Friday, May 22, 2015

Tropical Summer Granola

Some summer traditions are obvious. Swimming in the backyard pool with my sister. Devouring a homemade acai bowl for breakfast in the sun. Visiting family (and nearly dying of the heat) in Texas. Others, however, only emerge with time. Like this tropical granola, packed with summer flavors like orange, coconut, and tumeric. That first bite? The perfect way to kick off three months vacation from college.

Orange you glad for summer flavors?
I'm not usually great with culinary variety. I find a meal, a recipe, or a product that I like, and you better bet I'll be happily munching on that for the next 2.5 years or so. Luckily, my subscription (thank you Grandma Linda!) to Love with Food (my review here!) delivers a new box of gluten free goodies to my doorstep every month. And, this last month, it was a squeeze package of Fruigees' 24 Carrot Orange Organic Fruit Snack, which I of course immediately thought would be the perfect base for some citrus granola action. I mean, what could be better than than flavorful fruit and hidden veggies?

One of the best things about granola, though? If you haven't jumped onto the Love with Food or Fruigees train, you can still send your taste buds on a tropical granola vacation. This granola boasts at least one vegetable, several fruits, healthy fats, proteins, and antioxidant powerhouses like cacao powder and tumeric - which means this granola is a great choice for breakfast, snacking or a before-bed treat! To get your plane ticket, just gather the ingredients listed below (optional substitutions indicated).

Inspiration? Check. Ingredients? Check. Netflix? Double Check.
Granola Produced: 2 full, 1 half-full baking trays

Dry ingredients:

1.5 cups of buckwheat groats
1.5 cups of cereal (I find that puffed rice gives great body and lowers the calories per serving
3/4 cup of sunflower seeds
1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup of shredded coconut
1/2 cup of buckwheat flakes
1/2 cup of rice flakes (both or either can be substituted for gluten free oats, if tolerated)
1/4 cup of chia seeds
1/4 cup of (dairy free) chocolate chips
1/3 cup of cacao nibs (or more chocolate chips)
2 TBSP of cinnamon
2 TBSP of cacao powder
1/2 tsp of turmeric
3 chopped dates (or other dried fruit)

Wet ingredients:

1/4 cup of coconut oil (olive oil or other favorite cooking oil would also work)
1 TBSP of water
3/4 a ripe banana
1 medium orange (for juice and zest)
1 Fruigees 24 Carrot Orange Pack (or 3.5 oz of pureed orange/carrot/banana)
1/2 a small grated squash
1 TBSP of vanilla extract

To begin your tropical granola, first preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then the really easy part - dumping all of your ingredients in a bowl and mixing! I like to add my dry ingredients first and stir to blend. One of the newest tricks I've learned to ultimate granola clusters? Gather about 1/4-1/2 of all of your dry ingredients, add them to a food processor or high speed blender (either in one batch or several, depending upon its size) with about 1 TBSP (just enough to dampen) of water and pulse the machine a few times.

I did a couple mini batches in my Nutribullet!
This tip from The Roasted Root chops up some of the larger ingredients while clumping them together, creating some of the best (egg white free) clusters I've ever cooked! But if you don't want to mess with this step (and had I not been killing time on a quiet summer night, I might have), don't worry! Just move onto the next step: adding the wet ingredients.

For the fruit components, you can bake an unripe banana in an oven (also at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until the peel turns black), pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds if ripe but not mushy, or add 3/4 of a spotty banana straight to the granola. As for the orange, if you have a fruit package (or even a baby food), you can squeeze it straight into the bowl. If not, you can either exclude, replace with more banana (but receive a less orange flavor), or add more orange puree. For the rest of the recipe's orange zest and puree, grate the skin of one clean orange into the mix. Then, throw the rest of the orange into a blender (or alternately squeeze out the juice) and add the puree to the granola mix. To finish off your arm workout, then grate the second summer ingredient: yellow squash, which acts as a binder to help "chew-ify" the granola while adding some mild veggies!

Making "grate" things!
Melt and add your coconut oil, and then stir until everything is equally incorporated. At this point, I suggest test tasting your granola (in the rare event you haven't already been sneaking bites!). Because it uses more orange puree than banana and no refined sugar, this granola isn't as sweet as the store-brands. If it isn't strong enough for your sweet tooth, I suggest adding stevia, coconut sugar, or honey/agave to your liking. Also, be aware that while the orange flavor may not extremely noticeable pre-baked, but time the oven gives it a punch (fruit pun, as usual, intended)!

Once your granola workout is complete, place it in a thin layer onto your baking sheets (mine took up two full trays and half of the third). If you want a crumbly, loose granola, leave it loose in the trays. If, like me, you prefer a chewy and crunchy clumps, pack the raw granola tightly. Then, pop your babies in the oven and wait for your kitchen to start smelling, according to my sister, like a mix of vanilla and orange. There are worse culinary perfumes, am I right?

Good things come in three's, right?
Cook your granola for 40 minutes total, turning at the halfway mark. Feel free to take out your trays earlier or later, but 40 minutes seems to be the mark where crunchy and chewy meet. Since I ended up baking this treat at night (hello summer sleep schedule!), I let mine cool until the next morning before breaking up and storing the granola. For the best clusters, though, try to resist devouring until the trays have cooled for a few hours.

Then, all you have left to do is dig in! On top of banana ice cream (or real ice cream!), in a yogurt parfait, or just by the handful! I especially love it with my bag of granola in one hand and a jar of sunflower butter in the other - in my mind, it is a night-snack match made in heaven!

Just a few yummy ideas!
For me, summer always involves family, friends, and fun in the sun. This year, though, I'm bringing my (months) of free time into the kitchen and into the world of homemade granola! I may not be flying to an exotic paradise this summer, but at least this granola is sending my taste buds into tropical heaven!


*Also found at RunningwithSpoon's link love!*


What's your favorite unique granola ingredient? How do you break out of a food rut? Comment below!





4 comments:

  1. My favorite unique ingredient? My latest new ingredient (and temporary favorite) is hulled hemp seed (from Bob's Red Mill). These seeds are a bit larger than sesame seeds and have a good, nutty flavor. My granola is of the old fashioned, non-sweet variety, and based on rolled oats. (I'm a celiac, but don't have a problem with GF oats.) My latest batch went this way (everything GF, of course):
    4 C rolled oats
    1 C quinoa flakes
    1 C oat bran
    1/2 C hulled hemp seed
    1/2 C dry grated coconut (called "coconut powder" at Indian stores)
    1/2 C flax seed meal
    1/4 C hulled sesame seeds
    1/4 C teff flour
    1 1/4 C skim milk (you could use water)
    I mix all the dry ingredients except the teff flour. Then mix the teff flour (it could be some other kind of GF flour) with a little of the liquid, then with the rest of the liquid, and dump it onto the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. This helps the dry ingredients to clump together and distributes the teff well. The mixture is divided between two 11x16 sheet pans and pressed into a flat layer in each pan. It's baked (300F or so) for at least 30 minutes, until it's beginning to brown a little around the edges, then stirred and baked a little more. I usually then let it stand on the cooling racks overnight to make sure it's well dried before packing it away.

    Personally, I think it's pretty tasty just as it is, with no sweetening except the coconut. But for breakfast I'll take a generous half cup of the stuff, mix in a big handful of gold raisins, add about half a cup or more of plain yogurt (at least enough to moisten everything, more to taste), and then sprinkle something else over it. My favorite something elses are dried apricots, dried tart cherries, fresh mango, strawberries, or peaches (fruits chopped up into raisin-sized or somewhat larger pieces as necessary). The raisins and other fruit provide plenty of sweetness, balanced by the tartness of the yogurt. That's sweet enough for me. You might want to use something like a vanilla yogurt to up the sweetness level a bit.

    Before I was diagnosed, I often cut up a banana onto the bowl of cereal, because I was eating a lot of bananas to help keep up my potassium levels. Once I went GF and started healing and absorbing stuff again, I didn't need to do that, and I'm taking a vacation from bananas for a while. But they're another nice natural sweetener, if you're not thoroughly tired of them.

    I'm intrigued by your inclusion of turmeric, the orange, the Fruigees product (which I'd never heard of), and squash in granola. I'll have to try one or more of those on my next batch. I suppose one could substitute sweet potato for the squash.

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    1. I'm sure sweet potato would be divine! Sounds delicious! And yeah, I'm not a huge banana fan myself raw - I love them in granola and smoothies though! :)

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  2. You know my granola loving heart loves this!

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    1. We definitely are two granola loving girls! :)

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