A Homemade Granola Gone to the Birds

Bird Seed Granola

Yes, a huge reason I was absent last year was because I needed to focus on my mom. I wanted to focus on her. Be with her. However, I also had a kiddo who needed my attention.

A kiddo who had been chronically “unwell” since he was born.

The letter from his school halfway through his seventh grade year stating that he’d already missed over 10% of the school year got my attention. I set aside what I was doing – annual goals, work projects, house projects – and gave my full attention to figuring out what was causing the constant stomachaches and headaches my son was having. And I shared all of those discoveries in my post in March of 2013.

Essentially, his body did not consider the food he was consuming as actual nourishment. And so, it fought against that food by brewing up stomachaches, headaches, pale skin, slow growth, fatigue, clogged lungs and a foggy mind. He never felt well.

A couple months ago, he had his annual check-up with his “fab” pediatrician, Dr. Birk. Since Jack was three, his annual exams have included the standard height, weight, and dreaded shots but also a lung capacity test. His lungs have always tested at 70% oxygen capacity compared to the normal 100%.

Dr. Birk went through his normal questions with Jack, “You’re eating better? You’re feeling better? Are you still a boy? Got any hair under your pits? Are you smelly?” Check, check, check. “Alright, let’s check your lungs? How much of your asthma medicine have you been taking?”

My teenager replied, “Well, uh, I’ve kinda been forgetting to take it.”

“Okay, well, when was the last time you took it?”

“Um, maybe, September??“ he says as he looks at me and shrugs.

I give him the “fergawdssake” look in return.

Dr. Birk comes back with, “Actually, this could be good. No gluten for a year. No asthma medicine for six months. Let’s see how your lungs are doing now.”

A boy and his dog

His lungs tested at 93% capacity.

A month ago, he passed me up in height by two inches.

And his cheeks have a consistent rosy undertone. Something I can’t get enough of.

He is still the “canary in the coal mine.” If there is something off in our food supply, his hypersensitive body will react to it. He will feel it. His body won’t recognize it as nourishment. But more often than not, he feels well. He feels nourished.

I believe we have so completely complicated the act of feeding ourselves that it is unrecognizable from its original purpose. We have turned it into calories, fat, pounds, raw, organic, natural, bulk, gluten, paleo, vegan, pescatarian, vegetarian, carnivore, herbivore, omnivore.

Food’s most basic purpose is to nourish us. To give us energy. To make us feel well. To feel healthy. To feel alive.

A few years ago, I started asking myself after I ate or drank something, “How do I feel now?”

And I realized that after I drank my daily “tall, non-fat, one pump vanilla latte” that I didn’t feel all that great. My stomach felt overly full. Bloated. I felt heavy.

No, I didn’t give up drinking coffee – only a few rare souls in the gray and rainy northwest can survive without caffeine – but I did give up drinking lattes. Something about the milk in them didn’t nourish me or give me the energy boost I was hoping for.

Such a simple concept and yet, it can completely change the way you think about food. About how you nourish your body and give it the energy it needs so you can go out and accomplish all of the amazing things you are meant to do during your utterly unique and important lifetime.

I would love to know if you’ve had a similar experience in paying attention to how food makes you feel. Or, how the breakfast you just ate, or the lunch, or snack, or dinner made you feel.

And remember, if something I’ve said here moves you to share your own story in the comments below, please do. Many more people read these comments than just me. Something you say may make a difference in someone else’s life in ways that you can’t imagine.

So, as my mom would say, “Let’s get to it, people!” Go out and nourish your body so you have the energy to create the beauty in the world that you are meant to do.

With love,
Carrie

A Homemade Granola Gone to the Birds
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Course: breakfast, snack
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When we first discovered that food was making my son so unwell, we had to overhaul everything he was eating. Not easy telling a teenager that pizza just might be the worst thing he could put in his particular body. But, believe it or not, the hardest "food group" to overhaul was snacks. Most of the snacks he was used to enjoying were full of gluten, dairy, and nuts. I was desperate to come up with something for him. So, I tweaked a few granola recipes and came up with the recipe below that is full of nourishing seeds. (The bulk food section is perfect for gathering seeds.) Everyone in my house LOVES it. I always double this recipe and it disappears in a matter of days. I leave it sitting in a container on the counter and next to it are little jars of mix-ins: dried fruit, toasted nuts, and chocolate chips. Who doesn't love a buffet?!
Ingredients
  • 1 pound rolled oats (3 cups) (I use gluten-free oats)
  • 1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut (Bob’s Red Mill)
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ cup mixture of your favorite seeds: flax, chia, sesame, poppy, sunflower
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees (or for convection, 275 degrees.)
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine rolled oats, coconut, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and seeds. Mix to combine. Set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt coconut oil over low heat. Remove from heat. Stir in olive oil, maple syrup and vanilla.
  4. On a large jelly roll pan (a cookie sheet with 1-inch raised sides), spread your granola in an even layer. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown on the top. (30-35 minutes for convection.) Sometimes I take it out every 10-15 minutes and stir it. Other times, I simply don’t feel like fussing with it and don't stir it at all.
  5. Mix-ins: coarsely chopped unsweetened cherries, raisins, toasted nuts: almonds, pecans, walnuts, chocolate chips, yogurt, milk, ice cream and on and on.
  6. Enjoy!

 

Comments

  1. Hi Carrie…can’t wait to try the granola! Is your pediatrician Bruce Birk? He is ours and we love him :) I recognize those questions…are you still a boy?
    Glad Jack is feeling better!

    • Yes, Dr. Birk is a rockstar!

      • Louisa says:

        HA! I was going to write the exact message as Liz. I’d recognize that description of Dr. Birk anywhere. Thomas is 18 months so our rapid fire questions are more like, “Is he pooping? Is he peeing? Is he sleeping? Is he crying”. Great to know your son is doing better. Good luck!

  2. Carrie,
    so glad adorable Jack is feeling better! the diet is so hard but necessary for quality of life for us hypersensitive ones. I have to change up my diet frequently. when you don’t have time to make your granola, I love Udi’s gluten free simple au naturel – with raisins and rice milk!

  3. Nancy Espinoza says:

    Hi Carrie. Loved your Mom. Part of our church family over many years. Now, I hope to read your blog and enjoy you! I stopped carbonated drinks and especially my beloved vanilla lattes because….bloat bloat bloat! Why have something just because you can, if it makes you feel bad! Paying attention to more simple foods is my goal this year. Eat them the way God made them….without too much “scientific” intervention. More organic, less manufactured food. Who even knows what half of some of those ingredients on boxes are?! Here’s to Spring garden planting!

    • Thank you for stopping by, Nancy. Love to have little bits of my mom here through her friends. And good to know that you felt the same way about the vanilla lattes. They taste so good but feel so bad.

  4. Oh how I have missed your posts. I have kept you in my prayers dear friend. So glad your boy is healthy and growing.
    I do ask myself how did that make me feel. I cut out fru fru coffees long ago, and pop. I feel so much better when I drink lotsa water!
    xox
    Sheila

  5. All about juicing, health, but will never give up my coffee. HA HA. I’m so glad your boy is better! I know it’s been a rough road …

    • I keep hearing about more and more people who swear by juicing. We tend to be a smoothie family over here but someday I may give the juicing a whirl. Thanks for stopping by, my friend!

  6. We are our children’s best advocate and champion! xoxo

  7. Here’s to loving ourselves and coffee!

  8. Tammy Wilhoite says:

    One of the biggest nuggets in this post is “how do you feel” whether it’s what you ate, who you spent time with, or what you do for a living. If it doesn’t make you feel alive and healthy is there something you can change? Life is too short to feel “unwell.” I’m glad things have changed for Jack. <3

    • Tammy, you are so right. It’s much more than just how we feel about food. I love your sentence, “Life is too short to feel “unwell.” Thank you, friend.

  9. I nourish myself this way too Carrie, thinking about what truly makes me feel well, nourished, settled and calm. A few years ago I was having constant reflux (I was 23 years old) and bloating, stomach pains…and the rest and so I gave up meat and then wheat. I have never felt better in my life. Recently I had to have emergency gallbladder surgery and I can only imagine how much sooner this would have flared up if I had continued to nourish myself with the foods that weren’t making me feel well.
    Now I eat a wholefood vegetarian diet with treats thrown in (a girl can’t live without cookies!) and I feel truly nourished, so nourished in fact that I called my blog ‘Thoroughly Nourished Life’.
    I am so glad that Jack is feeling better, and now he knows what he needs to do for his body for the rest of his life. What a gift for you to be able to give your son. Take care, friend.

    • Amy, I’m so thrilled you are feeling better. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It may help others who are reading these comments and are having similar symptoms to what you experienced. Love the name of your blog!! Perfect.

  10. Carrie,
    First time to respond – in written words. I was at the doctor a year ago complaining for the 10th time about my gut. We know that food doesn’t really resonate with me other then I need fuel and to feed those kids wondering within our home but I was having these challenges, so I was paying attention and wondering what to do because this gut problem was limiting my “drink choices”. Several types of alcohol sent my gut to “yuck” on a Friday night and who wants to be a buzz kill – literally. The doctor looked at me and said, “seriously, how hard is this … just do your own experiment, pick a drink (beer all hopped up) and listen to what your body tells you”. This experiment played out each weekend and I am happy to say this; after a period of time I “whittled” out all of the best alcohol drinks to leave myself with a very reasonable bar tab. Me and the “cheap” not hopped up alcohols are getting along in perfect fashion (happy to hear about Jack). KSamer

    • Thanks for sharing your story, Kris. It’s really making me think. I had to cut out all the “fancy microbrewed beers” years ago because they gave me terrible intestinal issues. Every once in a while, I’ll have a light or pale ale and I don’t seem to have the same problem. Maybe, like you, it’s the hops. Something to think about. And, hey, a cheaper tab is always a welcome sight.

  11. I’ve missed you so, Carrie!
    I love this post for 2 reasons… 1 – your boy is feeling better and that’s awesome and 2 – the simple tip of asking ourselves how we feel after eating something. That’s a simple way to be in tune with ourselves but so overlooked. Thank you!

    • Kristen, I’ve missed connecting here and over at your fabulous site as well. I’m glad to be back. Thanks for letting me know you stopped by!!

  12. What a great post, Carrie. I’m so glad your son is doing much better.

    Your line about complicating the act of feeding reminds me of what we talked about last year. So true and so unfortunate, but hopefully things will keep turning around. Just the other day I had someone comment to me at the grocery store that I was a such a healthy eater because they saw a bunch of produce bags. The sad reality is that people equate mere real ingredients/whole foods with healthy food, when in fact it’s just ACTUAL food. Ugh. I digress…did I mention how glad I am that you’re back.

    • Thanks for stopping by today, Jamie. You and I are on the same track. We just need to keep going forward. Disappointed I missed out on BTP this year and seeing you. Hopefully, I can join in the fun next spring!!

  13. I’ve been thinking about you lately!! So great to hear from you and I’m so glad your son is feeling better. I love the message about listening to our bodies!

  14. Hello, Carrie……….
    I so enjoyed reading this blog about your son. I have been on a “food journey” this last year myself. This led to incredible results in energy and not being sick with colds, flu, and sinus infections anymore. I have had to rethink my whole approach to nutrition! But I have a grandson I think is in need of the same thing you did for your son. I gave Holly your website address in hopes that she would be inspired to focus on his needs. I would love to visit with you about this more when we get the chance…….

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