Since we moved, Whole Foods is the biggest, closest grocery store to us. There was a Whole Foods where we lived in Vancouver but we never shopped there because of the plethora of convenient, high-quality, cheap, small grocery stores. Even though I had been in a number of Whole Foods, walking into the one in New York was a totally different experience. I felt overwhelmed for the first time since moving to the city. There was so much stuff and so many people buying that stuff. However, once I was able to repress how overwhelmed I felt, I was definitely intrigued by the varieties of peppers, apples, pears (etc, etc) that I had never heard of. There were also a lot of fruits and vegetables that were less commonly available in grocery stores back home (I tried sunchokes for the first time!).
During my most recent trip to the store, a small punnet of fresh black figs caught my eye. Even though I have seen fresh figs, this was my first time buying them. The main reason for buying them was to make this fig and granola yogurt bowl. It has taken some time for our blender (smoothies!) and pots (oatmeal!) to arrive so my breakfast routine has changed. Other than cold cereal, I have been eating yogurt bowls. I load up the yogurt with the same delicious seeds, nuts and fruit as I tend to do with my oatmeal or smoothie bowls: figs were a perfect addition.
I finally got to go skiing last weekend. There is no other activity that I can think of that gets me outside in the fresh air, for a whole day, during the winter time. I can’t tell you how good I feel to be outside, in the sun and the snow, in the mountains where everything smells good, and moving. It’s such a luxury over these winter months. With skiing comes the need for snacks. Mostly the snacks are needed on the long car ride home when you finally sit down and suddenly realize that you are deeply tired, hungry and thirsty from all of that moving and fresh air. My go-to snack is granola bars. They are easy to keep in my ski jacket pocket, nutritious, filling, and have just the right balance of sweet and savory that I crave at times like those. I have been making versions of these granola bars ever since the Smitten Kitchen cookbook came out. There is a date and almond version in her book but I decided to make some apricot sunflower granola bars this time instead. I have tons of sunflower butter in my fridge and I thought it would be a nice change.
It’s amazing how quickly cravings and habits form. I remember when we went to Asia and I started eating curry, fish and rice for breakfast. At first, my stomach would turn. I was used to milk and sugary cereal. It was so strange. After just a few days though, I started looking forward to my roti canai, and later to my miso soup, rice and pickled vegetables. These days I am pretty much on an oatmeal kick. Oddly enough I love to add some granola to my oatmeal. I know it is an oat-on-oat situation but I love the contrast between the crunchy texture and toasty flavour of granola along with the other seeds and nuts that I also add to my bowl. So, having granola in the house is always a good thing in my book. I try to change up the spices, nuts and fruit that I put in my granola (got to keep breakfast exciting!) and this time I decided to make a second batch of granola based on Local Milk’s recipe. Her granola is the clumpiest that I have ever made. While I love muesli-esque granola, there is something special about the texture of granola clumps (does anyone know what I mean? Maybe because they are usually pretty hard to achieve?). Using her recipe as a base, I decided to make gingerbread granola: deeply spiced, molasses-y, filled with pecans, and dried blueberries and cranberries. It’s the perfect accompaniment to my oatmeal on snowy winter mornings.
I’m officially obsessed. I saw this recipe on My New Roots and knew I had to make it right away. Why have I never thought of chocolate granola? I have certainly put chopped chocolate into my granola before but I really haven’t made the wet part of the granola recipe chocolatey. Let me tell you, this has revolutionized my granola universe! I knew that when I was making it and the wet mixture smelled and looked like brownie batter, I was in a good place. I was in an even better place knowing that there wasn’t even anything particularly unhealthy in the recipe: coconut oil, maple syrup and cocoa powder, how can you go wrong?