Saturday, February 9, 2013

Crunchy Coconut Buckwheat Granola

I love granola. I mean, really love it. I love fruity smoothies poured in a bowl and topped with granola (I eat it like soup, haha). Yogurt topped with granola. Granola by the handful. Whatever. I love homemade granola the best though, because then I control what is in it. Store-bought granola, in my opinion, falls into two categories: Tons of fat/sugar and no fat or sugar which equals no taste. It's not secret that I'd always prefer the tons of fat/sugar version because this is where the flavor is.

However, making it yourself gives you that control and then you get the best of both worlds! All in the palm of your hands. Don't you love it when you get control of the situation?

The recipe I'm sharing is not mine. I *do* have a recipe that I've used in the past, but I found this one while spending way too much time on casually browsing Pinterest. Since I love (and I mean LUV) coconut I knew I needed to make it. Two Peas and Their Pod has some awesome recipes. Really decadent stuff. This is the first time I've made anything from there and I will absolutely be doing a few more as well, if this granola is any indication of the quality. Their recipe  was pretty darned perfect (and their photography makes mine look like Amelia took the pictures). Except that I have this new buckwheat and I was dying to make granola with it. Raw buckwheat groats are actually edible. They have sort of a 'Grape Nuts' sort of flavor and texture that I really love! In granola though? Over the top!

Here is the recipe with the changes I made to it:

2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup buckwheat groats (I used Bob's Red Mill brand)
3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (Original recipe called for sweetened but I love unsweetened)
2/3 cup slivered almonds
2 tbls ground flax
1/4 cup wheat germ2 tablespoons Trader Joes Maple Sugar (This recipe only has 2 grams of sugar per serving, the amounts can absolutely be increased if you would rather have a sweeter end result)1 teaspoon cinnamon1/4 teaspoon salt3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted1/2 cup local orange blossom honey1 teaspoon vanilla extract1/4 teaspoon coconut extract 

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Combine sugar, cinnamon, coconut oil, applesauce and honey in a sauce pan and heat just until combined and sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and then add in the extracts. Set aside for a moment. 

Combine remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl and pour the wet mixture over the dry. Stir well to combine. 

Pour the granola mixture out onto a large cookie sheet covered with either parchment or a silicone baking mat. 

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes (this is the length of time and cooking temp Alton Brown uses for his recipe and I find this works the best to get an evenly toasted granola without any burnt pieces).

Let cool and store in an air-tight container.

This one is pretty nutrient dense and isn't lower in fat or calories than your store bought counterparts. However, it's MUCH lower in sugar and all that fat and calories are from REAL foods.

Also, one of the things I absolutely love about granola is it's pretty forgiving! I've substituted puffed rice or crispy rice cereal to cut back on some of the calories. However, I found that in this case, I'd rather have a smaller serving than give up too much of the oats. The crispy and puffed cereals both add something to the texture though and if you enjoy those cereals you definitely can incorporate them.

Also, you can add different nuts, seeds and other mix-ins. I have made gingerbread granola, maple granola, pumpkin spice granola and vanilla bean granola. Plus, you can add fruits (though I suggest adding them after). Alternately, you can go absolutely PLAIN and just use oats for a seriously basic granola that you can then add to other recipes (like granola bars and cookies, etc). So you can really get creative here based on your tastes.

Whatever you do, enjoy!

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