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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Breakfast Quinoa

Delicious, nutritious, high-protein breakfast.

20130412-074222.jpg A great gluten-free alternative to oatmeal, this sweet and fruity quinoa is ideal for breakfast. Spring has been so timid here in Chicago, that we are still using winter fruits this time of year. This is a heartwarming and satisfying dish. Although this dish is best served immediately, if you are pressed for time in the morning, you can prepare it the night before and simply heat it on the stove again.

20130412-074438.jpg Ingredients
3/4 cup red quinoa
3/4 cup white quinoa
2 oranges or 4 mandarins
1 banana
1 large apple
A few prunes
A few dried figs
A few dates
A handful walnuts
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp molasses

20130412-205534.jpg Place both red and white quinoa in a large saucepan.

20130412-210006.jpg Cut the dried fruits in thin slices and roughly chop the walnuts.

20130412-210554.jpg Add the dried fruits and walnuts to the quinoa as well as 3 cups of water.

20130412-211456.jpg Bring to a boil and start simmering.

20130412-210857.jpg Meanwhile, prepare the fresh fruits. Peel the banana and oranges . You might leave the skin on the apple, simply cutting it in quarters to easily remove the core.

20130412-211227.jpg Slice all the fresh fruits thinly.

20130412-211824.jpg Add fresh fruits and bring back to a boil.

20130412-212512.jpg Add the vanilla and molasses.

20130412-212806.jpg Cover, turn down the heat and simmer to resume cooking, about another ten minutes or so.

20130412-213444.jpg Check for the consistency. When most of the liquids have been absorbed, turn off the heat and let sit for a couple of minutes before serving.

20130412-213941.jpg Serve in individual bowls with a spring of fresh mint. Bon appetit!