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Entries in Granola (3)


You Can't Beet London

The title pun is intended. Many of you know that I recently spent some time in London. I was there for a race, representing the USA at the Age Group World Championships of Triathlon. This was an overwhelming and humbling experience. The whole Iaciofano clan showed up, as well as a hearty cheering squad from my old stomping ground in Los Angeles.

Highlights included:

Scotch eggs and fried capers at the Pheonix Pub in Covent Garden.

Copious amounts of "Flat Whites" (this one from a bike cafe called Look Mum, No Hands!)

A post-race celebration at the Dock Kitchen.

Wacky bus rides.

Underwhelming tube rides.

Black Pudding! (from Albion Cafe) John and I both liked it.

The best bathroom this side of anywhere (Nopi in SoHo).

The best food market this side of anywhere (Borough Market).

Copious amounts of clotted cream (from Brown's Hotel).

With equal amounts of gin. And rum. And heavens only knows what else (from Purl).

A proper British haircut for John.

A lot of shopping with Kaz.

Brunch featuring toast caddies! (At High Road House, Chiswick)

Waffles on sticks! (Tower of London)

More bike cafes (Zappi's in Oxford).

And a ridiculous, Team USA photoshoot around London...

Phew — that was a lot. Of beer. And gin. And blood pudding. How to recover? Vegetables. Even for breakfast. But how? Of course, I could be traditional and go with a nice vegetable frittata. But I had just been exposed to seemingly endless rows of cute coffee shops and cafes displaying their homemade baked good, including granola. I wanted to make my own.

And so I did. With vegetables. Beets and squash to be exact. These veggies toast up very sweet, so they're perfect for your morning granola. Add a little spice and nut action, and you've just created an addictive breakfast, snack, lunch...Now if I could just find an NYC coffee house that makes a flat white...

What You Need:

3-4 medium sized beets, trimmed of their greens and thinly sliced into 1/8" rounds

1 delicata (or winter) squash (you could also use butternut or sweet potato)

1 1/2 cups rolled oats (I used Bob's Gluten Free variety)

1 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup dates, pitted and chopped

1/2 cup pecans

1/2 cup roasted pistachios

3/4 cup coconut flakes

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

What you do:

Preheat your oven to 300°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Slice the delicata squash in half and remove the seeds with a spoon. Slice each half of the squash into 1/8" inch thick pieces. Place the squash slices and the beet slices on the prepared baking sheet, but don't crowd them! Give 'em some room to breathe.

Throw them in the oven and let them bake. And bake....and bake. This takes a while, as you are essentially making vegetable chips which requires baking all the water out of the veggies. Veggies have a lot of water. The whole process could take up to an hour. Keep checking on them, as smaller pieces may crisp up faster and you don't want them to burn. Have a bowl ready to place more quickly cooked pieces.

Once all your veggies have "chipped," place them in the bowl and break them up into smaller pieces with your hands. Think about what size would fit nicely on a spoon. That's the size you should break them into.

Increase the oven temperature to 350°F.

In another bowl, combine the oats, spices and nuts. Mix in the olive oil and maple syrup and coat all the dry ingredients evenly with the wet. Spread this mixture onto a baking sheet (you can use the same one that you used for the veggies) and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. With five minutes left in the baking time, sprinkle the coconut flakes on top. Coconut will toast up rather quickly, so it doesn't need much time.

Remove the mixture from the oven and add it to the bowl of veggie chips. At this point you can also add in the dried fruit. Mix to combine. Store in an airtight container for weeks! Now you can have your vegetables for breakfast.



Training Diary - Kitchen Sink Granola

Reality can be alarming. Especially when what you think is true is not exactly how things are. Take for example my morning bike ride (I promise I will bring this back to food and it will all loop together wonderfully):

The workout was the following: 4 loops of Central Park with 5 Harlem Hill repeats. 

I started out with Group 1, the fastest group. I was quickly dropped on the second loop. During the summer and fall of last year I could stay with Group 1. But it's March, and it's been frickin' freezing outside, so I haven't been on my bike. Consequently, I got picked up by Group 2 and rode with them.

This is fine, I tell myself. Group 1 are all boys, anyway. Group 1 smells. And they talk funny (one of them is Australian - love ya, Mark!). 

And I must take a moment to remind myself it is only March. But with my first race fast approaching on April 7 in South Beach, it is sometimes hard to reconcile what you want with what you actually have.

Which brings me to granola. Yes, granola.

The other day I wanted some, but as I perused the contents of my cabinets, I realized I did not have the ingredients to make a truly stellar granola. But I had something in I made granola with what I had. And it was good. Quite good, in fact.

So, sometimes you just have to do the best you can with what you have. And as I realized with the granola, what you have can add up to be a lot more than you thought and even produce some pretty impressive results.

Here's how to make Kitchen Sink Granola:

What You Need:

2 cups rolled oats (I used the Quaker 5 minute kind because that's what I had available)

1/2 cup silvered almonds

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/3 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

3/4 cup chopped dried figs (you can use any kind of dried fruit, but again, this is what was rolling around in my cabinets).

2 tbsp Coconut Oil

2 tbsp Maple Syrup

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

What To Do:

Heat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, throw ALL The ingredients together. That's right, all of 'em. Now, mix. Make sure that coconut oil is evenly distributed.

Spread the mixture evenly onto a large baking sheet and throw it in the oven.

Let it toast for about 5 minutes, and give it a check. The coconut shreds can burn easily, so you want to make sure you give this stuff a good mix every now and again. You do NOT want burned coconut.

Toast for about 10 more minutes, making sure to mix things up every now and again. 

Remove from the oven and allow it to cool.

Finishing Touches:

I baked a sweet potato, mashed it up with some almond milk, topped it with the granola and then heated the whole enterprise in the microwave for about a minute and a half.

Strong coffee recommended.

South Beach, here I come....

Oh, and Group 1 really doesn't smell. Not worse than the rest of us, anyway...



Brittany's Ironman Granola

My friend Brittany has been training for the Arizona Ironman which is this Sunday, November 20th in Tempe. An Ironman is the ultimate distance in triathlon: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile run.

I met Brittany when we both signed up for Full Throttle Endurance back in late January.

Britt has worked hard over the past nine months. How hard? Here's an example of a typical training week for her:

Monday: Swim 65 min with Full Throttle, pm bike 90 min with double loops of the Harlem hills
Tuesday: off
Wednesday: Long run, 120 min, easy first hour, then bringing it down, finish hard
Thursday: Bike 90 min with Full Throttle, plus 20 min easy brick run
Friday: Swim 65 min with Full Throttle, pm 3 laps of the bridle path, hard. 5 min full recovery between laps.
Saturday: Century ride with Hugh
Sunday: Bike 120 min, skipping the hills, & brick run easy 20 min, all easy recovery effort

For those of you not in the know, a "century ride" means 100 miles. Ouch.

Like turtles with those backpacks...

Through nine months of this, Brittany has somehow managed all of the above and been champion friend. When you see someone every day at 5:30 am for two hours a day, you get to know them quickly. And well. Consider the following:

She is one of the few people that is allowed to call or text me before 5 o'clock in the morning (all others should wait for an emergency).

She travelled all the way from the Upper West Side to Hoboken just to help me pack up my apartment. I enticed her with wine and pizza, but still – that is a haul, people!

Britt and I at the pong table at Iaciofano HQ, Beach HavenI have subjected her to weekends in LBI with Marmo and Box in which she endured endless games of beer pong, being escorted around the island on the handlebars of bikes (not our usual method of bike riding), and my dad's constant insistence that the bay was infested with gar fish (still unproven).

Right before the Montauk race (like an ad for XTerra!)

We roomed together for the Montauk Triathlon in June and sat up late at night (after the race) eating peanut buttered bagels and gossiping like school girls.

This training is not only physically challenging, but it's also a mental drain. It's a lot. You feel burnt out. Not to mention hungry. ALL THE TIME.

What do you eat when you're a hungry Ironwoman?

Britt's food specialty is granola. She makes a huge batch and delivers it in a giant Ziploc bag. Granola accoutrements vary, but have included: peanut M&M's banana chips, cashews, almonds, craisins, raisins, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips.... you get the idea.

The giant bag of granola is difficult to walk by without scooping out a handful. Or three. So while it is MEANT as a breakfast food, it is hardly ever eaten that way. It's more of a drive-by-snack-when-you-want-food.

We once spent a summer LBI afternoon watching the sea level of the granola bag dip from high to low tide as various members of my family grazed on it throughout the day (no one actually admitted to doing so, however).

Here is Brittany's Granola recipe. Britt, I wish you the best of luck on Sunday. You've worked hard and you're ready. You are going to be great.

What You Need:
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cashews
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 banana chips
1/2 cup chocolate chips
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon salt

What You Do:
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Oil a 4-sided sheet pan or line with parchment paper.

Stir together oats, nuts, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.

Pour oil and honey over the oat mixture and stir to mix well.

Spread evenly on sheet pan and bake, stirring once, until golden, 20 to 25 minutes.

Cool granola completely in pan (it will crisp as it cools), then stir in fruit, banana chips and chocolate chips.

Store in a giant Ziploc bag like Brittany does!