Fruit and Seed Granola with White Chocolate Bits

Fruit and Seed Granola with White Chocolate Bits

Fruit and Seed Granola with White Chocolate Bits

This post started out with me making dark chocolate. It was from a recipe that took homemade chocolate and crumbled it into fruity granola for a trail mix. Well, that disaster turned into something resembling chocolate leather. Also, upon analyzing the recipe further, I decided I didn’t like the ratios of the ingredients. So after another recipe search, I decided I might as well make my own granola. That had to be much easier than making chocolate. With more hunting I found a promising recipe for white chocolate. Those two put together made this creation – Fruit and Seed Granola with White Chocolate Bits.

Both of the recipes were vegan and did not require high altitude adjustments, so that simplified things. The granola was part of a smoothie bowl, but I made just the granola. Then I modified it by reducing the amount of pumpkin seeds so I could add some hemp seeds. You can use any seeds here, and even any dried fruit. Pick your favorite fruit or seed – the possibilities are endless. The white chocolate was originally the base of a rice crispy bar, but I made the chocolate by itself and put it in smaller molds.

Fruit and Seed Granola with White Chocolate Bits adapted from recipes on Go Dairy Free

for the White Chocolate
1 ounce (scant 1/4 cup) raw, unsalted cashews
1/4 cup + 1/2 TBS powdered sugar
Pinch fine sea salt
2 ounces Navitas Organics cacao butter
1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp vanilla bean paste

for the Granola
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
3 TBS hemp seeds
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 cup dried tart cherries, roughly chopped

To make the white chocolate, place cashews, sugar, and salt in a mini food processor and process into a fine powder (about 30 seconds). Place cacao butter in a double boiler and whisk until just melted. Whisk vanilla bean paste into the melted cacao butter. Remove from heat and whisk in the cashew-sugar mixture until smooth.

Place a mold on a small tray and pour the mixture into it. Place mold in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours to set up. When solid, remove the white chocolate from the mold and break or cut into small bits. Set aside.

To make the granola, preheat the oven to 325F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, whisk together maple syrup, olive oil, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, stir together oats, almonds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, salt, and cinnamon. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and stir to evenly coat.

Spread granola onto prepared baking sheet in an even layer. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring every 15 minutes. Watch carefully in last 15 minutes as it may burn. Let granola cool completely. Stir in dried cherries and bits of white chocolate. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Until next time, happy baking!

Fruit and Oat Cookies

Fruit and Oat Cookies

Fruit and Oat Cookies

Have you ever wanted to make a quick cookie because guests were on their way? Or maybe you were craving something sweet now? These cookies fit both those requests, and they have very few ingredients so a swift run through the pantry and you are ready to bake. They come together so quickly that I had them ready before the oven came up to temp, and that never happens.

I didn’t have to make any changes for vegan or high altitude, so I let my creativity run with the ingredients. The original recipe contained dates but I used dried apricots, cherries and blueberries for more depth of flavor. You could try any dried fruit, such as cranberries or currants for a tart twist. To add even more layers of flavor, I added spices, but including spiced applesauce would make it simpler. So, not only are these treats easy but they are healthy and will satisfy my gluten free friends, too.

Fruit and Oat Cookies based on Banana-Oatmeal Snack Cookies
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup finely ground walnuts
1/2 cup finely chopped dried fruit (such as apricots, cherries and blueberries)
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine bananas, applesauce, oats, walnuts, dried fruit and spices in a bowl until evenly blended. Using a 1 TBS scoop, scoop out cookies and place on prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly with a spatula. Bake 30 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool on a wire rack. Store cookies in an airtight container for up to one week. Makes 18-20 cookies.

Until next time, happy baking!

Berry Chocolate Bundles

Berry Chocolate Bundles

Berry Chocolate Bundles

When I get together to see friends I always bring a tasty treat. A gluten free pal and I were going to the movies but it was too hot to whip something up using the oven. We both love dark chocolate, so I found a recipe that was no bake and gluten free and loaded with chocolate. If you take this with you when going out I do have a recommendation – have wet naps nearby. Movie theaters hate when you leave sticky chocolate handprints on their seats.

This recipe was already vegan and didn’t require high altitude baking, so it was a snap to prepare. The only change I made was to add more berries and a variety of them. They are delicious superfoods so I figured it was a good idea. As a matter of fact, all of the ingredients below are superfoods. So, indulge away.

Berry Chocolate Bundles adapted from Cherry Chocolate Almond Clusters
8 oz dark chocolate, broken or chopped into small pieces
1 TBS creamy unsalted almond butter 
1 cup quick cooking rolled oats
1/3 cup raw unsalted almonds, chopped
1/2 cup dried cherries and blueberries, chopped
To a heat-proof bowl over a pot of gently simmering water, add chocolate and almond butter. Stir occasionally for 2-3 minutes, until chocolate has melted. Remove from heat and stir in oats, almonds and dried berries. Drop by rounded teaspoonful onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place in refrigerator until set, 20-25 minutes. Makes 2 dozen.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Lavender Granola

Lavender Granola

Lavender Granola

My usual breakfast of oatmeal with nut butter and fruit was getting old. It needed a facelift, and I remembered that I used to love granola when I was in college. The brand I ate had dried blueberries and oats and it got me through many a sleepy morning. I gathered up bits and pieces of many granola recipes I found, but especially liked one that included lavender. That would add something different to breakfast and make granola more decadent.

Granola is inherently vegan, unless it has honey, so no changes were made for that. It also doesn’t have high altitude issues. The only changes made to the ingredients are by you when you bake it. Pick any nuts and seeds, leave out the lavender, choose your favorite dried fruit. It all works. For baking the granola, I discovered a variety of cooking styles: higher temp, lower temp, stir, don’t stir. I went with the directions given by Alton Brown because he’s a food scientist so I imagine he’s worked his recipe to perfection. All I know is that it smelled heavenly while it baked and I couldn’t wait for morning.

Lavender Granola
2 cups rolled oats (gluten-free, if desired)
3/4 cup nuts (I used almonds, cashews and walnuts)
1/2 cup seeds (I used hemp and pumpkin)
2 TBS amaranth
2 TBS flax seeds, ground
3 TBS lavender flowers, food-grade
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamon
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup vegan margarine or coconut oil, melted
3/4 tsp vanilla
pinch salt
1/2 cup dried fruit (I used blueberries)
Preheat oven to 250F. In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, seeds, amaranth, flax seeds, lavender, cinnamon and cardamom. In a small bowl, combine maple syrup, margarine, vanilla and salt. Combine both mixtures and pour onto 2 sheet pans. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color. Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl. Add dried fruit and mix until evenly distributed. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Until next time, happy baking!

Savory Energy Bites

savory energy bitesI am a big fan of Chef Elizabeth Falkner. From my couch, I cheer on her creativity whenever she is in a cooking battle on TV. Coincidentally, I have tried many versions of Energy Balls. So when I saw a video of Chef Falkner demonstrating a recipe for an energy ball, I knew I had to make them, too. The thing that was most appealing is that many energy balls are overly sweet, but her version has a savory side that makes it a tasty snack and not just dessert.

To make it vegan I swapped out honey and used agave syrup instead, which I also think rounded out the savory flavors. Orange Flower Water is hard to come by, and a bit sweet itself, so I used orange juice in its place. I then mixed it up when rolling out the balls. I decided to roll some in sesame to add to the Moroccan theme, and also chose to roll others in cacao powder because, well, chocolate.

Savory Energy Bites adapted from Moroccan-Date Bonbons
1/2 cup + 2 TBS sliced almonds (2 1/2 oz)
1/2 cup shelled pistachios (2 oz)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (3 oz)
1 pound moist dates, pitted and chopped
4 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1/2 TBS finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 TBS agave syrup
1/2 tsp finely grated orange zest
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp fresh orange juice
1/8 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350F. Spread sliced almonds on a baking sheet and toast for 4 minutes, until golden. Let almonds cool completely. In a food processor, grind pistachios to a coarse powder. Transfer pistachio powder to a plate. Add toasted almonds to processor and grind to a coarse powder. Add walnuts, dates, olives, ginger, agave, orange zest, cinnamon, cardamom, orange juice and salt and process to a paste. Scoop up scant tablespoons of mixture and roll into balls. Roll balls in pistachio powder to coat them completely. Makes about 25 balls.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Custom Granola Bars

granola barsI know granola bars aren’t a decadent baked treat, but now that I have made them I can say I won’t be buying them in the store. They are like rice krispy treats – you melt some stuff, add some stuff to it, and put it in a pan. You do have to actually bake granola bars, but the oven really does that work. And once you’ve made rice treats you would (probably) never buy them. You know yours are better. Same with granola bars.

Admittedly, my first attempt was more granola than granola bar, but it tasted great over yogurt. Then I realized that I needed more of a ‘spackle’ so I tweaked a few things and got a bar that held together. There are no tips for baking at altitude because it wasn’t a factor; the only consideration was the lack of humidity requiring spackle because the mix was a bit dry. But the best part – I used ingredients I had on hand. I chose the nuts and fruit I like, with added chocolate, and I didn’t include yucky things like high fructose corn syrup. Here comes breakfast.

Custom Granola Bars based on a recipe by Dale Pinnock in The Medicinal Chef
2 TBS agave syrup
4 TBS coconut oil
3 TBS almond butter
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 TBS flax seeds, ground
2 cups rolled oats
1 TBS pumpkin seeds
2 TBS chopped dried cherries
2 TBS chopped dates
2 TBS chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly grease an 8×8″ pan. Melt agave syrup, coconut oil, almond butter and cinnamon together over gentle heat in a pan. Remove from heat and add flax seeds. Combine oats, pumpkin seeds, cherries, dates and chocolate chips in a bowl. Pour almond butter mixture over the dry ingredients and stir to form a sticky mixture. Press mixture firmly into the prepared pan.
Bake in the oven for 15-17 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting into bars. Will keep for up to a week when stored in an airtight container.

Until next time, happy baking!