Tag Archives: granola

Life Updates and a KIND Snacks Giveaway

This giveaway is sponsored by KIND Snacks. I received a sample box for review purposes but was not financially compensated for this post. And as always, these opinions are 110% my own!

A billion and one things have been all kinds of crazy here lately. Can you tell?

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No, perhaps not–but it’s been all sorts of insanity! This is my utterly grateful recovery post. This month has been one green light to the next, racking up my traveling miles and teleporting from one zany distance to the next. At one point, I even coughed up a whopping $40 for an Uber trip that got me nothing but terrible traffic and one ballsy driver who asked me if I was single–and get this, he asked me in the first 15 minutes of our trip while I was sitting in the front seat. 

Moral of the story: never sit in the front seat while riding a taxi service, no matter how casual it seems.

Moral #2: 6 miles never feels longer than when you are awkwardly stuck in an enclosed vehicle with a stranger who wants to know your relationship status right off the bat.

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And that, my friends, is why I am so glad THESE came. I now dub thee “Sanity Keeper Bars,” a.k.a. KIND Snacks. Raise your hand if you love ‘em as much as I do!

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When the wonderful rep K got in touch with me about sampling, reviewing, and giving away KIND bars on my blog, I jumped three feet in the air and immediately tagged in. I’d consumed plenty of KIND bars before the sampler box, but mostly on campus where the vending machine selection is limited to Almond Cranberry (a very good choice–but by no means a gateway to the snackers’ haven that I was about to receive).

And I couldn’t have asked for better timing: what with one of the most insanely pressing, time-crunched months this year, and several unexpected events to shake things up in my personal life, I can hardly find time to haul myself into the kitchen these days (sorry, abandoned oven!), much less prep something satisfying for myself to gnaw on.

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Luckily, that’s where this box kicked in! K from KIND sent me an awesome sample: 3 huge packs of granola, a handful of snack squares, and a variety of about 8 assorted bars in every flavor I had wanted to try. #starvinggradstudent’s paradise? I think so.

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I polished off the majority of these snacks on my post-run, pre-work days, when I needed to refuel but didn’t have time for any sort of fancy knifework or yogurt-spooning. And let me tell you know: they are such a treat after a workout! I’m supposed to be working towards my very first half-marathon at the end of this month (haven’t ran outdoors since mid-July though, oops…) and these bars are helping me stay in tip-top shape. Or so I’d gladly believe! They are, however, definitely keeping me and my on-the-go lifestyle sane. So what’s the verdict, you ask?

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Well, while I loved every single bar that came my way, my Top Three Favorite Sampled KIND Bars were…

#3: Almond and Coconut

It tasted like Hawaii had up and thrown a party in my mouth. Uh-may-zing! This is probably the bar I could eat most frequently without ever getting tired of it. It’s just light & refreshing enough with a sweet zap of coconut flavor to brighten up my day after a workout!

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#2: Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt

I have been obsessed with salty&sweet lately, so it’s no surprise I fell for these bars right away–and fell hard. By the time I’d finished this bar (in about 7.25 seconds, mind you), I was gnawing on my fingers trying to imagine that there was still more of this bar left for consumption. So yeah, I loved the dark chocolate and sea salt combo loads! And finally…

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#1: Caramel Almond and Sea Salt

Did I mention I love sea salt? No, but seriously. If you are at all a fan of salted caramel, you will love this bar. In other words, I am asking you here and now if you are a human being. Because salted caramel, folks. Please do not try and convince me that it could be anything other than a GREAT BAR.

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So while I step aside and attempt to recover from these past few cray-cray weeks (thankfully, I still have quite a bit of granola left with which to nourish myself–hooray!), I’m going to let you enter for a giveaway from KIND Snacks. Eight delicious bars could be headed to your doorstep within the week: just make sure you do all these easy entries for your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Crunchy Cookie Butter Espresso Granola

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If life milestones were potluck dishes, moving would be a crusty dry loaf of fruitcake. I’m sure somebody out there appreciates fruitcake, and likewise I’m sure somebody loves the nonstop hubbub of moving residences. That person is not me. Especially not Studying Me, which tolerates everything at a 50% lower threshold than Normal, Socialized Me.

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In case you missed it previously, here’s the rundown: Studying Me is extremely grateful to her parents, who basically magicked her entire store of belongings into her new apartment this weekend while she guiltily (I mean, really guiltily) shuffled her feet and finished speed-reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Studying Me also LOVES the new place, which has a kitchen that takes up 40% of the apartment and contains 75% of all my belongings. But Studying Me is currently typing this blog post on an unhappy stomach full of emoteating (read: emotionally-induced eating) because apparently she doesn’t cope well with stress, separation, and studying all in one fell swoop. So it’s been 12 whole hours and I’m short half a jar of peanut butter already.

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Three hours after leaving, my mom called and asked me how I was doing, and if I was making brownies already. I was not. I was too busy emoteating, writing this post, and wishing really hard for this granola to pop out of my screen a la Willy Wonka’s Television Chocolate Room to make the damn brownies. #yeahwhatjusthappened

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Studying Me and Normal Me both love this brand new, bold King of Crunchiness cookie butter and espresso-flavored granola I invented in my pre-move procrastination. It is insanely crunchy, coffee-y, cookie-y. It is also based on–and probably rivals–the Honey Bunches of Oats Copy-Better Recipe that all of you loved and repinned like mad last year. It’s the perfect breakfast-on-the-go food in a smokier, sexier, adult-ier kind of way. Not that I know anything about what being adult-ier entails, since I am currently sitting on the floor of my next-to-bare apartment floor and lolling next to my laptop with as much motivation to do anything as a tranquilized rhinoceros might have.

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You can use your imagination to figure out what that even means. Or you could put your time to better use and print this awesome recipe, make it, and send it to

Yours truly, and slightly deranged, but surely in her right mind taste buds,

Ala

P.S. If you’ve noticed an onslaught of “Start the New Year Right” and Skinny Recipes for 2014! collections on your news feed lately: Never fear, I’m ready to ruin that for all of you with some fabulously buttered-up sweets in my next few posts. Cheerios!

Crunchy Cookie Butter Espresso Granola
Ingredients:
  • 3 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup almonds or preferred nut, chopped
  • 1/3 cup black sesame seeds (optional)
  • 3/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/4 cup maple or pancake syrup
  • 1/4 cup cookie butter (homemade or store-bought)
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan (or whatever large size baking pan you have available–enough to fit 3 1/2 cups of oats in an even layer no more than two inches thick). Pour oats, chopped nuts, and black sesame seeds (if you have them) into prepared pan.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat brown sugar and brewed coffee until it just begins to boil. Turn off heat, then stir in oil, syrup, cookie butter, cocoa powder, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour over oats mixture and stir until all of the oats are evenly coated. Pat oats evenly into bottom of pan so that the layer is no more than two inches thick. (This will help your granola achieve optimal crispiness!)
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes (stirring every 15 minutes), or until toasted and a dark golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely in pan before crumbling. Store in an airtight container.

Tuesday Talent Show Link Party at Chef in Training! It is held weekly and has some amazing link ups!cast_party_button

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Vanishing Granola (or the BEST Granola You Will Ever Make–Honey Bunches CopyBETTER Recipe)

This is going to be a very brisk LWOM post (what’s LWOM?).

First things first:

Print this recipe.

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We have to be brisk today, because–

I’m late, I’m late, for LOTS of VERY important dates!”

Why yes, because there’s the White Rabbit! And we must catch up with him.

“No time to talk, no time to chat, I’m late and later, and that is THAT!” shouted the White Rabbit as he jabbed and poked at his oversized pocketwatch.

“But I–”

“No time!”

“I know–”

“Later and late!”

“But I’m in a rush too!”

“RUN!” the Rabbit yelled. And so we ran.

Into the sunset, to be precise.

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On my kitchen table: Persuasion, by Jane Austen, and a jar of the best crunchy cinnamon granola in the world.

So that’s why this post is so short.

Because the White Rabbit was late, and because I myself was running late after an extended trip to the gym and forgot all about my outdoor food photoshoot and had to take some hasty pictures while the sun was sinking down past the horizon in about 0.5 seconds.

And also because I’m (hopefully) going to Disneyland in about half an hour to see the White Rabbit in person–er, in rabbit. Yes, I’m grinning as I type this.

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“But that doesn’t mean that this isn’t the BEST granola in the world,” said the White Rabbit, who had suddenly appeared from nowhere at my left knee.

“Well, thank you for taking the time to–” I began, looking down…but he had already vanished again.

I turned around. My granola had vanished, too. So now you also know why it’s called what it’s called.

I don’t blame him, though. It is darn good cinnamony, crisp, and unlike-anything-you’ve-ever-made-before-and-I-rarely-ever-say-this granola. Think of picking out all the crunchy sweet granola clusters from Honey Bunches of Oats…only better.

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And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a White Rabbit to catch in Anaheim ;)

This post is part of the Lit, Wit, and an Oven Mitt (LWOM) series here at Wallflour Girl, where Ala takes a popular or classic literary character and uses him/her/it to tell a story about her recipes.  Ala is an English literature graduate student with a strong interest in children’s literature, Victorian lit, and everything in between, beyond, bubbly, or burgundy. Ala does not own the rights to any of these characters or original literary texts, although she does own a really cute Winnie-the-Pooh balloon-shaped stuffed-animal. This series is intended to offer you a glimpse into her world through our shared love for food. Please let Ala know what you think of these stories–she’d love to hear what you think!

Vanishing Granola (or the BEST Granola You Will Ever Make–Honey Bunches CopyBETTER Recipe)
Adapted from Getting Through the Day
Ingredients:
  • 6 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup almonds or preferred nut, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup maple or pancake syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan (or whatever large size baking pan you have available–enough to fit 6 cups of oats in an even layer no more than two inches thick). Pour oats and chopped nuts into prepared pan.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat brown sugar and water until it just begins to boil. Turn off heat, then stir in oil, syrup, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour over oats mixture and stir until all of the oats are evenly coated. Pat oats evenly into bottom of pan so that the layer is no more than two inches thick. (This will help your granola achieve optimal crispiness!)
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes (stirring every 15 minutes), or until toasted and a dark golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely in pan before crumbling. Store in an airtight container.

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Breakfast & Brunch

Crunchy Cookie Butter Granola (and Ala’s Breakfast Breakdown of People in Your Day-to-Day Life)

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I’ll confess. I’ve been reading Victorian novels lately.

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This got me thinking about angst muffins (who I’ll explain in a second–hold onto your corsets, lady-folks, and top hats, gentlemen), which got me in turn thinking about pastries. Food. Hunger. Uneaten dinner. Growl.

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A few years ago, I stumbled across Sarah’s Snack Theory, a brilliant synthesis of three male character types that you’re likely to like, hate, or just go outright epileptic over when you meet him in the literature of your choice. Then, as if I didn’t like the girl enough already, she goes on and likens them to different types of food:

angst muffins (your brooding woe-in-soul harborers),

sandwiches (reliable boy-next-door types), and

pastries (your variegated wild cards).

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Since that glorious moment of serendipitous blog surfing, various groups of my friends and I have entertained (mostly facetious) conversations about the cuisine archetypes we’re likely to meet in life. We frequently assign code categories to mutual acquaintances, thus if you heard:

“Oh my gosh, did you see how much of a meringue ____ was being today?”

–you’ll know I mean that this person is really nice to look at but is mostly just full of air, with very little substance and a lot fluffiness for brains.

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or

“I just woke up to the most AMAZING crepe this morning”

which could mean a LOT of things, including the possibility that you got lucky last night with somebody who’s the perfect balance of sweet and satisfying without being overbearing, and then you woke up and realized it wasn’t just a dream. And maybe he/she made you delicious crepes for breakfast, too. Who knows.

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Are you loving this system as much as I am yet?

As a gentle segue into this beautiful gossip-monger’s paradise, and before I run out of words in this post, I’m going to introduce you to Ala’s Breakfast Breakdown of People in Your Day-to-Day Life.

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The great thing about this scale is that you can basically apply it to the people in whatever place you currently frequent most–whether that’s a school, office, home, Disneyland, madhouse, wherever. You can talk about them, to their faces, without them ever even knowing it.

So, without further ado: the breakfast types you’ll meet in your day-to-day life.

(All of the following examples are derived from Disney movies and literary works–I mean, food, lit, and Disney. You didn’t actually expect serious stuff from this blog, did you?)

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#1: The English muffin

Pros: Reliable, solid, and meticulously trimmed, the English Muffin type is your go-to when you have a logical problem that needs to be solved. They make great coworkers and study buddies.

Cons: While dependable, this muffin type is not exactly brimming with surprises. They are commonly perceived as being flat all around, bland when taken alone, and just, well, there. Not necessarily your first choice for a feet-sweeping, swoon-inducing romantic interest. Maybe not even your tenth, for that matter.

How English Muffins Score: They’re might not always seem like the most terribly exciting people in the world, but don’t pass up the opportunity to get to know them, either. If you bring your own sweet addition (like a little bit of jam!), you might find that they’re more than willing to open up and take it in stride, adding a nice flair to an otherwise really solid personality. They’re not boring–they just like their data and logic a lot, and tend to come off reserved or taciturn, but you’ll never be at loss for a shoulder to lean on with an English Muffin around.

Examples: Eve from Wall-E, Violet from The Incredibles, Mr. Knightley from Emma

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#2: The Donut

Pros: They’re sweet. Plain and simple. These are the people who send you care packages for no reason at all, make you little collages of every single memory you’ve had together since before you were aware you knew each other, and basically brighten up your day even if it’s 5 AM and you haven’t had your kick of caffeine yet.

Cons: You’re not really sure what’s going on here all the time. It’s sort of like the idea of having dessert for breakfast–why is there sweetness here, and how do these people always manage to have as much energy no matter what time of day it is? Sometimes you might suspect them of being falsely saccharine sweet or secretly raiding the drug cartel’s latest shipment, because there’s no way in holy hummus they can be so happy. All. The. Time. Plus, you’re not sure how much substance there is behind all the sugary overload here–their energy can come off as a bit of airheadedness.

How Donuts Score: You really can’t hate ‘em. You could, but nobody’s going to give you brownie points for doing it because it’s sort of like trying to hate a Labrador Retriever puppy. At the same time, donut types don’t always feel at ease in overly formal situations, and they get a lot of flack for being filled with a lot of empty nothing. If you give them a chance, though, you’ll find that they’re sweet and true to the very core. Don’t judge donuts too quickly as a group, either: even though the stereotypical donut is just light fluff, there are plenty of heftier deep thinkers–more apple fritter types, if you will–out there, too.

Examples: Tigger from Winnie-the-Pooh, Rapunzel from Tangled, Kitty from Pride and Prejudice, Tohru from Fruits Basket (manga)

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#3: The Crepe

Pros: They’re generally people people, meaning they’re bold yet classy in their interactions with others. They come in savory and sweet flavors, which means you’ll also get a nice mix with this group. Crepes tend to be leader or teacher-types with a soft but delicate exterior, making them easy to get to know, and maybe even befriend.

Cons: As much as they love working with people from all stripes and strides of life, their hyperawareness of others’ feelings can make them quick to take things personally, too. Crepes can be very sensitive and often feel the scorch coming on more acutely than other breakfast types do, even if they don’t show it, so others often feel they have to tiptoe around crepe types (or else risk waterworks). They sometimes withdraw behind professional masks as well, making their more complex interiority a bit difficult to access at a friend level.

How Crepes Score: They’re all-around dandy people who are pleasant to be around. As long as you don’t treat them ungratefully and work a bit to get past their professional or sensitive demeanor, you’ll be sure to find a charismatic and trustworthy friend.

Examples: Jane from Pride and Prejudice, John Wemmick from Great Expectations, Pacha from Emperor’s New Groove

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4. The Cup o’ Joe

Pros: Okay, so coffee technically isn’t a breakfast food…but that doesn’t keep an obscene demographic from treating it as such. Cup o’ Joe types are mysterious, thoughtful, and extremely firm in their morals, which also makes them ridiculously intriguing individuals that everyone seems to want to know. And if you do know them, they are extremely caring and supportive in their own way, keeping you fueled through a bad day or year like an amazing metaphorical caffeine kick.

Cons: As with the entire coffee-for-breakfast idea, there’s something inherently unsatisfying about the cuppa’s. Their terseness came cause them to come off as standoffish or downright rude, and

How Cup o’ Joes Score: Brooding, rich, smoky, and frequently accompanied by a smoldering expression, cup o’ Joe’s are more likely to make an appearance in Victorian novels than in daily life. However, if you are (or find yourself lucky enough to meet) a coffee type, stick with it–even if you don’t dig it at first, you might find yourself becoming addicted pretty quick! Plus, they’re morally impeccable and deeply caring people, meaning despite the unfathomable exterior, you’ll never have to doubt the integrity of a cuppa–assuming you get to know one.

Examples: John Thornton from North and South, Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, the Beast from Beauty and the Beast

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Build-It-Yourself: THE PARFAIT

Ahh….and here we’ve reached the end. I’ve by no means covered all my bases, but here’s where you come in! Parfaits are layered, complex breakfasts that come in all textures, flavors, and combinations. The best part is, you can build your own with whatever you have on hand! So now, instead of actually explaining the parfait (for which you can find an amazing cookie butter granola recipe below!), I’m going to let you build your own parfait (so to speak) and leave you with this question:

Where do you fall on my Breakfast Breakdown? Or, what breakfast food that I haven’t included here best represents you (and why)?

I can’t wait to hear all of your responses! I hope you enjoyed this scale, because I had fun reading it!

(I am, by the way, a crepe-donut ;) in case you were curious)

Ala

Crunchy Cookie Butter Granola
Ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 2/3 cup cookie butter  (homemade or store-bought)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup nuts of your choice, chopped
  • 2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1/4 cup toasted black sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips or raisins (or both!)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine honey, cookie butter, cinnamon, and vanilla. Heat for 20 seconds. Set aside.
  2. Line a large pan (I used 9×13) with lightly-greased foil. In the lined pan, combine chopped nuts, oats, and sesame seeds. Pour liquid mixture over dry ingredients and stir to combine, making sure that all of the dry ingredients get covered.
  3. Bake granola in preheated oven for 15 minutes, then stir and heat for an additional 10-15 minutes, until granola is fairly crunchy and golden brown. (Don’t worry if it’s not entirely clumped–it’ll clump during the cooling process!) Stir in chocolate chips or raisins. Set aside to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

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Pumpkin Spiced Granola

Do you all know what it means to feel hurt by someone you thought you could trust?

It feels a little bit like you’re sinking, a little bit like you’re falling, and a little bit like somebody’s tied you up by the extremities and thrown you into the water, all at the same time.

This isn’t an angry post, or a vengeful post, or a gossip-y post. This post is just a little…disappointed.

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this way about anything. The last time was in eighth grade when a guy I’d wanted to get in touch with because we used to be good friends hung up on me when I told him who was calling.

Something happened a while back that I didn’t think I’d have to deal with again. Past life, meet present life. I won’t go into the details, but believe you me–the feeling stinks. It’s times like these that I stop laughing at the cartoons of grown men crying for their mommies, and I curl up and cry for my mommy, too. There’s nothing like a phone call to that ever-loving maternal source to keep you feeling, well, worth something.

Cinnamon helps, too. Cinnamon always helps. I think it’s something about the warmth and feeling of nostalgic autumn days that it lends the kitchen when you’re around it.

Accomplishing things helps, too. I swam the 1.5k today in open water for the first time, then proceeded to get KO’d by food coma via some epic dim sum afterwards. Swimmers’ stomachs. Gotta love ‘em.

Flour Power: No matter how alone or down you feel, remember that the moment passes–but true friends are forever! Go look for a new activity or meet some new people in areas unrelated to your main interests; this will keep your identities from all blurring together, and prevent you from storing too many of your self-esteem eggs in one basket. I’m heading off to a campus activities fair tomorrow with a friend–my goal is to sign up for at least one new thing. (I’m also going to be an International Students Buddy this year!) Wish me luck!

Back in middle school, when the entire world consisted of longing for the time when I would finally grow old enough to get rid of my dorky roller backpack, it was easy to think that every little criticism or disappointment was the end of the world. Boom. Zombie apocalypse? Got nothing on my problems.

And then I “grew up,” and life didn’t consist of being shepherded along with the same 50 nerdy kids in AP classes every single day, and I had to figure out my priorities in life. I stressed, pushed myself, lost 20 pounds, gained 15 back, felt unhappy, felt extremely happy, had the best group of friends I could ever (and still could ever) ask for, and still thought myself the luckiest girl in the world. I graduated, moved, and while I found myself slightly outside of my depth, kept myself very energetic and happy–and for the most part, I’m very happy! Very happy.

It’s just a little bit of a sort of big downer when these things come back to get you. C’est la vie, I guess. You live, you cry, you learn.

It helps that I have a mom and dad who support the living daylights out of me, and tell me they would fly over right now if I need somebody. It’s been hard because lots of the friends I knew from last year have already moved on or graduated, and my other close ones are either from home and undergrad or too far away in LA for me to ask to come keep me company. I love these people so freakin’ much, though.

I’m not even angry. I’ve tried, and I can’t be. I’m just disappointed. But if I’ve lost some of my trust in some aspects of life, I’ve definitely gained an appreciation for a whole lot more.

So here’s to the  finer things in life, to things like people you can really count on, and to sticking to that strong moral fiber that keeps you from telling untruths to anyone else even though it’s been done to you–because even if I lose sleep over this tonight, I won’t lose sleep over it for the rest of my life when it really counts.

I could still use a pick-me-up. Hrm.

Now, about that cinnamon.

Funflour Fact #4: Did you know that, according to the World Food Programme,  there are more people in the world who go to bed hungry at night than there are people in the U.S., Canada, and European Union combined? (In light of serious statistics like these, it’s hard to dwell on personal problems quite as much.)

Pumpkin Spiced Granola
Inspired by recipe from Averie Cooks
 
Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup cookie butter (1 batch homemade, or store-bought)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups almonds (or any nut variety you prefer), chopped
  • 1/2 to 1 cup raisins, cranberries, or dried fruit mix; adjust to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium-sized bowl, combine pumpkin, cookie butter, honey, oil, vanilla, and cinnamon. Stir until smooth.
  2. Add oats and chopped nuts to pumpkin mixture. Stir in until completely coated, then transfer to a foil-lined and greased cookie sheet. Spread out granola in a thin layer and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring once or twice, until granola reaches desired crunchiness. (Your granola may take even longer to bake, depending on your oven circulation–watch it carefully! The moistness of the pumpkin keeps it from baking too quickly, but you don’t want your granola to burn, either. Averie notes that the granola is inherently dark, because of the pumpkin, so you’ll want to do a crispness test occasionally by poking a cluster of granola to see if it’s firmed up.)
  3. Remove granola from oven and stir in raisins or cranberries. Allow to cool–your granola should obtain a boosted crunch!–and serve with yogurt, milk, or a plain old comfort food in its own right. Enjoy!

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