Nut & Groat Granola

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It’s been so long since I’ve done a blog post I was a little worried that I’d forgotten how! I’m finding it easier time-wise to post quickly in “real time”, on Instagram Stories and on my Gluten Free Zen Facebook page.

I do love to blog though and I like that I have a place to reference recipes and share my favorites with all of you. I’ve made a pact with myself to try to figure out how to balance life a bit better and to focus more on the things I love to do like cooking, baking, and blogging.

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Spring and summer months are the best for natural light photography so I should be taking advantage of it. Not to mention the beauty of all the fresh fruits, summer desserts, and outdoor cooking that are headed onto the scene.

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Hope you are doing well! We’ll catch up more on my next post and as always you can pop over to Instagram and Facebook to visit too. I do a lot of health research and reading and like to post articles on my FB page that may be of interest to you. On Instagram, I’m more loosey goosey and you can see and hear me in real time, see what I’m up to, and cook with me. As always, I only do this for fun. No earnings involved, I just have a love of wanting to teach people about healthier choices and alternative ideas about life, food, and overall health.

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See you soon!

~ April xo

Nut & Groat Granola

*Makes about 3 cups

1 Cup of Organic Gluten Free Rolled Oats

1/2 Cup of Organic Buckwheat Groats

1/4 Cup of Organic Raw Sunflower Seeds

1/4 Cup of Organic Raw Pumpkin Seeds

1/4 Cup of Organic Roasted & Salted Cashews

1 Cup of Organic Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

1 teaspoon of Organic Ceylon Cinnamon

Couple Pinches of Sea Salt

Contents of 1 Vanilla Bean Pod

2 Tablespoons of Avocado Oil

3 Tablespoons of Pure Maple Syrup

3/4 Cup of Organic Montmorency Dried Cherries, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Stir together the oats, groats, seeds, and cashews. Add the cinnamon, sea salt, and vanilla bean pod and stir well. Add the oil and syrup and stir until ingredients are evenly coated.

Spread onto a parchment covered baking sheet and bake in 5 minute increments, stirring between each. Once it starts to lightly brown, keep your eye on it because it will quickly burn. You want it to be browned evenly, then remove from oven to cool. About 12 minutes or so in a convection oven. It will crisp more upon cooling. Toss in the chopped cherries.

Serve with non dairy yogurt or non dairy milk, as a post workout snack, car snack, hiking snack. Anything goes!

 

Simple Homemade Yogurt & Granola

1 Comment

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It’s interesting how we don’t crave things until we figure out we can’t have them. There’s nothing like being told that your body doesn’t deal well with dairy, gluten, and grains, to make you crave all things dairy, gluten, and grains. All the things you realize now, you took for granted when you were able to eat them supposedly without issue.

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It’s like the reverse psychology we use on our kids when they’re little to get them to do something they don’t want to do…except in reverse…reverse… if that makes any sense.

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I’ve said in previous posts how I thought going dairy free and gluten free was a walk in the park compared to going grain free, potato free, legume free, and nightshade free, like many Paleo people do. I’ve never managed a complete Paleo diet, but I have been very Paleo-ish for almost two years.

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It wasn’t until recently that I began adding non gluten grains, legumes, nuts & seeds, and white potatoes back into my diet in very small amounts on a semi-regular basis. I was curious to see how my body would react after abstaining for so long. I also have been working on my gut health which is the key to healing and getting rid of food sensitivities.

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So far, I’m only doing small amounts, and as long as I don’t overdo it, it seems to be working out OK. If I have a reaction to something I eat, I can usually tell within a couple of hours with the onset of a headache or stiffness in my joints. Sometimes, it doesn’t hit until the next morning when I wake up with stiff fingers, puffy eyes, and feeling like I have a hangover. This is why I tell people who are having health issues to keep a food journal. We have busy lives, it’s difficult to remember what we eat every day, what we’re dealing with stress wise, and how it’s affecting us. With a daily food journal, you can find patterns in your diet that are causing issues. Keep in mind, food issues don’t just cause physical problems. They contribute to PMS, anxiety, sleeplessness, depression, mood swings, anger, ADD and ADHD…the list goes on.

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I’ve held off on oatmeal for a long time. Every time my husband has it for breakfast, I think it smells and looks amazing. Which is strange, because I wasn’t much of an oatmeal eater at all before I gave up grains. I do believe that our bodies crave what they need though. It’s important to pay attention to that, as long as what you’re craving isn’t junk.

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So I took the leap yesterday and decided to make gluten free granola that we can eat on coconut milk yogurt or just as a snack now and then. It’s nice to be able to switch up your breakfast routine with something exciting. I either eat dinner leftovers, smoothies, eggs, and on Sundays we usually have buckwheat pancakes (buckwheat is a seed). Sometimes though, I wake up and think I’d rather not eat anything than face the same old thing every day! Being able to eat yogurt with a bit of granola on the top of it yesterday was a real treat. I may even have it again this morning.

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I do a lot of reading and research, and the bottom line is that your gut is the center of your health. Commit that to memory. It’s imperative to know what foods you’re sensitive to and to take care of your gut. You can even change your DNA history and the DNA history of your future family generations with your diet! Research suggests that autoimmune diseases are all linked to the gut microbiome. In fact, many prominent scientists and doctors believe that all illness is related to our gut health. If our gut isn’t healthy, neither is the rest of our body, and as a result of that, we aren’t able to fight off infections, viruses, and cancers.

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Your main focus with food allergies, sensitivities, and illness, should be your gut. Once that begins to heal, your entire body will begin to heal. Eventually, you’ll be able to start testing the foods that bothered you previously. But remember, healing the gut from years of abuse and damage takes time, and it’s possible that there will be some foods you’ll never be able to tolerate. Sometimes it’s two steps forward and one step back. But eventually, you’ll reap the benefits of a healthy diet and it will change your life.

Coconut Milk Yogurt

The recipe below is the “quick” method for making yogurt. If you would like to make yogurt the traditional way with kefir grains, you can go HERE for more information.

**I use this yogurt maker. It’s only $20 on Amazon Prime and works great.

4 1/2 Cups of 100% Coconut Milk

2 Tablespoons of Pure Maple Syrup (You can use 2 organic dates instead, or organic raw honey)

Powder from 1 Probiotic Capsule (I use one with different strains than what is in my daily probiotic capsule)

2 1/2 teaspoons of Grass Fed Gelatin

In a blender, add the coconut milk, maple syrup, and probiotic powder. Blend on medium low until fully combined. Turn the blender to low and while it’s running, slowly sprinkle in the gelatin. Turn blender on medium and blend for 30 seconds. Pour into the yogurt cups, turn the yogurt maker on, tighten the lids, put the cover on, and allow to sit for 8-10 hours. I also cover mine with a towel to keep the heat in, as we keep our house cool. Halfway into warming time, you’ll notice the milk has separated. Pick up each yogurt container and swirl to combine and allow to warm for the remaining time.

When done warming, swirl the cups again to combine the liquids and refrigerate overnight before eating. It will thicken as it cools.

 Blueberry Almond Granola

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2 Cups of Gluten Free Rolled Oats

1/4 Cup of Pure Maple Syrup

1/8 Cup of Avocado Oil

Pinch of Sea Salt

1 teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of Ground Ginger

1/4 Cup of Activated Raw Almonds, roughly chopped

1/2 Cup of Organic Dried Blueberries

Cover a baking sheet with parchment and set aside. Toss all ingredients together in a medium bowl until oil is evenly distributed. Spread out onto the parchment paper and bake 20-25 minutes stirring halfway through. I like my granola darker and crunchy, so I went the full 25 minutes. Make sure you watch it though, at a certain point, it darkens very quickly and burns easily. It will crisp more as it cools too. Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container.

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Cherry Chocolate Chip Granola with Caramelized Pecans & Walnuts

1 Comment

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You are not going to want to miss out on this granola.

It is full of dried cherries, mini chocolate chips, and caramelized pecans and walnuts. 

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This is my third and final granola recipe for the holiday season and it is FABULOUS!

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 The previous two recipes, Maple Almond Raisin Granola and Pumpkin Spice Granola with Medjool Dates are delicious as well, but this one…

…this one is the crown jewel. 

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Enjoy!

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Cherry Chocolate Chip Granola with Caramelized Pecans & Walnuts

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees

For The Nuts:

1 Cup of Walnut Halves

1 Cup of Pecan Halves

1 1/2 Cups of Coconut Sugar

2 Tablespoons of Dairy Free Butter

2 teaspoons of Pure Maple Syrup

1 Tablespoon of Ground Cinnamon

Generous Pinch of Sea Salt

Measure all ingredients into a medium frying pan (non stick!). Cook on medium stirring regularly until sugar is melted (but thick), and nuts are coated, about 7 minutes. Pour out onto a couple of sheets of parchment and immediately separate with two spoons. Allow to cool completely and then break apart the larger pieces. You will also have caramel that isn’t stuck to nuts. I broke that up as well and put it in the granola.

(**My nuts were still a little buttery after cooling so I moved them to a paper towel to soak up any excess that would otherwise take away from the crunch of the granola.)

For The Granola:

6 Cups of Gluten Free Oats

3 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil, melted

3/4 Cup of Pure Maple Syrup

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

1 Cup of Dairy Free Mini Chocolate Chips

1 Cup of Dried Cherries

Caramelized Nuts

Measure the oats, coconut oil, maple syrup, and sea salt into a large roasting pan and stir until thoroughly combined. Bake in 10 minute increments until a small amount removed and cooled is golden and crisp. Mine took about 40 minutes. Pour out onto the counter onto to parchment to cool completely. Then pour into a bowl and stir in the chocolate chips, cherries, and caramelized nuts.

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Pumpkin Spice Granola with Medjool Dates

4 Comments

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Here’s a another fantastic granola to make for your family or share with friends for the holidays!

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Beautiful and golden and made the house smell so spicy and wonderful!

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Tomorrow I’ll post my third and last granola recipe for this holiday season. You can find the first one here.

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The dates add the perfect sweetness to the pumpkin and spice.

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Enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Granola with Medjool Dates

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees

6 Cups of Gluten Free Rolled Oats

3/4 Cup of Coconut Sugar

1/8 Cup of Unsulphured Molasses

2 Tablespoons of Avocado Oil

2 Tablespoons of Pumpkin Pie Spice

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

3/4 Cup Canned Plain Pumpkin

2 Tablespoons of Pure Vanilla Extract

20 Medjool Dates, seeded & chopped

Place all ingredients except the dates into a large roasting pan and stir thoroughly to combine. Bake in 10 minute increments until a small amount removed when cooled is golden and crispy. Mine took about 50 minutes. Pour out onto parchment paper and once it is cooled completely, poor into a bowl and stir in the dates.

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Maple Almond Raisin Granola

7 Comments

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I love granola.

It’s sweet, a bit salty, crispy, chewy. All great things in one.

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Plain, or with dairy free milk, or half and half if you can have dairy.

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On top of ice cream, on top of yogurt, over fruit, on a hike, in the car….It’s delicious any way or anywhere you choose to eat it.

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I can’t eat it often because grains and I don’t get along well, but over the next few days I’m making a small exception.

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Of course, someone has to be here as the taste tester, and that happens to be me!

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I’m going to bring you two more fabulous granola recipes over the next few days that you can make for your family or as gifts to give.

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This recipe was particularly tough for me to keep my hands off of because it happens to have candied almonds. Unbelievably good!

I could not stay away from them.

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In fact, they would make a nice gift all on their own if you didn’t eat them all before you were able to get them packaged.

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Granola is a great gift because most people love it, it’s easy to make, and your creative options are endless!

Candied Sliced Almonds

1 Cup of Sliced Almonds

3/4 Cup (kind of small-ish heaping) of Maple Sugar

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Dairy Free Butter

1 teaspoon of Pure Maple Syrup

Generous Pinch of Sea Salt

Measure the almonds, maple sugar, and butter into a small fry pan. I used my omelette pan so it wouldn’t have any chance of sticking. Turn the burner onto medium and toss and stir lightly until all of the butter is melted and the sugar begins to stick to the almonds. Drizzle in the maple syrup and throw in a good pinch of sea salt and continue to carefully toss. I like to cook mine about 7-9 minutes or so to ensure that the sugar is melting and sticking and will harden lightly when it cools. Keep an eye on it though so it doesn’t burn and turn down the heat a bit if necessary. Pour them out onto parchment and quickly separate them with two spoons. Allow to cool completely.

Maple Almond Raisin Granola

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees

6 Cups of Gluten Free Rolled Oats

3 Tablespoons of Avocado Oil

3/4 Cup of Pure Maple Syrup

1/4 Cup of Pure Maple Sugar

1/2 teaspoon of Sea Salt

1 Cup of Candied Sliced Almonds

1 Cup of Organic Raisins

Measure the oats, avocado, maple syrup, maple sugar, and sea salt into a large roasting pan and stir until completely combined. Bake in 7 minute increments stirring thoroughly  until it is toasted and golden in color. It took mine about 35 minutes and I use convection. A good way to test if it is crispy enough is to take a small spoonful and spread it out on the counter to cool. It will cool quickly, then taste test for crunch.

Once it’s crispy to your liking (I like mine lightly crispy), pour it out onto parchment paper on the counter and spread out to cool. When completely cooled, pour it into a large bowl, add the candied almonds and raisins, and stir until everything is distributed evenly.

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Pots De Creme ~ Breakfast Fit For a King

5 Comments

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The name makes this sound like an incredibly fancy production, but really, pots de creme is simple to make!

The only thing you need to remember when working with heat and eggs, is don’t curdle them. Pour the hot liquid into the eggs very, very, slowly and whisk  very, very, quickly. Then, don’t over cook it once it’s in the oven. If it’s overcooked, it takes on a very eggy texture and taste. I prefer mine like a light and creamy pudding. It’s as easy as that.

Of course, you can make this with all different types of flavors and you can have it for dessert rather than breakfast. However, if you don’t start your day off with something you love for breakfast that pleases all of those taste buds you were blessed with, it can set the tone for a very boring day.

You know what professionals say about eating healthy?

“Eat like a king for breakfast, eat like a prince for lunch, and eat like a pauper for dinner.”

Who am I to argue?

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Lemon Pots De Creme:

1 14 ounce Can of Full Fat Coconut Cream

6 Large Organic Egg Yolks

1/3 Cup of Pure Raw Honey

Juice & Zest of 2 Large Organic Lemons

Pinch of Kosher Salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, place 6 ramekins in a large roasting pan and set aside, and start a tea kettle of water to boil.

Zest and juice the lemons and set aside.  Scoop the coconut milk into a small sauce pan and whisk to combine the solids and liquid. Heat on low just until it begins to simmer and remove from the heat. Crack the egg yolks into a large bowl. Add the honey and salt and whisk until thoroughly combined and a little fluffy. Add the lemon juice and zest and whisk again until thoroughly combined. Very, VERY, slowly drizzle the hot coconut milk into the egg mixture while whisking the entire time.

 Pour the mixture into a large glass measuring cup and pour into ramekins. If you have a lot of bubbles you can sift it with a fork to get rid of most of them.

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Very carefully transfer the roasting pan with the filled ramekins to the middle oven rack. Don’t pull the oven rack out. Pour hot water from the tea kettle into the corner of the roasting pan being careful not to splash into the pots de creme and fill to about half way up the sides of the ramekins.

Cook for 25 minutes. The pots de creme should be set on the sides and jiggle (not wave) in the middle when done.

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Carefully remove the roasting pan from the oven and allow to sit for about  5-10 minutes or until you can safely pick them up with your fingers. Then, remove ramekins being mindful not to drip water onto the tops of the other ramekins. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Below you can see the texture you’re shooting for.

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 Blueberry Sauce:

3/4 Cup of Maine Wild Blueberries

1 Tablespoon of Granulated Sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons of Fresh Organic Lemon Juice

Rinse the berries if they’re fresh. Place in a small bowl and add the sugar and lemon juice. Crush (some, not all) carefully with the back of a spoon, stir, and refrigerate until ready to use.

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Lemon Ginger Granola:

2 Cups of Gluten Free Rolled Oats

1 Cup of Raw Sliced Almonds

1/8 Cup of Dark Brown Sugar

1/8 Cup of Pure Maple Syrup

1/8 Cup of Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, melted

1/2 teaspoon of Kosher Salt

Zest of 1 Large Organic Lemon

1/2 teaspoon of Freshly Grated Organic Ginger Root

Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Spread onto cookie sheet.

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 Bake for about 30-35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely before topping the pots de creme.

It will be golden when done.

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Top the chilled pots de creme with a bit of granola, and a bit of the wild Maine blueberries.

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Breakfast Parfait, An Embarrassing Moment, & A Head Scratcher

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I talked the new owner of Blueberry Fields, a local health food store, into ordering me the almond milk yogurt I like. They had never heard of Amande or any yogurt made from almond milk. Maybe it’s a West coast thing?

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I assured him that it’s leaps and bounds above any goat’s milk yogurt or soy yogurt that I’ve tried. He was very kind and said he would be happy to order it in and see how it does with his other customers. The next week when I went in to pick it up, he and his staff were even able to give it a taste test because as I was grabbing them out of the cooler, one fell to the floor, split open, and sprayed all over his shoe.

I layered the yogurt with homemade granola. You can find my recipe here.

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As the yogurt fell through the air in slow motion, hit the ground with a thud, splattering his shoe…I muttered “$hit” under my breath, apologized profusely and offered to pay for it.  One of those awkward moments where you’d like to close you’re eyes and pretend no one can see you like small children often do.

But, as I like to believe, everything happens for a reason even if the reason makes you feel like an idiot. They tasted it and liked it, so if it’s a hit with other customers, then I should be able to buy it on a regular basis!

It’s the little things in life, people.

Speaking of the little things in life. Here’s a little peek out the kitchen window from a few days ago. It stopped me in my tracks as I walked through to make a cup of tea. 

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I went shopping in Keene on Thursday, all by myself for the second time…I might add. Might sound slightly ridiculous to you adventurous souls out there, but driving around here is nerve wracking. It’s kind of dense as far as trees and such so it’s hard to get a grip on land marks. I’m used to wide open spaces where I can at least see which direction I’m headed.

There’s also a lot of roundabouts, they call them something else, but I don’t remember what. They make my armpits sweat. But I’m getting used to it and I have Telenav that stops me from getting too lost (when it works), so I’ve been venturing out on my own and getting to know the area a bit.

An example of a rather tame roundabout. The roundabouts on Main street in Keene…not always so tame.

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While I was doing a little shopping at Colony Mill Marketplace (they have a wonderful bookstore) an older woman overheard me say to the cashier that we had recently moved from Washington state. She asked where and I told her and it turns out she lived about an hour from where we used to live. We chatted for a minute and basically she told me she doesn’t like it here, and even drove the comment home with a very disapproving look on her face. She was shocked to hear that we love it so much. Shocked! 

I didn’t want to get into the reasons as to why she doesn’t like it here, because frankly, I hate to spread that kind of negative “stuff” and I don’t like it when people spread it to me either. So I paid for my things, said “nice meeting you”, and high tailed it out of there.

Here’ s a gorgeous sunset off our back deck. Isn’t it just awful here in New Hampshire?

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As I did a little mental inventory on the drive home, I thought to myself, “What’s not to like?”. Genuinely nice people, absolutely gorgeous surroundings, no state income tax or sales tax, the “live free or die” mentality, as much gluten-free eating out as we like, a palpable pride in the communities, lakes everywhere, hiking and trails everywhere, Boston, New York City, the ocean, Canada and Europe…all within a reasonable distance. There’s something for everyone!

And in case you need more convincing…

20 Reasons to LOVE New Hampshire