Maple-Pecan Granola

We’ve experimented with and enjoyed at least ummm….1,058 recipes of homemade granola! THIS one may be the best! It is the simplest granola to put together and absolutely scrumptious. It’s unpretentious, perfect balance of textures and crunch make it a winner in my book. It is just sweet enough to enjoy any time of the day.

We most often eat it like cereal – in a bowl with milk, but yogurt parfaits are delish too! Homemade granola is a staple when we go on vacation or camping because it is a no-prep, wholesome and gratifying breakfast. I love it when my friends inspire me! One friend of mine prefers her granola with milk and warmed in the microwave for a comforting breakfast with her morning coffee.

If you’re on the lookout for one of those recipes that can easily be made ahead and expanded for guests, this is perfect. I always make a double-batch of this granola when we have company overnight and serve a sweet bread loaf with butter on the side. When we go to a friend’s house for a playdate, or a neighbor is feeling under the weather, Eva and I jar up some, as well. It’s such an easy way to show gratefulness or extend practical hospitality. This crispy, golden granola looks beautifully delicious in a pint or quart mason jar with turns of red and white butcher twine and a hand-written tag! Enjoy and bless others!

Maple-Pecan Granola

  • 3 1/2 cups oats

  • 1/2 cup shredded or flaked unsweetened coconut (can be omitted)

  • 1 cup roughly chopped pecans or walnuts (can be omitted or substitute for sunflower seeds)

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional- I can’t decide which is my favorite way -with or without)

  • grated zest of 1 orange or 1 tablespoon of orange peel

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup

  • 1/2 cup melted butter/coconut oil/ any other oil

  • 1/2 cup golden raisins (substitute with dried cherries or dried blueberries)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line with parchment a large rimmed cookie sheet (10×15). In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients except the raisins. Stir until everything is well coated. Spread the mixture into a thin, even layer. Bake for 10 minutes and check to ensure even baking. May need to stir and add 5-10 more minutes. It burns quickly! Remove from the oven let cool completely. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

with love. Damaris

2018, your year for keto?

Everybody sets new goals in January, and at the top of the list are the goals related to eating habits: kicking the sugar craving, beating the bloat, or simply supercharging their diet for overall wellbeing and hopefully loosing a couple holiday pounds. Proper care of my health and that of those in my household is my concern. Making menus or meal planning has helped me for many years in this area because I can clearly see what we’re eating and how often. I also enjoy taking a little time to read books and articles on natural living and nutrition in general.

Over a year ago, we all did a Whole30, and I enjoyed the foods tremendously. The learning experience alone was well worth it! I think we’re gearing up to doing another one soon. So stay tuned for updates on that. Lot’s of folks say that January diets are doomed to fail, but they don’t have to be. If it is something you enjoy and can find a good rhythm for in your daily living, than it can be very successful.

It can be hard to juice, do smoothies, or even enjoy salads when it is frosty outside and the car thermostat reads -4F on Nathan’s way to work. In Michigan, the cold and the gray is relentless, and right now we’re in the deepest, darkest part of winter. Since we need comfort and cheering up, warm, rich foods would bring not just sustenance but satisfaction. Hefty cheeses, thick soups and stews, and creamy, sweet winter squashes help our sun-deprived bodies to survive the dreary weeks of winter.

The ketogenic diet is basically a way of eating that shifts your body from burning sugar to fat for energy. It focuses on eating high fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrates which means lots of nutrient-dense whole foods, without anything processed. Contrary to what many people still believe, fats are not bad for you. This truth is as old as ancient civilizations. Something about adding more fats made us full and we stopped craving and thinking about the next meal all the time.

I count our ketogenic story a success because we continued for weeks long past our 3 week goal. We came to it with no intention to buy anything we didn’t already have or use on a regular basis – no buying special flours, supplements, or prepared specialty foods. We made sure to drink lots of hydrating liquids to make up for the lack of fresh fruits, and we cut out the snacking.

Here’s the do-not list:

– grains

– legumes/beans

– root vegetables

– fruits (except some berries)

– sugars/maple syrup/honey

You may read that the transition will be hard and might feel like the flu, but this was not our experience. We don’t eat a diet as high in grains or sugars as most western diets, which may be why it wasn’t a hard switchover for our bodies. There are many health advantages to eating a keto diet which you can read about here. The main benefits that we could feel on a daily basis were:

  1. A feeling of fullness

  2. Greatly reducing sugar cravings

  3. Eliminating carb dependency

  4. Weight loss

I think the way to sustainably follow the ketogenic diet is by keeping it simple. I didn’t spend time searching for new recipes, but instead we cooked the meals that we already love that are keto friendly or eliminated ingredients from family favorite meals. Remembering that fat is not the enemy will be key. We continued to shop on the same grocery budget and all the meals were kid-approved!

Meals we loved for breakfast:

  • crustless quiches (yummy twist is topping it with sour cream and salsa)

  • fried eggs or scrambled with cheese with bacon or sausage

  • eggs benedict with avocado slices underneath and you won’t miss the English muffin

  • shakshuka (huevos fritos con tomate- is what we called it growing up) This was our favorite breakfast! We switched mozzarella for the feta and it tasted so, so good. Sprinkled with parmesan is the best.

  • full fat plain yogurt with berries (a sprinkle of stevia) and nut butter (this made a great dessert too)

Favorite and easy lunches:

  • hamburgers without the bun

  • quality sugar-free hotdogs without the bun

  • sugar-free ham, salami, or prosciutto (jamon serrano) with a preferred cheese (I love Havarti)

  • tuna salad

  • chicken salad

  • egg salad

  • baked brie and fresh veggies

  • celery and nut butter

  • broccoli and cauliflower florets, cucumber slices with ranch

  • dinner left overs make the best lunch

Delicious dinners:

  • taco salad

  • chicken curry with cauliflower rice

  • meatballs with marinara (same as spaghetti and meatballs without the pasta)

  • hamburgers and roasted broccoli, cauliflower or Brussels sprouts

  • chicken alfredo

  • brats and sauerkraut

  • Italian sausages with pesto

  • beef stew

  • baked salmon and asparagus

  • keto pizza

  • lasagna (instead of noodles, we used deli ham slices- so good. Eggplant or zucchini slices would work great too).

Desserts we made:

  • berries with fresh whipped cream (with a little stevia)

  • keto chocolate cheesecake (used stevia equivalent and didn’t swirl- I know, so boring 🙂

  • keto pumpkin pie (used stevia equivalent and sometimes no crust)

  • keto custard pie (no crust, full fat milk and 2 teaspoons of stevia- add more if it doesn’t seem sweet enough before baking

I hope this gives you a little flavor for what keto is like and if it might be a good fit for your winter health goals. I’d love to hear your experience with keto and some of your favorite tips and recipes!

with love. Damaris

Crusty Country Bread

Recently I admitted to our eating too many carbs, and this is one of the culprits! This crusty country bread loaf doesn’t require kneading! It can also be left alone all night on the counter until the next day’s supper or whenever you have a couple of minutes to toss it into a very hot oven. I have been hearing of these recipes for years, but we didn’t have a pot that would work well for it. A couple of days ago, we just welcomed a fabulously gorgeous Dutch oven into our farmhouse kitchen! The very same night it arrived, we got are hands dusty with flour. Everyone was giddy with expectation! Eva’s first thought in the morning was to check on the rising dough – ha! She ran back upstairs with it, so we could all get our noses in the bowl. Does your family love yeasted carbs as much as we all do around here?

When you grow up in Spain, bread is a culinary fundamental for household happiness. But since my baking abilities are limited (and my time), we were thrilled to finally try our hand at this promising loaf! With only four ingredients that you already have in your kitchen and very little effort, this golden crusty loaf will yield an airy bread that is artisan quality. The long fermentation process allows for the development of good flavor, while the covered pot ensures the moisture needed for a crisp crust. This country bread recipe is as forgiving as it is flexible, too. We have often doubled it with great results. I can’t wait to experiment with aromatic herbs!

Crusty Country Bread

  • 3 1/4 cups flour

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon yeast (I used active dry)

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (95 to 110 degrees)

Incorporate all the ingredients in a bowl. This dough will be very sticky. Mix until there are no flour clumps left. Remember no need to knead! Cover the bowl with clear plastic wrap and allow it to sit on your counter overnight or around 8 hours. When the surface is covered in bubbles (2 hours), the dough is ready, but it can sit longer for more flavor. Cut a piece of parchment paper and dust it with flour. With heavily floured hands, or using a spatula or a spoon, remove the dough from the bowl and onto the floured parchment. Use as much flour as you need to have it not stick as your shape it, but not working any flour into the dough. Shape a round loaf (seam-side down) and cut a cross (x) or score it two or three times to allow for a better rise as it bakes. Cover it with the clear plastic wrap while you preheat the oven. Place the Dutch oven with the lid in the oven and turn it on to 450 degrees. When it reaches the temperature, pull out the pot and remove the lid (carefully-it’s ver hot!). Place your shaped dough into the oven-safe pot keeping the parchment paper under it. Cover with the lid and bake for 15 minutes. Uncover the Dutch oven and bake for 15-20 more minutes until it looks deeply golden and crusty.

You’ve got a huge, delicious, homemade bread loaf in your hands! Leave a comment (I love your pictures too!) if you’ve tried your hand at this easy recipe!

with love. Damaris

Farmhouse Biscuits

Not too long ago, I had 5 babies. The oldest had just turned 7 and the baby was a very unhappy newborn. I felt that my world was upside down as I struggled to find time for the most daily basics. It was during those long weary days, that I dreamed of making a batch of biscuits. There was something so fulfilling about old-fashioned biscuits – If I could make a batch of well-raised biscuits, then all would be well with the world. I still get the same soul-satisfying feeling when I bring these biscuits, tall and tender, to the table. This farmhouse biscuit recipe is unbelievably easy to make and more than worth your time. In less than 20 minutes, you’ll enjoy golden, slightly crunchy tops and bottoms with a soft inside crumb. No kneading, no rising, and only four ingredients! This is the only biscuit recipe that my family requests again and again. When you make them, there will be no crumbs left, and everyone will feel all warm and cozy inside! Last night, as I dusted the rolling pin, I thought with pleasure of the days gone by, when the smells of the kitchen’s goods called everyone in from the fields. Our days aren’t quite like that, but we still think that our farmhouse kitchen sighs a familiar sigh when a piping hot batch of these biscuits comes out of the oven.

This farmhouse biscuit recipe is adapted from this original that I fell in-love with. Aren’t there so many ways to enjoy a biscuit? These are some of our family’s favorite ways:

-paired with soup or stew

-for afternoon tea with a pat of butter and a bit of jam

-makes a hearty breakfast with sausage gravy

-strawberry shortcakes (add 1/4 cup or less of sugar to the dough)

Farmhouse Biscuits

  • 2 cup flour

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream + a little more for lightly brushing the tops

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients and add the cream incorporating gently with a fork. No need to knead! With your hand, make a ball of your dough trying to gather all the little bits left on the sides of the bowl. I avoid a countertop mess by rolling them out on the parchment they’ll bake on. Dust your cut parchment and a rolling pin with a little flour (the original recipe has a very quick way to just shape the dough with your hands and cut rectangles into it, which will be the individual biscuits- works great!). Cut out (an upside down drinking glass does the job!) your favorite shape. Don’t be shy about combining the last bits of scrap dough pieces into one more biscuit! Arrange them on the parchment, brush their tops with a little heavy cream, and bake, on the oven’s middle rack, for 15 minutes or until tops are slightly golden.

I can’t wait for you to try them!

with love. Damaris

Peach Jam

Hello, early autumn morning!

Leaves are changing colors, chipmunks and raccoons are making cozy nests and dens. Butterflies are taking off to warmer places, and we’re all leaning into the sun, enjoying the last juicy peach harvest. I decided on writing this post because making jam can be the most intimidating, all-consuming job, but it doesn’t have to be!

This no-cook, freezer jam is delicious! The peaches were easy to peel and mash. You should know that just as we were about to fill our jars, a little spice was in the air! We added a dash of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg – just because it’s fall.

Pomona’s Universal Pectin has been my favorite go-to for making this quick and easy jam. It has no preservatives or sweeteners, and it thickens with natural pectin (derived from citric fruits). I can find it year-around at Whole Foods, and it’s also available directly through their website. Each box makes 2-4 batches, but we always double or triple and use the whole box. It provides everything you need (including the easy to follow instructions) except for your favorite fruit, a bit of lemon juice, and the sweetener of your choice (agave, stevia, sugar). You’ll also need a little boiling water for the recipe. We’ve enjoyed using honey from our bees, and the honey flavor does come through the jam. We like 4 cups of fruit to 1 1/2 cups sweetener. It’s really delicious, and we enjoy the fresh taste and color of freezer jam!

There is no need to prepare jars for canning with freezer (no-cook) jam, which simplifies the process. Any container to fill with jam will do, but allow 1/2 inch at the top of the jar for expansion when frozen. We found that it’ll stay fresh in the fridge for a couple of weeks, or freeze it to preserve longer. We have used raspberries and strawberries in the past with great success. Remember that the jam will continue to thicken in the fridge. Pears, apples, and raspberries are in season, and this pear-vanilla jam is our next preserving adventure!

Very soon, the wind will get breezy and chill, and we’ll hear thunder’s low rumble from far away. And when the clouds loom over our quiet meadow, we’ll sink into the warmth of dinner rolls spread with sweet, spiced peach jam.

with love. Damaris

Oatmeal Cookies For Breakfast, You Say?

Sunday mornings are pretty harried at our house. The whole family has to be out the door, fed, washed, brushed, and look’n good – no exceptions! Although I don’t want Sunday mornings to be rushed, there is no avoiding it. Even if church clothes have been picked out and ironed, unavoidably, four girls need braids, baby needs nursed, and somehow we can never remember which pair of shoes we wear on Sundays – ugh! Needless to say, this baked oatmeal recipe has saved my Sunday morning sanity!

I enjoy serving a substantial breakfast – something that is filling and also feels special. We prepare it as early as Thursday, keep it covered in the fridge, and bake it while we get ready Sunday morning. I had never heard of baked oatmeal before, but I stumbled upon it while searching for gluten-free breakfast options a few years ago. The recipe description read, “It tastes like an oatmeal cookie,” and I knew we had to try it! After making it a couple of times, I realized that it could easily be assembled a few days before hand – anything that can be assembled in advance has my name written all over it! It’s been eight years since my gluten-free recipe search, and we still absolutely love it! We like to eat it piping hot out of the oven with a little milk poured over it in our bowls. There was never a breakfast so nurturing and wholesome that tasted so good!

It’s hands down THE MOST flexible recipe. One less egg or one more, buttermilk, almond milk or coconut milk, or any kind of sweetener, this baked oatmeal is always beautiful out of the oven! Our all-time family favorite is baked oatmeal with frozen cherries. It’s close runner-up is frozen blueberries (fresh ones don’t last long enough around here, but would work well). We’ve enjoyed it with frozen strawberries or peaches too! Raisins, dried cranberries, shredded coconut, sliced almonds, chopped walnuts or pecans are some add-ons we’ve used again and again.

It’s fabulously gluten free, dairy free, and sugar free (great with maple syrup instead of brown sugar)!! Please tell us how you like it!

photo credit: Alexander


  • 6 eggs

  • 1/2 cup oil or melted butter

  • 2 cups milk (any kind)

  • 1 cup brown sugar or maple syrup

  • 6 cups rolled oats

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 to 2 cups of add-ons (frozen fruit, raisins, dried cranberries, shredded coconut, chopped nuts)

Preheat the oven at 350 degrees. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl just until incorporated. Grease a 9×13 pan and spread the mixture. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until set in the middle.

with love. Damaris