Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Granola for Breakfast

One of my favorite breakfasts is a bowl of plain yogurt with a small drizzle of honey, topped with fresh berries and a little granola.

I particularly love this in summer when I don't have the same physical need of the warmth of a hot bowl of oatmeal that I do on a winter morning, and when I can enjoy the sweet local blueberries.  I will be sad when blueberry season ends. My local farm stands include farms from Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania so I've been able to stretch my blueberry season by moving north as the summer progresses.

One of my best finds this year has been Icelandic yogurt which my daughter introduced me to.  I think it might be even thicker and richer than the Greek yogurt I love, and is also nonfat.  It's full of protein and tastes just a little less tangy than Greek. As I discovered in my sugar experiment a while back, nonfat yogurt is one of the few food items where the stated serving size is actually larger than what I'd eyeball for myself!

Granola can be full of fat and calories, so I both make my own and use only about a 1/4 cup serving. I like the crunch and the nuts with only a little sweetness.  Sometimes I sprinkle on a little bit of hemp hearts as well. I base my recipe off of one from a Brooklyn shop that has made the rounds and has even been adapted by Melissa Clark of the New York Times.  I've adapted it slightly differently, reducing the sugar and adding some spices like Clark does, but changing out the nuts a little. Feel free to experiment with reducing the sugar even further. One friend reported that she eliminated the sugar but added a couple of tablespoons of molasses to good effect. 

The recipe is pretty straightforward, requires only one big bowl, a large spoon and a baking pan.  I like to use a half sheet pan with a lip, rather than a flat cookie sheet, so that oats do not spill out into the oven when I mix it.  I also like to line the pan with either tin foil (lightly sprayed with cooking spray) or parchment paper.  This saves on cleanup!

I don't add dried fruit to this mix as the pieces tend to get hard. If you like dried fruit in your granola, add it in as you serve it. In winter, when I don't have fresh berries, I sometimes add dried blueberries to my yogurt along with this granola.

Maple and Olive Oil Granola

adapted from Nekisia Davis (and Melissa Clark)

(makes about 7 cups - I usually fill three quart sized canning jars 

  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup raw pepitas, hulled
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds, hulled
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (these are large curls of coconut, not grated or shredded!)
  • 1 1/4 cup raw walnut pieces (rather than pay for the fancy halves, I use the already broken up baking bits)
    1/2 cup raw pecan pieces (rather than pay for the fancy halves, I use the already broken up baking bits)
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup (you can use a cheaper grade here but no Aunt Jemima!)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
    1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

  1. Heat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until well combined. Spread mixture in an even layer in a baking sheet with a rim (half sheet pan). I line the pan with either aluminum foil sprayed with olive oil or parchment paper. Bake about 45 minutes, mixing every 15 minutes.  You want to give it a good mix each time as you want to make sure the liquid ingredients dry up and coat the solid ingredients.  At the end of the 45 minutes, if you like large clumps of granola, let the granola sit undisturbed for about half an hour, then break apart once cooled. I usually press down gently on the surface of the granola with the back of a serving spoon as I take it out of the oven. That gives you larger chunks when you break it up later on. If you like it without clumps, then stir the granola once again as you take the pan out of the oven. Either way, let cool and then put into airtight containers and use within about a month. 

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