I am the world's worst packer. I typically wait until the very last minute to dig the suitcase out of storage and gather my countless outfits and unnecessary "necessities." Before you know it, it looks like a tornado came through the bedroom. Enter: Dusty. This is usually the point when he's ready for bed because we've got an early flight to catch and I still haven't figured out how many pairs of underwear to pack for a 3-day trip! He's already had his bags packed for at least 3 days, and serves as the voice of reason for all of my silly "what-ifs." It actually works out kind of great, because he tells me exactly what compliments me best, and I throw it in the suitcase...But wait! Step back. There's an "optimal way to pack your carry-on to maximize space!" The hubs seriously has it all figured our when it comes to travel, and I really love him for it!
A few weeks ago, Dusty was getting geared up for the annual guys' fishing trip in Canada. Like, hop on a tiny float-plane and land in the middle of nowhere, sleep in cabins, poop in the woods, eat, drink, and fish all day, every day kind of fishing trip. But where's Whole Foods?! I kid. I really actually love the great outdoors, but I was pumped for my week at home, hanging poolside with Mom and getting some much-needed girl time. I was feeling like the hubs had it all under control and didn't need my help, but I wanted to do something to prove that I too was capable of being a grown-up/good spouse in helping him prepare this time.
All of a sudden it dawned on him, what am I gonna eat for 11+ hours in a car with your dad and uncles and grandpa? Let me put it in a nutshell for you: These guys don't mess around--McDonalds or starve. If you have to pee, hold it. Let's just say there aren't a whole lot of fantastic options along the way, let alone in backwoods Canada where there's no civilization for miles. Trail mix and granola immediately entered my mind. Instead of going and buying a big expensive bag full of roasted, toasted, sugar-and-salted junk, though, I decided to make my own whole foods version that could help get Dusty through the week without starving or coming home feeling awful.
Breakfast, afternoon snack, hiking trail mix, road trip, long flight, you name it, granola is one of the easiest and tastiest foods to bring with you anywhere. First, the bad news: most granola contains far too much sodium, refined sugar, and gluten, due to the use of oats. Now, the good news: you can make this completely raw, (or baked) version, using buckwheat instead of oats, date paste as an all-natural sweetener, and a few spices that will give your munchies plenty of flavor without the added sodium!
Contrary to what the name might suggest, buckwheat is not actually part of the wheat family, nor is it a whole grain--it's actually a seed! Buckwheat is wheat-free, gluten-free, and it's packed full of protein and fiber. These seeds, also called 'groats' deliver a satisfyingly crispy crunch, raw or baked.
Buckwheat can help improve heart health by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels and may also aid in preventing diabetes. It contains a handful of disease-fighting antioxidants, nourishing vitamins and minerals, and its nutrients are much easier for the body to digest than that of gluten-containing grains.
Vegan Grawnola: Easy Raw (or Baked) Granola
gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, oil-free, low sodium
Start your morning with it, throw it in a duffel and pitch a tent, sneak it into the movies, this trusty granola is always by your side, and makes the perfect on-the-go companion. My all-natural, whole-food plant-based version is sure to keep you feeling full and satisfied, with plenty of protein thanks to the crunchy buckwheat groats. It's held together by an ooey, gooey, sweet date paste, with an added bit of healthy fat from almond butter. Coconut shreds, cinnamon, maca, and vanilla add the perfectly classic flavor to the mix, with an added dose of antioxidants and nutrients that other granolas just can't match! Check out all of the amazing health benefits of maca on my Top 10 Superfood Favorites blog post!
- 10 dates, pitted
- 1 tablespoon almond butter (salt-free, oil-free)
- splash of water
- 1 cup raw buckwheat groats
- 3/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1/2 tablespoon maca powder
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean powder or 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Blend pitted dates, nut butter, and splash of water in mini processor or blender until smooth and thick
- Place buckwheat, coconut, cinnamon, maca, and vanilla in bowl and mix thoroughly
- Add date sauce and mix with hands
- Crumble granola onto parchment or wax paper and place in freezer for a couple of hours
- Store leftovers in container in freezer
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line baking sheet with parchment paper
- Crumble granola onto parchment paper and place in oven for 15-20 minutes
- Toss and mix granola once or twice half-way through, keeping a close eye to achieve crispy but not burnt granola
- Allow to sit on stovetop to cool and harden for 15 minutes before eating
- Place in mason jar in refrigerator or freezer for a grab-and-go snack
- Crumble on top of cereal, oatmeal, “nice” cream, or a smoothie bowl for a crunchy twist!
You might be wondering what type of "milk" my grawnola is floating in. It's actually just blended up bananas, dates, vanilla bean, and water...also known as Banana Milk!
Quick & Easy Grawnola Cereal w/ Banana Milk
Simply add one ripe, speckled banana, 2 pitted dates, a teaspoon of vanilla bean powder (or a tiny bit of vanilla extract), and a cup of water into a blender and there you have it! You can even chill it in the refrigerator overnight if you like! Then, pour into a bowl and sprinkle your freshly-made grawnola on top!
Part of the fun of traveling is getting out of your element and trying new things--including new foods! But when the options aren't all that great, or there are no options (like in a cabin in the woods in Canada), healthy, homemade granola makes the perfect travel snack. Some other favorites of mine are dates, dried mango, dried goji berries, and dried white mulberries. These options are all calorie-dense and satiating, yet clean, whole-food options that won't quickly spoil or hold you up at airport security. Check them all out on Amazon if you're not familiar!
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