Homemade Granola

As much as I grew up starting the day with a bowl of Chocolate Chaud and Tartines of French bread (not toasted) with butter and lavender honey or homemade jams, I love my American breakfast: granola.20140523-154704-56824770.jpgI particularly enjoy making it because I only include the ingredients I want, and none of the ones I do not want, such as considerable amounts of sugar and oil which are present in most store bought, packaged or bulk, granola. I typically make it with gluten free oats, gluten free old fashioned rolled oats from Bob’s Red Mill, but you can use regular rolled oats if gluten is not an issue for you.  Just be sure they are not instant or quick cooking oats. Finally, I serve mine with almond milk.  Be sure to select the unflavored, original kind that is unsweetened. Whenever ingredients include ‘natural flavor’ or ‘natural flavoring’, often to impart a vanilla flavor, that is synonymous of ‘castoreum’ (animal product), which is not one I want to be putting in my body.

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Ingredients:

  • 6 cups gluten free rolled oats
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 cup dried coconut
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 6 dates
  • 12 dried figs
  • 8 prunes
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 Tbsp blackstrap molasses
  • 3 Tbsp raw honey
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F.

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Start by chopping the almonds and walnuts or pecans into smaller bites.20140523-160954-58194907.jpgCombine the oats, almonds, walnuts or pecans, sunflower and pumpkin seeds in a large bowl.

20140523-160955-58195263.jpgThe blackstrap molasses, honey, cinnamon and vanilla quantities are given as a guide.  Please adjust to your preference.
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Add the honey, blackstrap molasses, vanilla and cinnamon to the oat, nut and seed mixture.
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Mix thoroughly until well combined and not lumps remain.
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Spread on two cookie sheets so that the layer is not too thick, and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
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Spread the sesame seeds and dried coconut on separate cookie sheets and bake the sesame seeds in the 350F oven for 3 to 4 minutes.
After the granola has been in the oven for 10 minutes, lower the oven to 225F, toss the granola on the cookie sheets and place back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Repeat tossing the granola every 10 minutes 4 or 5 times until the granola has reach your desired golden brown color.
Meanwhile, place the coconut in the 225F oven for 5 minutes, and toss every 5 minutes for a total of 15 minutes.
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Personally I like the sesame seeds and coconut lightly golden. You can keep baking them darker to exude a more intense flavor.
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You can use a bit more, or less ground flax seeds and chia seeds depending on your preference.
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Slice the dried figs, dates and prunes into small pieces.
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When the granola has baked to your desired golden color, set the cookie sheets on a cooling rack or trivet.
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Spread the dried fruits over the granola.
20140523-175903-64743858.jpgAdd the chia and ground flax seeds and mix to combine thoroughly.
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Place in a glass jar with a top and keep in a dark dry place (kitchen cupboard or pantry).
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Enjoy!

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Baked Apples with Dates, Walnuts, Prunes and Salted Caramel Sauce

A warm winter treat.
Using Salted Caramel Sauce (recipe posted on 1/11/14) as a finishing touch, these apples are stuffed with a simple mixture of dried fruits and walnuts. A perfect balance to enjoy the delicate flavors of the salted caramel sauce.
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If you do not have salted caramel sauce on hand, or to simply prepare a vegan, lactose-free version, you might add a hint of cinnamon in the dried fruit mixture and serve with a little sprinkle of cinnamon instead of salted caramel sauce.
I like to use a variety of apples, so long as they hold reasonably well after baking: Fuji, Jonathon, Honeycrisp. Some might split, but they remain deliciously tasty. The apples to avoid would be Golden Delicious or Red Delicious, as they have a tendency to become mushy and mealy when baked.
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Ingredients for 4 guests:
4 apples (honey crisp, Fuji,…)
3 dates
3 prunes
A handful walnuts
4 Tbsp Salted Caramel Sauce (recipe posted on 1/11/14)
Preheat oven to 350F.
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Slightly cut the bottom of each apple to that they stand straight.
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They should be relatively even on a flat surface.20140120-143609.jpg
Cut off the top of each apple, about 1/4 of the way down, keeping the stem up. 20140120-143627.jpg
Core the center to remove the seeds and tough center part. 20140120-143644.jpg
Be careful not to go too deeply and leave enough thickness at the bottom.20140120-143703.jpg
Mince the dates and prunes.20140120-143719.jpg
Then, continue chopping them as well as the walnuts and mix.20140120-143736.jpg
Place the apples in an oven-proof dish, add this mixture in the center hole of the apples, press down to pack the cavity, and spread the remaining dried fruit mixture on top.20140120-143754.jpg
Cover each apple with their respective cap. Place them in the preheated oven.20140120-143814.jpg
After an hour, remove from the oven. Set the apples aside, turn off the oven, and place the jar of salted caramel sauce in the still warm oven to melt it slightly. 20140120-143834.jpg
Serve the apples on each plate and spread some warm salted caramel sauce. 20140120-143855.jpgEnjoy!

Cabbage and Mango Salad

Light and easy. Raw cabbage paired with fresh mango and dates in a citrus vinaigrette. Crisp, refreshing and sweet.

20130913-162719.jpg Perfect as an appetizer or side salad. The simplicity of the ingredients makes it simple to create and healthy to enjoy.

20130913-162839.jpgIngredients:
1/2 cabbage
1 mango
8 pitted dates
1 lemon
A few springs of basil
4-5 tbsp olive oil
Freshly ground salt and cracked pepper

20130913-163138.jpgSlice the cabbage thinly.

20130913-163214.jpgThen chop it roughly.

20130913-163300.jpgCut the mango horizontally by laying it flat on a board lengthwise. Slide the knife on either side of the middle pit.

20130913-163337.jpgThen slice each half.

20130913-163432.jpgAnd remove the skin on each piece.

20130913-163609.jpgCube the slices.

20130913-194901.jpgMeanwhile in a large bowl, squeeze the lemon juice, and add salt and pepper.

20130913-194938.jpgAdd the olive oil.

20130913-195033.jpgWhisk all ingredients together until completely homogenized.

20130913-195114.jpgSlice the dates into small pieces.

20130913-195156.jpgChop the basil by laying one leave on top of another and thinly slicing.

20130913-195245.jpgAdd the cabbage to the bowl containing the citrus vinaigrette.

20130913-195327.jpgAdd all other ingredients.

20130913-195405.jpgCarefully mix well. Enjoy!