May 10, 2011

coconut cashew quinoa granola



I have been on a serious granola-baking kick lately. It started with the lemon-cardamom batch I made back in March, right after I got back from Green Gulch Farm. Every day at GGF I poured myself a bowl of the homemade granola that the staff kept freshly stocked in the guest house kitchen.

Mindfully munching the mixture one morning (no TV, no computer, no cell signal -- mindful eating comes rather easily in the gulch!), it struck me that this granola was spot-on perfect. Evenly toasted a deep, golden brown but without any burnt bits, crispy and light, and mercifully free of sticky or tooth-breaking clumps.

Most importantly, I tasted how good granola could be without a speck of dried fruit. {I used to add chopped dried apricots or figs to my granola, but the fruit always turned hard and overly chewy -- not terribly pleasant to chew, plus their lost moisture often made the oats soft. So I've converted over to the no-fruit-granola crowd.}


Since that first batch back at  home in March, I've been making granola nearly every week. Few things make the kitchen smell better, and I love having it at the ready for workday breakfasts all week. In my recent experimentation I've found two key ingredients that create even browning of the oats, nuts, and seeds, and make for a crispy, crunchy, clump-free mixture: olive oil and maple syrup. I've taken to using a one-to-one ratio of oil to syrup.

My latest concoction replaces some of the oats with quinoa flakes, which lighten up the granola and add a hint of fresh, grassy flavor. I added a few favorite seeds {pepitas, sunflower, and sesame} and cashews in place of the usual almonds. Some unsweetened shredded coconut, too. Into the oil-syrup mixture went a trio of warming spices: cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger. A good batch, and right now my favorite light spring breakfast heaped on top of creamy, whole milk yogurt.




coconut cashew quinoa granola

  • 1 cup quinoa flakes
  • 1-1/2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup pepitas (hulled green pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/2 cup cashews, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
Heat oven to 350 F.

Combine the quinoa flakes, oats, seeds, and cashews in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, syrup, spices, and sea salt. Pour over the dry ingredients and stir to coat evenly.

Bake until crispy and golden-brown, 30 to 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so.

Allow the granola to cool before transferring to a tightly sealed container. Keeps at cool room temperature for about 3 weeks (though in my kitchen it's gone long before that!).

10 comments:

  1. I tried your last granola and loved it. You totally converted me on the maple-olive oil fix for granola. This sounds great. Where do you buy quinoa flakes, though?

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  2. hi mbf -- so glad you liked the granola! I found the quinoa flakes at a local natural foods store. Regular grocery stores might carry them, too, probably in the rolled oats/hot cereals area.

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  3. Mmmm, I love homemade granola! Your combo of warming spices sound great. I haven't experimented with quinoa flakes, but they do sound interested to try.

    As for dried fruit, not that it's a must, but I've started adding it at the end (ie straight into my bowl) to avoid burning it or making it too chewy.

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  4. hi Hilla! Thanks :) I always added the dried fruit at the end, too (after the other ingredients were baked) but somehow it still ended up so hard and chewy! Maybe smaller fruits that don't have to be chopped would turn out better and lose less of their moisture - dried cherries could be really nice in this recipe, I think.

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  5. Looks wonderful---packed with flavor and nutrition. Thanks for sharing your good tips, to, like the olive oil-maple syrup ratio---great to know.

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  6. This sounds so good, definitely something I would love!

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  7. Love the ingredients in this. I've never seen quinoa flakes. Do they need to be cooked or can you eat them out of the box? I love granola but have a couple of issues so I rarely eat it: 1) am semi-allergic to oats and 2) I tend to binge on granola since it's sweet and addictive, so it's hard for me to keep it around. Uh oh, TMI!

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  8. thanks, Lentil! The quinoa flakes are similar to rolled oats, so they need to be cooked in some way, either baked as with the granola, or simmered in water to make a porridge.

    I think this is a good granola for those of us (me included!) who tend to binge on the stuff, since it's not too sweet and doesn't have any big clusters (which are always the bits I choose to focus on during a granola munchathon). As for the oat allergy aspect...I think you could get away with 100% quinoa flakes as a replacement for the oats here. If you try it let me know!

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  9. I always go for fruit, then I read your recipe and suddenly no-fruit seemed like a good idea. I have a batch in the oven right now. It smells so good. Thanks!

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  10. hi Denise - I hope you like it! And you can always add some dried fruit to the bowl right before eating -- I think that would solve the dry/too chewy fruit/stale oats conundrum.

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