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Granola is a sought after commodity in our home.  It doesn’t matter how much I make, each week it disappears and then it’s time to bake another batch.  It must be my husband, who eats it not only for breakfast, but usually as dessert as well!

We’re lucky to have some great granola offerings available in BC such as Granola King granola, Edelweiss and also the many raw/ dehyrdrated buckwheat granolas (that I have yet to attempt to make – currently budgeting for a dehydrator).

However, I love home-made granola.  I can experiment with the spices and flavours and I also know exactly what the ingredients are.  Plus it’s a ritual and if you get a system down (I usually mix everything the night before and pop it in the oven the next morning); it really doesn’t take that long and it fills your home with a delicious aroma.

The key to delicious granola is to start with a base grain.  If you are not gluten intolerant, rolled oats (not the quick cooking kind, but the thick rolled oats) are best.  For a gluten-free version, substitute quinoa flakes for the rolled oats and your baking time may lessen as the quinoa flakes are thinner.  You can also try a delicious gluten-free toasted amaranth granola here on Yogue.

Then layer the grain with nuts and seeds, dried fruits and perhaps coconut flakes.  You can play with  various combinations.  E.g. for dried fruits you could use dried cherries, currants, raisins, sultanas, goji berries or cranberries.  For nuts you might try pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pecans, or brazil nuts.  For seeds you might use sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.

I usually soak and sprout the nuts and seeds before using them.  This adds another step but is so valuable.  Read here for more information on the hows and whys of soaking nuts and seeds.

Lastly, think about a flavour profile.  Keep it simple.  I prefer my granola to have a recognisable flavour that is not muddled with too many different spices and nuts.  For example, you might make a batch of granola with dried cherries, vanilla bean and coconut, another with lemon zest, lavender and almonds; or rosemary, hazelnuts, sea salt and tossed in at the end cocoa nibs.  Use your imagination and get inspired.

This fall, I’ve been playing with the addition of some fresh ginger and cardamom to a basic granola recipe.  I call it my Chai Granola. And to complement it? Some sprouted almond pumpkin-seed milk.   I am sensitive to dairy milk, so I always look for alternatives, but if you have access to raw cow milk, or cultured yoghurt, those are both great accompaniments to your bowl of granola.  I also love granola as it is the perfect base with which to enjoy a seasonal bounty of fruit.  Right now for us on the pacific coast, the bushes are brimming with blackberries and that is my current granola topping.  In the winter, stewed fruit is perfect and sometimes, just straight up granola and mylk/ milk or yoghurt is ideal.

Here is a recipe that I’ve adapted slightly from one of my favourite cookbooks: super natural every day by Heidi Swanson.  You can double this recipe quite easily, and hopefully store the spoils out of the reach of the granola monsters in your home. 🙂

Here are the recipes:

Chai Granola:

4 cups / 14 oz / 400 g rolled oats
1 1/2 cups / 6 oz / 170 g walnut halves
1 cup / 2 oz / 60 g unsweetened shredded coconut (large flake or shredded is fine)
1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
2/3 cup / 3 oz/ 85 g sultanas (golden raisins)
1/4 cup soaked sunflower seeds (soak seeds for 12 hrs, rinse and drain water – I like to do this the day)
1/4 cup soaked pumpkin seeds (soak as above)
Grated zest of 2 oranges
4 – 5 green cardamom pods, crushed in a mortar/ pestle and shells picked out
1 – 2 tbsp grated ginger (depending on your preference)
1/3 cup unsalted cultured butter or I often use cold pressed coconut oil here
1/2 cup maple syrup (nothing beats the taste of this rich and flavourful sweet).

Preheat the oven to 300 F / 150 C with racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven.  Set out 2 rimmed baking sheets or lasagna pans.

Combine the oats, walnuts, coconut, salt, orange zest, cardamom seeds and ginger in a large mixing bowl.  Heat the butter or coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat and stir in the maple syrup.  Whisk until thoroughly combined, then pour the maple syrup over the oat mixture and stir until everything is evenly coated, at least 30 seconds.  Divide the mixture evenly between the 2 baking sheets and spread into a thin layer.

Bake, stirring a couple of times along the way, for 40 – 50 minutes.  About 30 minutes into the baking process, you can add in the sultanas, this ensures that they will not burn and lose their moisture.  You want to bake the granola just long enough so that it is toasty and golden, but not dark brown.  You may want to rotate the pans a few times to ensure even baking.

Remove from the oven, let cool completely, then store in an airtight container at room temperature.  Enjoy!!!

Almond Pumpkin Seed Mylk:

1/3 cup raw (unpasteurized organic almonds): soak overnight, rinse and drain the soaking water
1/3 cup raw organic pumpkin seeds: soak as above
2 – 3 mejdool or other soft dates
1/2 vanilla bean scraped
pinch of sea salt

Add everything to a high speed blender with 3 cups of water.  Blend for a few minutes until it turns into a minty pale green liquid.  Strain with a nut-milk bag and store in an airtight container in the fridge.  If you have a little one, they love helping with this part. The “mylk” will last for at least 3 – 4 days in a cool fridge. Use the leftover almond/ pumpkin paste as an addition to some delicious bliss balls.