By Nancy Smorch
I was going through another “chef’s block” the other day (similar to writer’s block), and I knew I needed to push through it and dive into some uncharted territory.
So for my morning intentions that day, I wrote down to experiment with a new recipe. I had woken up early and wanted to make something different for breakfast. We were all out of the good eggs that we get from a friend and local farmer, and after seeing how pale yellow the yoke from the store-bought organic eggs looked, I just couldn’t bring myself to eat them.
The yolk from the fresh eggs are a deep orange color and taste so much better! Unfortunately, our source for eggs is having issues with an unknown predator going after their chickens, and, after driving over 45 minutes to the next town’s farmer’s market on Saturday we found out that everyone was out of eggs… and we were out of luck.
The weather has also been confusing the chickens down here (crazy weather everywhere, right??).
So I had to come up with something for breakfast that didn’t involve eggs, which was too bad on the one hand, because I do love eggs. However, on the other hand, it was good that I had to get creative, because I came up with a new recipe for granola that is, honestly, the best granola I’ve ever had.
I’ve made granola a number of times, and it’s usually just Mike and I that really like it, the girls are only so-so. The other day I made some pumpkin granola that everyone seemed to like, but I wasn’t thrilled with it. It seemed like a toss-up!
But this morning I saw a recipe for granola in Danielle Walker’s "Against All Grain" book, so I have to give credit to her for inspiring this recipe. I changed a lot about it, but I got the idea for putting the nuts in a food processor first, from her.
The granola was fabulous! Even Frankie, who usually doesn’t really like granola, took her first bite, and said, “Wow Mom, this is really good.” If she says it’s good, just about anyone will think it’s good!
When we travel to Northern Michigan (which I love to do, but don’t do often enough), there’s a brand of granola there called “Addictive Granola”. It’s good stuff, but I think we all agree that this stuff is better. So much better that I’ve named it “Granola Crack”.
Here’s the recipe:
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup raw pecans
3/4 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 1/2 cup quick oats (gluten-free quick oats, if needed)
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 Tbsp. organic vanilla
1/2 cup maple syrup (preferably Grade B)
1/4 cup raw honey (liquid form or gently warmed to liquid form, if not)
2 Tbsp. melted organic butter
1/2 cup organic dates, pitted and chopped
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Put the almonds in a food processor and pulse until the consistency of oatmeal. Transfer them into a large bowl and then put the pecans in the food processor and do the same (it’s OK if you have a few larger pieces of nuts, that just adds texture and character).
Transfer the pecans to the large bowl and put the cashews into the food processor and do the same.
Add the sunflower seeds to the food processor, pulse and transfer them to the bowl.
Add the sesame seeds and quick oats to the bowl (no food processing for them) and mix well to combine.
Add the salt and cinnamon and mix well.
Now pour the melted butter, vanilla, maple syrup, and honey and chopped dates into the bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined.
Put the granola on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and spread spread evenly.
Bake at 325 degrees F for 20 to 30 minutes (time will vary depending on the oven and size of the ground-up nuts, so start with 20 minutes and add time if you need). After 10 minutes, take the granola out of the oven and stir it around to make sure it cooks evenly (the outer edges will cook faster).
When the granola is golden to slightly brown, it is finished. Take it out of the oven and let cool.
I just put mine in a bowl with some fresh ORGANIC strawberries (it’s strawberry season here in Florida) along with some almond milk. You can also eat it plain - I left it in the container sitting on the kitchen counter and just about every time someone went by, they would snack on it. It’s always good in yogurt, if you can eat dairy, and it makes a great snack to take with you if you are on-the-go and need something quick to eat in the car (or on the plane).
Enjoy the Granola Crack - it initially sounds like a bit of an effort, but it’s really not, and any effort is definitely worth it!!