Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My Love for Reading + Steve Jobs + Yogi's Granola

Besides teaching special education, cooking, working out, and doing other mundane things, one of my favorite pastime activities is reading. I love to read, always have since I was a little girl. During classes, I would hide a book under my desk, tune my teachers out, and get lost with the characters in my books. Much like when my students “discreetly” send text messages under the table and think that teachers can’t tell or see. This is karma and it has come after me years later! Reading was my number one entertainment and escape when I chose not to do chores or homework.

It all started when my mom took me to a book rental place and got me a membership there. In my small hometown in the Philippines, we did not have a decent library (probably still don’t). The only library I have ever been to was the one in my school. It was a sad, little library but back then, I felt like I was in book heaven. So, book rental shacks were the places I spent precious pesos on to read books that were not available at my school's library.

In my younger years, the Sweet Valley Twins series was my favorite… I followed these California twins and their friends from sixth grade to college. My heart broke when Elizabeth Wakefield and Todd Wilkins went their separate ways and fell in love with other people. Wasn’t first love supposed to be forever? I know better now! Among the many other books that I read were: Sweet Dreams, Babysitters Club, Nancy Drew (my heroine), The Bobbsey Twins (old school yeah!), and books by V.C. Andrews, Danielle Steele, Sydney Sheldon, Mary Higgins-Clark, and so on. Gradually, my taste in books evolved and now I read a variety of genres.

When I moved here and lived with my friend, Sally, I found my book soul mate in her… she lent and gave me so many books than I have time to read. In fact, after 5 years of living here, my book pile is still getting higher and wider because I keep getting more. I’m happily working my way through them. From Sally, I learned to read multiple books at a time… I never thought I would do this one day but it totally works for me! Reading one book at a time does not hold my attention for very long anymore, so I read multiple books over the course of months or weeks. Every now and then, when I come across something so spellbinding that just can’t be put down, I breeze through that in one, two, or three days, depending on how busy I am.  

Anyhoo, I just finished reading three books this past weekend and I want to share them all with you, one at a time.
1. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
2. The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball
3. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Let’s start with Steve Jobs’ biography…

Before Steve Jobs passed away, I did not know him, at all. Never even heard of him. Ignorant, right? When people talked about his death, I still wasn’t quite sure I understood what his role was in the world of technology. Now, I know better. Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs is incredibly well-written. He portrayed the man’s character honestly and captured his entire lifetime in 571 pages. This seems like an impossible feat to gather up all the important facts of a person's life from birth to death and sum it all up in a book, but Isaacson made it happen. Getting to know Steve Jobs, as more than the face of Apple, through this book stirred up different emotions in me. I liked him, admired him, hated him, and am deeply inspired by him.

Jobs was a phenomenal human being (let’s just set aside the fact that he was brutally honest and was not very sensitive to how his actions might affect others) who had a vision for the future and technology. Somehow, he knew what people wanted before they even realized what they wanted. He made people he worked with do the impossible when they didn’t believe in themselves. Leading his team, they were able to create and design products that are elegant, functional, close to perfection (even the parts of Apple products that no one can see are all lined up perfectly, he made sure of that) and way ahead of times. Most admirable of all, Steve Jobs loved what he did and believed in his products. He came a long way from building computers in his father’s garage to establishing Apple… Let’s hope that his legacy lives on and Apple continues to make products the Steve Jobs way!

If you haven’t read this book yet, I highly recommend it. Buy it, borrow it, and then let’s talk about Steve Jobs. It was a slow read for me because of all the facts and the Apple timeline, but I liked knowing about the company history and the big role that Jobs played in making it become what it is now.

Before we move on to food talk, let me share some other facts about Steve Jobs. In his youth, he had a fascination for Eastern spirituality and Zen Buddhism, which actually influenced his designs and eye for simplicity. One of his favorite books was Autobiography of a Yogi. Steve Jobs also had a weird obsession with food and eating healthy (which turned out to not be healthy), he was a vegetarian and sometimes would go for days just eating carrots or apples or drinking fresh fruit juice. In honor of Steve Jobs and my yoga teacher, I am calling this granola recipe I’m about to share, Yogi’s Granola.

I gave some of this granola to my yoga teacher a couple of weeks ago and when we ran into each other at the farmer’s market the next day, coincidentally in front of a granola stand, she told me how much she loved my granola and how it saved her that morning because she forgot to eat breakfast before going to the studio. Then she looked up at the lady who sells artisan granola and told her, “You have a lot to live up to because her granola is really good”. That made my heart smile and made me wish I had given her more! Next time Jenn, promise!

This makes me wonder if Steve Jobs would have liked my granola? Hmmm, I don’t know if he even ate granola… but you might like this, my yoga teacher did!

Yogi’s Granola (Yields about 7 cups)

3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
¾ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup almonds, raw and unsalted, slivered
½ cup cashews, raw and unsalted, chopped
½ cup walnuts, raw and unsalted, chopped
½ cup sunflower seeds, unsalted

3 tbsp honey
1 tbsp agave nectar

1 tsp cinnamon

½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup sweetened coconut flakes
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp chia seeds

Set a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

In a small bowl, stir together the coconut oil, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Set aside.

In a large roasting pan, mix the oats, almonds, cashews, walnuts, and sunflower seeds. Pour in the honey and agave nectar and stir well using a rubber spatula, making sure to coat all the dry ingredients.

Pour the coconut oil mixture all over the contents in the pan and stir well to make sure everything gets well coated. Sprinkle the cinnamon and give the granola another good stir.

Cook the granola in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium size bowl, mix the cranberries, coconut flakes, brown sugar, and chia seeds. Set aside.

Carefully remove pan from the oven and stir the granola. Cook for another 20 minutes.

Without turning off the oven, remove the pan from the oven and stir in the dried cranberry mixture. Cook for another 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, stir the granola and cook for 10 more minutes.

Turn off the oven and place the pan on a cooling rack. Cool the granola completely before moving it to an airtight container. To speed up the cooling process, stir the granola every 5-8 minutes. This granola can be stored for up to 7 days.

Enjoy this granola with some fresh fruit and yogurt, coffee on the side, and a good book!


  1. I used to read Sweet Valley High also (and Sweet Valley Kids and Sweet Valley College...)! And baby sitter's club and nancy drew...the list goes on. We had such similar tastes!

    I bet Steve Jobs would have ADORED your granola. Who wouldn't?

  2. Haha, I remember the baby sitter's club books. My friends were OBSESSED with them! But I had to stop after one, because my dad told me that what I was reading was junk. So he made me read childrens classics, and to this day, I don't regret it. One of my favorite books is still The Water Babies, it's such a beautifully written childrens book.
    Don't worry, I've never heard of Steve Jobs either, until we had to do a charade in my french class (one week before he died. I win :p) and I got Steve Jobs. People were appalled that I have not heard of him. But I'm sure he would enjoy your granola, everyone else did. I would to, I have never made granola before!!


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