Maple Pecan & Blueberry Almond Granola

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It’s official – it’s summer babes!  Boo ya!

Okay, so I know the weather in Vancouver has been so gorgeously amazing basically since May – but technically that was still Spring.  So now that we have officially passed the June 21st mark, making the arrival of summer 100% official – I am just the happiest girl on earth 😀

This weekend in particular we are heading into our first official “heat wave” of the summer and they are predicting the temperatures to get up to 35 degrees in some areas of the lower mainland – woot woot! I think I have mentioned many times before that I am a girl who loves her sunshine, so I have absolutely no bones about this gorgeous sunshine and all the heat – I say break out the sunscreen, your new bikini, your water bottle, some stylish shades and bring on the beach trips baby! 😀

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Now as much as I love my hot & sunny Vancouver days – I have to admit that lounging in the sunshine all day long tends to dry up my appetite, and because I just don’t feel hungry I get lost in the glory of the sunny day and forget to eat and keep my body nourished.

I know what you’re thinking – what’s the problem, isn’t unknowingly skipping meals a good thing for your beach bod anyways? I hate to burst your bubble on this little myth but sadly I must tell you that this whole skipping meals business to lose a quick couple pounds is just plain wrong. Believe it or not, when you start skipping meals – even though it may feel like your tummy is a little flatter for ta little while – your body is wondering what the heck is going on and why there are no calories for it to feed on to keep you going. After years of evolution your body is smart, so when you aren’t getting your proper caloric intake for the day, in an effort to keep you healthy for as long as possible. So what happens is your metabolism will actually slow down and your body starts to really store away every single calorie that you take in from that point on.

Why does your body do this? Well, because when you get into the habbit of skipping meals, your body thinks it might be a long time before it gets any more food from you so it holds onto everything little thing you give it for dear life. So when you actually start eating regular meals again, your body is still in this starvation mode, and you will find that you actually won’t lose any weight this way – in fact you may even find that you gain weight through this practice of skipping meals.

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Case in point; avoid skipping meals – not only is it not actually good for your beach bod, but it is very unhealthy for your body and we want to have healthy bodies right? Right.

So what do I do when I lose my appetite purely from the heat of a summer day but I want to avoid forgetting to eat properly? I make sure that I always have a nice light, healthy, on the go snack packed along with me at all times. Yes – I am one of those women that you will see toting around an extra large Mary Poppins-esque bag, which I will proceed to pull cornucopias amounts of  food from within. What can I say, I like to be prepared.

Whether it be an apple,  a container of blueberries, a little baggy of dried fruit, or a container full of roasted almonds – I can honestly say there is never a day when I don’t have snacks packed in my bag and my absolute favourite snack to pack along on a hot summer day is a nice crunchy (and super healthy) batch of homemade granola. Granola is so crisp and light to eat and it will keep your body good and nourished on a hot summer day.

Granola is addicting but when you make it homemade and fill it with healthy ingredients – there is no reason to feel guilty about eating it. This granola is naturally sweetened, free of additional oil and chock full of healthy ingredients like oats, almonds, flax seeds, chia seeds and dried blueberries. Oh and did I mention that it is delicious ??

The combination of the flavours from the maple syrup and the vanilla mix perfectly with the nutty taste of the pecans and the subtle tartness from the dried blueberries. This is one of my favourite summer granola recipes and I can’t wait to share it with you! Here is the recipe 😀

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Maple Pecan & Blueberry Almond Granola
Makes: about 4 cups of granola

Things you need… 
4oz dates
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp peanut butter
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 1/4 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp flax seeds
1/2 cup dried blueberries

How to make…
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Place dates in a bowl of boiling water; cover and let stand for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, stir together peanut butter, honey, maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon with a wooden spoon or a spatula until smooth and well combined.

Once your dates have had time to re-hydrate, place them in a food processor or a blender and puree into a thick paste. Spoon the date paste into the mixing bowl with all of the other wet ingredients and stir to combine. Add in the coconut, rolled oats, pecans, almonds, chia seeds and flax seeds. Stir until all of the ingredients are well coated and evenly distributed.

Spread the granola out onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for first 10 minutes; remove the pan from the oven, stir the granola with a spoon and place back in the oven to bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven again and stir – you will probably notice that at this point your granola is starting to get a little bit golden and this is what you want. Return the granola to the oven for another 5 minutes. Check on your granola at the 25 minute mark to see if it is done – it should be light golden brown and evenly baked. If some areas look under baked, give it another stir and bake for an additional 3-5 minutes baking for 25-30 minutes in total.

Gently lift the granola using the edges of the parchment paper and transfer directly onto a wire rack to cool. This is 100% necessary – but I find that this helps the granola to get extra crunchy, (which I like.) Sprinkle the dried blueberries over top of the granola while it is still warm and  then allow to cool completely.

The granola will take about 45 minutes to an hour to cool. Once it has cooled, break the granola into smaller chunks and place in an airtight container or large zip lock bag for storage.

The granola will keep for up to two weeks if properly stored – however, I doubt it will last that long 😉

Granola Tips
When you initially take the granola out of the oven, it will still feel soft – this is okay. The granola will crisp up as it cools.
Don’t store your granola until it is completely cool, because once you shut your container or bag, the heat from the granola will cause it to sweat in your container and your granola will get soft and soggy – this is not what you want.

I made a big batch of this granola just this morning because Cole and I are off this afternoon to spend an extra longgg weekend camping in Kelowna! This will be perfect for us to pack along with us for all those glorious beach and hiking days that we have ahead!

I might not get a post in next week, because as soon as we get back on Wednesday it’s back to crazy prep work for the Farmers Market on July 4th! So I wanted to get this one out for you just in case that happens. Tootaloo for now 😀

Happy Baking … and sunning!

KP xoxo

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