Naturally sweetened toasted coconut granola
I'm pretty sure you guys know this by now but we take breakfast pretty serious around here. I'm a firm believer that starting your day with a little wholesome goodness is the best (and only) way to start the day. As for Thom? Well, he's a lot less concerned about the nutritional value of what he's shoving into his face and more concerned with the fact that he just gets something - anything - into his body within a couple hours of waking. If there's a healthier alternative, he'll gladly eat it. But his request for homemade granola fell on deaf ears so, naturally, he started buying it from the grocery store. And when I picked up the bag and noticed multiple forms of processed sugar I knew I had to stop being lazy and make the man some damn granola because there's no reason anyone should be eating that much highly refined sugar first thing in the morning.
As you can tell from the title of this post, I was fruitful in my homemade granola efforts but, instead of stashing it away for Thom's mid-morning feasts, I put in a plastic bag and delivered it to my littlest brother (who's currently living that dorm life) because college kids can always use more food, right? I also delivered a double batch of my coconut oil chocolate chunk cookies so I can say with certainty that the granola hasn't been touched. And if/when it is, it's likely going to get sprinkled with sugar because if there's anyone less appreciative of naturally sweetened things, it's every. single. one. of my (five) brothers. What I'm trying to say is that I owe Thom some more granola. And probably a batch of cookies, too (because giving away his homemade granola was a preeeeetty shitty thing to do).
Anyway, enough about breakfast and IOUs.
I figured I should probably make it known that I started consuming poultry again. I've always said that when the craving struck, I'd indulge. And I woke up one day earlier this year (shortly after I started abstaining from gluten) and was all HOLY HELL I WANT AN ENTIRE ROTISSERIE CHICKEN FROM WHOLE FOODS. So Thom got me a rotisserie chicken from Whole Foods (for the record, I didn't eat the entire thing). For a minute I looked at it in disgust because the thought of consuming a once living creature was - and still is - a little unsettling. But my body's been craving animal protein something fierce. And since I've been really into intuitive eating (and intuitive living, in general), I figured I should probably stop dragging my feet and listen to my body. And you know what? I've never felt better. Or stronger. Or happier. Or healthier. I am not exaggerating when I say I feel like a new person. I feel like the clouds lifted and the sun came out. I feel good. Actually, I feel really fucking good; the best I've ever felt.
We're going to discuss this at length once I do the one year recap post on life as an ex-long distance runner turned heavy weight lifter (because I'm a firm believer that the shift in my training regimen is what sparked the shift in my diet), but for now you should know that not much is going to change around these parts. My diet is still 90% plant-based so you can bet your ass the recipes on here will be, too. Unless, of course, you'd like me to share my recipe for overcooked chicken? Or maybe my recipe for The Most Boring Turkey Sandwich Ever? No? Didn't think so. ;)
Notes: I prefer to use the 1/2 cup measurement for both the pure maple syrup and coconut oil (because I'm not a fan of clumpy cereal granola or overly sweet granola) but if you are a fan of super clumpy and/or sweet cereal granola, use 3/4 cup for both (you'll have to follow another step in the recipe to ensure the granola is clumpy, BTW). Feel free to use any liquid sweetener you want (honey, agave, etc.). I've experimented adding nut butters to this granola recipe and the results were great. You can add up to 1/2 cup of almond/cashew/etc. butter with success (and without drastically altering the end result). My favorite way to eat it: served over homemade coconut yogurt and topped with fresh fruit. Thom's favorite way to eat it: drenched in toasted coconut almondmilk.
More naturally sweetened early morning goodness: single-serving vanilla protein waffle, my favorite overnight chia pudding, clumpy banana + almond butter granola with cacao nibs.
NATURALLY SWEETENED TOASTED COCONUT GRANOLA
6 cups (540g) rolled oats
1/2 cup (85g) raw buckwheat groats, optional
1 teaspoon (5g) fine sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean powder, optional
1/2-3/4 cup (130-195g) pure maple syrup (see notes above)
1/2-3/4 cup (90-135g) unrefined coconut oil (see notes above)
1 tablespoon (12g) pure vanilla extract
2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
2 cups (180g) raw pecans, roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 300˚F. Add the rolled oats, buckwheat groats, sea salt, ground cinnamon, and vanilla bean powder to a large mixing bowl; toss to combine then set aside. Add the maple syrup to a small saucepan set over medium heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and continue lightly simmering the syrup for 8-10 minutes. When the syrup has finished simmering, off the heat and stir in the coconut oil and vanilla extract (if your coconut oil is solid, let it sit until it melts). Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Let the granola sit for 10-15 minutes to ensure the oats absorb the moisture and soften a bit (you can skip this step but I swear it makes for better granola). Add the coconut flakes and raw pecans; toss to combine. Spread the mixture evenly over a non-stick baking sheet and bake at 300˚F for 45 minutes, rotating halfway through. At the end of 45 minutes, remove pan from oven and give the granola a good stir. Put it back in the oven for an additional 8-10 minutes (for clumpier granola, skip the stirring and just bake the granola for ~55 minutes). Allow the granola to cool on the baking sheet then transfer to an airtight container. Will keep for up to one month.
Yield: a boatload of granola
Sour cherry + pecan granola - Add 1-2 cups of unsweetened dried cherries.
Apricot cacao nib granola - Omit the coconut, replace the pecans with almonds, and add 1 1/2 cups of dried apricots (roughly chopped) and 1/4 cup cacao nibs.
Cranberry orange granola - Add the zest from two oranges and 1 1/2 cups of unsweetened dried cranberries. Omit the coconut flakes (if desired).
Pistachio olive oil granola - Replace the pecans with (roughly chopped) pistachios and the coconut oil with extra virgin olive oil (I like this mild and buttery variety).
Maple pecan granola - Omit the coconut, add 1 teaspoon of maple flavor, and up the pecans to 3 cups.
Tropical granola - Omit the cinnamon and add 2 cups (total) of finely chopped dried pineapple.