Petit déj' des marmottes : Granola

R.G. 2011
 No one can debate how rewarding it is to enjoy something you've worked hard on. What's even more rewarding, however, is enjoying something you've worked hard on a day or two ago but which required almost no prep work the morning of (because rewarding or not, your breakfast shouldn't cost the price of your morning to sleep in). 

Seeds and flattened super-foods
Granola is heavenly -- but it gets a bad rap because it can so quickly go from something well-meaning on the health front, to metabolic poison in homemade (and, more frequently, commercial) recipes that load up on sugar and fat. It's hard for a granola-muncher to live up to their name these days -- but this has yet to shake me from the cause. This recipe goes light on the sugar, allowing most of the flavor to come from other ingredients, and it uses coconut oil, which is infinitely better for you than vegetable oil or canola oil. The rolled adzuki beans also add a punch of low-on-the-glycemic-index sweet and ups the protein and other nutrients. If you can't find rolled adzuki beans, try to get your hands on some other flattened super food, like millet, quinoa, spelt or chickpeas. (If you live in France try La Vie Claire -- they typically have all of these.)

This recipe is kind of a formula for granola -- the possibilities for granola are truly endless. It doesn't produce the kind of granola with big, sugary clumps, but you'll probably get a few flakes that stick together. Truth is, I like the flavor and texture better of a granola that doesn't do that clump thing anyway. 

Granola with amaranth, adzuki and cherries

Don't worry, it makes more than this
Despite it's being part of the title, you can easily leave out the popped amaranth, and if you don't have rolled adzuki beans (they look like red spotted rolled oats), replace it with some other rolled thing, like rolled millet, or rolled quinoa, or a rolled royce, or rolled spelt, etc. The cherries can also be swapped out for another dried fruit, just as long as it's a single ingredient (i.e. no sugar or oil added in the drying process (i.e. be wary of bananas)). Aside from some nutrition guidelines, this recipe is meant to be about flexibility.

2 Tbl amaranth
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (marked gluten-free, if so inclined)
1 heaping cup rolled adzuki beans (or rolled quinoa, millet, etc.)
1/2 cup shreaded unsweetened coconut
1/3 cup chopped cashews (or pecans or pistachios)
2/3 cup mixed seed (I use poppy, flax and sesame, but you could swap in some pepitas, sunflower kernels, etc.)
1/4 coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 Tbl agave (or 2 Tbl more maple syrup)
2 Tbl water
3 Tbl brown sugar
1/2 cup dried, unsweetened cherries (or chopped dates or dried figs or fresh blueberries)
1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt + 2 heavy pinches corse sea salt
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground cardamom or orange zest (optional)

Preheat oven to 110°C (225°F) and set aside a large cookie sheet.

In a hot, dry skillet over med-heat, add the amaranth. Shake the pan occasionally to move the grains around. The grains should start popping after a minute or two. Once half of the seeds have popped turn the heat off and continue to move the amaranth around to prevent burning. Once the popping slows down, pour the amaranth into a large bowl and set aside (not all of your grains will have popped but as they're not blacken they're still usable (and tasty)).
Next, put the wet ingredients in a small sauce pan and slowly bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally (maple syrup, agave, coconut oil, agua). After simmering 30 seconds, remove the mixture from heat and allow to cool a bit.

In the meantime, mix all dry ingredients except for the fruit in the bowl with the amaranth (work smarter, not harder : Oats, adzuki, coconut, mixed seeds, sugar, salt, seasoning, nuts). Slowly drizzle the warm (not hot !) coconut-maple syrup over as much surface area as you can. Mix the mix around (no coffee yet today, my vocab's starting to run on empty, too) to spread the syrup evenly. (If you're going with the fresh blue berries, add them now.)

Spread the granola out on a cookie sheet (the more spread out it is, the more evenly it'll cook) and put it in the oven on a middle rack. Take the granola out of the oven every 15-20 minutes for 1-2 hours, tasting every time after the first hour. It's done when the oats are golden brown with a good crunch to them (and no signs of moisture). Store it in airtight container. 

Makes about 5-6 cups of granola.

Granola with cherries, adzuki and amaranth

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