reminder to be more thankful, I've decided to post this again.
My life is not how I thought it would be. All through childhood and even into my twenties, I imagined a life very different from the one I am currently living. With years of expensive schooling, it took me awhile to admit what would truly make me happy: being a stay-at-home mom. I always thought that by the time I was in my thirties I would have a wonderful husband, a handful of adorable children, a fulfilling career, and a strong community of friends. I have bits and pieces of this equation, but I'm still hoping for the whole package.
Despite the fact that for all intents and purposes my current life is pretty good, this feeling of lack has at times consumed me. My mom says, “Unhappiness comes from unfulfilled expectations.” Even though I have had immense fortune at many junctures in my life, I often get stuck feeling this is not how I expected my life would be and equate that with a sense of failure and unhappiness.
On this lazy Sunday morning while reading the newspaper in bed and drinking a steaming mug of tea, I realized that what I’m viewing as failure and disappointment is also affording me many luxuries that wouldn’t be available if my life were different. For instance, if I had children or an intense career with around the clock demands on my time, I wouldn’t be able to spend my morning in this way. So, with this in mind, I decided to follow my own advice and savor the day.
Rather than focusing on the fact I've been on a date with nearly every eligible man between Los Angeles and Monterey and still haven't found "the one," I’m going to try cherish the fact I’ve had the great fortune of meeting many different men from all walks of life while gaining a clearer sense what does and does not work for me. I will always want to have a family but until that day comes, I’d like to put more emphasis on the many blessings in my life. Wanting to better visualize the good fortune in my life, I made a list of the things for which I’m grateful and was surprised by its length. Even though I continue to yearn for some additions and changes, my life is actually pretty darn good!
Unfortunately, our physical body is not always in sync with our mind and spirit. My “attitude of gratitude” was interrupted this morning by my growling stomach. As it’s been awhile since I’ve been to the grocery store, my refrigerator and cupboards are rather bare. I considered eating a frozen pizza for breakfast, but then discovered a jar of old-fashioned oats sitting on the counter. Continuing in my “attitude of gratitude,” I said to myself, I am grateful that I continue to buy oats even though I don’t care much for oatmeal; that way I always have them on hand, and I’m grateful that I buy dried fruit and nuts in bulk so there is always a bountiful supply. With that in mind, I decided to make a batch of homemade granola.
Gratitude GranolaThere are many wonderful reasons to make your own granola. Homemade granola generally has less fat and sugar than store-bought, tastes better, is more economical than buying gourmet granolas from natural food stores, and provides an opportunity to be creative in your baking. I get bored making the same thing over and over again, but the great thing about granola is that you can make if differently every time depending on your mood and what you have in the house. The basic idea is simple: oats, something sweet, some type of oil, and some flavor.
5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
pinch of salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
2-3 cups raw seeds and raw chopped nuts (roasted nuts and seeds will burn)
Suggestions: walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and flax seeds are all delicious options.
1/2 –1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 –3/4 cup honey or maple syrup
1/2 –3/4 cup coconut oil (my favorite!)
2-3 cups chopped dried fruit (must be added after cooking because it will burn otherwise)
Suggestions: raisins, yellow raisins, cranberries, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, apricots, peaches, crystallized ginger, mango, papaya, pineapple
In a large bowl combine oats, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, nuts, and shredded coconut and/or wheat germ if using. In a smaller bowl combine oil and honey. Mix the liquid ingredients with the dry and stir to combine. The oats should be uniformly damp and taste delicious when sampled. If they are too dry, add more oil and/or honey. If not delicious enough, adjust ingredients until it passes your inspection.
Spread evenly over two large baking sheets and bake at 325ºF, stirring frequently, until crisp and golden, about 30-45 minutes. The oats will become more crisp as they cool. Stir in dried fruit. Cool completely before storing in an air-tight container.
Enjoy with yogurt and fruit, with milk, soy milk, almond milk, or rice milk, or as a topping for your next fruit crisp. Try it sprinkled on ice cream! Wrapped in a cellophane bag with a pretty ribbon, granola makes a great homemade hostess or holiday gift.
Be grateful for all the deliciousness in this world!