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Easy MSPI Friendly Maple Brown Sugar Granola

When I found out that Ryan was MSPI, I realized I was in trouble. I LOVE dairy. I LOVE ice cream, and cheese, and milk products. Oh, and soy? It’s in EVERYTHING. And lucky me, Ryan is in the minority with his soy sensitivity in that he is bothered by soy oil in addition to other forms of soy.

After Ryan was born and I was breastfeeding, I realized that the days of my stomach being full in three seconds due to a baby pushing on it were over, and the days of being constantly hungry were on. Snacks are a complete necessity in order for me to make it to the next meal without being the biggest grump ever. The first two weeks or so, I’d go for either some cheese and crackers, a bowl of yogurt and fruit, or a bowl of oatmeal with a big ol’ pat of butter. See? Dairy is my thaaaanng.

After the MSPI diagnosis, I realized that if I didn’t figure out something to snack on that fit my new diet, I’d be screwed. So I hit the interwebs and found some things that would be safe that I could totally get into. And since I knew I’d be home and needed to be saving money (IE not running through a whole box of Special K in a day and a half..) I figured I’d work on making some of them myself. I’m already a pro a hummus (I’ll share my recipe once I get more tahini!) but I wanted something I could just grab a handful of while nursing or rocking Ryan to sleep.

When Alex suggested making granola, I was hesitant. Yes, oatmeal is great for nursing moms, and  yes, you can pack it with healthy bits, but I hate crumbled up granola where there’s just a box or bowl of individual oat grains. But with some googling and test batches, I found my perfect recipe for granola!

Toasty and crunchy with big clumps of deliciousness, this granola is perfect by the handful or as a cereal. If you use pecans, they get super buttery in the oven which is only made better with the maple brown sugar coating. An egg white added to the wet ingredients allows the granola to be broken into larger chunks and clusters, perfect for snacking on the go. Using olive oil makes this granola both MSPI friendly and gives it a bit of a fruity undertone, while dried cranberries added after baking give a great contrast of texture and tartness that really brings the granola together.

Omit nuts and substitute seeds (a mix of pumpkin and sunflower would be great!) to make nut free, use GF oats to make gluten free. This recipe is very flexible, so have fun with it! Let me know of any variations you make!

Easy Maple Brown Sugar Granola

Easy Maple Brown Sugar Granola

3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup of nuts (I used chopped pecans)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 egg white
2-3 tbs. brown sugar
1/3 cup(ish) maple syrup (you could probably sub or honey, but we’re a maple syrup household)
1/4 cup of oil + 1 tsp. for the pan (I use olive. It gives it a really nice flavor, and it’s MSPI safe – most vegetable oils have soy in them. You could definitely use vegetable, canola, coconut.. whatever you have on hand.)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup of dried fruit (I’ve been using dried cranberries, but I bet a mix of different kinds would be awesome – just make sure that whatever you use you chop into smaller pieces.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl combine the first 3 ingredients. If using pecans or another whole, large nut, I suggest breaking up any large pieces/ halves so that they will be more evenly dispersed throughout the granola and clusters. Measure and combine the rest of the ingredients except the cranberries, whisking with a fork to break up the brown sugar and incorporate the egg white. If you like things really sweet, go on the higher end of the sugar and maple syrup. If you like less sweet granola, opt for less brown sugar and maple syrup.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix, mix, mix. If it looks a little too wet, (excess sugar mixture on the bottom of the bowl) throw in a handful more oats. Once combined, pour the oats onto a baking sheet rubbed with the tsp. of remaining oil. You can also use a Silpat or parchment paper. Push the granola down into one tight layer all the way to the edge of the pan. (using a spatula to press and smush it tightly is really helpful)

Put the pan in the oven on the second to highest rack. This is very important if you have a super hot electric oven with the heating element on the bottom. If you put the rack in too low, the bottom will burn and that is no good.

Bake for 30-45 minutes. The edge will start to brown first, but don’t worry. Those will be for your snacking pleasure. To check if your granola’s done, take a spoon and take a spoonful out of the center of your pan. Put it on your counter and cool for a second. Test it out. Is it crunchy? Your granola is done. A bit chewy? Throw it back in the oven for 5 more minutes and check again.

Let the whole pan cool completely and gently remove the granola by wedging a fork under it to break up the sheet. Sprinkle the cranberries on top, put into container, and enjoy!

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Breast Milk Pancakes

Confession time: I’ve been eating these pancakes for breakfast nearly every morning with Ryan since I’ve started making them.

As any breastfeeding mother can probably tell you, I went through a month or two where I was obsessed with pumping and freezing. I had a fear that I would stop producing, I would get sick, Ryan would stop wanting the boob, etc. etc. etc. that I just kept pumping as much as possible. Ryan never took to a bottle so the milk wasn’t (and isn’t) going anywhere, so once we solids I needed a way to start using it up.

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I’ve tried a ton of different recipes, and this is one I created after messing around and mixing a few different once. If you want, you can use all white flour, but I like the idea of using a little oat flour and reducing the amount of white flour in his diet. I don’t suggest using ALL oat flour – it makes the pancakes really dry and gummy at the same time. They taste like they haven’t cooked long enough, even though they have.  Also, you can use white/brown/no sugar, but PLEASE don’t use fake weird maple syrup.


I make a double batch of these, which will give you about 75 2-inch pancakes. When they’re cool, layer the pancakes with sheets of wax paper in between and then transfer to big zip top freezer bags when frozen solid. When you want to serve them, either taken them out and leave on the counter for 30 or so minutes, or put in a warm oven for about 5 until defrosted. We serve them with a layer of peanut butter and jelly or peanut butter and maple syrup. For pre-pincer grip you can give them to baby whole or cut into sticks while post-pincer grip they’re perfect in little squares.

Breast Milk Pancakes

Breastmilk Pancakes
makes about 35 2-inch pancakes

1 cup flour of choice
1 cup oat flour (grind oats in food processor until flour-like in consistency)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup breast milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
3 tablespoons oil (I used canola for its light flavor and MSPI)
2-3 tablespoons sweetener of choice (maple syrup, white sugar, brown sugar, etc)
1 tsp, more or less to taste cinnamon**
Mix-ins of choice**

**optional.

Combine flour, baking powder and cinnamon is using in a large bowl and set aside. In another bowl, whisk together egg, milk, vanilla, sweetener, and oil. Gently stir the wet and dry ingredients, stirring as little as possible while getting rid of as many dry spots as possible. Small lumps are fine, don’t over stir. Heat up a pan (or two, if you want to make this quick!) over medium, and grease it. Spoon out batter on to the pan once to temperature and cook 2-3 minutes, or until the sides are set and bubbles are forming in the center of the pancakes, then flip. You may need to play with the temperature a bit  as you go. About one more minute on the other side until golden and transfer to a wax paper lined cookie sheet. If you wish, add in mix-ins after the batter is scooped but still wet. These could be frozen blueberries, banana slices, sliced strawberries, or chocolate chips for older kids (or moms!) Once the batter is gone, serve with toppings of choice or layer with wax paper and freeze, then transfer into labeled freezer bags for storage.

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Quick Chicken Thigh Dinner

 
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With the Mechanic’s schedule back to normal, I am once again having dinners for one. (ehh, I guess dinner for two these days) Because of this, when I’m making my shopping list and checking the sales, I’m thinking about what I can make multiple nights in a row, or what I can make extra of at dinner and add to lunch the next day. This week my local store had boneless skinless chicken thighs and corn on sale – perfect!

A lot of people are scared of chicken thighs. They either think they’re super fatty, gamey, or just weird. While they do have more fat than chicken breast, when you get them skinless (and do a bit of strategic trimming) there is a lot less fat than one may expect, AND the extra fat in them keeps this cut of chicken super moist. And as a life long white meat gal, I can assure you that they don’t taste super gamey or weird. Pinky promise. So with this in mind, when I went to the store on Sunday, I picked up a pack of boneless skinless chicken thighs with excitement. My pack was 2 pounds, but since this recipe isn’t exact, you can definitely increase/decrease that amount. Chicken thighs, both cooked and frozen, also freeze very well!

The best part about chicken thighs, or most cuts of chicken really, is that they take in a marinade quickly and easily. You can let these sit in the marinade for as little as an hour and they’ll soak up the amazing flavor. (though as with most marinades, the longer this sits, the better!) For this marinade, you’ll need the following:

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2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar 2 Tbsp. soy sauce 4 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar 1 Tbsp. honey 4 cloves of garlic (crushed and roughly chopped) Put this all in a Ziploc bag, and microwave it for about 20-30 seconds to melt the honey and warm the marinade. Trim and larger fat chunks off the thighs.  Cover in wax paper, and pound them out thin and even. This step isn’t necessary, and doing so is up to you, but they will take the marinade and cook faster the thinner they are.

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Throw the thighs into the bag, zip it up, smoosh it a bit to mix, and throw into your fridge to marinate. When you’re ready, get your grill/grill pan/non-stick skillet/whatever you want nice and hot, then throw the thighs onto the grill pan. (or whatever you used) Cook for 3-4 minutes per side and you’re all good!

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While these were cooking, I made some fresh sides to go with the thighs. As I said earlier, corn was on sale this week, so I went with that. Tip: for quick, amazing corn, wet a paper towel and wrap it around your husked corn. Microwave for five minutes and you’re done! I love to get some extra color on my corn, so I usually throw it under the broiler for a bit, but today I rolled it around on the hot grill pan after I took the chicken off. This also got a bit of the rendered fat and marinade on it. For my other side, I simply cut on cucumbers and grape tomatoes then tossed them in rice wine vinegar, salt, and pepper.

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And dinner is ready! This quick and easy dinner is something everyone can enjoy – even Molly!

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Have I ever told you how much Molly loves corn cobs? When she was a kitten, she would drag them off our plates!

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What’s your favorite quick dinner?

Do your animals like anything super random?