I've heard the most lettuce salads are consumed in the first week of January when people start their new healthy diets. By the second week, I think sales of lettuce would drop off a bit and by the end of the month sales would dip back to normal levels. I know we're not helping any of those numbers. Mark and the kids think a lettuce salad is glorified silage. It doesn't matter how often I put a lettuce salad on the table, I end up eating most of it. So, I skip lettuce salads with our meals. I try to find other ways of eating healthy, especially after all the holiday treats I've packed away.
One of my favorite things to make for the winter months is granola. I know it is just glorified oatmeal, but it helps me to think I'm keeping my resolution of eating healthier. I like to mix granola with a cup of vanilla yogurt. I put this in the refrigerator overnight. Before I head out to the barn in the morning, I will grab my cup of yogurt. By this time the oatmeal has softened up and it just slides down. I will also use this granola for hot oatmeal. I will add it to boiling water or milk and cook it just like oatmeal. I don't have to add a thing because all the flavorings are already in the mix.

Almond Granola with Dried Fruit
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar
4 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
5 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 cups almonds, coarsely chopped
2 cups raisins, craisins, or other dried fruit
1 cup white vanilla chips

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk maple syrup, sugar, vanilla and salt in a large bowl. Whisk in oil. Fold in oatmeal and almonds until thoroughly coated. Spread into even layer on baking sheet. Pack down. Bake 40 to 45 minutes until lightly browned. Cool on wire rack for one hour. Break granola into pieces. Add fruit and chips. Store in air tight container for up to two weeks. Makes 9 cups.

Instead of buying all those granola bars, you can make your own and wrap them up for the barn. The guys love to grab a bar after milking to help hold them over till breakfast time. I just cut the bars in serving sizes and wrap them in plastic wrap. I will bring a Ziploc bag of bars out to the barn.

Granola Bars
2 cups old fashioned oats
3/4 cup toasted wheat germ
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup dried cranberries or blueberries or other dried fruits
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large egg whites, beaten

In a glass pie plate, spread oatmeal; microwave on high for 4 minutes until fragrant. Cool. Line a 9x13 pan with tin foil. Spray with baking spray. Combine all ingredients. Press in pan with wet hands. Bake 325 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in pan. Cut into bars and store at room temperature in air tight container.

I love my mother's banana bread, but sometimes I need to cut back on the butter. This recipe doesn't use a bit of butter or oil to hold it together. By letting the sugar dissolve in the bananas and swapping out applesauce for the butter, the bread will hold together. It is a different taste than my mom's, but now I can put slabs of butter on my slice of banana bread without feeling guilty.

Low Cholesterol Banana Bread
6 bananas
2 cups sugar
1 cup applesauce
4 eggs
2 tsp. baking soda
2 Tbsp. baking powder (yes, tablespoons)
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
4 cups flour

Mash bananas in large bowl. Stir in sugar. Let stand 15 minutes for sugar to dissolve. Add applesauce, eggs and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients together. Add to banana mixture. Pour into greased and floured loaf pans. Bake 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before removing from pan. Makes 3 loaves.

I know we're just done with the Christmas season, but Lent will be coming up next month. Do you have any special treats or stories for Fat Tuesday? It is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. The story goes that Polish women would make panski to use up the eggs, sugar and butter before the start of the Lenten season. I have a pan of candy bars I like to make before the start of lent as a last hurrah. Please share your stories and recipes with me. I would love to share them with my family.