Vanilla Nut Granola

January 9, 2013 § 15 Comments

nutty granola jar

How are we already more than a week into January?  Can someone please explain to me how that happened?

Around mid-November through mid-December I was so happy because I’d really found a rhythm, a productive and interesting but soothing rhythm, to my days.  I was finally comfortable enough to put 2012 into cruise control and start admiring the scenery.

Then 2013 came barging in and it totally threw off my groove.  The toddler-like newness of the year must be contagious because I’m stumbling about a bit trying to regain my stride.  I suppose I should respect the newness and not try so hard for broad, efficient striding at all.

nutty granola bowl 1

Transitions, good or bad, they’re always a little tricky and tiring.  Not the least of the reasons for which being that the crack in the earth is open and naughty daemons are wandering around making mischief in our lives and of our immune systems.  (Especially our immune systems!  Sniff, wheeze, cough.  More chicken soup please.)

But, the threshold has been crossed, and once you’re over you can look back, but you can’t go back.  Not with any amount of kicking or screaming or clinging to the doorframe.  What’s back there has been digested (hopefully well) and given strength to now, and now off we go to the next now and onward!

soaked pecans jar

I can’t imagine this year will be any less of a nutty year than the last.  I mean, it’s not every year you’re newlywed and decide to pick up and move away from the career path you’ve been on and the place you’ve been in almost a decade to a new place to start a new business (thanks 2012!).  Then again, it’s also not every year you adjust to being in said new place, building new friendships while finding new meaning in old ones, and actually building that business that you dreamed up last year.

We’ve got our work cut out for us!

In the spirit of the new and the old and of beginnings (like the beginning of the day because we know how I am about breakfast!) I have found a new breakfast to fortify us this year, a new breakfast that is also a very, very old breakfast.

nutty granola baking sheet

Granola, it’s like the very opposite of a novel thing for breakfast, actually.

Even for non-oat-eating me.  For years, literally years, hold on, let me count…about 6 or 7 years, granola with kefir (a drinkable yogurt-like concoction) was my daily breakfast.  I also had a daily post-breakfast tummy ache.  (Then I moved on to toast with almond butter, which also gave me a tummy ache. Oops. Ouch.)  Eventually I removed oats from my diet, which meant significantly fewer tummy aches and even fewer bowls of granola.

I missed it for a long while.  But as these things go, the missing eventually wore off, I wrote granola off completely, and it stopped entering my mind.

Until a few weeks ago while I was searching for Christmas cookies for the gluten, grain, and dairy intolerant among us.  In my searching I came across not just one but two different variations of granola made entirely without grains, and almost entirely with nuts.  Have you ever heard of anything more brilliant?!

I can’t eat all types of nuts, but I figured that there was room here to use any type of nut I wanted.  So, I got to work soaking some pecans and pistachios – I had never soaked nuts before, but it was revelatory, and I think from now on I will soak all of them since it makes them so much more digestible, and I think I even like their texture better.

nutty granola bowl 2

Unsurprisingly, the granola, once tossed in its honeyed butter coating and baked until brown and toasty, tastes, in a word, nutty.  Wonderfully so.  But, it somehow also gives you the impression that you are, impossibly, eating something with the earthy, dusty flavor of oats mingling in there as well.  It really tastes like granola.

The vanilla wafts through with tendrils of spice and bourbony sweetness, curling around the sturdier sweetness of the nuts and coconut.  If you use a good raw honey, and I venture that you really should, you’ll also taste entrancing hints of meadow flowers, something I’d never thought to wish for in my breakfast before, but now that it’s there, I’ll keep it!

Since I need a lot of protein in the morning to get me going (and I’ve become much more of a savory breakfast person than sweet, on the whole), I particularly appreciate how filling granola can be when it’s made entirely of nuts with very little sweetener, especially when I have it with some plain yogurt.

I’m already looking forward to breakfast tomorrow.  And I’m starting to feel like I may be getting my groove back.

nutty granola bowl 3

Vanilla Nut Granola (makes about 4-4 1/2 cups) (inspired by Gourmande in the Kitchen)

  • 1 cup raw pecans (or walnuts)
  • 1 cup raw pistachios (or almonds)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 3 Tbs. butter (or ghee, or coconut oil)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 2 Tbs. chia seeds (optional)
  1. Soak your nuts prior to using them as this releases certain enzyme inhibitors that would otherwise make them difficult to digest.  Put your raw nuts in a bowl, add a pinch of salt and enough water to cover them.  Let them soak for 8 hours, then drain them and spread them out on a baking sheet in a warm dry place to let them dry for about another 8-12 hours.  Now they’re ready to go.
  2. Heat your oven to 225F.  Place your nuts in a food processor and pulse them until they’re just very roughly chopped.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine the honey and the butter and warm them together until the butter melts.  Stir in the vanilla.
  4. Add the honey mixture to the food processor along with the coconut and chia seeds (if using).  Pulse a little bit more just until everything is chopped to about the sized of oats.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat and spread your granola out on it.  Bake it in the oven, stirring it up just once or twice during the process, until it is toasty and mostly dry, about 45 minutes.  Take it out and let it cool completely.  At this point you can stir in some dried fruit if you’d like (I like to stir in chopped dried figs.)  Store the granola in an airtight container in a cool place (the fridge works well for longer storage because it prevents any of the fats in the nuts from going rancid).
  6. Enjoy your granola with any variety of milk, yogurt, or kefir – dairy or non-dairy – or by itself as a little snack.

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