Olive oil granola – a must make!

It’s raining outside when the trusty weather app shows “cloudy” only, but I don’t mind. I get to hear the rain fall and the drip, drip, drip of the storm drain outside the patio door. I’m sitting here in my flannel shirt staying nice and cozy as the smell of my olive oil granola (recipe below!) fills the entire apartment.

recipe, olive oil granola
My second batch in two weeks.

Addicted? Perhaps, but its a good kind of addicted. Mixed with this new Turkish yogurt I found at the store and I barely have any control to stop. The main German grocery store by my house used to carry a Greek yogurt. At 10% fat, it was nice and thick. We used it for everything and replaced sour cream with it.

And then, the store just stopped selling it. Something I find they do often – sell a product and then never restock it. But in it’s place appeared this Turkish yogurt; which, upon researching, aka googling, it’s on par with Greek yogurt, so I grabbed the 3.5% fat to see how it was.

Verdict: delicious, better, but runny. Like sour cream runny.

So, I bought the 10% fat and I will never ever go back to plain Greek yogurt again. I’m a convert! Turkish all the way. It’s thick yummy goodness surpasses anything we’ve ever tasted, and I realize I just wrote several paragraphs about yogurt, but I can’t help it. Its that superior to anything in the states and even here…and if I’m honest, is the main reason why I’m making a second batch of olive oil granola.
greek yogurt

Over the weekend, we attended a bizarre where over 50 vendors from all over Europe come together to sell their products..at grossly discounted prices. This is a “can’t miss opportunity,” so we drove the two hours to get to it. I needed to replenish my olive oil and typically get it from an Italian olive grove company, but they weren’t there! Much to my sadness.

I found another Italian family selling their’s and I hate to admit it, but it’s even better than the other company! So fresh and delicious. The smell alone…I don’t think Americans know what truly fresh olive oil smells like, and friends, it’s amazing! I almost didn’t want to use it on my granola, like I need to savor it, but I know it’ll make it taste all the better.

recipe, olive oil granolaSo, what is this recipe I keep going on about and why in the world would I put olive oil on it? Because it’s nothing without it! That’s why!! Just make it and I promise you’ll flip as I have. Promise.

OLIVE OIL GRANOLA

3c oats
1 1/2c your favorite nuts (I love peanuts, cashews, and pecans in mine!)
1c pumpkin seeds (or your favorite)
1c coconut chips
3/4c maple syrup OR honey OR half of each
1/2c extra virgin olive oil
1tsp kosher salt
1/2tsp ground cinnamon
1/2tsp cardamom OR nutmeg
*3/4c dried fruits, ie. craisins, raisins, apricots ect

Preheat oven to 300*F (149*C)
In large bowl, combine ALL ingredientsย except dried fruit.
Spread mixture evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
**Transfer to a large bowl or storage container and add dried fruit, stirring to combine.

Serve with yogurt, ricotta, berries or as “cereal” with milk. Gobble up!!

Notes:
*dried fruit can be added before baking, however, they will harden and become difficult to chew. Adding at the end makes them the easiest to enjoy.
**best to transfer to glass bowl immediately after removing from oven. If let cool, the granola will become painfully stuck to the pan.ย you.will.regret.this!! If you happen to forget, pop it back in a warm oven for 5-10 minutes to soften the honey and to retain your sanity.

recipe, olive oil granolaMake this and tell me how you liked it. I love how this can be customized to your taste preferences, so, have some fun with it and report back to me what you used!!

I’m off to enjoy my delicious bowl of granola and yogurt!
recipe, olive oil granola

3 months on, 3 weeks off

Back in May, G and I went to the states for a couple weeks to celebrate a number of events. One being our first anniversary and two my college graduation. Two very big deals, if I may say! I never imagined that I would graduate from college…let alone at the age of 35. I’ll save that story for another day, but visiting family and friends plus enjoying all the celebrations led to a near 10lb weight gain for me.

I’ll backstory that because truthfully, I did not gain 10lbs in 2 weeks. I did, however, not help the ever-growing weight gain in those two weeks either.

Over the years, I’ve had neck problems. In short: I got injured at work 12 years ago which has resulted in a lot of problems. Fast forward to two years ago and those problems increased to finding a lesion on my spinal cord – thankfully NOT M.S. – but it has limited me drastically in my ability to workout.

Neuschwanstein Castle Germany
Neuschwanstein Castle

Then last July, while we were visiting Neuschwanstein Castle, I injured my foot so badly I couldn’t walk for two+ weeks. How did I injure it? By walking downhill.. yes, just by simply walking… To this day, I still have trouble with it, with the doctors saying, ‘I dunno’ when I ask what’s wrong. Add this on top of my many neurological problems I have with both feet (that forced me to medically retire from my career six years ago), and this brings us to February! I did silly ol’ jumping jacks, and my neck got so angry, I couldn’t work out for months, which brings us back to May!

Phew! Quite the backstory.

Now you can understand how 10lbs began creeping on, because despite eating healthful meals each and every day, not working out was beginning to take its toll. Add two weeks in the states with all the delicious American foods, and before I knew it, I couldn’t breath in any of my jeans anymore. Sitting OR standing!

I felt terrible and knew I had to push past the pain and begin working out again. Though I have access to gyms, I’ve never felt comfortable in them. I wander, get bored, and admittedly intimidated, so, instead I committed to working out for 90 days at home.

Call me crazy, but I’m a big P90X fan (absolutely not a rep, just a fan). I have the original and the newest version, P90X3. I had already done 3 the year before, and was d-o-n-e by the end of it (aka couldn’t stand to do one more workout) so, I grabbed the (much) longer P90X and did the “lean” version.

Let me tell you, it’s a commitment!

My brain prefers 30 minute workouts and these were sometimes almost 1 1/2 hours long. I had to gear myself up numerous times to get through them, but I stuck with it.

After phase one – 4 weeks of working out 6 days a week – I asked G the all important question: “Can you tell a difference??”

His answer: no.

Dang.

Truthfully, I knew the answer, because it was the same as mine. I didn’t see a single change in my body. My weight was almost the exact same, and my clothes were still fitting extremely tight. But I pressed on into phase two.

I asked G again at the end of phase two, now 8 weeks of 6 day a week workouts, “can you tell a difference??”

His answer: yes.

Whew! Progress was being made; slow, but it was there, and I was starting to notice it too! Even though my weight had only dropped two pounds, my clothes were fitting better, and I wasn’t feeling soย bleh. — I should note that G said a lot more than “yes” but I’m giving you the cliff notes version. ๐Ÿ˜‰

At the end of phase three, I was singing praises for being done, but also for the results. I was leaner, had more muscle, and fit back in all my clothes again…comfortably! Hallelujah! Though I had only lost around 4lbs, it didn’t matter. I could tell, and definitely G too, that there were major changes from working out, and I was happy for it.

One downside of the lean version we both noticed is it doesn’t do anything for the legs. So, while my arms and abs toned nicely, my legs seemingly got softer and flabbier.

I wonder had I chosen the “classic” and not “lean” version of P90X if I would have had more full-body results, but I’m not quite ready to dive into the hour+ workouts again to find out. They’re smart for keeping it at 90 days, because you truly get sick of it by end of phase 3. Instead, I relished in a three week break and have just started a new 5-day-a-week workout I created to target my legs: 3 days legs/abs, 2 days arms. I’ll keep you updated on how that goes.

So! What are your favorite workout programs? I’m always up for a fun, muscle-building at-home workout program!

Are you a gym-goer or home-worker-outer (that’s a word, promise) ๐Ÿ˜‰ If you haven’t done P90X, I’d definitely say give it a go. X3 is only 30 minutes each and well worth the effort, but I found P90X incorporates more hand weights which gave me greater muscle growth in my arms. I’m definitely all about toned and defined arms, so bring on the weights! But would love some other recommendations.

p.s. is it possible to write a whole post about working out and NOT have a “workout” photo?? Well, I’m making it possible. ๐Ÿ˜‰ย 

German waves

Gullfoss Waterfall in Iceland
Gullfoss waterfall

I started writing this post Tuesday, and already its Friday! My days seem so short this week, and that’s probably in part because I’ve slept in every.single.morning! Completely unlike me, but I’m going to blame it on my husband.

Likely reason… He’s sleeping in too, which makes me have zero desire to get out of bed earlier, so, I’ve enjoyed the extra hour I’ve been getting. It’s funny though, even though it’s just one extra hour (I’m waking up around 8), it throws my whole morning off! Is that the same for you? I secretly look forward to waking up earlier again, so I can feel like I’m not wasting my days away.

Since being in Germany, my desire to learn German has gone in waves. I get really determined, take private lessons and press through the overwhelming feelings as I learn a new language, to completely uninterested (mostly due to those overwhelming feelings), and don’t think, touch, or even attempt to speak German.

These waves usually last months, and I’m just now coming off the “uninterested” wave and ramping up to want to learn it all. I knowย enough to order and ask for things, but beyond that, whenever someone speaks outside of those common phrases, my mind (and face) go blank. I’m finally tired of not knowing more than I do, so, this week I’ve been fully immersing myself in radio, podcasts, and youtube videos. Because of that, I haven’t sat to write! German takes 110% of my concentration and writing in English isn’t conducive when listening in German.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to this week. I hope to start German classes this Monday, and I’m nervous for it to start! It’ll be the first time I’ll be in a class setting – I had a private tutor before – and this will be a whole new experience for me. I hope, though, it’ll help me overcome my fear of speaking in front of people. I usually break out in a major sweat when I need to speak.

I wish I were joking.

I promise to share my progress, and if the class was more or less helpful than my private tutor. ..something I’m really wondering about..ย It’s 2 days a week for 5 weeks, so, if nothing else, it’ll get me out of the house!

Beyond this week, we’ve done a bit of traveling, and over Labor Day weekend, we went to Iceland!! I’m excited to share all about it, because it was a last-minute trip (something we do often…and don’t recommend!) and a lot of fun.

Did you travel for the holiday? I realize that was already a week ago, but indulge me!