Whole Grain Goodness
“The stove was warming, with orange light showing around the lids and the soft thunder of drafty flame leaping past the open damper. The kitchen clock flashed its pendulum behind its glass skirt, and it ticked like a little wooden hammer striking on an empty wooden box.”
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
Granola with fresh fruit is a terrific way to begin the day. Whole grain goodness to power through the morning with hints of sweetness to wake our sleepy minds. Add just enough seasonal fresh fruit and we are seduced into a moment of daydreaming before we begin our day. Granola with quality ingredients can be made at home for a fraction of the cost of store-bought and perhaps best of all it requires no prep time on busy mornings. A batch can quickly be made on the weekend and it will last through a week of breakfasts for a family.
So many recipes for granola can equal so much disappointment. Granola that is too sweet or greasy, with entirely too many calories to be considered anything but a robust whole grain dessert masquerading as breakfast. I want whole grain goodness for an everyday breakfast without the guilt of starting the day with too many calories. I’m saving those for actual dessert. This is a granola to make on the weekend and eat on Monday and Tuesday with whatever seasonal fresh fruit is available from the weekend shopping. By Wednesday the fresh fruit has been devoured and I boldly suggest freeze dried berries as a delectable second choice. Freeze dried berries have the intense flavor we crave without the heaviness of dried fruit. The tradition of loads of dried fruit in granola amps up the calories and sugar content. Here is a tasty and low-fat alternative.
I started with this excellent recipe and made a few changes for crisper, firmer clusters. I like my granola to stay clumped in glossy clusters that only fall apart after a nice long soak in a bowl of milk. Three ingredients in the recipe guarantee this outcome. The addition of egg whites, a scoop of quick-cooking oats and the amazing power of just the smallest amount of malted milk powder. Agave syrup is my sweetener of choice for granola. It has a neutral taste that lets the whole grain goodness shine. A boost in flavor that traditional dried fruit brings to granola is replaced with just a whisper of molasses. The soft mellow smoothness of coconut oil pairs nicely with the toasted coconut flakes but a fruity olive oil would be marvelous. Dried fruit is omitted entirely but it can be added after the granola has finished baking. Cherries, apricots and figs all would pair nicely with the structure of oats, almonds and coconut.
A few ideas for the busy week ahead: The night before, make a yogurt parfait with seasonal fruit and granola for a fancy breakfast to grab and go. Plan ahead, add a few pieces of dried fruit and fill a small bag of granola for a crunchy afternoon snack. Sprinkle the granola crumbles and stray coconut flakes on top of a kale salad. If there are strawberries left, add them to the salad too.
|1/2C||quick cooking oats|
|2T||malted milk powder|
|1-1/2t||fine grain sea salt|
|1-1/2C||dried coconut flakes or shavings, unsweetened|
|1.2oz/1pkg||freeze dried strawberries|
- Heat oven to 300°. Line a sheet pan with parchment.
- In a large bowl mix together both of the oats, almonds, sesame seeds, malted milk powder and salt. In a small saucepan warm the coconut oil, agave and molasses. Mix to combine and stir in the almond extract. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and throughly mix together. In a small bowl beat the egg whites until frothy and then add them to the mixture in the large bowl. Mix until all the oats are covered and no longer dry. Mix a few more times to make sure the entire batch of granola is coated with the egg whites. The mixture will seem too wet but will bake into a nice big, crisp sheet of granola. Scrape out the entire contents of the bowl and spread the mixture evenly across the surface of the sheet pan, pressing down with a rubber spatula. For an even thickness, push the granola out from the middle of the pan to the edges. The edges cook more quickly, make sure they are the same thickness as the granola in the center of the sheet pan.
- Bake for a total of 35-40 minutes. Rotate the pan after 20 minutes for even baking. After baking for a total of 30 minutes spread the coconut evenly across the top of the granola. Return to the oven to bake for another 5-10 minutes. When the coconut and granola are toasty brown and smell scrumptious remove the pan from the oven. Let the granola cool completely and then break into clumps and add the freeze dried strawberries. Or serve with fresh, juicy, sweet strawberries and milk.
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