The Perfect Healthy Granola (Low Oil & Naturally Sweetened)

There are a few different granola camps. This one falls squarely in the great, everyday, healthy granola category. Instead of the cookies masquerading as granola camp. It is my new favorite thing, and I’ve had it on my counter for weeks now. Give it a go!

Midnight black and deeply chocolate-flavored with dark black cocoa and cocoa nibs, this granola is packed with heart-healthy oats and seeds. Naturally sweetened, clumpy, and crunchy, the recipe calls for just a small splash of olive oil, and leverages a secret ingredient to bring it all together.

The Perfect Healthy Granola Recipe

Is Homemade Granola Bad for You?

This is a question I get asked a lot. The short answer is, many granolas have a lot of sugar in them. And, many granolas have a lot of unnecessary added fat or oils. We’re essentially talking about cookies in clumpy form, which, I think we can all agree is delicious. As the foundation for your daily breakfast? Laugh / cry. My hope is today’s recipe will be a nice alternative.

My Healthy Granola Inspiration

In Los Angeles last month, I finally made it to beautiful Botanica. After dinner, Emily Fiffer, one of the inspiring owners, sent us home with a tote of treats for our long drive back to San Francisco. Included was a jar of Botanica’s Cacao Coconut Granola. In short, it was a (serious) granola revelation – crunchy, clumpy, deeply chocolate flavored, short ingredient list. The Botanica granola was the jumping off point for this recipe, and if you want to take that recipe for a spin as well, you can find it here.

The main tweaks? I used whipped aquafaba (the liquid in a can of chickpeas) as the binder, allowing me to scale back the added oil by a good chunk. Black cacao gives you that midnight chocolate flavor reminiscent of Oreo cookies, but regular cocoa powder is also great! And, I dial back the sweetness a shade.

The Perfect Healthy Granola Recipe

The Magic of Aquafaba

Have a look below. What you’re seeing is aquafaba. If you have a can of chickpeas, you have enough aquafaba for this recipe (the liquid in the can). It is whipped into peaks, and the other granola ingredients are folded in. It’s a fantastic medium for granola acting as a binder, helping to deliver that clumpy magic everyone loves. Aquafaba behaves much like whipped egg whites, but by making granola with aquafaba you can do a version that can be enjoyed by a wider range of people, including vegans and people trying to work more whole food plant-based meals into their diet. And now I’m itching to remake this rose petal granola using this technique!

The Perfect Healthy Granola Recipe

The Perfect Healthy Granola Recipe

Serving Ideas

If you’re going for healthy granola, you’re going to want to opt for healthful toppings. I like this granola served over yogurt, with a side of whatever seasonal fruit looks good. You can see it pictured here alongside sliced bananas and strawberries. There is a sprinkling of goji berries and rose petals as well. It’s also good in a simple bowl of mylk or milk – I like almond or oat.

The Perfect Healthy Granola Recipe

The Perfect Healthy Granola Recipe

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Perfect Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Perfect Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Perfect Chocolate Chunk Cookies are for the true chocolate lover! I load my cookie recipe with as much chocolate as I can pack into each chocolate chunk cookie!

The Perfect Chocolate Chunk Cookie is thick and PACKED with CHOCOLATE!

My recipe for chocolate chunk cookies is the BEST! It’s everything that a good chocolate chunk cookie needs to be…it’s thick, buttery and LOADED with chocolate.

It seems like there are two types of people…the chocolate CHIP cookie person and the chocolate CHUNK cookie person.

Continue reading Perfect Chocolate Chunk Cookies at Cookies and Cups.

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This Week at the Brennans’

I love the milder October days we still are getting. Soon we won’t be able to scooter to church!

It was a busy one!

Here’s what happened this past week:

The week started out with a bang! I got invited to the Facebook offices in NYC to learn more about their best practices and what bloggers can do to increase their presence and engagement on that platform. I also ran into a few of my blogging buddies which was so nice! I love being able to see familiar faces in this busy and oftentimes lonely city.

The whole meeting was supposed to be until 4, but I got a call from the school nurse at the elementary school saying Blake got hurt on the playground and needed to get picked up. Totally cryptic because they didn’t tell me how bad the injury was, but I assumed it wasn’t terrible since they didn’t call an ambulance. So, I went to school and got there about 45 minutes before they were going to be let out for the day anyways, so I just took him home. Poor kid got bonked on the head by another kid jumping off of the higher part of the play structure and got some scrapes and a big ‘ol shiner. It was right on the edge of his forehead and into his scalp, so it didn’t seem TERRIBLE but it definitely looked like it hurt. And when Blake gets hurt and starts crying EVERYONE knows. When I was signing his out, the principle even commented from her office about it! Oh Blake!

Ed continues to get progressively worse and more clingy at preschool drop-off. I feel like a horrible person every time as I hand his screaming body to the teacher and leave. Maybe it’s helping build both our characters? Regardless, I still feel horrible. (…)
Read the rest of This Week at the Brennans’ (571 words)

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How NOT to Season Foods

How NOT to Season Foods – Common Seasoning Mistakes & How to Avoid Them Spices and seasonings are our passport to a whole world of flavor possibilities.  We are very lucky that we live in a time when a host of spices are readily available for our use and experimentation. In the past, wars have […]

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A Sous Vide Turkey Tryout With Cookbook Author Nik Sharma

Between contributing to TASTE, blogging at A Brown Table, and writing his cooking column at the San Francisco Chronicle, Nik Sharma—who also just released his first cookbook, Season—always has something on his plate. We gave him a Joule from ChefSteps and a mission: Sous vide a Thanksgiving turkey, have fun, and write down everything in […]

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TASTE Podcast 25: Jeremiah Stone & Fabian Von Hauske

Let’s get this out of the way first. Jeremiah Stone and Fabian Von Hauske are sweet dudes: extremely hardworking, generous, with lots and lots and lots of friends in the food world—in the United States, France, Mexico, and the darkest corners of the Noma fermentation lab (all spots the pair have worked in their short […]

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24 Hours in Berlin, Germany

When you only have 24 Hours in Berlin, Germany… it’s a bit of a whirlwind trying to get everything in that you want to eat and see!

I was invited to Berlin, Germany to embark on the 2nd half of a 15-day Viking River Ocean Cruise through the Norwegian fjords in the legendary homelands of the Vikings (through Denmark and Norway).  This was a part of the world I had yet to explore, so I was very interested to go on this trip.  My husband joined me, and our journey began when we landed in Berlin.  We had 24 hours in this historical city before we boarded our Viking cruise.

How bad is the jet lag when you travel to Europe?

If you’ve ever traveled to Europe, you know that the jet lag is real.  It’s tough to travel through time 9 hours ahead of  your home town and try to adjust to a different time of day.  We took an overnight flight (recommended), and did our best to get at least a little bit of sleep on our flight (it’s tough).  We landed in Berlin in the morning.  We were tired.  But the worst thing you can do when you arrive in Europe is go to your hotel and take a nap.  It’ll mess you up, and you’ll never have a normal night’s sleep.  It’s best to just power it out, and try to stay awake all day until you go to bed that night.  Get on track with normal sleeping as soon as possible.  So that’s what we did.  We got to our hotel, unpacked, and then hit the road to explore Berlin!

Viking Cruises had all of the press people on the trip staying at the Sofitel Berlin, a five star hotel overlooking Kurfürstendamm, the luxury shopping street in Charlottenburg.  It seemed to be pretty centrally located, and it was a nice and comfortable hotel.

As we ventured out, we immediately came upon the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church- a Protestant church affiliated with the Evangelical Church in Berlin. (from Wiki:) The original church on the site was built in the 1890s. It was badly damaged in a bombing raid in 1943. The present building, which consists of a church with an attached foyer and a separate belfry with an attached chapel, was built between 1959 and 1963. The damaged spire of the old church has been retained and its ground floor has been made into a memorial hall. The Memorial Church today is a famous landmark of western Berlin, and is nicknamed by Berliners “der hohle Zahn”, meaning “the hollow tooth”.

Having just arrived in Germany, we were pretty focused on FOOD.  The concierge recommended that we find a Döner Kebap Sandwich.  This is common street food found all over Germany.

The best way to describe it is to think of how Gyros are made.  You know… the Greek fave- a big slab of lamb from which they shave slices to create a Gyros sandwich?  Same thing with the Döner Kebap. It’s fresh baked pita stuffed with marinated chicken or lamb and topped with lettuce, tomato, onions, cabbage, chili flakes, and garlic-yogurt sauce.

It’s delicious.  And it was probably even more delicious because we were totally starving!  You can order a beer with your street food and carry it though the streets with you.

Tiergarten Park

If we’d had more time to research and plan out our day, we probably would have done so.  But we knew we’d be tired, and we just set out walking with a map in hand.  The concierge had told us that walking was probably our best bet.  We found a beautiful park to walk through-
Tiergarten Park, which is one of Europe’s largest and most beautiful innercity parks.

The Victory Column

On the other side of the park, we came upon the Victory Columna monument in Berlin, Germany. It was built to commemorate the Prussian victory in the Danish-Prussian War.  It’s a popular tourist attraction in Berlin.  You can buy tickets to go to the top and get an elevated peek at Berlin, but we opted not to do that.

They were getting the entire city ready for the Berlin Marathon.  Inline skaters (roller bladers) had completed the marathon the day we arrived.  The big running race was set to take place the following day.  The Berlin Marathon is one of six of the largest and most renowned marathons in the world. It’s a huge event, and people from all over the world come to race in the marathon.

As it turns out, we ended up being about three miles from our hotel, and we weren’t able to get grab a taxi to get back… because they were closing all of the streets down for the marathon!  So we continued to explore!

The Holocaust Memorial

By this time of day, we were getting pretty tired from our journey and lack of sleep… but we powered it out, and it’s a good thing we did.  We came upon some pretty important pieces of history.

This is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, also known as the Holocaust Memorial. The monument is composed of 2711 rectangular concrete blocks, laid out in a grid formation. The monument is situated on the former location of the Berlin Wall, where the “death strip” once divided the city. During the war, the area acted as the administrative center of Hitler’s killing machine.

Before World War 2, Berlin had one of the largest Jewish populations in Europe.  This is a memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. An attached underground “Place of Information” holds the names of approximately 3 million Jewish Holocaust victims.

I really wish we had more time in Berlin to learn more about all of this.  It’s such a sad and unnecessary part of history.

The Berlin Wall

As we meandered back to our hotel, we came across a big chunk of the Berlin Wall.  It’s amazing to be walking around Europe and just stumbling into huge pieces of history!!  I can’t begin to describe it as well as anyone else, so I’m going to include a chunk of information from The History Channel for you:

On August 13, 1961, the Communist government of the German Democratic Republic (GDR, or East Germany) began to build a barbed wire and concrete “Antifascistischer Schutzwall,” or “antifascist bulwark,” between East and West Berlin. The official purpose of this Berlin Wall was to keep Western “fascists” from entering East Germany and undermining the socialist state, but it primarily served the objective of stemming mass defections from East to West. The Berlin Wall stood until November 9, 1989, when the head of the East German Communist Party announced that citizens of the GDR could cross the border whenever they pleased. That night, ecstatic crowds swarmed the wall. Some crossed freely into West Berlin, while others brought hammers and picks and began to chip away at the wall itself. To this day, the Berlin Wall remains one of the most powerful and enduring symbols of the Cold War.

There are still pieces of the Berlin Wall standing- with chunks taken out of it and graffiti splattered on it in places.  It’s so surreal to think that the wall once existed as a barrier- with guard towers.  Over 100,000 East Germans attempted to escape over the wall and into West Berlin, where they could migrate to other Western European countries.  Over 5,000 succeeded, and some died during their attempt to escape.

Continuing on our walk… just some German guys.  I like to think this is what they wear on a daily basis, but I think they might have been part of an entertainment type of group.

That evening, we enjoyed a fantastic, classic German meal of Pork Schnitzel.  This one was served with sauteed mushrooms and potatoes.  YUM.

Surprisingly, we actually made it until about 10pm without laying down to take a nap.  Every time we sat down though during the day… that tired feeling kind of overwhelmed us.  So we just kept going!

It felt like the best night’s sleep ever, and we felt normal and ready to go the next morning. Great pastries were available at our hotel (along with a great breakfast buffet!)

We met up with my friend Sandy ( and her husband for the 3-hour bus ride to our cruise ship.

If you choose to go on this 15-day Viking Homeland cruise, you’ll start in Sweden and cruise to Finland, Russia, Estonia and Poland before you arrive in Germany.  From Germany, you’ll cruise through the Fjords with several stops in Denmark and Norway.  That’s the part of the cruise that we experienced, and I’ll be sharing more about it in the weeks to come.

If you’re interested in learning more about Viking Cruises, you might like to read about my Viking River Cruise in Southern France.

For more about Viking River Cruises- all of the countries they visit and their itineraries, visit their website:

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Extra Sticky Maple Pecan Sticky Buns.

Extra Sticky Maple Pecan Sticky Buns | #thanksgiving #stickybuns #holiday #christmas #pecans #breakfast #brunch

Not much can beat these homemade Extra Sticky Maple Pecan Sticky Buns. Soft and fluffy homemade bread dough, swirled with cinnamon sugar, and baked with a maple pecan “sticky” sauce. These rolls are nothing short of perfect and better than anything you could get from a bakery. Try making these as a weekend morning treat, or […]

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Delicata Squash Ricotta Baked Shells

I’m currently sipping tea, attempting to heal my sore throat that is feeling all raspy and weary. On Saturday night I went to Hollywood Horror Nights at Universal Studios and screamed like the gigantic baby that I am. Why is that we know it’s fake but believe it’s real. Lol. Our brains are so complicated. Monsters and gremlins jumping out at me really drained my energy too because I’m currently a lil’ bit exhausted. Luckily I healed my self with a big Cinnabon cinnamon roll and a batch full of shells I had waiting for me in the freezer. Let’s talk about shells today. Beautiful, big, glorious shells. I honestly have no idea why I don’t make them more. Whenever I make them,I’m like, why don’t I do this needs to be on a weekly rotation. They’re also an amazing thing to gift. If you have someone in your life who is having a surgery, is sick, having a baby, etc., this is a great thing to drop off their house. They will love you forever. You can also make this batch and eat half and freeze half. This particular iteration is easy and delicious because it’s filled with a […]

(Read more…)

Tags: AutumnCheesedelicataFallPastashellsSquash

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Lentils folded into Yogurt, Spinach, and Basil

There is a tiny, thoughtfully curated bookstore on a North-west corner of San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood. I was a few minutes early for a lunch nearby and couldn’t help but pop in for a quick browse. Five minutes later I walked out with Lunch at the Shop: The Art and Practice of the Midday Meal. It is an inspired volume by long-established Seattle book store owner Peter Miller celebrating the simple pleasures achieved by taking and appreciating (what I consider) a proper lunch. The emphasis is firmly put on food that is simple, fresh, thoughtful, and often communal. Said another way – lunch doesn’t need to be complicated or elaborate to be meaningful.

Lentils folded into Yogurt, Spinach, and BasilLentils folded into Yogurt, Spinach, and BasilLentils folded into Yogurt, Spinach, and Basil

Taking time for lunch. This book struck such a note with me because there are few things that can make more of a difference in your day than this gesture. It’s something I believe in, and something I do my best to put into practice whether I’m sitting down by myself, with a few friends, or with many. There is something incredibly positive and optimistic about this small volume with the happy, tomato-red cover. On a practical level it is filled with thoughts and advice on how to eat well, pace your day, and stock your work pantry…but it comes together into something beyond the sum of its sections and chapters. I love that it exists as a reminder of how important this break in the day can be – how it can help relationships grow, how it can help energize, nourish, and revive, and how in-sourcing lunch can bring a bit of magic to a work environment.

Lentils folded into Yogurt, Spinach, and Basil

I made the Lentils folded into Yogurt, Spinach, and Basil. A double batch, in fact. It was enjoyed on walnut bread, tartine-style, for multiple days. Friends that can’t handle wheat or gluten can enjoy this combination on appropriate crackers or wrapped in a sturdy, fresh leaf of romaine lettuce. It has lentils, loads of spinach (arugula is great too), herbs, and Greek yogurt – a hearty, healthy, satisfying line-up of ingredients that set you up strong for the rest of the afternoon!

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Green Falafel Bowl

No surprise, the cornerstone of this recipe is the golden-crusted, spinach falafel. If you look at the photo, you’ll see the pan-seared patties hanging out in the 5 o’clock position. They’re crusted, golden, browned on the outside, tender and lemon-flecked on the inside. They’re also packed with good-for-you spinach and chickpeas. I make them in big batches, freeze them, and eat them (allll the time) as snacks, or in bowls like these.

Green Falafel Bowl

Falafel at the Center

If you have the falafel, you can pull together a pretty good snack or meal. It could be something along the lines of what you see here, or something different based on what you have on hand. I had some hummus in the fridge (a red beet version of this hummus), some kale, carrots, and cucumber that needed to be used, and some pita. Also, some herb stragglers. The pita and carrots went into the oven, I cooked the falafel in a skillet, and chopped up the rest. Let’s say you didn’t have any of that, but you did have some romaine, yogurt, and a garlic clove. You could do falafel lettuce wraps instead, smashing the garlic into a paste and adding it to the yogurt along with a bit of salt. Use that as your sauce. The name of the game here is adaptability.

Green Falafel Bowl

Cooking Methods

Once you’ve formed the falafel you have a range of cooking options. If you smush them a bit, and pan-fry them in a bit of oil, you’ll get the best golden crust. Sometimes I bake them (450°F), also pretty-strong contender. I’ve even tested them in an Air Fryer, and they’re one of just a handful of things to exceed my expectations in it (7 minutes at 390°F, shake the basket, and do another 7 minutes).

A Vegan Version

I’ll note this in the recipe headnotes below as well. To make the falafel vegan, you can use flax “egg” (5 T. water + 2 T. ground flax seeds whisked together), and skip the cheese.

Green Falafel Bowl

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Sweet Dinner Rolls

Sweet Dinner Rolls

This Sweet Dinner Rolls recipe will quickly become a family favorite. This easy dinner rolls recipe is made with Rapid Rise® Yeast, and topped with glorious melted honey butter. These sweet dinner rolls are better than any restaurant!

This post is sponsored on behalf of Fleischmann’s® Yeast to create this recipe. I only partner with brands that I use in my kitchen. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Today, I used the Beginner Dinner Rolls recipe from my friends over at Fleischmann’s® Yeast which is such a great dinner roll recipe that I only adapted it slightly!

Continue reading Sweet Dinner Rolls at Cookies and Cups.

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Steak Kabob Dinner For Two

Steak Kabobs

For a heartier meal, add a tomato salad and some soft rolls.

2 servings


2 ribeye steaks, each 10 oz
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 cup olive oil
6 mushroom caps
1 small zucchini, cut on the diagonal into half-inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, quartered


Add the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and rosemary to a bowl and whisk well to combine.

Trim all the fat from the steaks and cut them into one-inch cubes. the steaks and cut into even sized cubes.

Add the meat to the marinade and stir well. Add the vegetables and stir. Refrigerate the mixture for several hours before grilling.

Preheat an outdoor grill and oil the grill grates. You may also cook the kabobs on a stovetop grill.

Place the meat cubes on one long skewer or two short. Alternate the vegetable on another skewer.

Cook the meat skewers over the grill for about 8 minutes. Grill the vegetables for about 6 minutes until grill marks appear.

Garlic and Herb Rice


1 1/2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice
3 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, chives, cilantro, mint, or tarragon
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning


Bring the broth to a simmer in medium saucepan.

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic; sauté until tender, about 1 minute. Add rice; stir 2 minutes.

Add the hot broth and 3/4 teaspoon salt and bring to boil.

Reduce heat to low; cover and cook until the rice is tender, about 25 minutes.

Turn off the heat; let stand, covered, 10 minutes. Add herbs to the rice; fluff with a fork and serve with the kabobs.

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The Rotten Apple Martini

I know! Gross right?! I think making semi-disgusting cocktails is pretty great on Halloween. This Rotten Apple Martini is kind of a mix between a classic apple martini (although it has seasonal apple cider in it as well) and a brain hemorrhage shot which has baileys in it that kind of congeals into a weird […]

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Wheels of Fortune

There’s an analog, and spiritual, approach to making one of the world’s finest cheeses—one you may just take for granted. In Emilia-Romagna, the most exhilarating scenes play out in rooms where nothing happens. Teardrop-shaped boneless hams freed from a hog’s hind leg, culatello di Zibello dangle for months in cellars made musty by heavy mists […]

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The Truth About Balsamic Vinegar

A river of black gold flows from the cities of Modena and Reggio Emilia straight to your home kitchen.     Aceto balsamico, better known as balsamic vinegar, is arguably the most famous and prized vinegar in the world. Having written a book on the production and usage of vinegar throughout history, I get the most […]

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