Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Vanilla Coconut Granola

I've been making this granola since Summer time and it's now my husband's favorite breakfast cereal. I found this recipe on 100 Days of Real Food a few months ago, and the combination of ingredients sounded delicious! She uses cashews, sliced almonds, raw sunflower seeds and raw pumpkin seeds, oats, coconut, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla, butter and honey (I've used agave and real maple syrup instead of honey). There's a lot of things I love about this recipe, but one great thing is that a relatively small serving is more than satisfying! Also, there isn't an overload of sugar in it. Do you know how much sugar is in normal store-bought cereal? I'd say 90% of the time it's one of the first three ingredients, and since ingredients are listed in order of greatest amount to least, that means there's more sugar than you probably realized in your morning bowl. This next factoid might not surprise you, but this is also cheaper to make than it would be to buy. Especially if you buy your nuts, seeds and spices in the bulk section of your grocery store. I encourage you to find a grocery store that has a bulk section, especially for recipes like this where you only need 1/2-1c of nuts, or a small amount of a spice you may not normally use. You'll pay pennies for spices, and maybe a dollar or so for the nuts.

One thing I started doing to stretch the granola, was adding flax flakes or puffed brown rice (like rice crispies). There's some things you can do to customize this (according to 100 Days of Real Food). You can use all cashews or almonds, or an entirely different nut altogether. Same with the seeds. If you want to make granola bars, she suggests making it with steel cut oats instead of rolled oats. Also, adding dried fruit bits before baking granola bars is quite nice. For the cereal, she adds dried fruit after it's baked and completely cooled.

This one batch of granola (with our flakes or puffed rice added) usually lasts us at least two weeks. It has taken us longer to eat a batch, and we've not seen any ill effects from it. I would imagine that you'd want to be close to eating a whole batch within two weeks. If you're not sure you could eat a batch that quickly, just cut the recipe in half. I definitely recommend trying this out, especially if your family consists of cereal or granola eaters like mine!

Granola Bars/Cereal from 100 Days of Real Food

3 1/2 cups rolled oats (if you want bars use steel cut oats so it will stick together better)
1 cup raw sliced almonds (or walnuts or pecans)
1 cup raw cashew pieces (use bits and pieces if you can find them, they're cheaper!)
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (I had sweetened on hand, so I used that)
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (I've used coconut oil instead)
1/2 cup honey (I've used agave and real maple syrup instead)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Also need – parchment paper (I usually just grease my baking sheet)

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Cover a rectangular baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix the dry oats, almonds, cashews, coconut, seeds and spices together in a large mixing bowl.

Heat the butter and honey together in a small saucepan over low heat. Once the butter melts stir in the vanilla.

Pour the hot liquids over the dry ingredients and stir together with a rubber spatula until evenly coated.

Spread mixture onto prepared pan in one even layer. Bake for 75 minutes.

The granola will become crisp as it cools at which point you can break into pieces (if making bars) or break it up into small chunks by pounding it in a zip lock bag (if making cereal). Store in air tight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

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