Apple & Fig Granola + Grilled Cheese Redemption

I don’t know why, but the idea of making granola always seemed daunting to me. It’s one of those things (like baking bread)  that I would rather just buy from the store. And really, it is completely silly that I would put granola on the same level as homemade bread (bread is way more time consuming!) Then I saw this survey that the ladies behind Blend sent out (created by the wonderful girls at Nuts About Granola). I really thought about exactly what it’s made up of, which is really only a few ingredients (most of which I already have in my pantry). Since I finally had a free afternoon yesterday, I decided that it was a good day to finally make some granola.

I looked through a few recipes online, but nothing really jumped out at me. I had a flavor combination in my head: Almond, coconut, apricot and maple. I already had the almond, coconut and maple at home, but needed to stop by the store to get some apricots on the way home. I was feeling lazy, and just went to the grocery store right by my house (which is a Food Lion, and has the worst selection ever) and tried my luck at finding some apricots. Unfortunately, the only apricots they had were chocked full of preservatives (no thanks!) but there was good selection of dried organic fruits. I couldn’t choose between dried apples and figs, so I got both. Here are the star ingredients:

When I got home, I got to working on my granola masterpiece. I ended up nixing the coconut, because I figured that the other two fruits would be enough. I also added some flax seeds, which I ground up in our old little cheap-o coffee grinder (we have since upgraded, and the old one is really only used for grinding flax seeds!). I chopped up the fruit and almonds and got to mixing up the rest of the ingredients.

These were added into a bowl along with coconut oil (which was heated up to melt), oats and a maple/agave blend syrup. Cinnamon, vanilla extract, and a dash of stevia provided the final touches, and then the ingredients were spread out onto a pan and set into the oven to bake.

The smell coming from the oven was incredible! I could hardly wait for this to be done baking so that I could taste it! Luckily, granola doesn’t take too long to bake. I patiently let it cool, and then put the contents into a jar for storage.

Of course, I didn’t put it all into a jar- I used some to top off my afternoon snack. I love this combination- 1/2 c cottage cheese, 2 T peanut flour, vanilla stevia, a dash of salt, 1 T each pumpkin puree + almond milk, and a small apple chopped up, all mixed together. Granola was the perfect topping!

The only problem is, now I just can’t keep my hands out of the granola jar. It’s so good!

So here’s the recipe (which is very low in sugar and fat):

Apple + Fig Granola (makes about 4 cups)

1/2 T coconut oil

2 1/2 c oats (I used Country Choice Organic Multigrain)

2 T flax seeds (if using already ground, use 3 T)

1/3 c dried apples, chopped

3 dried figs, chopped

1/4 c almonds, chopped

2 T maple/agave blend

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp cinnamon

dash of stevia (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 300. Melt the coconut oil in a large bowl. Stir in oats until well coated (oats will still appear dry). Grind flax seeds and add to the oats, along with the remaining ingredients. Stir until well-mixed together. Spray a large cookie sheet with nonstick spray, and evenly spread the granola mixture onto the pan. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, stirring twice. Let granola sit to cool for about 10 minutes and then store in an air-tight container.

I even calculated the nutritional stats! Per 1/2 cup serving: 160 calories, 4.25 g fat, 5 g fiber, 4 g protein

**

The other big plan for last night was to redeem myself from my mediocre attempt at grilled cheese and tomato soup a couple of weeks ago. The first time I made it, I really focused on just making the sandwich as simple as it could be, and over complicated the tomato soup. But this time, I made the sandwich exactly the way I wanted it (which is definitely more complicated than cheese on bread with a little bit of butter on the outside). I roasted up some eggplant, red pepper, red onion and crimini mushrooms. Instead of cheddar, I used a combination smoked mozzarella and a wedge of Laughing Cow light swiss cheese. I placed all of these ingredients between two pieces of bread, along with some basil, and broke out the grill pan.

For the tomato soup, I kept it very simple. I used a 15 oz. can of diced (no salt added) tomatoes, 1 large glove of roasted garlic, 1.5 c vegetable broth, fresh basil, a little salt, pepper and a tiny splash of milk. I let all of the ingredients cook on low in a pot for about 30 minutes, so that the flavors could mix together. Then I used the immersion blender to break everything down.

Once again, the weather was so nice out that al fresco patio dining was necessary (near 70 degrees at 7:00 pm!).

Greg polished of one of the cans of Guinness left in the fridge from Saturday and I had some sparkling water (which I happen to love). Random fact: I prefer to use a mug for any type of beverage. I have so many beautiful mugs, and think it’s a ridiculous notion that they can only be used for hot drinks!

My sandwich was perrrrfect.

And so was the soup! Much better than last time.

The only sensible thing to do was to enjoy the two together.

I also made some roasted kale for myself Greg and I to share.

As usual, I deconstructed my sandwich. I always end up doing this- I’m not really sure why. Maybe because it seems to last a little longer? It was just as yummy all pulled apart.

Mmmm… melted smoked mozzarella….

After dinner we played with the dogs for a while in the backyard, but they were not interested in playing fetch. Some “retrievers” we have! I also noticed that our grass is going to need to be cut soon- it’s been a long time since we’ve had to do that! Spring is finally here – officially. 🙂

What’s your favorite granola combination? Do you ‘deconstruct’ your sandwich?

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28 Comments on “Apple & Fig Granola + Grilled Cheese Redemption”

  1. Pickles & Honey says:

    I deconstruct my sandwiches too! I’ve been picking apart my food since I was little. I think I get it from my mom.

    I LOVE tomato soup and should really make it more often. Also, your granola sounds great! Homemade is more fun than store-bought because you can customize everything!

    • Lauren says:

      I don’t think my mom pulls hers apart, but I’ve been doing it forever!
      Soup is the easiest thing in the world to make, and I rarely make it. I think I just really have to be in the mood for it. I like texture, what can I say?!

  2. Your food (even your snacks) always look so gourmet 🙂 I’m jealous but too lazy to make my food that beautiful and tasty!

  3. Corrie Anne says:

    I deconstruct sandwiches when I need to examine what’s on them. Haha. That looks like a beautiful sandwich!! I love peanut butter in granola!!

  4. That Blend survey gave me the same idea1 I haven’t done it yet, but I may just make your granola. 🙂

  5. OH wow!! Food envy right now!! That all looks sooooo good! Nice work on the granola! I love that it’s so easy to make (I had no idea until I tried making it).

    Melted cheese is heaven. Amen.

  6. I love tomato soup and grilled cheese! It’s my favorite comfort meal. Of course, I go for the far less classly Kraft singles so I’ll definitely have to give this a try.

    I only deconstruct wraps. Sometimes I just want the chicken and buffalo wing sauce or sometimes I just want the wrap and buffalo sauce. I guess I ALWAYS want the buffalo sauce.

  7. This is an awesome post, Lauren!! Everything looks sooooooooooooo yummy!! The descriptions and pics were wonderful… I just wish it was ME sitting at that patio table with you eating that yummy food 🙂

    I am definitely going to try out that weird cottage cheese pumpkin thing you made. I NEVER would have thought of that combo!!

    -Kelly

    • Lauren says:

      Come over any time! (I guess it will be a lot easier when I get my butt out to Colorado). The pumpkin cottage cheese is great- but peanut flour is what really makes it!

  8. Sara R. says:

    I love to make granola, but it’s dangerous for me to have it around! I can plow through that stuff in no time. And I never deconstruct my sandwiches, unless I have a problem with something in there. My girls, on the other hand, shred their sandwiches and will even eat PB&J one ingredient at a time. It will be interesting to see if that propensity sticks around as they get older!

    • Lauren says:

      I don’t know if you if you saw the comment from my cousin Gil (I think it was on the last post) but her recipe for individual granola sounds PERFECT. I’m doing that next time. I keep having to force myself to “forget” that the jar of granola is in the pantry.

  9. Gil says:

    I forgot about the other benefit to the individual portions of stovetop granola–if I make a whole batch, I cant stay away from it either! Its so good! And yours looks like it turned out perfectly.
    Its funny, I was just thinking yesterday how irrational my total love of/addiction to sparkling water is. Its just water…and air. And yet, if I don’t have some in the house to get my daily fix, I start to get all anxious. Makes no sense. Maybe because we weren’t allowed to have soda growing up, and it was the “special drink”??

    • Lauren says:

      You should get a soda stream! I want one- just for the sparkling water (don’t care about soda). And I love how you guys ate growing up. I thought it was weird as a kid, but that’s because I thought all the crap I ate was normal. Now I look back at how your mom fed you and just admire her so much more!

      • Gil says:

        Well, you were “normal”…and I was definitely conscious that other kids were getting “fun” things that I wasn’t allowed to have. I was always so jealous of the kids who had those little “Hug” drink barrel things in their lunch… haha, imagine how disappointed I was when I finally got my hands on one at a birthday party and found out how nasty they are!

  10. Maren Leah Kennedy says:

    Sandwiches dipped in tomato soup are the best!!!

  11. Holy cow that sammie looks good! I love grilled cheese, it’s such a comfort food. And if you stuff the sandwich with a bunch of good veggies you can fill up well without toooooo much cheese.

  12. Parita says:

    I thought I knew what I wanted to make for dinner until I read this post! I was thinking eggs, but a grilled cheese with veggies may make an appearance instead. Thanks for the idea! 🙂

  13. dude. WAY to enjoy life! Dining outside while chomping on yummy food. 🙂

  14. there is something absolutely lovely about eating outdoors. You know…Boston is a great eating outside kind of city! 😉

    • Lauren says:

      Yes, I know! I’ll be there for a hot minute next weekend (and probably not even in the city) but will be back for much longer in August and we WILL hang out then!

  15. This is great flavor combination for granola…I’m thinking, maybe we should try make a granola bar with this: it will be awesome!
    Mike


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