Posts tagged ‘granola’
Man oh man is this stuff tasty. I have had a craving for some good, healthy granola ever since returning from Florida. I have had some early mornings lately and my breakfasts have been, well… sad. An afterthought. Something to hold me over until lunch. After a day off, I decided that I couldn’t continue to neglect my favorite meal for much longer! Since oatmeal takes too much time in the morning and hot breakfasts on increasingly warmer mornings are sounding less appealing, the thoughts of granola came to my mind.
Now I may have mentioned this in other posts before, but homemade granola simply cannot be beaten… once you get it right. It is harder than you’d think to get the wet to dry ratio to give you just enough crumbles and clusters! Too far one way and the granola is dry and lifeless, and too far the other and the result is tacky and hard to store! Once that problem is solved, the combinations of granola goodness become endless. Even better, you can control the amount of sugar you add so you can avoid the cloying sweetness that plaques many store-bought varieties. This batch of granola essentially served as a spring cleaning for my pantry, using up bits of bulk good items bought for other purposes and since forgotten. I will post how I made it below, and then write out what I think is a pretty good bare-bones builder for a make-your own granola!
Question: What are your favorite fruit & nut combos for granola?
Spring Cleaning Granola
based on a friend’s favorite granola recipe
(note: makes a very large batch, recipe can easily be halved)
6 cups oats
1/2 cup lightly salted sunflower seeds (if using unsalted, add a pinch of salt to the wet ingredients)
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
3 cups chopped peanuts
3/4 cup maple syrup, 1/2 cup mixed in and 1/4 cup reserved
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tbsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup dried fruit (I used a combo of dried blueberries and chocolate-covered pomegranate seeds)
Mix together all wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls. Next, mix the wet into the dry ingredients until small clumps form. Spread evenly on a lightly-greased rimmed baking sheet. Place in a 325F oven and bake for 15 minutes. Stir the granola, and bake for 15 more minutes. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of maple syrup over the granola, stir, and bake for 5 final minutes. Remove and allow to cool on the tray. Once room temperature, stir in desired dried fruit.
Bare-Bones Granola Builder
3 cups oats
1/2 cup seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, chia)
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (peanuts, almonds, pecans, macadamia, walnut)
1/4 cup oil (canola, vegetable, olive, grapeseed, coconut)
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp liquid sweetener (maple syrup, honey, agave nectar)
2 tbsp brown sugar
Spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, cloves)
Pinch of salt (if nuts not salted)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or almond or anise, if you want to try something fancy!)
1/2-1 cup dried fruit (cranberries, blueberries, raisins, cherries)
Mix together all wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls. Next, mix the wet into the dry ingredients until small clumps form. Spread evenly on a lightly-greased rimmed baking sheet. Place in a 325F oven and bake for 15 minutes. Stir the granola, and bake for 15 more minutes. Add the remaining maple syrup over the granola, stir, and bake for 5 final minutes. Remove and allow to cool on the tray. Once room temperature, stir in desired dried fruit.
Ginger might not be the first thing that jumps to mind when you think of fall, but in reality is one of the unsung heroes of this culinary season. That might sound a bit extreme, but bear with me. What makes the pumpkin in pie sing? Ginger. A really great apple or pear crisp? Ginger. Breads, cookies, pies, and fruit crisps all rely on cozy spices to make them truly come to life. Ginger happens to be one of my favorite flavors, but can be a bit aggressive and divisive. If you love strong ginger flavors, then this post is for you.
It all started out with the goal of making homemade candied ginger. I love the store-bought version, but it is expensive and very sugary. I set out to make my own and, thanks to Pinterest, found this great recipe and tutorial. The cashier at my grocery store looked at me funny when I walked away with a rather large ginger
knob tree, but I was determined to accomplish my goal! The result – decent. Honestly, not as great as the store-bought version, but also could be cook’s error. My syrup over-boiled, dried out, and likely didn’t cook for quite long enough. The candied ginger is tasty, but not a solely edible treat like its store-bought counterpart. The resulting ginger syrup, however, is delectable. I cannot get enough!
Here are some ideas of what I have been doing with my ginger creations!
Honey Ginger Butter: Mix 1/4 cup of ginger syrup, 1 tbsp honey, and 1 stick softened butter. Whip with an immersion blender, and then refrigerate in a small container until solid. Goes great with pancakes, waffles or this amazing Honey Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread!
Coconut Ginger Granola: Maybe the best granola I have ever made… seriously. I made a few changes, like using butter instead of coconut oil and adding a dash of ginger syrup and it is DELICIOUS! You should definitely try this.
In case that isn’t enough for you, here are some ginger recipes I tried out last year…
…and some I have my eye on!
Question: Are you a ginger fan?
Way back in February (where does time go?!) I won a give-away that Sarah at The Smart Kitchen hosted! I was so excited to win this, not just because it meant free yogurt and granola, but also because I am excited about the cause that prompted the give-away. To enter the drawing, you had to sign Jamie Oliver’s petition to demand healthier food in school cafeterias. I was a huge fan of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution reality show, and was happy to learn how to participate in this cause. Pediatric obesity is a growing problem in our country, and cannot just be tackled at home. As kids spend more of their time daily in school, it is important to know that they have healthy food to nourish them throughout the day.
In full disclosure, I was not the healthiest eater when I started high school. I would be known to call a soft pretzel lunch, or grab a package of Nutty Bars to hold me over through dance practice after school. Looking back, I don’t know how I got through the day on just salt and carbs! Obviously, I have come a long way since then! These Chobani yogurts and Love Grown granola would have been much healthier options for lunchtime and after school snacks, had I been wise enough to make healthier choices as a teenager!
I was happy to try out some different combinations with the goodies I received. I loved the Vanilla Chocolate Chunk Yogurt – it was like having Cookies n’ Cream fro-yo for breakfast. Combine that with some fresh berries and a handful of the Cocoa Goodness Granola… what could be better?
Frozen yogurt! My friend used to freeze single servings of yogurt all the time, so I knew I wanted to turn this into real fro-yo. I mixed in a few more chocolate chips to make this more like a dessert, and then popped it in the freezer overnight. I popped it in the microwave for 20 secs to take the chill off, and then enjoyed a healthy, single serving dessert.
I love the Orange Vanilla flavor as well. I used it in a Strawberry Mango Smoothie, and loved the extra flavor it added. I also love it for breakfast with a sprinkle of the Simply Oats Love Grown Granola. For as much as I liked the chocolate, the simplicity of this granola has really won me over. There is the perfect amount of clusters to sneak as a snack, and the lightly sweetened granola is perfect for breakfast. If the taste alone wasn’t enough to sell me, the simplicity of the ingredients was! With little more than oats, honey, agave, and a few mix-ins, I love this granola as a quick morning breakfast on days I don’t have time to make oatmeal.
So go sign Jamie’s petition. Learn about pediatric health and nutrition. And treat yourself and a kid you know to a delicious, healthy snack!
Marie and I finally fulfilled one of her life goals: to make homemade granola. A small and silly goal, but exciting none-the-less. We both love granola, whether it is mixed into yogurt for a post-run snack or dessert, or sprinkled on top of our oatmeal for breakfast. And we both just realized how much oatmeal we go through…
Yes, we did eat that in the course of 5 months. Make that 4, since we were both gone for a month…
Granola can be great, but it can also be a sneaky source of calories and sugar. A half-cup serving of store bought granola has 160 calories – and a half cup isn’t much! It also has so much sugar that I can’t even eat certain brands! Homemade granola is still calorie dense, but it is much easier to control how much fat and sugar you are adding, and it remains all natural. Watch out for low-fat and low-sugar products, since they usually contain filler and not-so-good for you additives to keep the taste the same!
This will likely be the first attempt of many. We used a recipe I had archived in my documents from an old NY Times article, and it has a great, fall flavor. We thought it had the perfect amount of sweetness, the right amount of cinnamon and maybe a bit too much nutmeg, and the hazlenuts and almonds add great crunch. We thought it was perhaps a bit dry, maybe the fault of the coconut or oat bran. Still my go-to granola recipe for now!
Granola cravings really seem to strike busy med students around the same time! Check out Baking with Em & M for their Cinnamon Granola. Also check out this recipe at Clean Eating Chelsey for a quinoa granola I have been dying to make for a long time. Maybe that will be Marie’s newest life goal. (Or maybe the IronMan competition she has always wanted to do! Obviously on the same playing field, in terms of life goals ;))
Question: What is a goal recipe you have for the kitchen?
Yields about 4 cups
3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup oat bran
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup flax seeds, coarsely ground
1/4 cup coconut, flaked (optional)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (we used hazelnuts and almonds, but I would do all hazelnut next time!)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
scant 1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup honey, plus 1-2 tablespoons for drizzling
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
1 cups raisins
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and coat with cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix together oats, bran, wheat germ, ground flax seeds, coconut, chopped nuts, nutmeg, cinnamon, and raisins. In a smaller bowl, combine honey, oil, and vanilla. Heat on medium power for 30 seconds until honey is very smooth. Pour slowly into the dry ingredients. Spread the granola into a single layer on the baking sheet. Drizzle with a bit more honey to create clusters. Bake for 45-55 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so. Allow granola to cool on the sheet and store in an airtight container.