Saturday, January 16, 2016

Mango Blueberry No Nut Granola Recipe

Every few months I make a batch of granola. The kids eat it with yogurt or milk. They also love taking it to school as a snack at recess. For this reason, I make it nut free.

This time I used coconut oil. At room temperature, it is solid but as soon as it hits 76 degrees it will begin to liquefy. By heating the oils and the spices, the spices bloom and their flavors and aromas are released. Your kitchen will smell great!

This makes a big batch of granola so I usually distribute half of it into small snack bags so they are ready for lunch boxes or snacking at anytime. The other half of the batch goes into a big container that we keep on the counter for easy kid-access!

Note about coconuts from this Health Canada site: A coconut is a seed of a fruit and nutmeg is obtained from the seeds of a tropical tree. Coconut and nutmeg are not considered tree nuts for the purposed of food allergen labeling in Canada and are not usually restricted from the diet of someone allergic to tree nuts. However, some people have reacted to coconut and nutmeg. If you are worried, consult your allergist before trying coconut or nutmeg products. 

I also make sure anyone who eats it knows there is coconut oil in it.


1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup coconut oil
1 c maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp cardamon
1 tsp salt
8 cups rolled oats
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup wheat bran
1 cup milled flax
3/4 cup dried blueberries
1 cup dried mango, chopped

1/2 tsp fleur de sel


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In medium sized pot combine oils, maple syrup,vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom.
  3. Stir over medium-low heat until just simmering and remove from heat. Watch carefully and be careful not to burn yourself.
  4. Combine oats, wheat germ, bran and flax with salt.
  5. Pour oil mixture over oats and stir until well combined.
  6. Spread granola on two large cookie sheets.
  7. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden. While baking, stir granola every ten minutes to ensure even baking.
  8. Remove from oven.
  9. If desired, add sprinkle of 1/2 tsp fleur de sel. 
  10. Cool completely.
  11. Place in large bowl.
  12. Add dried fruits and combine.
  13. Store in air tight containers.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Grandma's Easy Date Squares Recipe

Date squares? Have you ever had one? Is it a dessert you associate with your great aunt Agnes? Date squares seem to have become something of an "old-fashioned" dessert. Date squares or matrimonial squares (some say because they were made with so many "dates". Get it? You gotta go on a lotta dates to get married???) as they are known in some parts of Western Canada have been around since at least the 1930s.
They are made from a layer of sweet, gooey dates that is sandwiched between two layers of buttery golden oats.
My mom used to make them when I was a kid but I hadn't thought much about them since then. That is, until my 9 year old son saw a bag of dates at the grocery store. He wanted to try them. They were on sale so I bought two bags since my brain flickered with the idea of date squares. Turns out my son didn't like dates straight out of the bag (no surprise). That left me with two bags of dates and the brain flicker turned into a brighter light (luckily I didn't have the urge to walk into it).

I knew the kids would love the oat mixture - it's pretty much a crumble topping but I wasn't sure about the dates in the middle. Would the texture be appealing? In a word. YES. Yes, it would . Granted the dates are mixed with enough sugar to make them sweet and delicious and taste bud friendly to almost anyone.

I think date squares deserve a new minute in the sun, another 15 seconds of fame and it starts right here. Try this recipe. Let me know what you think of them. I know you'll love them (so will your great aunt Agnes so be sure to share)!


2 cups dates
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup brown sugar (can reduce or increase this amount to suit tastes)

1-1/2 cups large flake oats
1-1/4 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp cinnamon


Fruit Mixture:

  1. Place dates, water, juice, baking soda and sugar in sauce pan.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Using a fork or potato masher, squish the date mixture a bit to form a coarse paste.
  6. Cool.

Oat Mixture:

  1. In large mixing bowl, add flour, sugar, oats, salt, baking powder and cinnamon.
  2. Mix with hands,
  3. Cut butter into 1 inch pieces and add to bowl.
  4. Using your hands, rub and mix butter and other ingredients together until you have a  crumbly mixture that will hold together if squeezed.

Making the squares:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray an 8x8 baking dish with non stick spray.
  3. If desired, line with parchment or nonstick foil, letting it hang over edges for easier removal later. 
  4. Place half of oat mixture in bottom of dish and use your hands to firmly press mixture evenly over bottom.
  5. Add all of the cooled date mixture on top of crumble and spread evenly (I use an offset spatula).
  6. Add rest of oat mixture over dates.
  7. Gently press down to cover fruit.
  8. Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes, until top is golden brown.
  9. Remove from oven and cool completely.
  10. Either cut in pan or remove by pulling overhanging foil.
  11. Cut into desired number of squares.