Apple & Fig Granola + Grilled Cheese RedemptionPosted: March 21, 2012
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.
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?