Monday, January 27, 2014

Eating at the Table

I know that many times I have mentioned in this blog my distain of eating in front of the TV.  Well, shortly after the beginning of the year, I made a lovely meal and Mr. Helen had set up the TV trays down in the family room before I even had it finished.  I wasn't happy about it, but as those of us who are married know, you pick your battles.  I called him to come get his food and he said OK.  Five minutes later I called again... then a couple minutes later I called again.  Around 10 minutes after I initially called, he finally shut off the stupid video game he was playing and came up.  Right that minute I decided I was done.  I had a complete and total meltdown and pretty much told him I felt disrespected and that I was never going to eat in front of the TV again.  Guess what?  Since that night, every single time we've been home together for dinner, we've eaten at the table - even when he is the cook he has automatically been setting the table.  Mind you there are 2-3 nights a week where we eat separately (because of his karate classes) and he still heads for the TV but I'm not eating with him so I don't care a bit.  I'm thinking after 20+ years together we may have finally found a compromise on this issue!


I've been experimenting with making my own granola.  I kept trying lower fat recipes and nothing came out decent. I did however discover that dried strawberries are not a good fruit to use.

During this process I also discovered I like granola clusters mixed with loose granola.  I found a recipe online that claimed clusters so decided I would give it a try.  Let me just tell you, this recipe lives up to its hype - absolutely delicious!  I know I've got a hit when I see Mr. Helen putting handfuls in a baggie and carrying it to work.  The man never takes anything to work!

Same granola, photos taken in different light!

Sweet Olive Oil Granola Clusters
slightly adapted from Prevention RD

3 cups old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (not shredded) 
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup dried apricots, diced
1/3 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 egg white

Preheat oven to 300 F.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, pecans, almonds, coconut, and fruit; mix well until combined. Sprinkle the brown sugar, salt and cinnamon on top and stir again. Add in the maple syrup and olive oil, stirring well until everything is well mixed and wet.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white until it becomes frothy and foamy; mix into the granola mixture.
Line a baking sheet with parchment and spray with cooking spray. Pour the granola out onto the prepared pan and spread so it is even thickness. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
 Remove from heat and let cool completely. As it cools, it will begin to harden and form into one large piece.Once it is cooled, using your hands, break up the granola into clusters of your desired size.
I actually let this sit overnight and broke it up the next morning.  If you don't like clusters you can just break it up so it's loose.  I did a mixture of both.
Store in an air-tight container or resealable plastic bag.
Makes 9 cups/18 servings 1/2 cup per serving. (Although I probably only use a couple Tablespoons on yogurt.)
Nutrition per 1/2 cup serving: 237.5 calories; 14.2 g fat; 27.7 g carbohydrates; 3 g fiber; 3.3 g protein


  1. I am guilty of eating at my computer a lot. You can see the TV from our dining room, so even when we sit at the table, the TV is on. I am actually okay with that because I hate hearing people chew food LOL! We eat more at the table now that we made our new one because I love it so much.

    1. That table is too beautiful not to use! We used to live in a Ranch-style house where the TV could be seen from the table. This only because a big battle when we moved into our current home where there is a distinct, separate dining area.

  2. I used to get so mad when I'd make dinner, call the kids, and they weren't right there at the table! We almost always ate our meals at the table unless it was a Simpson's night - then we'd sit around the coffee table and eat. Since the kids have so thoughtlessly left us (ha!), Jeff and I do have some meals in front of the TV, especially if they are one bowl things like my gigantic salads. Nothing like eating while watching "Hawaii Life" on HGTV and dreaming about your future home. :) But if we have a real meal, we're at the table, with no TV.

    1. I am quite certain that there will be the occasional time when we will be in front of the TV again - just so long as it's very occasional!

  3. Yep, that's one of the ones I make Helen from Nicole! The egg white makes all the difference. And I don't stir it at all while cooking - just press into one big sheet, and let it cool completely. I LOVE the clusters!

    I wish I could win the eating in front of the t.v. battle - I am working on it. I agree, it's like I make an effort to put good food out there, why the hell do I have to eat it on the sofa, resting my plate on the arm of it??!!

    1. Biz, there is no way I would balance my food like that. I'd be eating at the table all by myself, I guess! Keep working at it and maybe you guys can figure out a compromise.

  4. We have always eaten at the table going on 35 years now! Since becoming empty nesters though about once a week we take our giant salads with beans and park ourselves on the couch to watch a movie or play catch up on recorded shows. It feels a little "naughty" since we didn't allow our children to do that except for an occasional movie night splurge. But the rest of the week we are at the table eating together and having pleasant conversation - its one of the best parts of the day!

    I am glad you were able to get Mr Helen to come around. Marriage is about compromise and honoring each others feelings.

    1. I agree Tami - sometimes when you realize something is very important to your spouse, you need to honor that. Plus, we will have the occasional time when we use the TV trays but I'm glad it's not all the time any more!

  5. I live by myself and rarely eat at the table! LOL No apologies, no excuses. For me, it works!

    Thanks for the granola recipe! I've got a good one for chocolate granola, but I've been wanting to try another one. I think this is the one!

    1. It's sooooo good Cammy, I don't think I need to search for any other recipe. Plus the great thing about granola is you can change up the nuts/fruits to suit your taste and/or what you have in the pantry!

  6. I think I have told you in a comment on a previous post of yours about this that we always eat at the table. But like Lori we can see the TV and it's on. But we also talk about our day because after dinner we both go "our separate ways" meaning R. is most of the nights in his garage working on his motorcycles. Somewhere around 8.30-9.00 pm I call him and we have coffee together.

    There is one night where we usually eat on the couch and that's Friday night but all the other dinners are at the table. Eats much easier too I think.

    Happy to hear you found a compromise that's working for the both of you.

    1. That's why I like to sit at the table and eat Fran: we talk and reconnect. I think that's important for any relationship!