Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Rawesome Superfood, Super-powered gRAWnola!

Ohhh, granola.........few things are more comforting to me than a bowl of delicious granola & almond milk, or some soy-yogurt topped with strawberries and granola. Here is my problem though, I am extraordinarily picky about my granola. I have a huge checklist of requirements that a granola needs to meet in order to make me happy, both regarding taste and ingredients.

My gRAWnola creation :)
My granola checklist:
- no added fats or oil: I am not a fan of using fatty foods, especially oils in foods as they are not a whole food. oils such as olive oil, coconut oil, and other similar oils do not exist naturally in nature. They are a result of heaving processing of a food, and are much less nutritious than eating the whole foods from which they came.
- no processed sugar: This is both because processed sugar has a high glycemic index (it spikes your blood sugar rapidly) and because there are much more wholesome ways to sweeten things such as using dates, apples, or stevia.
- no wheat/gluten: This is because I like to avoid gluten and wheat when I can, since it already manages to sneak it's way into my diet through other sources. I will eat wheat products occasionally at home, mostly in the form of sprouted breads, and on special occasions such as dining out or when making a cake for someone's birthday, but I like to avoid it in day to day foods.
- contains only whole grains, preferable at least two types of grains: The whole grains requirement is pretty obvious, whole grains are the only way to go in my opinion. They have more fiber & protein than their processed, non-whole-grain counterparts, and they taste better in my opinion.
- sweet but not too sweet: I like for my granola to have a hint of sweetness, so that it can be had as a snack without any toppings; but I also often eat my granola with almond milk, bananas, and strawberries which add a lot of sweetness to the equation, and would be far too sweet if the granola is already pretty sweet on it's own.
- has at least one raisin/berry like ingredient: this is another personal taste preference. I always like granola to have at least one ingredient that is a dried fruit, whether it be raisins, mulberries, or goji berries. This adds some contrasting taste and texture to the crunch of the grains in the granola.
- bonus points for being raw! This is just a personal preference; I tend to enjoy the taste of raw granola more than cooked granolas because well........they lack that cooked/toasted taste and I feel like I can better taste the ingredients. Also there are a lot of health benefits to consuming foods raw, especially berries.

With this MASSIVE list of requirements to meet, I set out to make myself a granola (maybe even a gRAWnola?) that will make my body and my taste-buds jump for joy.....and I dare-say I succeeded on all counts!

The Lowdown: This granola contains buckwheat (gluten free) and quinoa (also gluten free) as the whole grains. It also uses chia seeds and flax seeds to boost the nutrition and flavor profile of the granola. If that weren't enough, I use apples and dates to add some sweetness to the mix, and lastly a cup full of goji berries to add extra sweetness, texture contrast, and color.

Rawesome gRAWnola Recipe (Gluten Free)
- 1 1/2 cups buckwheat (soaked at least 6 hours and rinsed)
- 1 cup quinoa (soaked at least 6 hours and rinsed)
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- 1/4 cup flax seeds
- 1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
- 1 (packed) cup soaked & pitted dates (soaked at least 4 hours)
- 3 medium apples, peeled & cored
Date Paste!
- 1 cup goji berries (or replace with any other dried berry or fruit of your choosing)

1) Pre-heat your oven to the lowest temperature setting possible. If your oven has an option for convection baking, choose that option. OR if you are awesome and have a dehydrator, that's even better and you should just use that :)
2) Make sure you have soaked and rinsed the quinoa and buckwheat.
3) In a large bowl mix together the quinoa, buckwheat, flax seeds, chia seeds, shredded coconut, and goji berries and set aside.
4) In the food processor blend the soaked dates until completely smooth. It should look a creamy-caramel color. Empty this out into a small bowl.
5) Now process the apples in the foods processor until they are completely mushy & blended.
6) mix the apple slush with the date paste until the mixture is smooth and consistent.
Granola after mixing for 5 minutes.
7) Add the wet apple-date mixture to the large bowl of dry ingredients and mix well. It took me about 5 minutes of mixing to ensure that things were pretty evenly distributed.
8) Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper and place half of the granola mixture onto each sheet.
9) Spread the mixture as evenly as possible over the entire sheet. Then place in the oven BUT leave the door slightly open to allow moisture to escape and to keep the temperature down. **Alternatively, if you have a dehydrator you should TOTALLY use that. I just don't have one, and I know many people do not have access to one so the oven is a great option in that case**
10) If using the oven method, leave in the oven for 24 hours.
11) Remove the cookie sheets after 24 hours, break apart the now dry granola, and store in airtight bags. (Picture of the final product bellow & at the beginning of the post)

The Finished Product! SOO yummm

And now that we've made this monster batch of granola, how exactly do we eat this intense, superfood, super-powered granola?!? Why with everything ofcourse! It's great with some non-dairy milk and chopped up fruit, delicious to top off a morning bowl of oatmeal, fantastic as a topping for fro-yo or icecream, and best of all, as a snack on it's own! 

**Note on "Raw-ness"**
Many super-intense raw-foodists would probably not like that I am using an oven whose lowest temperature is 130 and calling this "Raw" since technically foods heated above 118 are not raw. BUT I am not a diehard raw-foodist, and I also leave the oven door cracked open to keep the temperature in the oven lower than 130. The granola still came out tasting like lots of other raw granolas that I've had so it's good enough for me! 

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