Buckwheat Granola and Other Musings

Spring is officially here!

Bust out the colorful bowls!

Bust out the colorful bowls!

Though winter is holding on tight (we have a chance of snow again this weekend…), there is a shift in the energy lately. The extra hour of daylight, the first purple buds popping up on the trees, and the daffodils offering a sunny “hello!” hint of the good things that are just around the corner. I for one am anxiously awaiting the opening of the City Market on April 6!

In the mean time, I’m making basics like granola, and busting out my bunny apron to use as a photography backdrop.

Buckwheat granola

Buckwheat granola

This week has been busy, but in the best way possible. Early in the mornings, my yoga practice has taken a step forward as I started learning the Advanced A series (just the first two poses), and returned to practicing tic-tocs after a few weeks of taking it easy. In the day time, work is going well, and I have been enjoying many new opportunities to expand my leadership in the past few weeks. On weekends, we have been seeing a lot of our family, with more to come next weekend for Easter.

Life is good.

So is this granola.

Simple and Delicious

Simple and Delicious

Inspired by many other bloggers, I have been exploring buckwheat in many forms lately. I bought a big bag of raw buckwheat groats in bulk, and have been using them as a crunchy topping for salads and smoothies, blended as breakfast porridge, cooked into oats, ground into flour for muffins, and tossed with oats, pecans, and sunflower seeds in this simple granola.

You could add coconut flakes or dried fruit, but I decided to keep things simple. Pecans are by far my favorite breakfast nut (yes, that is a thing), especially when they are toasted. I used the overnight method, and was once again pleased with the crunchy result (not to mention the delicious aroma in my kitchen).

Granola

Granola pile

Buckwheat Granola

Inspired by Kath Eats

Ingredients

  • 2 cups oats
  • 1/2 cup raw pecans
  • 3/4 cup raw buckwheat groats
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil
  • scant 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Method

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, and spread onto a baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring at 15 minutes intervals. Turn the oven off and leave granola in the oven overnight. In the morning, it will be perfectly crunchy!

This week's breakfast, on repeat.

This week’s breakfast, on repeat.

Simple, no fuss, perfectly delicious, homemade granola–what more could you ask for?!

I have been enjoying the same breakfast all week– Greek yogurt, sliced banana, a drizzle of coconut milk, a drizzle of Blackstrap molasses, and granola on top! I’m not usually a “repeat” kind of girl when it comes to breakfast, but this combo is so good, I’ve just wanted more and more of it.

Hope your Spring is off to a wonderful start!

-L

Fig and Molasses Granola

First, there was apricot, cashew, and coconut oatmeal.

Then, there was raisin, walnut, and flax meal baked oatmeal.

Today, I am happy to share my latest fruit/nut/superfood oat concoction: Fig and Molasses Granola.

granola pan

Chunks of dried fig and crystallized ginger dance with chopped walnuts and pecans in this crunchy and not-too-sweet granola, made using The Professional Palate‘s “overnight” method.

Breakfast heaven!

figs2

Let’s talk for a minute about Figs. Regarded by many ancient cultures as sacred, figs were originally grown in southern Europe, Asia, and Africa. Spanish missionaries brought them to North America, and in the U.S. they are mainly cultivated in southern California, though they do grow elsewhere (Charlottesville, VA included!). There are many varieties of figs, ranging in color from deep purple to almost white and in shape from round to oval. Figs are a good source of iron, calcium, and phosphorus.

This granola is a great source of iron, as it also includes blackstrap molasses. Molasses is produced when the juice squeezed from sugar cane and sugar beets is boiled down into a syrup from which sugar crystals are extracted. The first boiling produces light molasses, the second, dark molasses, and the third, blackstrap. It is a good source of iron, calcium, copper, manganese, potassium, and magnesium (source).

jars

As I have been learning more about the ingredients I have been cooking with, I have been intrigued by the many facets of “food knowledge.” From history and anthropology, to horticulture and nutrition, there is so much to learn about the foods we eat and the way our bodies process them.

I would love to hear which tidbits of information resonate most with you all, our lovely readers. Please let me know if you are enjoying learning about ingredients, and which aspects are most interesting to you.

granola pan close

Fig and Molasses Granola

Ingredients

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 2 Tablespoons ground flax seed
  • 2 Tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 1/8 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • chopped figs
  • chopped crystallized ginger

Method

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, flax, chia seeds, pecans, walnuts, cinnamon and ginger. In separate bowl, whisk together molasses, brown sugar, orange juice, vanilla and oil. Pour over oat mixture and mix well.

Spread granola evenly over baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, stirring at 15 minute intervals. Turn oven off. Leave granola in oven. Granola will crisp as it cools overnight. Just before serving, toss in chopped dried figs and crystallized ginger. Store granola in jars in the fridge.

jars and bowl

I have really been enjoying this granola atop a bowl of greek yogurt, chunky applesauce, and sliced banana. The flavors come together so nicely, and the crystallized ginger adds an almost surprising element.

“Superfood” indeed.

-L

Berry Orange Smoothie and Foodie Finds

Berry Orange Smoothie

Berry Orange Smoothie

I had an awesome mini-vacation over the weekend! I went to Florida for an audition, and was able to meet up with one of my best friends. I was sad to come home so soon, but have had a great time since returning to SF.

Wading in the water

Wading in the water

After ballet class on Tuesday, I wandered over to the Ferry Building Farmers Market to pick up some fresh fruit. I ended up with some gorgeous navel oranges and a pack of strawberries. When I got home, I decided to toss some of them into the blender to make a Berry Orange Smoothie.

Beautiful bunch of oranges

Beautiful bunch of oranges

Berry Orange Smoothie

Serves 1

  • 1 banana, frozen
  • 1 orange, seeds and casings removed
  • 4 strawberries
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • Topping of choice (I used granola)

Combine fruits and coconut milk in blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into glass, and garnish with topping of your choice.

Fruity and fun

Fruity and fun

Foodie Finds

While I was at the Ferry Building, I also picked up a bag of Original Granola made by From the Fields. This wheat and oil free granola is made in Marin County, just across the Golden Gate Bridge. It has a great crunch, a variety of nuts and seeds, and plump cranberries. I’m looking forward to trying the Honey Lavender flavor soon!

Farm to Fields Granola

From the Fields Granola

When I was outside, I gave into temptation, and accepted a sample of Dark Chocolate Coffee Almond Brittle from G.I. Alfieri. I’ve seen them many times before, but have always managed to keep my distance. I have a big weakness for nuts and chocolate! Today I’m glad I stopped. The almond brittle is delicious! It is thin and crispy, with smooth dark chocolate, and a surprisingly strong kick of coffee flavor. I enjoyed a lovely conversation with the man handing out samples as well! It turns out he was a dancer, and knows many of the teachers I train with in the city. What a small world!

Dark Chocolate Coffee Almond Brittle

Dark Chocolate Coffee Almond Brittle

This was the perfect way to wind down after my fun, fast venture to Florida! The rest of the week will be a bit less leisurely, but with my new foodie finds and fruit, I feel ready to take on whatever comes my way.

Yum yum

Yum yum

Happy Eating!

-C

Crunchy Granola State

Yogurt, fruit, and granola

Yogurt, fruit, and granola

It’s a new year. A new beginning. For me, that is a huge relief. The end of 2012 was more than a little challenging, so the idea of a fresh start is very appealing. Already this year, I’ve gotten a new haircut (I got bangs!), made some new friends, and adopted a new “come what may” sort of attitude. It’s exciting.

I was talking with a good girlfriend the other day about life, love, and New Years resolutions. We started laughing at the “crunchy granola” nature of my musings. Since that phrase came up, I have been craving actual granola.

Granola!

Granola!

The flavor of this batch was decided primarily by what was stocked in the bulk bins… apricots, pistachios, walnuts. I decided this combo was a safe bet, since Lindsey has been enjoying the bag of Apricot Pistachio Marge Granola I recently gave her. I’m definitely pleased with the outcome.

(Coco)nut mixture

(Coco)nut mixture

Apricot Pistachio Granola

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup raw walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup raw pistachios
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cup dried apricots, sliced crosswise into small pieces

Preheat oven to 300F. Combine oats, nuts, coconut, and spices in a large bowl. Melt coconut oil and honey in a small saucepan over low heat. Pour over oat mixture and toss until evenly distributed. Spread the mixture onto a large baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix in apricots, stirring to break up any clumps. Return to oven for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Cool, and enjoy!

Stirring in the apricots

Stirring in the apricots

Since the coconut was sweetened and I knew I’d be serving the granola with fruit, I cut the amount of other sweeteners pretty dramatically. If you prefer sweeter granola, add 1/3 cup packed brown sugar to the oat and nut mixture.

Beautiful bowl

Beautiful bowl

I love that yummy food came from my “crunchy granola” thoughts. What are your New Years resolutions? Have they influenced your meals lately?

Happy eating!

-C

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