Blogiversary Week Review: FIT Homemade Granola

If you still haven’t entered to win the Cooking Up Romance Blogiversary Week $50 Amazon gift card, you have just a couple more days!

From a narrative perspective, I’ve always thought that a personal trainer would make an excellent romance dominant. I mean, you have this person whose job it is to push physical and mental limits while still knowing when to back off so no one gets hurt. The best ones have a certain style: part encouragement, part toughness and applying both appropriately. And if there’s the potential for physical attraction, often just a little bit of innocuous flirting. Unfortunately, a lot of BDSM romance seems to regard the role of the dominant as being an asshole who is maybe even vaguely threatening. Not that there isn’t a place for that kind of story, but it’s a little frustrating to see the same basic character repeated in every book. Rebekah Weatherspoon’s FIT trilogy takes a different approach, making for a fresh sort of read.

In FIT, the first of a linked trilogy that saw its last book released this week, personal trainer Grant Gibson takes on Violet Ryan as a client after Violet has a horrible experience in a group fitness class that reduces her to tears. Violet is a producer on a foodie reality show and between her job and her friend Faye encouraging her to make bad lifestyle decisions, she’s put on a bit more weight than she’s comfortable with. But the fitness instructor recommends Grant as a personal trainer, wisely thinking that he might have an approach that will suit her.

There are a lot of things to love about this book. First, Grant isn’t your typical romance dominant. Sure, he’s in charge in the bedroom, but he’s got the kind of self-assurance that is actually sexy versus the overbearing bossiness that seems more common in these types of books. He’s less about barking orders than he is about rewarding good behavior and punishing bad behavior in a way that’s both welcome to Violet and believable to the reader. And the way he uses sexual rewards to motivate Violet is super fun to read.

Another thing I loved about this book is that it displays some self-awareness that this is actually an ethically questionable scenario. It’s not one that I personally have a lot of resistance to, but it was nice to see the issue addressed of whether the games they’re playing together are appropriate in light of their professional relationship. And that tension resolves in an interesting way too.

Finally, FIT doesn’t shy away from the difficulties inherent in portraying a woman who wants to lose weight. I thought there was a really good balance between her reality and her desires–it’s a story that can come off as fat-shaming, but the way it was handled really worked for me.

FIT is a good, short read. Save it for the treadmill at the gym! Just…don’t get too distracted and hurt yourself. Cuz parts of it are pretty…um…distracting. Hot stuff! I recommend it.

 
 

A few weeks ago, I did something I’d never really done before. I had this recipe I wanted to share and so I started asking around in Twitter for hippie romances, having grown up as a Bay Area kid who pretty much subsisted on fruit leather and granola. Not fruit roll-ups, those corn syrup filled parodies of food or chocolate-dipped chewy granola bars. Nope. The no-sugar-added stuff we could only buy at our health food co-op. But hippie romances are kinda few and far between. So I was super pleased when I tripped over a granola mention in FIT not too long after.

Homemade granola is a little bit time consuming because it has to cook for an hour and 15 minutes and you have to stir it every quarter hour, but it makes a pretty big batch and keeps for up to a month in a sealed container on the counter. And other than the time factor, it’s super easy.

This may be only a “me” problem, but all the baking I do frequently leaves me with random ends of bags of nuts and dried fruit. Not enough to do anything substantial with, but it’s not like they’re roasted and salted so they’re not super delicious on their own. I basically throw whatever tree nuts and dried fruit I have on hand into this granola. So it’s super flexible. Basically whatever you like will probably work, though I’d chop up stuff like dried apricots, dates or figs.

And in a couple months, I’ll show you something else you can do with this granola. But I’m gonna be super sneaky and cagey and not tell you what this is yet. Cuz it’s a sekrit. Shhhhh.

Homemade Granola
Adapted from Alton Brown’s Granola Recipe

3 cups rolled oats
2 cups whatever tree nuts happen to be on hand or on sale (slivered almonds, chopped walnuts, chopped pecans, hazelnuts or a combination)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried fruit (raisins, blueberries, cranberries or a combination) OPTIONAL

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts and brown sugar. Stir well, making sure brown sugar is well incorporated.

3. Next add oil, maple syrup and salt. Pour onto 2 sheet pans. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color. At the 15 minute ark, add the dried fruit (if using).

4. Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl. Let cool and then cover tightly. Keeps up to one month tightly sealed.

Disclosure: Rebekah Weatherspoon and I follow each other on Twitter, but I bought FIT for myself.

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