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  • Go-To Maple, Nut & Seed Granola

    Yes! Spring. Has. Arrived. We are knee-deep in it and surely we have the produce to show for it. Maybe the start of some tan lines too from those afternoon walks/outdoor lunch/coffee breaks? Yep. Side note: I have been better about wearing sunscreen, mostly because of my finace*.

    *yes, that happened! And I'll gladly use granola as a segueway. 

    ...I'll elaborate on the above, because it truly makes my heart warm and happy. 

    I've had the amazing privelidge to trave to Brazil to visit the love of my life, and to meet his family and friends. And also eat and drink all the amazing Brazilian foods...there are so many! And many I want to try to re-create here, and hopefully share here. 

    As does a good batch of granola. So, I'll get back on that crunchy granola train...ps: granola and seasonal fruit are best buds! Homemade granola > store purchased granola. Also, it is cheaper, so simple, and makes your kitchen smell *amazing*. A huge return on your small time and dirty-dish investment.

    Granola for me has to be crisp, but not tooth-breaking. It has to be sweet, but not...like candy, and rely on natural sweetener. It must be full of nuts, seeds, groats and nibs for all of the texture. And for me, I leave the dried fruit out. If you like, add it after you bake, and eat it within a few days since the moisture from the fruit will cause the dry granola to get soggy (and the fruit will dry out even more). I like to make a double batch of this, bake it on 2 cookie sheets, and freeze the granola. It lasts for a few months if kept frozen, so...stock up now, your future self thanks you!

    For me, the trick with granola is to bake it at a lower temp for a longer time. It produces a chunky, super crunchy but not burnt granola. And trust me, I've made (and burnt) a lot of granola. Let me make those mistakes for you. Low temp and long time is where the sweet spot is, my friends!A note on sweetener: I really do think maple is the superior sweetner for granola. I find that honey and agave brown much too quickly, even at lower temps. Brown ricy syrup could work, but is pretty sticky and goopy to incorporate. Coconut nectar works as well, but since I usually don't stock it in my pantry, it isn't my go-to (but if it is for you, I highly recommend you make the granola with cashews-such a great pair!). As for oil, I prefer to use virgin coconut oil or grapeseed oil. Olive oil, even the extra-virgin kind, works as well, just be mindful of the flavor if that matters to you. Customize your blend with whatever nuts, seeds, groats and nibs you'd like! The options are endless. The recipe below is my "usual", but as long as you follow the proportions, you'll be golden...just like this 'nola :)Pair this crunchy stuff with seasonal fruit (or just the old stand-by: banana!) and your yogurt of choice (I have been on a serious greek yogurt kick lately). You cannot go wrong! Granola is also fabulous as a smoothie/smoothie bowl topping, ice cream topping, or even just plain with your milk of choice. Or just straight outta the bag/jar. Granola is also a nice gift...I'd happilly accept a jar of this stuff any day! 



    My Go-To Granola Formula // makes about 6-7 cups // 

    • 2 cups rolled oats
    • 1 cup shreddd or flaked unsweetened coconut
    • 2 cups nuts/seeds/groats/cacao nibs (any combo you like! My go-to is walnuts and sunflowerseeds, and sometimes a handful of cacao nibs and raw buckwheat groats-not kasha)
    • 1/2 tsp tea salt
    • 1/4 cup maple syrup
    • 1/4 cup liquid fat (see above for my preferences!)
    • 1 TB cinnamon (yep, a whole tablespoon)

    1. Preheat oven to 250F. Line half sheet pan with parchment or silpat (or use 2 pans if you are making a double batch)

    2. Mix everything together in a large bowl.

    3. Spread into an even layer, patting semi-firmly. Bake for 2 hours, checking at 1.5 hours for doneness. You may need to rotate halfway through baking if your oven has hot spots.

    4. Allow the granola to cool *completely* either on the counter, or open your oven door half-way, and allow to cool in there. Store granola in bags or a jar for up to 2 weeks on the counter, or for up to 3 months in the freezer. Mix in dried fruit right before enjoying for optimum freshness/crunchiness!



    Chunks galore! High five to you for conquering the granola formula!

  • Banana Bread Granola

    I love granola. But not the sad stuff you find at stores, both bulk bin and the "fancy" over priced stuff in bags/jars. For the price and time it takes to make at home, for me, it is well worth it. I think the same could be said for homemade yogurt, but I have yet to cross that bridge yet....For about a year or so, I gave up eating yogurt...well, dairy yogurt. I started eating it again about 3 months ago...and wow. Happiness to me is a bowl of tangy yogurt, homemade granola, fresh fruit and a drizzle of honey. I mean, it tastes almost like dessert, but is full of nourishing nutrients and kcals! 

    Also, if you are a member of a food co-op, be sure to look out for their bulk-discount days...usually a day during the week, where members can get 10-15% bulk items. This is the *perfect* time to stock up to make yourself some delcious 'nola. 

    Now, with summer on the horizon, including your favorite summer berry in the situation is just a given.  Also, bananas ripen sooo darn fast when the weather heats up, so this is a perfect way to use them up! The riper, the better, as in when you make banana bread. So, let me help you out for your lazy, hot summer day breakfast: banana bread granola. This recipe hails from Sarah over at My New Roots. It is in her first book, one that I use often and love, and highly recommend not only for the recipes but for the inpiration...I need to get my hands on her second book! Indeed, I have made this recipe many, many times, and enjoy it so, so much. It is sweet, but not too sweet....it is chunky, like oat-rubble, and super crunchy thanks to the buckwheat groats (you gotta try them in granola-they rock!). In fact, this past week and a half, I have made 2 batches of this stuff! Granted, I am stocking up for plane-ride snacks, and likely bringing a big bag of this tasty goodness with me to Brazil at the end of the month...because...why not? This stuff is basically love in granola form. You can't beat that!If you like banana bread, this is no doubt for you. Get on thist STAT. But, if you are on the fence about banana bread or bananas in general, then we aren't gonna be friends. Kidding! But, maybe try it, since the banana flavor isn't super intense. The natural sugars in the bananas get all caramelized and delicious, and are enhanced by some of my favorite baking ingredients: virgin coconut oil, buckwheat groats, maple syrup, cinnamon, sunflower seeds and nuts. I love to add freshly grated nutmeg on top of that, too. Gotta have nutmeg...

    Now, a word on nuts (haha): I have made this with both walnuts and cashews, and both are lovely. The cashews give it a more tropical flare (I like to think of it as if South Amierca had a love child with the Midwest and produced a granola spawn, this would be it). Although, I think pecans would be out of this world declicious. Seedy things: I think the sunflower seeds are perfect, pairing well with any nut you choose, but could also see pepitas being lovely as well. What is that you say? You want to use honey? Eh, I think the maple syrup is critical here...honey browns too quickly, and the flavors kinda combat the coconut for me. But, you do you, just watch your 'nola while baking if you use honey. Side note: I wonder how coconut nectar would be in there? Hmm...Also, cacao nibs...and peanuts...a solid suggestion from my bae...he always has good ideas! Because bananas + peanuts = Elvis-like granola...right? And chocolate is always a good idea! You could even toss in some dark chocolate chips/chunks after this stuff cools from baking. Not a bad move...you smarty pants! 

    So, happy days to you...happy almost summer....and happy breakfast or snacking or heck, dessert-ing with this amazing, nourishing treat! Eat with your favorite yogurt (cow or plant based), on ice cream, on frozen yogurt, on top of your favorite smoothie or smoothie bowl, on top of pancakes, or just plain, right out of the jar like a savage (I do that, a lot). Fuel to fire your summer adventures. Yes!ps: homemade granola makes an excellent gift...so...consider that! The recipe could easily be doubled, but you'd need one big ass bowl and two half sheet trays or one full sheet tray to bake. Cheers!



    Banana Bread Granola // Makes about 9-10 cups, so 18-20 1/2 cup servings //

    • 3 large bananas, very ripe to very-very ripe
    • 1/3 cup virgin coconut oil, melted
    • 1/2 cup maple syrup (I love using Grade B here, but A works beautifully as well)
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt
    • 4 tsp cinnamon (original calls for 2 tsp)
    • freshly grated nutmeg
    • 3 cups (300g) rolled oats (not instant!)
    • 1 1/2 cups (65g) large-flake coconut flakes (I imagine small flake/shredded works, too)
    • 1 cup (185g) raw buckwheat groats (not kasha)
    • 1/2 cup (70g) seeds of choice, such as sunflower or pepitas
    • 1 heaping cup (140 to 160g) raw walnuts, raw cashews or other raw nut of choice, crushed (or, to make nut free, just add more of your favorite seeds!)
    • Optional: 1/4 cup ground flax seeds or whole chia seeds

    1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Mash the bananas in a large bowl, and mix in the melted coconut oil, maple syrup, sea salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix thoroughly.

    2. Stir in the remaining ingredients, make sure the mixture is thoroughly combined. Spread onto a lined cookie sheet, using parchmnet or silpat (optional, but easier to clean and to also release the granola into large chunks).

    3. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the granola begins to brown. Using a large spatula, turn over the granola in large chunks, then re-distribute in an even layer, slightly pressing down. Bake for another 10 minutes, then turn again. Do this twice more, keeping an eye on the granola to make sure it is not burning in the last 10 or so minutes. For ultimate chunks, when the granola is golden brown, simply turn the oven heat off, crack the oven door about half-way, and let the granola sit in there until completely cool (or, ideally, overnight!). The granola may still feel just slightly damp when it is golden brown, but rest assured, if you leave it in the oven with the heat off to cool with the door cracked open, it will dry out and firm up. If you think your granola is on the brink of being too brown, then just take out and cool at room temperature, without stirring it. If you stir it, your chunk size distribution will be reduced. 

    4. Once completely cool, break up granola in desired chunks, and store in an airtight container or bag at room temp for up to 1 month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. 



    The stuff:

    Peel, smash, mix mix mix...doesn't really get easier!Mix in all the good stuff....oh yeah...More good stuff...if you eat stuff out of the bowl be sure to add more. Just eat out of the bulk bag instead maybe?Stir stir stir...lots of stirring...Onto a sheet, spread it out, pat it down slightly, and into a hot oven. Amazing smells await!And done! Wow. So very worth it. Glorious chunky and crunchy granola rubble. You win!!