Olive Oil Granola

I don’t know about you, but it’s been a really long week.  It was one of those weeks where a lot happened professionally and personally and my brain and body were just kinda stuck in the middle of it.  Luckily, it’s a three-day weekend and I just made granola.  It’s amazing what the smell of cinnamon and toasted oats can do for one’s mood.

If granola is the high of my week, my shoulder pain has definitely been my low.  I’m still recovering from a shoulder injury from last August and this week my physical therapist told me I needed to stop running.  Since my shoulder is already irritated and having a hard time healing, my recent training has been making it worse.

For anyone that has ever had to stop doing something they love because of an injury, I’m sure you can share in my frustration, anger, and sadness.  I was feeling really sorry for myself all week, thinking negatively about my body, and skipping the gym out of frustration.  Obviously, this made me feel worse about the situation.

Yesterday I had to change my attitude.  I returned all of my marathon training books back to the library.  I put on my cutest workout top.  And I told myself that if cycling is all that I can do, then I’m going to do it!  I went to the gym, got on a bike, and I rode for two hours.  It didn’t make me feel better about not being able to run, but it sure made me stop being negative. 

I’ve been trying to find other things besides exercise to get excited about.  Since I won’t be able to participate in any races for the next couple of months, I decided to put that money towards registration for the Vida Vegan Blogger Conference in Portland this August.  I bought myself a new toothbrush.  Then I cleaned and organized my refrigerator.  These might sound like insignificant things, yet somehow, they help make it better.  And I might not be able to go running, but I sure can make a good batch of granola.  That’s something to be thankful for. 

This is one of my favorite granola recipes.  The olive oil and salt add just enough “oomph” to separate it from the sweeter granola varieties.  I love having this with almond milk in the morning or with some soy yogurt for dessert.  If you’re worried about all the calories in granola, you can have half granola and half puffed (unsweetened) brown rice cereal to help cut some of the fat and sugar.  This is usually what I do in the mornings when I don’t want to start my day with something too sweet. I also like to add in some flax seeds and hemp protein powder.

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup agave or pure maple syrup (I usually use a mix of both)
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup chopped dried apricots (optional)

Preheat oven to 300.

I ran my almonds and walnuts through a food processor for a few minutes, but you can also chop them by hand or leave them whole.  In a large bowl, combine your oats, nuts, seeds, cinnamon and salt.  Mix in your olive oil, agave and/or maple syrup.

Spread the mixture on a large rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.  Stir occasionally. 

Once cooled, transfer to a large bowl and mix in the apricots.

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