Homemade Granola – why pay the big bucks, do it yourself!

April 19, 2012 - Written by Diana

I am a granola eater from way back. After my bacon and eggs, then granola is my next favorite breakfast and it’s so versatile too.  You can eat it for breakfast – my preferred way is with greek yogurt, some fruit or in the winter applesauce or home canned peaches or plums, and some ground flax seed  My son loves it with milk – in a bowl – the regular way, but granola’s not just for breakfast.  When I was a boyscout in high school, we used to make GORP to carry along on backpacking trips.  Gorp stands for granola, oats, raisins and peanuts, but sometimes we often added m & ms and other nuts.  I often use granola as a topping for my peach cobbler or on top of apples and applesauce, and you can also toss back a handful for a quick snack. Maybe that’s why we run out so fast – because it’s so useful.

Granola in the store can cost a pretty penny – more than three dollars for a small box.  However, the ingredients – are not really expensive individually and you can make your own granola easily.  I’ll give you my super easy recipe for a really quick, and easy granola, but you have to make it yours.  How will you change up my recipe to make it the one you like best?  Substitute for the puffed rice – that’s a local cereal ingredient from Stutzman farms in Ohio. Maybe coconut isn’t your favorite?  I’m not a fan mostly, but I like the dried unsweetened coconut in granola better than that sweet soft stuff.  My recipe is pretty darned good, but go ahead and play with it and make it your own, and then stop buying the stuff in the stores with the preservatives.  Your way is much better than the box of pre-made.

Diana's Homemade Granola
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Slightly sweet granola - more chewy than crunchy
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 10
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 cup stutzman farms puffed rice
  • ½ cup coconut
  • ½ cup slivered almonds
  • 2 tbs olive or canola oil
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ cup apple cider
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • grated nutmeg
  • ½ cup dried cherries
  • ¼ cup golden ground flax seed
  1. On a baking sheet, or baking pan that will hold all of the granola in a shallow layer, mix the first four dry ingredients - oats, puffed rice, coconut, almonds.
  2. In a small saucepan heat up oil, add in honey and apple cider. Stir constantly until starts to simmer.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry on the cookie sheet and stir around to mix thoroughly.
  4. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes stirring a few times throughout the baking.
  5. Take out of oven, stir another time. Sprinkle flax seed over top, with the cinnamon, nutmeg and dried cherries.
I store mine in the fridge to make sure it stores well, though it doesn't last more than a few weeks.


Protein Shakes For Your Track Star

April 16, 2010 - Written by Diana

Track season can be a real workout.  It seems like you sit through 4 hours of meet, for 2 minutes of glory for your sprinter, longer if your kid is a distance runner.  I looked at my son the other day and mentioned that he looked like he was losing weight.  For a kid over six foot and weighing about 143, losing weight might not be good.  It’s difficult to help your child to make healthy, nutritious choices that will sustain them throughout the day.  A mother of one of the girls and I were discussing our kids and what they eat.  Her daughter is much pickier than my son, and many of my suggestions were rejected because her daughter wouldn’t eat it.  I finally asked if she tried a protein shake.  She asked what it was, and I explained what I do for my son to get a little extra protein in him during Track Season.  I’m not a health guru or a doctor, but I know proteins are something they need right now.  My son will drink one for breakfast, or when he gets home after school, and I’m a little happier thinking maybe this will help him keep up his stamina.  I use the powdered protein that can be found in the natural foods section of the grocery store.  I also add flax sprinkles for an extra boost because it’s so good for you.

Chocolate-Banana Protein Shake

Use a blender, drink mixer, or magic bullet and blend the whole thing.  That’s it.  If you use skim milk, then go with 1 1/2 cups skim milk, and no water if you like.  We use almond milk, so you can substitute that or soy if you like too. You want it thin enough to drink, not too thin, but you also don’t want it to sit in your stomach.

I’ve been using Stober Farms Golden Flax Seed Flax Sprinkles.  I use in on cereal and in yogurt straight up too.  It’s very fine, and adds a little extra fiber (which I need most days). They also have a very pleasant taste, and aren’t grainy at all.   They’re ground with a cold mill process that helps preserve the nutrients in it.

Disclosure:  I was sent the Stober Farms Golden Flax Seed Sprinkles to try out.  The review is my honest opinion.

Cranberry Raisinets: “Like Regular Raisinets, But Different”

October 31, 2009 - Written by Deb Ng

Cranberry Raisinets

I received a package in the mail today filled with goodies to review containing, among other things, several packages of Cranberry Raisinets. The timing was good as they came at snack time and I had two seven year olds standing by to give their opinion – The Boy and his friend who, for this study, we will call “The Friend.”

I gave each boy a package of Raisinets and stepped back to catch their honest assessment:

The Boy: Tasty!

The Friend: It’s good. What are they called again?

Me: Cranberry Raisents.

The Boy: They’re like regular Raisinets but different.

The Friend: That doesn’t make sense. How can they be Cranberry Raininets?

The Boy: The should call them “Cranberryets.”

The friend: “Cranberets.”

The Boy: “Cranboogers.”

The Boy and The Friend: “EWWWWWW!!! Gross!!”

The Friend: I wouldn’t eat them if they’re Cranboogers.

The Boy: Me either. We can give them to Matthew. He has peanut allergies. He can eat boogers.

The Friend: EWWWWW!!!!

Me: So what do we think guys, do we like them?

The Friend: Yes. They’re good. You should buy more and give them to me when I visit. My mom won’t buy chocolate because she says it makes me crazy.

Me: I can totally see that.

The Boy: Are they going to make them in big boxes for the movies?

The Friend: No they can sell Cranboogers at the movies for the allergy kids.

The Boy and The Friend: EWWWWWW!!!!!

As you can see, I don’t ask my son and his friend to do product reviews very often. However, the Cranberry Raisinets people sent me some samples, and it’s my duty to give you my honest opinion. They’re good. They’re just what you’d expect. They don’t taste like boogers and they’re healthy-ish. They’ll make a good lunch box snack for The Boy, and they’re in hundred calorie bags for me. They’re tart and sweet and the flavors work well together. If they had a dark chocolate variety, they’d totally rock. They’re like regular Raisinets but different.

My family would totally eat them again.

Full disclosure: Reps for Nestle/Cranberry Raisinets sent me this product so I can do a review. This is my honest opinion.

Focaccia Sticks Winners!

November 27, 2008 - Written by Diana

Our winners for our delicious Focaccia Sticks Giveaway are:

Tracy Iglesias –I would put out an assortment plate of all New York Style’s new Focaccia Sticks flavors coupled with assorted pairings including spinach dip, vermont cheddar cheese dip, brie and other cheeses and put out some wine for a pre thanksgiving nosh

Donna K – I would like the roasted garlic and herb paired with cheese.

and Barbara(oink moo – you know who) – I love rosemary, so the Rosemary & Sea Salt will probably be my favorite. I might eat them with tomato soup or with fettucine alfredo. :-)


Thanks to everyone for participating, we loved all of the suggestions.  When you are out searching for something to put out with your dips and spreads this holiday season, take a look at New York Style’s Focaccia Sticks.  I think everyone will enjoy it!


Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Bear Naked Granola – Good Enough for College & Mom

October 16, 2008 - Written by Diana

When my daughter came home she brought this cereal – chocolate – sugar stuff that I would not allow in my house while she was growing up.  I had some Bear Naked Granola – a good healthy cereal, that can also be a good healthy snack.  Although she wouldn’t swap (so that I could toss the yucky stuff), she did take the Bear Naked Granola home  to the Dorm with her and said it was yummy.   She kept the Yumberry Goji Currant because she thought it was better without milk and could snack on it on the way to classes.  I kept the Mango Agave Almond for myself, I love granola.


Dorm Girl Home for a Visit – Stock Up Weekend

October 13, 2008 - Written by Diana

My daughter came home for a long weekend because the school had a break.  We met her at a Dairy Queen (and of course stopped off for a delicious Pumpkin Blizzard).  Thursday I worked from home, but I told her I would take her out to lunch to a real good food restaurant.  Dorm kids can’t afford real restaurants so McDonald’s is out when you are paying.  Plus there’s the added bonus that they will actually talk with you if you can get them to sit down for a delicious meal .  These kids are so busy they won’t stop and spend much time with you unless there’s food involved. 

She played for the alumni band at the high school where my son was also playing which was cool.  She and her friends stayed for the game and then later they cooked out over a fire and had s’mores in the backyard.  We took time out for haircuts and stock up.  There were things Dorm Girl needed to replenish and things she found she wanted. 

Stock ups for DG:

Some of these things she requested, some she filched from the house, and some she found in the store.  I noticed that now she pays more attention to prices and reasonableness.  I tried to make some of it like the salsa and chips organic because I prefer it, even if it’s not in her price range.   I paid, so it was okay. 

I cooked a really satisfying Sunday breakfast with eggs over medium (dippy eggs) and sausage.  She’s tired of scrambled because it’s all the cafeteria serves.  Later we dropped her off at the school and even though we could have eaten in the cafeteria, we went out for another meal instead.  She had a doggie bag to stuff in the fridge for later or the next day if she wanted it. I think she loves us even if it’s just because we provide her with good food. 

Healthy Halloween Treats – Fruitabu Fruit Twirls

October 10, 2008 - Written by Diana

fruitabu-grape Fruitabu Smooshed Fruit Twirls would be my number one choice for my kids to receive for Halloween if they went trick or treating.  I wish these had been available back when my kids were small.  They are very similar to those roll up things but they are made with smooshed organic fruit. Grape is fantastic, but Strawberry and Apple are delicious too.  Fruitabu products contain 90 percent fruit and juice without artificial flavor, color or preservatives.  My son ate them when he arrived home from school everyday and my husband and I tried them and we enjoyed them also.  My daughter was disappointed when she came home from college and found almost nothing left for her. One twirl is a whole serving of fruit, and there’s a half serving in a fruit flat.  My daughter called the fruit flat a fruit jerky because of the way it looked, but she said she liked them and no they aren’t spicy like jerky, just flat.

 Fruitabu also has Smooshed Fruit Splooshers which are like applesauce in a tube.  When my son was young he came home and asked me to make sure I put a spoon in his lunch.  I asked what was wrong with using a cafeteria one and he replied that they don’t like having to give him a spoon when he is bringing a lunch and he has to wait until everyone in line has their food before they ask to have hands raised for utensils. With the Sploosher you can just eat the applesauce from the packaging by squeezing it into your mouth.  No spoon needed.  I think these are great treats, and I wouldn’t mind my kids having them after meals or as snacks after schools, but get those twirls for Halloween, they’re perfect.  Maybe you can swap Fruit Twirls for a less desirable candy, I’ll bet they’d do it. 

Fruitabu can be found at local stores like Kroger’s and Giant Eagle.  butter-fruitabu 001

Tomatillos to Salsa Verde

September 29, 2008 - Written by Diana

My husband loves to grow Tomatillos.  Tomatillos are a tart sour tomato (or tomato-like).  We’ve planted seeds in the ground or in pots to grow our plants every year. It’s not a plant we can find in a store or nursery, so I decided to try them one time and we’ve done it every year since.  Usually we just add them to our salsa’s when we make them, but this year I decided to make Salsa Verde or Green Salsa.  This salsa is more of a fresh salsa.  Since tomatillos are sour on their own, I didn’t add any vinegar and while it is delicious, I’m not sure of storing it long term.  So this is a fresh made salsa to be used up. pawpaw 008 


Tomatillos grow on plants and they hang down covered in a papery husk (my husband says they’re lanterns).  The tomatillos are in the plant picture, but it’s like a where’s waldo you need to look closely to see them.


Kashi Pocket Bread

August 10, 2008 - Written by Diana

We were sent some Kashi Pocket Bread to try out for Dorm week and I’m here to tell you that it is the perfect dorm food.  The individual serving box is compact in size.  There is one Kashi Pocket Bread in one box, so you don’t fill up your little freezer.  It is microwaveable – 2 minutes on high, so it’s fast.  Kashi Pocket Bread is delicious, absolutely, totally delicious.  The bread itself is soft, but not chewy and not thick, just the right thickness, and made from whole grain.

It’s packed with meat (unless it’s vegetarian), and vegetables with just the right amount of sauce.  Our favorite was Turkey Fiesta, which was like a burrito packed into a roll.  We loved the flavor.  It had a little bit of a kick, but not overwhelmingly spicy.  My daughter had the Veggie Medley, and said it was very flavorful with lots of veggies.   I brought the Chicken Rustico to work for lunch and had it along with a side salad. It was easy to handle and eat at my desk. My daughter agreed that it would be great to take to school and said she would eat them especially the Turkey Fiesta.

I’ve tried Kashi before and trust for their whole grain products to be healthy and delicious.  Kashi Pocket Bread comes through once again.  A couple of these stashed in their dorm freezer and you will feel comfortable knowing you are leaving them with something good for them that they will actually eat.

Kashi Pocket Breads are nutritious.

  • At least 10 grams of protein
  • 400mg of ALA Omega-3
  • At least 4 grams of fiber
  • Zero grams trans fats and no preservatives

  • Hola Fruta: Decadance Without the Guilt

    August 1, 2008 - Written by Deb Ng

     Hola Fruita

    Hola Fruta sherberts aren’t your usual icy, fruity fare. It’s a creamy decadant treat – the kind you want to hide in the back of the freezer so the rest of your family can’t find it. I was all set to cut and paste from the press release – about how the product is all natural and contains nothing but good -for -you stuff without chemicals and ingrediants you can’t pronounce. Instead I just want to tell you Hola Fruta is good. No it’s wonderful, even for people like me who never really cared for sherberts. Man oh man, am I digging this.

    One thing that bugs me about product reviews is that often times I’m sent a wonderful product but I can’t buy it again because it’s not available in my area. Hola Fruta is available in many nationwide chains including Shop Rite, Walgreens, Krogers and more. You can buy it by the bar, quart or by the pint- and you will most certainly be happy you did. My family tried both the mango and pina colada flavors and though the pina colada was very good, we loved the mango.

    Do yourself a favor and try Hola Fruta’s sherberts. It’s low calorie, low fat and big on the good stuff.