So a few weeks ago my mom came to visit. It was a whirlwind weekend, but we got a lot done and it was nice to spend some quality time with her. The majority of our work was for the wedding but we did some serious eating while she was here to. There were 3 places I had to introduce her to. Pita Jungle, Sprinkles, and Seasons 52. Yummy… Such a yummy weekend. Falafel, hummus, cupcakes and salads… Especially because she brough cake pops! oh my… I must make these once I have guaranteed someone to help me eat them (Jen, Gina… ahem).
I did so well taking photos early in the day… But by the time we scarfed down cupcakes I was almost comatose and thus there are no dinner photos. Please forgive me. I promise to return to Seasons 52 to get you photos… Maybe a lunch shot would be more successful.
Okay people. I have done it! Finally after many attempts I have found the recipe (and successfully executed said recipe) for super crunchy and chunky granola. In past recipes I had problems with not enough clusters, basically my sauce wasn’t sticky enough so the pieces didn’t clump. The flavor has always been there but I was missing the secret ingredient. What is it you ask?! Well, it’s brown rice syrup. I know! I had no idea such a thing existed either. It is a life (granola) saver, let me tell you… I was so overjoyed when this batch came out of the oven. It was a big victory for me. This product is well worth the trip to Whole Foods to grab a jar, and while you are there you can also grab the yummy raw nuts and unsweetened shredded coconut. So are you ready for your new favorite, go-to granola recipe??
- 6 cups rolled oats
- 2 cups mixed raw nuts – I used sunflower seeds, walnuts and pecans but this is very flexible
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (optional but super yummy)
- 1 cup brown rice syrup
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- Dash salt
- 1 tablespoon chunky peanut butter, unsalted
- 1 cup dried fruit – I used cherries and blueberries
Heat oven to 325. On a large baking sheet toast oats approximately 5-10 minutes, stirring regularly. Add coconut and nuts to oats and toast an additional 5-10 minutes, again stirring regularly. Meanwhile combine brown sugar, rice syrup and peanut butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir well and cook until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. In a large bowl combine all ingredients – toasted dry ingredients and the slightly cooled syrup/sauce. Mix well to ensure all pieces are coated. Spoon mix on to parchment-lined cookie sheet and press flat. Bake for approximately 20 minutes stirring every 5-10 minutes to ensure all parts get good and crispy brown.
Here’s the bad news faithful readers… This makes a TON of granola (>8 cups or nearly 30 servings) but the standard serving size for granola is 1/4 cup and granola is pretty calorie (and point) dense 5 points plus per serving!! So self-restraint is necessary here.
If you don’t know where to start on the flavor/seasoning front I always go for what’s in my house. So this week it was sunflower seeds, walnuts, pecans, cherries and blueberries. Another favorite of my combos is apricots, dates and cranberries. I have also done one with cherries, soy nuts and walnuts with mini chocolate chips. You could also do one that is more fall-like with apples and cranberries and go a little heavier on the cinnamon and halve the salt. Really it’s up to you and what ingredients you have on hand.
Here are my go-to items to ensure I can always whip up a healthy breakfast in no time. This list will provide you with the ingredients for everything from smoothies, to toast with peanut butter to waffles or pancakes and everything in between.
|Frozen Berries||Low-fat granola||All-Purpose Flour||Mixed Nuts|
|Other frozen fruits: banans, mango, pineapple, etc||Dijon Mustard||Baking Powder||Peanut Butter|
|Raw Nuts||Egg Substitute||Baking Soda||Roasted Red Peppers|
|Vegetable Blends||Eggs||Brown Sugar||Vegetable Oil|
|Whole Wheat Waffles||FF/LF Cheese||Cinnamon||Whole Wheat Flour|
|Fresh Fruit: variety of in season items||FF/LF Milk||Coconut – shredded||Whole-Grain Breakfast Cereal|
|Dried Fruit – variety||FF/LF Spreads (cream cheese)||Cornmeal||Light Whole-Grain Breads|
|Granulated Sugar||FF/LF Yogurt||Lettuce, variety||Sugar Substitute|
|Honey||Ketchup & Hot Sauce||Kosher Salt||Cooking Spray|
As you probably know by now, Carver and I really like granola. Last week a friend suggested I try one of her favorite recipes, Homemade Cranberry Nut Granola. She mentioned that she makes a double batch so it will last her longer. My favorite recipe is from Ina Garten, found here. This new recipe comes from Giada, and I sort of joined the two for a bit of a happy medium.
Fruit & Nut Granola
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange 1c shredded coconut, 1/2c sunflower seeds and 1/2c chopped walnuts on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating and stirring halfway through cook time.
Transfer to a large bowl and let cool. Add in 3c rolled oats, 1c chopped roasted almonds and 1/2t salt, mix well.
Meanwhile heat 1c unsweetened cranberry juice with 5T Splenda brown sugar with 2/3c brown sugar, 1/2c maple syrup, 3T honey and 3t cinnamon; cook until sugar is dissolved.
Carefully mix the liquid with the dry ingredients – I would add the liquid in portions, you don’t want too much liquid in the mix. Split the granola between two sheet pans (lined with parchment paper) and press evenly into pan. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating halfway through cook time.
Dice 1c apricot halves and measure out 1c dried cranberries.
When the granola has finished the 20 minutes, remove pans from oven and add 1/2c of each fruit to each pan; mix well to combine. Press down evenly and return to oven at 325 degrees. Bake granola for an additional 20 minutes, rotating halfway through cook time. Let cool about 10 minutes on pan before placing in containers. I put half in an air tight glass container (shown above) and the other in a gallon-size freezer bag, and popped it in the freezer. This makes 50 servings, 2T per serving. Points Plus: 3.
BONUS: TRAIL MIX RECIPE
While I was waiting for the granola to finish I used some ingredients I had lying around to make a trail mix. Carver is a big trail mix fan, but the pre-made options are not the healthiest option and they’re expensive… Especially if it is eaten more than 1 serving at a time, as usually happens in our house. I basically made 5 individual containers which will last a few days, on Wednesday I will put together a few more. You will need: 20 banana chips, 5t mini chocolate chips, 5t sunflower seeds, 10t dried cranberries, 5t chopped walnuts, and 10 apricot halves. Points Plus: 4, Serves 5