Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cherry Pecan Granola

Dark colors and flavors rock this granola into a breakfast revolution. Not very sweet, generously toasted and deeply nutty, it transforms any old bowl of yogurt into a spa retreat. It makes me want to hug the bowl the way you do a cozy bowl of steaming soup.

Granola is expensive to buy, yet reasonably cheap and easy to make. Anyway, who wants the sugar and oil packed versions you find in your typical bulk bin, at 200 calories per 1/2 cup? Ridiculous. This version is sweetened naturally with apple juice and a touch of maple syrup (look, it's Vermont, alright?) and contains no oil to speak of. I've made it before with apple juice I made fresh, and then the maple syrup was totally unnecessary. This time I was short on time and had some Santa Cruz Organic's apple juice leftover in the fridge, and found that it appreciated a few tablespoons of syrupy sweetness. But to each his own, and you can certainly personalize that aspect based on your preferences.

I like to keep my granola in the freezer so that the freshly toasted nuts stay fresh, as they are subject to rancidity once exposed to heat. Minimizing heat and exposure to oxygen and light helps prevent this from happening. General rule of thumb: buy your nuts and seeds raw, store them in the freezer and toast them yourself to capitalize on the bounty of nutrition they offer. Once toasted, consume them fairly quickly and keep them in the freezer if you will be storing them for more than a few days.

Anywho, this recipe is totally flexible and you can use any combination of nuts, seeds and dried fruit. Some are more expensive than others, so keep that in mind when making your grocery list. My version is probably one of the pricier combinations possible, but you could really keep your costs down by creating a raisin and almond version, I would imagine. I like to throw some pumpkin seeds in there as well when I have them, as they are high in magnesium and protect against prostate cancer and promote heart health.

Cherry Pecan Granola
Makes about 6 cups

4 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup flax seeds ( I use golden)
1 cup apple juice
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
2-4 tbs. maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup raw pecans
1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

In a large bowl, combine oats and flax seed. In a small saucepan, heat the apple juice, cinnamon and ginger over medium heat until it reduces by half. Remove the cinnamon stick and add salt, 2 tbs. maple syrup and vanilla. Pour juice mixture over oat mixture and toss to combine. Taste and add more syrup, ground cinnamon or ginger to taste.

Spread contents of bowl on 2 baking sheets evenly. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, add pecans, stir and continue to cook for an additional 10-20 minutes, or until toasty and beginning to brown, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, let cool and toss with dried cherries.

Serve over a generous bowl of plain yogurt drizzled with honey and topped with fresh fruit and chopped dates. Inhale, and smile.

Relax. Eat Well.

No comments:

Post a Comment