Vanilla Almond Buckwheat Granola // My Path to Health and Fitness

Vanilla Almond Buckwheat Granola
Vanilla Almond Buckwheat Granola

A few years ago I wasn’t happy with the way my body looked and how unfit I felt. I barely exercised and I ate whatever I wanted. And like many others on New Year’s Eve, I made my resolution the ever so popular, ‘get fit and be healthy’. I really wanted to stick to this goal, knowing that it takes time to see results and I definitely didn’t want to fall off the New Years resolution bandwagon. I knew that this wasn’t a quick fix; I had to completely adjust my lifestyle if I wanted to feel healthy and strong. So one morning in 2013, with brand new runners on my feet, I stepped out the door of my tiny Vancouver apartment and went for a jog on the False Creek seawall and since then, have never looked back.

Vanilla Almond Buckwheat Granola
Vanilla Almond Buckwheat Granola

Nowadays, I’m happy, healthy and am in the best shape that I’ve ever been in. It might be hard to believe that I’m a serious advocator for fitness and health when I write a food blog that is full of sugary sweets! Everyone has an opinion on what to eat to stay healthy, and I truly believe in life balance. Sometimes it’s perfectly fine if you want to eat that cookie or cake slice! I think that as long as you try to incorporate whole and fresh ingredients into your meals and keep active you can feel great and still stay sane.

Vanilla Almond Buckwheat Granola
Vanilla Almond Buckwheat GranolaVanilla Almond Buckwheat Granola

As much as I would love to have sausage with a side of bacon every single day for breakfast, I don’t think it’s the best idea if I’d like to continue to fit into tiny swimsuits for the beach. My favourite go-to breakfast that is both delicious and healthy is my homemade granola. Sprinkled onto of some Greek yogurt with a few slices of fresh peaches reminds me of Saturday mornings in Vancouver after a long run around the Seawall. It’s sweetened with honey and made with buckwheat for an extra crunch; I can’t help but grab a handful for a quick snack whenever I walk into my kitchen.

Vanilla Almond Buckwheat Granola

Vanilla Almond Buckwheat Granola 
2.5 cups large flake oats
3/4 cup buckwheat groats
2/3 cup almonds whole or sliced
1/2 cup unseated coconut flakes
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup ground flaxseeds
1/2 cup honey or agave
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup of coconut or olive oil
1/4 cup of water
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°C

Combine all dry ingredients including spices in a large bowl. Mix together the honey, water, oil and vanilla extract in a small bowl and add to the dry mix, making sure it’s combined well.

Spread granola mixture flat on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 20-30 minutes, checking and flipping granola every 10 minutes until golden brown. Allow to fully cool before storing away in an airtight container.

Roasted Cauliflower with Harissa-Tahini Yogurt

Roasted Cauliflower with Harissa-Tahini Yogurt Roasted Cauliflower with Harissa-Tahini Yogurt

For most of my childhood the only relationship I had with cauliflower was at holiday meals with my family and it was always served sautéed with an entire can of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup. It probably was actually a recipe for an easy casserole found on the can label, but somehow got lost in translation with my Chinese mother. So the result was the two ingredients simply heated up and mixed together. Don’t get me wrong, this dish is comfort food for me, it reminds me of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners of roast turkey and with sides of BBQ pork and rice.

Roasted Cauliflower with Harissa-Tahini Yogurt
Harissa Paste

These days one my favourite way to prepare cauliflower is simply roasting the florets that have been tossed in olive oil and spices. A nod to a restaurant in Vancouver called Nuba, their version called Najib’s Special is deep fried until light and crispy, an appetizer I adored when I frequented their Kitsilano location. My go-to starter for those that are vegetarian/vegan/GF, it’s not overly filling, but is certainly satisfying when shared with friends.

PS: I think the French word for cauliflower sounds beautiful, it’s chou-fleur!

Roasted Cauliflower with Harissa-Tahini Yogurt
Roasted Cauliflower with Harissa-Tahini Yogurt
Roasted Cauliflower with Harissa-Tahini Yogurt

Roasted Cauliflower with Harissa-Tahini Yogurt 
1 tablespoon tahini
1 teaspoon harissa paste
2-3 tablespoons cold water
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
a squeeze of lemon juice

Whisk all ingredients together until a smooth consistency in a small bowl.

1 large cauliflower head
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
a squeeze of lemon juice
parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 424 degrees. Cut cauliflower into large florets and toss with a few glugs of olive oil, spices, sea salt and pepper. Space the florets evenly on roasting pan. Roast for approximately 20-30 minutes until tender, set under broiler for another few minutes to brown. Squeeze lemon juice and sprinkle with parsley to serve. Drizzle tahini-harissa dressing over cauliflower reserving extra for dipping.