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Cooking in Color
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Cooking in Color

I have to be honest. I rarely get in a cooking mood. Of course, I am always in an eating mood, but I don’t usually use the kitchen as my creative outlet. I prefer fast and easy - yet healthy too. Luckily, Kris loves to cook, so we have some yummy dinners ’round these parts.

However, I have to say that the prospect of all of the colorful food cooking creations for Project Spectrum has me excited (and quite hungry!) Do you like to get creative in the kitchen? There are no shortage of yummy foods that span the color spectrum. So many fresh veggies, fruits and herbs – you could literally eat the rainbow! And why not? Barring any food color additives, the general rule of thumb is: The more vibrant the color, the healthier it is.

Kris and I did a little colorful cooking this week… but first a back story.

My parents bought me the first of a wonderful cookbook series for Christmas: the Williams-Sonoma New Healthy Kitchen: Starters: Colorful Recipes for Health and Well-Being. It includes beautiful photography, mouth-watering recipes, and the best part: it is arranged by color! After trying some delicious recipes in the first book, I went ahead and bought the other two: Main Dishes and the Desserts one as well.

Williams-Sonoma New Healthy Kitchen: Starters: Colorful Recipes for Health and Well-Being Williams-Sonoma New Healthy Kitchen: Main Dishes: Colorful Recipes for Health & Well-Being Williams-Sonoma New Healthy Kitchen: Desserts: Colorful Recipes for Health and Well-Being

With covers this beautiful, how could I resist?

So, for dinner on Thursday, we concentrated squarely on the orange and yellow part of the spectrum. We had a delicious Carrot Ginger soup, and a Orange Pepper Fritatta. We also focus on the green and purple parts of the spectrum a lot around here too – we love fresh greens, eggplant, cabbage… gosh, I can’t think of a veggie we don’t like.

If you are like me, you also have a sweet tooth. Although I prepared it last night, I had some yummy peanut butter granola on top of my yogurt for breakfast this morning! It was fantastic!

Peanut Butter Granola

(The recipe was adapted from the fun The Peanut Butter & Co. Cookbook- a “must own” for any peanut butter lovers out there – seriously. Buy it. Use it. Love it.)

The Peanut Butter & Co. Cookbook: Recipes from the World\'s Nuttiest Sandwich Shop

Delicious sandwiches, main courses (a killer Thai peanut sauce!) and of course, desserts! I have already made some peanut butter cookies from the book, and this peanut butter pie is next on my list…

However, the granola is what kept me going last night!

Lolly’s PB Granola – adapted from the book (with a few changes)

3 cups of oats (not instant)
1 cup roasted peanuts
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup canola oil (I cut this in half)
1 cup honey (I put a little extra…)
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (little extra to make up for oil…)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (my addition)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 13×9 baking pan with butter, cooking spray, or vegetable oil. In a large bowl, combine oats, peanuts, wheat germ, coconut, cinnamon, and salt. In a small saucepan on low heat, combine canola oil, honey, peanut butter, and vanilla extract. Stir the mixture thoroughly until it cooks down. Do not let it simmer or boil. Pour the sauce mix into the dry oats and mix well until completely incorporated. Using a spatula, spread the granola on the prepared pan, lying it flat onto the surface. Cook for 30 minutes or until golden brown (mine cooked for only 22 minutes – parts were a little burnt around the edges, so adjust your oven and/or cooking time accordingly!) Allow the granola to cool on the pan. Break into chunks after dry, and transfer to an air-tight container. Add raisins and chocolate chips to the container (adding the chocolate while it is still warm was perfect – it melted the chocolate slightly, allowing the crumbles to stick together better)


Sure, there is a some fat and sugar in it – but there is also loads of fiber and protein! (especially if you use the organic steel-cut oats, yummy Valencia-style peanuts, and organic raisins and like I did!)



I am planning to make several Project Spectrum-themed meals throughout the eight-month span, following the color triads – maybe focusing on one of the colors, or more than one. With winter soups, summer farmers’ markets, and delicious veggies from our garden it really is possible to eat the rainbow. Would you like to join me? We can have a subset of Project Spectrum participants who are creatively cooking (and baking) with color. Please feel free to share your food pictures, and recipes on your respective blogs, or on the Project Spectrum Flickr Group. Maybe even a special bake-along for certain dishes? :)

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43 Responses

  1. P-la

    Ok, the peanut butter cookbook goes on my wishlist and I’ve printed the granola recipe! Now, if I only had all the ingredients in my pantry!!

  2. Jodi

    Mmm… the granola sounds delicious. I love the idea of including food and recipes along with all the other Project Spectrum goodness.

    I love it that some of my favorite fruits and veggies are super healthful — raspberries, blueberries, red bell peppers.

  3. Tara

    Thanks for the granola recipe! Hub loves Peanut Butter and loves trail mix, so we’ll definately be making this…maybe adding in dried fruit (have you ever had dried mango? I just tried some and it is SO good)!
    Can’t wait for PS.2!

  4. KeanaLee

    I got the Starters book for my wedding shower this past summer though I have yet to use it. I was just looking at it last week, I might try to join you in some cooking, I’ll see how it goes. I have to get the rest of that series – I really liked it when I saw it in the store.

  5. jess

    DH, his mom, and I all “cook by color.” Often times you can figure out what is “missing” from a dish by asking what color is missing or what color would make the dish pop. It makes for tasty AND gorgeous food — it’s how I figure out my random veggie salads that I throw together!

    That granola looks tasty! :)

  6. Mintyfresh

    Aw, Lolly, you’re pushing a book I edited! (PB & Co.) Brings back memories . . .

    Tonight I finished up my beautiful white with orange cupcakes. There’s a sneak peek at my Eye Candy for tomorrow, if the link works :)

    I love cooking, as you know, and I love this idea of eating colors. Don’t forget to try to have more than one color represented at a time!

  7. prettyknit

    I just come across Nigella Lawson Chocolate and Peanut Granola on TV two day ago, and I really tempting to try it but yours looks good as well… maybe I will try both this weekend!! thanks for the recipe!

  8. ellie

    Count me in on the project spectrum cooking!

  9. Kelly B

    OOOOOO!!! I hadn’t really been interested in joining Project Spectrum before… but the cooking thing has me really intrigued. What a great way to make a more short-term contribution. You may be on to something, Lolly…

  10. Miss Scarlett

    A peanut butter recipe booK?? I have died and gone to heaven! Thanks for the link and for the granola recipe. PS meals – what a great idea!

  11. Faith

    Those cookbooks look wonderful. I might have to check out the “main dishes” one.

    In my podcast, The Knitting Cook, I will be sharing some PS color coordinated recipes. I’ll also join the Flikr sub-set, and encourage my listeners to do the same.

    Looking forward to February!

  12. megan

    What a great idea! I will definitely incorporate cooking into Project Spectrum. And I would be totally into a bake-along! The granola looks yummy – thanks for sharing the recipe. My law school was literally right around the corner from Peanut Butter & Co in New York. Sadly, I never went! It always piqued my interest though.

  13. Stacey

    YUM!!! I am such a PB lover!!! That book is going on my list! I’ll have to think of some color themes I could have hubby cook – he is the chef after all!

  14. margene

    Yum, yum and more yum!!

  15. gleek

    mmmm, that granola sounds yummy! (minus the raisins.. not a fan) maybe i’ll have to make some. i have most of the ingredients here already!

  16. Shannon

    I like the idea of incorperating cooking into P.S. I’ll have to start thinging about the first month. Blue white and grey. There are lots of white things I can think of. Blue will be a little more limited. So far I can think of blue corn, blue potatoes, and blueberries. Grey is a little scary!

  17. heather

    oooh those covers look yum.
    I need to get into cooking more..drift away from the 10 rotating boring meals that I make too often!

  18. nova

    I would have never considered the culinary craft as an outlet for creativity with Project Spectrum, now I am even more excited about PS!

    I have had that carrot-ginger soup, it’s fantastic!

  19. Kelly

    yum – that granola looks good. I love the idea of incorporating foods into project spectrum!

  20. Mia

    I already have the oats in my kitchen. And I already had planned on going to my local co-op late this afternoon. I just need to add a few ingredients to the list. I will have to go through the cookbooks to find color themed recipes for the different colors. I already have a green one or two in mind. I have homemade pesto in the freezer and some gnochi on hand. Dinner idea….

  21. Dorothy B

    I love to cook too. Your Granola sounds delicious. I’ll have to give that a try.

  22. Annette

    I’ll join in on Project Spectrum cooking too! I love to cook. I work at Williams-Sonoma. I haven’t bought those books yet (I have plenty of others). I’m putting the peanut butter cookbook on my list too. I recently made peanut butter & jelly bars – a recipe frome the Barefoot Contessa Home cookbook (her latest). Delicious! I can send the recipe to you later.

  23. Stephanie

    Oooh, thanks for the great recipe. I printed it out and I’m going to make it this weekend. I love peanut butter and having it in my granola for my breakfast yogurt will be outstanding.

  24. Sarah

    Ooh, what a good idea — I love to cook, and I think color is such an important part of a meal. The grey for the first month will actually be pretty easy — grey sea salt! Good quality salt, well applied, is one of my not-so-secrets for making great food (the other is using the best quality local, in-season ingredients I can find at the farmer’s market.) As for blue and white, I’ve been meaning to experiment with an idea I had for a sort of blueberry creme brulee…Now I have some motivation!

  25. Maritza

    Cool! Thanks for sharing your recipe! I love home-made granola.

  26. Adam

    MMM, that granola looks delicious! I love granola and I love peanut butter, so it sounds like a winning combination :)

    And I love the idea of cooking for Project Spectrum, I’ll definitely have to do some of that!

  27. Deb

    Last year all of my PS projects were cooking related. I love observing colors in food. No matter what time of year you can have vibrant colors going on. Last night we had potato gnocchi in a light but very red tomato sauce. And collard greens that were a very satisfying deep green. That wasn’t all that was on the menu, but they were making my mouth water;)
    I would love to share more food photos this time too. I am surrounded by food daily–I just have to find some other break out of my routine projects. that is what I’m having a hard time deciding on.

  28. georgia

    oh my gosh, that granola looks so yummy!!

    we recently signed up for organic food delivery, and every week we get a box of fresh, seasonal fruits, veggies, meats and eggs delivered to our house. it’s wonderful cause it has challenged me to use foods i normally wouldn’t. this week we got some red cabbage and beets. if only it were june…;) i’m looking forward to a more colorful diet!

  29. KnitPastis

    Thanks for the recipe and that’s a wonderful idea to include food into PS.
    Love the Williams-Sonoma cookbooks!

  30. Elinor

    Yum! That sounds like great fun. I love granola.

  31. Moni

    This is great, Lolly! my husband is a peanut butter head so I will be trying this! thanks for posting!

  32. Barb

    I love your colorful pictures of my favorite thing…FOOD;)

  33. tania

    how funny!! I had done a search on flickr the other night, looking for color combinations and found that project, came to your site today and you’re participating! LOVE it! I’ve been away far too long, but am back now :) Are you still knitting?

  34. Leah

    Man that granola sounds good! I will be all about incorporating my love of cooking into PS this go around! I love cooking as a creative outlet! :)

  35. Mom

    Good Morning, it’s your mother. (-:
    What a beutiful entry. I’m so glad that you are enjoying your cookbook!

  36. Amy

    What a fun post Lolly – the granola recipe sounds wonderful, I’ll have to make it one weekend & that peanut butter cookbook sounds like a lot of fun.

    There are times when I’m preparing a meal & discover that all dishes are the same color – I like the idea of concentrating on it during PS. I’ll do that as well. :)

  37. Kelly

    I think project spectrum themed meals is a great idea. Thanks for the peanut butter cookbook link. I’m a peanut butter addict so might have to buy that book!

  38. Sue

    I went to the kitchen and made some right away…even added sunflower seeds instead of coconut (I was out). My daughter came over to study and tried it and went home with the recipe and some for the kids. LOVE IT …thanks for sharing.

  39. Nonnahs

    I love the idea of PS-themed food! And thanks for the granola recipe- it’s something I’m always on the hunt for, it seems- good granola! Yum!

  40. Theresa

    Cool idea! Tonight I am making green salsa chicken (basically just chicken breasts marinated in green salsa). Over the weekend I made eggplant lasagna, which I used to call my eggplant parmesan. Basically you make a lasagna but instead of noodles, use sliced eggplant. Add whatever cheese you like and bake. Make it w/ a meat sauce or vegetarian. It turns out to be a mushy mess, but such a tasty mushy mess. :)

    I find myself inspired by the colors of food so cool to think of it w/ Project Spectrum too.

  41. Lolly Knitting Around » Blog Archive » Project Spectrum Foodies

    [...] Project Spectrum started in February, I blogged about starting a side project relating to food, color, and cooking. It was to be an informal cooking component of Project [...]

  42. Kathy

    Great post. Another interesting way to think of PS. And all that peanut butter — YUM. Loved your mom’s comment!

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