Have you seen my 20s?

6:27 AM

As I inch closer to 40, I'm finding myself mourning the loss of my younger-self. Ah, to be carefree and energized with the appetite and metabolism of a 24-year-old again. Gone are the days of binging on pastries and cocktails only to be burned off by a couple of days' worth of exercise. I've become painfully aware of the old adage "a second on your lips, forever on your hips." Sigh.

So I'm turning over a new leaf. No more egg sandwiches and bowl after bowl of cereal. I need to find a healthier alternative that I know my whole family would still enjoy. There had to be something healthy (kind of) and certainly scrumptious in my Flour cookbook, right?

I realize Granola and Good Morning Muffins won't be part of your next detox regime. But they are pretty healthy and damn delicious.

Mom's Granola
Adapted from Joanne Chang's Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery and Cafe

2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups wheat germ
1/2 cup shredded coconut
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup vanilla extract
2 teaspoons vanilla exract
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup raisins

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

2. In a large bowl, combine oats, wheat germ, coconut, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds, cinnamon, and salt and mix well. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, honey and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly until the dry ingredients are evenly coated.

3. Pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet and spread in an even layer. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown. Stir the granola with a spatula several times during the baking to ensure even browning. Let cool completely, then add the cranberries and raisins and mix to distribute them evenly.

The Good: Super easy to whip up. Sprinkle on top of some yogurt and you got yourself a great breakfast.

The Bad: If you lose the revised instruction (like I did), the original recipe says to bake for 45-50 minutes. DON'T. I ended up burning some of the granola :(

Grade: B. If I hadn't slightly burned them, I think these would be extraordinary.

Good Morning Muffins
Adapted from Joanne Chang's Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery and Cafe
(makes 12 muffins)

1/2 cup wheat bran
1/2 cup hot water
1 small zucchini, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 chopped walnuts
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped (about 1 cup)
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3 eggs
3/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners (or coat with nonstick cooking spray or butter)

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the wheat bran and hot water until bran is completely moistened. Add the zucchini, raisins, walnuts, coconut and apple and stir until well mixed.

3. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat together the sugar and eggs on medium speed for 3-4 minutes, or until the mixture thickens and lightens. On low speed, slowly drizzle in the oil and then the vanilla (about one minute). When the oil and the vanilla are incorporated, remove the bowl from the mixer stand.

4. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, oats, baking powder, salt and cinnamon until well mixed. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and fold carefully just until the dry and wet ingredients are well combined. Then add the bran mixture and fold again just until well combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, dividing it evenly and filling the cups to the rim.

5. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the muffins are lightly browned on top and spring back when pressed in the middle with a finger tip. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes.

The Good: Moist and flavorful. My youngest could not get enough. Served them over Easter and they were a hit.

The Bad: Because of all the good-for-you ingredients, pretty lengthy ingredient list!

Grade: A. Makes any morning a good morning!

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