Lemon, Blueberry, and White Chocolate Granola
Well. THAT hiatus lasted a little longer than I'd intended. Let's just say that the holidays plus my website kind of going haywire for a bit plus entering my third trimester made for a perfect storm of procrastination. That's not to say that I haven't been occupied around here, because when I've not been busy pounding Tums from a gallon-sized container while wearing compression socks, I have indeed been writing and cooking and baking, and would you believe that much of it has been of Whole Grain and Greens sort? I know, it's kind of disappointing--I thought that my sweet tooth might rage again like it did at the end of my first pregnancy, but after a gestational diabetes scare and a general "meh" feeling towards sweets lately, I'm not taking down pounds of Twizzlers at this stage in the game like I did with Little C. (Although, full disclosure, I did eat two spoonfuls of confectioners' sugar the other day in a fit of "I want something intensely sweet and starchy and oh! Maybe with a hint of chalk", and it was the best thing ever--Pregnant Lady Bizarro Cravings, I salute you).
So what else have I been doing lately, aside from shoveling powdered sugar into my face straight from the box? Well, bracing for Baby 2.0 big time, for one thing. I've been to Ikea and Target about 27 times each in the past two months. I'm not sure how it is for other second time moms, but this time around, I'm focusing on preparing the barracks in such a way that might seem completely trivial from the outset, but as any husband who has lived with a crazy post-partum wife will tell you, sometimes it's the little things that make all the difference, and those little things are often completely unrelated to the actual baby that's been birthed.
For example, I've totally cleaned out my makeup bag, tossed the old and upgraded to some new stuff better suited to where my face and my life are at now. I'm not saying I'm going to be going out like RuPaul to the playground, but it feels good to know that I've already reworked a little daily beauty routine that will take me five minutes to complete and soften the blow of looking in the mirror when I haven't slept a full night in many, many months. Did I ever tell you that in my former life I was a makeup artist for Bobbi Brown? Well, I was. And I used travel around giving all kinds of perky makeup advice to women so! much! older! than me, like oh, say, THE AGE I AM NOW, HA HA HA.
(Now that I think about it, that advice was probably super annoying to receive from the well-rested, unlined faced of a 23-year-old and I kind of feel bad about that. If you were a Midwestern soccer mom in the early aughts who visited with me at a high-end department store, I am so, so sorry about that.)
But there were some good tips in there that I've been reminding myself of--like investing in a good eye cream and serum, and reconsidering your foundation and concealer formulas as your skin changes. During this recent beauty routine overhaul, I've also rediscovered the power of a good foundation brush (the ultimate trick in using less makeup and yet somehow getting a better overall look in less time than using a sponge or your fingers), and a certain eye pencil that goes on like a dream but doesn't smudge a bit and doesn't require a separate brush (and therefore a few time-sucking steps) like my usual Holy Grail eyeliner. Like I said, it's the little things, people. The little things that keep you from going over the edge when you're strapped to a rocking chair, careening through Newborn Town.
But of course there's the more conventional (and far less vain) baby-readiness activities to consider, and I'm doing all that, too. Putting together baby furniture, endless loads of laundry so we can use clothes and gear that have been stored for four-plus years, and figuring out what the heck we're going to eat once this crazy baby comes bounding into the world. I suppose for people who really have their acts together, that might translate to freezer meals and collecting slow cooker recipes, and I hope to get to a little of that in the next couple weeks, but as any post-partum lady will attest, particularly one that decides to nurse, a frozen lasagna's got nothing on a stash of good snacks. This time I'm going to be snack-fortified, stocked with things that are easy to eat with one hand, mostly healthy, but with a little something special to brighten the long days (and nights) with a new baby.
This granola is a most excellent recipe, one that is ripe for the riffing. It's based on the Honey Vanilla Granola Clusters from Pure Vanilla, but made extra dreamy, all lemon-scented with a smattering of dried blueberries (one of my favorite flavor combinations ever, ever, ever). And if you're feeling extra deserving of some sweet comfort (and you don't need to have grown a person inside you to deserve that), a couple handfuls of white chocolate chips transforms a perfectly suitable breakfast food into the perfect late afternoon pick-me-up, right about the time that you feel like the world will probably collapse at any second. I mean, it's not as fun as a new eyeliner, but it's a lot more delicious.
Lemon, Blueberry, and White Chocolate Granola Makes 4-5 cups
The egg whites here make for a super crunchy finished granola. And if you like some nice, big clusters in your granola, spread it out too thinly on the pan, and let it cool completely in one big mass on the baking sheet after you pull it from the oven.
Add a bit of nuttiness with 1/2 cup sliced almonds stirred in during the last 5 minutes of baking.
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest 2 large egg whites, at room temperature 1/4 cup vegetable oil 3 tablespoons mild clover honey 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1/2 teaspoon salt 3 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats 1/3 cup dried blueberries 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
Position a rack to the center of the oven and preheat it to 325°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
In a large bowl, place the brown sugar and lemon zest. Use your fingertips to massage the zest into the sugar until very fragrant. Whisk in the egg whites, vegetable oil, honey, vanilla extract, and salt until smooth. Add the oats and stir to coat evenly. Spread the granola onto the prepared sheet pan in an even layer.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden and fragrant, stirring once or twice and rotating the pan halfway through baking to prevent burning. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Stir in dried blueberries and white chocolate chips. Store in an airtight container.