Baking | Chocolate Granola {gluten free} … the granola that changed my life!

Sometimes you don’t need a goal in life, you don’t need to know the big picture. you just need to know what you’re going to do next!
Sophie Kinsella

Chocolate GranolaIt was a recipe that changed my view on breakfast, and my life as far as the teen daughter goes. The son has never been a problem with breakfast. In fact, much to my horror, he sees it as a 3 course meal. Begins with a glass of milk, next munches happily through a hot house egg {thanks to Roald Dahl}, then makes himself comfortable with a bowl of cereal! For her, it’s only a glass of milk and maybe the odd omelet. ‘I’m on a DIET’, she whines, and doesn’t eat! Chocolate GranolaThe lad is forever hungry & happily eats whatever is on offer. She can be heard scrabbling in the kitchen from time to time, “I need FOOD, I’m HUNGRY, but I’m on a diet, so can’t eat!”.  I often battle her over breakfast where she would rather go hungry than eat a healthy breakfast. That was about to change. She draws for hours together, art her favourite subject in school, and then emerges from her ‘den’ ravenous! That black & white art-work above is a paper bag she recently designed for a project in school. Took her four hours to complete it … then the hunger pangs hit!Chocolate Granola & Granola Strawberry Quark Parfait I’ve made granola bars before, yet I never imagined this recipe would hit such a high note with her! The mister has muesli for breakfast every morning, and that day the box lay empty. The brand I normally buy wasn’t in stock, so I was quite cheesed off. Began surfing for muesli recipes that morning… Chocolate GranolaI am glad I stopped by Bea’s gorgeous La Tartine Gourmande. Canelle et Vanille had a story on Aran’s little M and Bea’s little Lulu. It’s been an amazing journey following the 2 babies, from when they were born, to milestones along the way, their first foods, often cross connections on these 2 beautiful blogs. I love the way some foodblogs I follow create a connect with the journey of their life with food as a base … I followed Aran’s story over to Bea’s, and halted in my tracks. Breakfast couldn’t get easier than this.

Both granola and muesli contain a mixture of grains (such as oats), nuts, dried fruit and sometimes bran and wheat germ. Muesli may contain sugar and dried-milk solids, but it can be unsweetened. Granola is typically toasted with honey and oil, resulting in a crisp texture and sweet glaze not found in muesli. Because granola contains the addition of honey and oil, it tends to have a higher sugar and fat content. As a result, granola is, on average, higher in calories than muesli. Both granola and muesli offer nutritional benefits. Both have fiber from the grains, fruits and nuts. In addition, the dried fruits provide antioxidants, while the nuts offer healthy fats. Topping either muesli or granola with low-fat milk, soy milk or yogurt makes for a nutritionally balanced, filling breakfast. chocolate granolaMost people do not realize that muesli and granola are fairly easy to make at home. Making homemade muesli or granola allows you to choose your favorite ingredients and avoid those you do not care for. Homemade muesli is particularly simple since you only toss together the desired ingredients. While granola requires toasting, making it at home allows you to limit the amount of sugar and oil added, thus creating a healthier granola. {Source: livestrong.com}

Chocolate GranolaGave it a shot with the ingredients I had on hand. How healthy can healthy get, and how delicious can healthy get? Try it for yourself. It’s five minutes to deliciousness and gluten free too! 2 minutes to put the pan on a simmer, a minute to get the dry stuff together, 30 seconds to toss the dry with the wet, another 30 to spread it out. Open door, pop in tray… there done! Visit the oven every 15 minutes to move the stuff around for even baking, make sure the bottom isn’t getting over browned, keep an eye towards the end.  Chocolate GranolaThe delicious pairing won the teen over that afternoon. The closest she’ll come to granola is a bar. ‘This isn’t a bar,’ she nonchalantly declared, yet gave the chocolate an interested gaze. I offered it to her with a teeny drizzle of low fat cream, really teeny. ‘This is GOOD’, she exclaimed. Next morning, I was on the phone and she walked in with the box in her hand. ‘I’m having some. Can you make some more?’

Chocolate GranolaI could have danced on the ceiling. ‘OK, if you like, but go slow on the cream‘. By now the son’s curiosity was bubbling over. ‘I’m hungry‘, he decided as the temptation was far too much for him. That was the end of box number one. I’ve made another 2 lots in the last week, and another this morning. Chocolate Granola & Strawberry with Quark ParfaitEasy as can be, healthy beyond belief, and addictive as a snack anytime of the day. I put together some parfaits using the granola with left over quark cream and strawberries from this Strawberry Meringue Chocolate Layer Cake. The possibilities are endless. Thank you Bea for such a tempting good post.

 

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BLUEBERRY OAT WALNUT GRANOLA BARS…Yummy mouthful!

“With all that together, you’ve got a snack with lots of fiber, vitamins and protein.”
Emily Walker

A friend of mine was flying down from the UK in December ’08 & she asked if I wanted anything from there. Me? Yes, of course! I never let a good offer go by & asked her to ‘please’ get me some dried cranberries, blueberries etc. Don’t know if she’ll ask me again in a hurry, but she got me lots of bags of dehydrated blueberries, dried cherries & a couple of beautiful baking books too. One thing I do miss not getting here are fresh berries, & the only local dried ‘berries’ we get here are tiny black currants & raisins. The imported dried berries available here are way too expensive.

Granola got popular as a health food popular with the hippie movement in the 1960′s. I made these granola bars using the blueberries after googling for ideas. They are quite the tastiest ones I could have ever made. The kids loved them, & I am finally posting them after the 2 batches have been devoured.

When the son heard I made granola bars, he looked a trifle worried because he doesn’t like the granola bars which we buy from the store…he said they’re too honeyish! Well, these were a rocking good success…& very popular in school too! They are bursting with goodness, healthy, vegetarian, vegan…& above all CRISP & DELICIOUS!

About blueberries; my daughter’s favourite berry… There aren’t many blue foods in nature, but more blue-colored foods are appearing on grocery store shelves. Blue gelatin and cereal that colors the milk blue are especially popular with kids.

Artificial colorants are safe food additives, but they do not provide the health benefits linked with naturally occurring pigments. According to researchers, adding more natural colorants to your diet is good for your health.

Blueberries in particular are linked with health benefits. According to a USDA study of more than 40 fruits and vegetables, blueberries ranked highest in antioxidant activity. A half-cup serving of blueberries had as much “antioxidant power” as five servings of other fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants help neutralize the damaging effects of “free radicals,” substances which damage DNA and cell membranes. The damage caused by free radicals is linked with cancer, heart disease and the aging process. Source: Julie Garden-Robinson

BLUEBERRY OAT WALNUT GRANOLA BARS
recipe from North American Blueberry Council
Ingredients:
1/2 c. honey
1/4 c. firmly-packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 c. quick-cooking oats (I used Quakers)
1 packet dehydrated sweetened blueberries (70gms)

1 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped raisins (optional)

Method:
  • Preheat oven to 180C degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 9-inch square baking pan. (I lined the tin as well, but found that the lining got stuck to the bottom by the time it had cooled. The second time around, I flipped the whole thing over gently, & peeled the lining off while the granola was still warm. Also scoured the top with lines when it was warm, to make it easier to cut later.)
  • In a medium saucepan, combine honey, brown sugar, oil and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, and boil for 2 minutes; do not stir.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine oats + blueberries + walnuts + raisins. Stir in honey mixture until thoroughly blended. Spread into prepared pan, gently pressing mixture flat. Bake until lightly browned, about 40 minutes. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into 1 1/2 x 3-inch bars. (Mine were ready in about 30 minutes)
  • They begin to get crisp as they cool.
  • I made another batch using dried winter berries that my niece brought for me from Dubai. Those were very yummy bars too.

And I just found this very interesting post which has a good resource on granola…the Ultimate Authority on Great Granola. I’m going to be exploring that soon!

This recipe is en route to Cinnamon Celebration to Grace @ Southern Grace who is celebrating her love for cinnamon.

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