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!

Blueberry Oat Bread

blueberry oat breadQuick breads are so nice to make on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Whether you are having brunch or just want the house to smell delicious, they are a comforting baked treat. The other great thing about them is that you mix one up and pour it into a pan with no fuss, no decorations or frosting to make, and they easily feed a crowd.

The recipe I found required a few changes. I used some all-purpose flour in place of whole wheat to lighten it up, and I swapped wheat bran for the wheat germ because that is what I had in the cupboard. Then, for high altitude adjustments, I added a bit more flour and used less baking powder. To veganize the recipe I used non-dairy yogurt and then switched out the eggs with aquafaba. That was easy. The hard part was waiting what seemed far too long for it to cool so I could eat it.

Blueberry Oat Bread adapted from Stonyfield
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup + 1 TBS all-purpose flour
1 cup oats (old fashioned or quick cooking)
3/4 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup wheat bran
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1.25 cups vanilla non-dairy yogurt
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 TBS aquafaba (chickpea brine)
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan with shortening. In a bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: both flours, oats, sugar, wheat bran, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Using a stand mixer, beat together yogurt, applesauce, oil, aquafaba, and vanilla, and beat at medium speed. Slowly add dry ingredients until just combined then let batter rest for 10 minutes to allow bran to hydrate. Carefully fold in blueberries then pour batter into bread pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely.

Until next time, happy baking!

Celebration Blueberry Oat Bar

blueberry oat bar

celebration blueberry oat bar

Today is the celebration of Independence Day in America. Befitting the red, white and blue color scheme that accompanies the holiday, I chose to bake a blueberry bar and top it with whipped cream and strawberries. Because I was sharing the bar with friends that have selective eating habits, I opted for dairy free, egg free, soy free, refined sugar free, gluten free, and nut free. Or, as my husband calls it, the BFF Bar – Blueberry Free From Bar.

To bump up the health factor on the bar recipe I found, I used whole oats to add fiber and texture. I also chose maple syrup and dark brown sugar for their added health benefits. After I realized I didn’t have enough fresh blueberries, I discovered that frozen works as well as long as they are fully drained. For a garnish I used vegan whipped cream and sliced strawberries even though the blueberries turned dark when baked. It became red, white and black, but I like it anyways.

Celebration Blueberry Oat Bar adapted from the GoDairyFree website
1 1/2 cups gluten-free whole oats
1/2 cup gluten-free flour
1/2 cup organic dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
6 TBS soy-free Earth Balance margarine, melted
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, rinsed and drained
3 TBS maple syrup
2 tsp arrowroot
1 tsp lemon juice
vegan whipped cream from a tub or can, for garnish
sliced strawberries, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350ºF and grease an 8×8” baking pan. In a bowl, whisk together oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Add melted margarine and stir with a fork until evenly combined. Save ½ cup crumb mixture for topping. Press remaining mixture evenly and firmly into bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 12 minutes to set crust.

While that is baking, combine blueberries, maple syrup, arrowroot and lemon juice in a small saucepan, whisking until arrowroot dissolves. Heat over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until juices are no longer cloudy, about 2 minutes. Spoon filling over baked crust and evenly spread reserved crumb mixture over top. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely in pan. Cut into squares and garnish with whipped cream and strawberries before serving.

Until next time, happy baking!

Surprisingly Good Tahini Oat Cookies

Tahini Oat CookiesThis recipe comes from dubious beginnings – I was just looking for a way to use up extra oats I had ground. I was skeptical about these cookies because although I have been trying to bake healthier, these seemed too healthy. What emerged from my oven was a pleasant surprise. They taste a bit like peanut butter cookies but are more complex and with a hint of caramel. Even my chocoholic husband went back for more.

The cookies were already vegan, so the high altitude changes I made were adding flour and reducing baking powder. I also added milk for a moisture boost. They can easily be made nut-free depending on the type of non-dairy milk chosen.

Surprisingly Good Tahini Oat Cookies adapted from the Whole Foods blog
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup + 1 TBS whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
2 tsp arrowroot
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 TBS sesame seeds
1/2 tsp non-dairy milk
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Grind oats in a blender until coarsely ground. Place in a bowl and whisk together with flour, baking powder and salt. Combine maple syrup, tahini, sesame oil, arrowroot and vanilla in a blender and blend until smooth. Stir tahini mixture into oat mixture.
Spread sesame seeds onto a large plate. Form small balls of dough with your hands and roll the balls on the plate to coat with seeds. Tap to release excess seeds. Arrange dough on prepared baking sheets 2” apart. Bake until cookies are golden brown on bottom and puffed, 13-14 minutes. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Makes 24 cookies.

Until next time, happy 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!

Fruit and Oat Bars

fruit and oat barsThis recipe was inspired by a trip to the farmer’s market. I purchased several jars of unusual flavored jams but couldn’t figure out what to do with them. Then I decided that I could incorporate all of them as a distinct filling for oat bars.

I found a recipe that was already vegan, so I only had to add a few modifications. To increase flour for high altitude and give more protein for structure, I swapped out a small amount of flour for almond flour. For health benefits, I used coconut sugar instead of some brown sugar.

Now the fun began – playing with flavor combinations. I used 2 oz each of seedless marionberry, elderberry, wild cactus, and rose petal jams. When I added the marionberry and elderberry jams, I sprinkled only those flavors with chocolate chips. With the wild cactus and rose petal jams, I sprinkled them with cardamom before adding the topping. So grab all of those partially eaten jars of jam from the fridge and get started.

Fruit and Oat Bars adapted from Earth Balance Raspberry Lemon Bars
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 less 2 TBS cup all-purpose flour
2 TBS almond flour
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed down
11 TBS vegan margarine, cold
8 oz jam, one or several flavors
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 TBS coconut sugar
1/8 tsp salt
3 TBS chocolate chips
Toast oats and almonds on separate pans in 350F oven for 8 minutes. Remove from trays to cool. In a food processor, pulse together cooled oats, flours, flax seed, brown sugar and margarine until just mixed and crumbly. Reserve 3/4 cup of crust mixture and press remainder firmly into the bottom of an 8 x 8″ pan that has been lined with non-stick foil. Bake at 350F for 15 minutes.
While the crust is baking, warm jam in a hot water bath made by heating a small amount of water in a large pan and gently warming the jars of jam. When the crust is out of the oven, spread sections of jam across the crust. To make the topping, pulse the toasted almonds in a food processor along with the reserved crust mixture, coconut sugar, and salt. Sprinkle topping and chocolate chips over jam and press to adhere. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes or until filling is bubbling and topping is browned. Place on a rack and cool completely. Use foil to remove from pan and slice into bars. Store in an airtight container.

Until next time, happy baking!