oil free

maple pecan granola with dates

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This is my favorite granola. Without a doubt. Hands down. No questions asked. End of story. (I’m out of cliché phrases for indubitably.)

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Here are some reasons why I love this granola:

  1. Pecans are my favorite nuts. They make everything taste good. 
  2. Maple is a delicious flavor.
  3. Pecans + maple is a stellar combination.
  4. Dates are incredibly naturally sweet.
  5. I have five or six sweet teeth – not just one sweet tooth, like most people.
  6. This granola is sweet.
  7. This granola is like dessert for breakfast, only healthy and filling.
  8. I love food.
  9. I love breakfast.IMG_1274

As with most things, this granola is a combination of things that taste good with each other. It goes like this: Maple and pecans is a good combination. Pecans and dates taste good together. Dates and maple couldn’t be a bad combination. So, dates and maple and pecans would certainly be delicious. Ahhh, logic. It applies even to food.IMG_1279

I first made this exactly a year ago in April of 2012. I based it off of one of my first ever granola recipes, Spiced Cashews and Date Granola, which I’d come up with in September of 2011, right before leaving for Peru. That recipe included puffed wheat cereal as well as oats, which made for a unique texture combination. I was pleased with hint of warm spices along with the soft sweetness of the dates and the buttery crunch of the cashews. Swapping cashews for the even more flavorful pecans and adding maple syrup was the obvious next link in the chain of granola evolution.IMG_5415

Since last April every time I’ve made granola, I’ve made this Maple Pecan with Dates one, along with my other recipes. After tweaking it here and there, I think I have the amount of liquid and dry ingredients as well as the spices just about right, at least for my taste. It’s sweet. It’s crunchy. It’s oil-free, just like all of my granola. And it’s pretty healthy, as carbolicious breakfasts go. I love it.IMG_1285

You know what else I love? Having four days of classes left in the school year! YIPEE! Happily for me, my two exams fall on the first two exam days, so I get to leave on May 1st. Now if I can just make it through these three papers this week… I’ll be snacking on a lot of granola to get me through.IMG_5424

Maple Pecan Granola with Dates

  • 4 cups oats
  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 + 1/2 cups dates, chopped
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat your oven to 300°F.

Toss all the ingredients – except for the dates -into a big bowl and mix well, until everything is evenly distributed. Spread on a baking sheet or two. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until lightly golden, stirring every 15 minutes or so. Mix in the chopped dates after the granola is finished baking. Enjoy by the spoonful, the handfull, the bowlfull!

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gingerbread granola

gingerbread granola

Well, Website Wednesday is on vacation for the moment – an inauspicious beginning to the series, I know – while I dedicate the full force of my descriptive powers to my critique of critical essays of Pride and Prejudice. You read right. Critique of critical essays. Oh, the things I have to write. Last semester I wrote about gravestones. That’s a long story.

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Anyway, since I’ve basically committed to posting twice a week now – Website Wednesday and a recipe post on the weekend – I decided I couldn’t post nothing. Actually, it would be incredibly sensible to post nothing. I think I’m a bit crazy to demand of myself two posts a week. Then again, no I’m not. This silly little blog is becoming just as important to me as my schoolwork, so by golly I’m going to devote myself to it as if it were schoolwork. I refuse to give in. Take that, German homework and Pride and Prejudice paper!

Photo on 2013-02-26 at 21.03

So, tomorrow when I get up at 7:30 to keep working on said paper, I’ll munch on some granola. It’ll be Gingerbread Granola. Yeah. It’ll be an act of defiance of the very paper I’m working on, since I’ll have blogged about the granola when I should have been working on the paper. I may be a sleep deprived and muttering about “art versus nature” and “anti-jacobin sentiment” as I stumble to class, but I will have blogged about granola. Hah!

gingerbread granola

At this rate I am beginning to think I should call myself “The Granola Queen” and start another blog with that name. It seems like every other recipe I post is granola. Oh well. This one tastes like Christmas break, which makes it especially appropriate to eat when you’re bogged down with work that puts you in an exceedingly un-Christmasy spirit. When you don’t have time to bake gingersnaps or gingerbread, you can still have the happy flavor of Christmas spices in your bowl for breakfast. There’s even that familiar little bite of baking soda. So, snag your pen, scoot up to your desk, or hunch over your textbook, and shovel some merry gingerbread flavor into your mouth at breakfast time. It just might help.

gingerbread granola

Gingerbread Granola

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups oats
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds or flax seed meal
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons honey (or other liquid sweetener, like agave)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 + 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 + 1/2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat over to 275°F.

In a large bowl combine the spices, salt, oats, and other dry ingredients. Mix molasses, honey, and applesauce in a small bowl. Pour the liquid into the oat mixture and stir until all of the oats are coated. When you think you have stirred enough, stir some more. Once everything is perfectly incorporated, spread the granola on a baking sheet or two and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes. The cooking time will depend on how thin you spread the granola on the baking sheets. Bake until the granola is lightly browned and mostly free of moisture. Enjoy!

apple cinnamon granola

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I’ve mentioned before that my breakfasts at college consist of granola, granola, and only granola that I make and bring from home. Last time, I posted two kinds of granola that I ate last semester: double almond and chocolate hazelnut. I thoroughly enjoyed those last semester.

But this is a new year, a new semester! A fresh chance to try new granola flavor combinations! The exciting possibility of novel breakfast choices is upon us! It would be shameful to miss such an opportunity.

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In the interest of taking advantage of every chance to further explore the granola universe, I made two new kinds. This is one of them: apple cinnamon granola. You can look for the other in an upcoming post.

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Though I had originally considered purchasing dried apples from Trader Joe’s to simplify the process for this recipe, I quickly discarded the idea. We have a convenient dehydrator that gets sadly neglected in the winter months, so I figured it would be happy to be of use.

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While I stood contemplating the apple choices at the grocery store, an older man filling a produce bag with deep red apples recommended I purchase his favorite variety: winesap. “They’re really sweet; that’s why they’re called ‘winesap.’ And they’re only available around this time of the year.” Who was I to mistrust the information of a man who knew his favorite apple and its season? I bought a ten. Conveniently, they were the cheapest and had been grown in the North Carolina mountains. Success!

As promised, the apples were superbly sweet, albeit a bit soft. That made no difference since I planned to dehydrate them. I cored and sliced them with our apple peeler-corer-slicer – handy kitchen tool, that – and spread them on the racks of the dehydrator. The next day I made the granola.

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What goes better with apples than cinnamon? Not much. Add some walnuts for extra crunch and nuttiness, and you have it. Simple and tasty, people. You can’t go wrong with that.

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Apple Cinnamon Granola

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups oats
  • 1/4 cup flax meal or seeds
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 + 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon, divided
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup honey (or other liquid sweetener, like agave or brown rice syrup)
  • 2 cups dried apples, chopped

Preheat oven to 275°F.

Combine 1 + 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon with the rest of the dry ingredients, except the apples.  In a separate bowl whisk the applesauce and honey, and then pour over the oat mixture. Stir well, until all the oats are coated in the honey and applesauce mixture and everything is evenly incorporated. Spread the granola on a baking sheet or two. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes. Baking time will vary depending on how thinly you spread the granola. After baking the granola, add the dried apples and remaining tablespoon of cinnamon. Enjoy!

blackberry banana bread

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For a brief space of time earlier this summer we were overrun with blackberries from our surprisingly productive brambles. It was a happy problem, short-lived though it was. The inability of our blackberry bushes to present berries of a decent size and flavor free of undeveloped drupelets never ceases to astound me. Of course my disgust with our bushes’ performance is never assuaged by my annual week-long stay at Grandma M’s house – that’s a marvelous tale of summer fun worth a post or three – that frequently coincides with the peak of blackberry season. Her thornless blackberry patch produces blackberries like a Tuscan vineyard produces grapes! Berries hang in dark purple clusters waiting to be plucked off the drooping canes in handfuls by violet-stained fingers. Uniformly large, perfectly sweet, and delectably succulent, these blackberries are the best in the world. Really. I’ve never had finer.

That is that standard against which I measure our berries, which of course pale in comparison. However, during this strange week or so our berries came as close as they ever have come. And there were lots of them. Maybe half a gallon bucket! Never mind that my cousins and I can pick four or five times that many in 15 minutes in Grandma’s garden.

With blackberries in such abundance and more tasty blueberries still to be eaten in preference, I needed to utilize some of the former. Banana bread, the perfect canvas for every flavor, offered the solution. Therefore: blackberry banana bread – a super-moist but oil-free and naturally-sweetened loaf full purple berry bursts.

Start with some basic whole wheat banana bread batter. Add a couple cups of fresh blackberries.

Pour it into a pan, bake it, and slice it!

Blackberry Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup or other liquid sweetener
  • 2 cups fresh blackberries

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Beat the eggs. Mash the bananas well. In a small bowl combine the bananas, eggs, applesauce, brown rice syrup, and vanilla. In a large bowl mix together the dry ingredients. Stir the wet ingredients into the flour mixture. Carefully fold the blackberries into the batter. Pour batter into a greased, 9×5 loaf pan.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until bread has browned lightly and tests done when poked with a toothpick. Enjoy warm, obviously.

[100th post! Good grief. Took long enough.]