I feel nauseous, my emotions are all over the chart. While my week without sweets was definitely hard, I physically felt so good.
Therefore, I’m setting up a challenge for myself, and I’m expecting you all to hold me to this new standard: I want to keep sweets for special occasions instead of what they were becoming in our household—a staple. My goal is to keep all cookies, ice cream, candy, and pastries out of our house, so they become treats we can enjoy occasionally instead of everyday.
However, there is one thing I will not give up so I'm warning you now to just save your breath: Ghiradelli’s 60% Cocoa Chocolate Chips. I did a little research online to try and strengthen my case for these being a health food, but chocolate has to be 65% cocoa before it’s classified as a true dark chocolate with all the healthy goodies.
Nonetheless, I’m not letting go of them. I mean, it’s 5% away from being pristine and full of antioxidants. And one serving (no, I do not eat more than one serving in a day if you must know) has only 6 grams of sugar, a whole heck of a lot less than all those “healthy” yogurts out there, sporting sugar contents upwards of 30 grams. So, there, I’ve made my case and I feel good about it.
Alright, the main reason I love these chocolate chips so much is because they are an essential ingredient in my homemade rustic granola. (This is the recipe I alluded to last month when my food budget was running low and couldn’t sustain a large purchase of nuts.) So as a trade-off for allowing me to keep the chocolate chips in my cupboard, I offer to you my beloved recipe.
Note: This granola is not for the weak-jawed. There are lots of nuts in it, and I keep them all whole because I find it keeps them from getting too dark in the oven and, more importantly, because I love crunchy food. Should all the chewing and crunching be too much for you, just chop them up.
Mai’s Rustic (and Nutty) Homemade Granola
5 cups old-fashioned oats
1 ½ c. walnuts
1 ½ c. pecans
1 ½ c. almonds
1/3 c. canola oil
1/3 c. honey
½ c. flaked coconut
2/3 c. dried blueberries
1 c. Ghiradelli’s 60% dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Mix oats, walnuts, pecans, and almonds in a large bowl. In a glass measuring jug, combine oil and honey and zap in the microwave for about 30 seconds, just to get it nice and runny. Pour the oil/honey mixture over the oats and nuts in the bowl, and mix till everything is coated. Bake for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. After you bring the granola out of the oven, add the coconut and blueberries. Cool completely and then add the chocolate chips.
I actually passed up a Reese Cup Sundae in exchange for this granola tonight. That’s saying something. I guess there’s hope for me yet.