Sometimes I just really don't want to get up and go to the gym... let's be honest, that's most mornings for me. However, if I can visualize all of the good food I plan to stuff my face with after I burn all dem calories, I can usually get a little motivation pumping through the veins. Before I start a long workout though, I def need some fuel. This granola recipe uses a generous scoop of instant espresso powder to shake some sleep from your body and get the legs moving in the direction of the gym.
As a high school athlete, my schedule was fairly rigorous and rigid. There's not much flexibility when you are practicing several hours a day, going to school for the other majority of those hours, and commuting 45 mins each way every day. The best thing that ever happened to my parents was me getting my license. They no longer had to drive me to the pool at the butt-crack-of-dawn, there was no more waiting around late into the evening for my practice to finish, and no more having to listen to me complain about how hungry I was on the way home and how I didn't want whatever mom was cooking for dinner because "it didn't sound good."
Looking back, I am fairly impressed with my 16-year-old-self's drive to get up so early in the morning to get to practice by 6:00am. My homework was (almost) always done the night before, my bag was always packed and ready to go, and I was very good about getting up at the first sound of the alarm. The snooze button is now best frenemy. I think my desperate need to succeed in sports is what kept me going week after week, year after year. Plus, I am glutton for punishment (apparently). I know I am painting a pretty idyllic picture of my responsible, teenage self, but let me just spill some coffee on that painting and smear it up for you.
I used to push my car to the brink of the big red gas tank "E" all the time. I knew exactly how far I could go once the gas light popped on. On one of those red line riding days, I decided I had just enough gas to get home and back out the gas station before practice in the AM. I knew I was really pushing my luck, but I was confident I would make it. It was going to be a Saturday morning practice and the roads are super quiet at 6 o'clock on a weekend morning so I knew there would be zero traffic. Teenage laziness won out over sensibility and logic. Go figure.
The next morning the alarm went off, I popped out of bed, and pulled on my suit and a pair of sweat pants. No, I didn't put a shirt on because I was just going to swim around for a bit, jump out, wrap a towel around me, and bomb home to eat a PB&J. All swimmers drive home from practice with our suits still on. I'm pretty sure. Anyway, I threw my bag with a towel, goggles, and cap into the back seat, said a quick prayer to the gas gods to get me to the station, and set about on my way. I started to lose some of the confidence I felt the evening before as I drove past the station, but I could see the blue glow of the Chevron station just down the road. I was going to make it! I put my foot on the gas, and the car started to slow. Panic set in immediately. My heart began to race, my eyes began to well up in tears, and the self hate speak began in my head. I was so close I thought maybe I could just roll into the station before the last drop of gasoline was sucked into the engine. Nope! I was probably about 400m from the station when I had to pull to the side of the road and shut it down. Well, the car shut itself down.
I sat there for a second contemplating what someone does in a situation such as this. Do I push the car the last bit into the station? Am I strong enough to do that? How do you steer the car while pushing? I am in flip flops. Is that safe? Oh, and I don't have a shirt on... cool. I decided to just walk down to the gas station, praying there was someone inside that could help me, and crossing my fingers that I had enough money on my debit card to buy gas AND a canister. The usual attendant was, thankfully, in there at the early hour. He and I often exchanged pleasantries when I would go in to grab a Dr. Pepper and some Hostess donuts (#carbo-loading), so I was slightly mortified when I had to walk in there in my swim suit and tell him what happened. He laughed at me, pointed to the where I could grab a gas can and then helped me fill it up at the pump. I gestured toward the spot where I had broken down and he laughed at me, "Almost made it!" Cue eye roll and flaming red embarrassment face.
By that point, I was running late for practice and was exhausted as I came down from the adrenaline rush my panic had caused so I decided to go home. Dad was awake when I got home and asked why I was back so quickly. I had to explain my stupidity... Cue Dad eye roll and tsk-tsk head shaking. Let's just say, I never again ran out of gas and I started wearing a shirt anytime I drove anywhere.
Much like my sobering experience, this granola is just the kick in the pants you need to get your act together. The recipe below calls for cocoa powder, but I happened to have cacao nibs in the cupboard so I swapped out the same measurement and melted them into the butter/coconut oil/sugar mix. Also, feel free to add any kind of nuts or seeds you want. If you would like to use dried fruit (perhaps dried cherries?) toss those in the mix once the granola has cooled. Try it in a big bowl of cold milk for a mocha latte-esque cereal deal!
The Recipe: Wake Me Up Granola
~yields 12-15 servings
The Bits and Bobs:
1/2 cup coconut or canola oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey, agave, or maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup espresso powder
4 1/2 cups oats
2 tbsp flax seed (optional)
1 1/2 cups chopped almonds
Preheat the oven to 325*F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.
Over low heat, melt together the oil, butter, sugar, agave, vanilla, cocoa, and espresso. Stir until sugar has melted and everything is well incorporated (roughly 10 minutes).
In a big bowl stir together the oats, almonds, flax seeds, and salt. Pour hot liquid all over the oat mixture and stir until all the oats are covered in the oil/sugar mix. Spread evenly onto two sheet pans and bake for 20 minutes, stirring at least once through the process. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Will continue to crisp up as it cools. Once it is completely cooled, toss, breaking up any super large clumps (you want some clusters) and store in an airtight container. Will last you a few weeks!
Per 1/3 cup serving:
- Total Calories: 220
- Fat: 10g
- Carbs: 29g
- Protein: 4g
- Sugar: 11g
- Fiber: 4g