June 19, 2011

My Go-To Granola

As I've mentioned before, I make granola often, but often, it goes undocumented.  I like to play around with different ingredeints and flavors depending on the season, but that doesn't mean I don't play favorites.  This is the recipe I keep coming back to; it's my standby.

I think I like this particular combination so much because it's filled with some of my favorite things: almonds, coconut, buckwheat, pumpkin seeds, and usually, maple syrup.   It's also extra crunchy, which I love, thanks to the buckwheat groats.  For this batch, I decided to experiment with a new sweetener I found on sale at Whole Foods: Coconut nectar.

Coconut nectar is a low-glycemic (GI of 35) sweetener that contains 17 amino acids and has a nearly neutral pH.   It's derived from the sap of coconut blossoms and the brand I purchased, Coconut Secret, is also 100% Raw, Vegan, and Gluten-Free. Needless to say, I was excited to try it, especially because I love natural coconut flavor.  Unfortunately, once I got home, I realized that "Coconut Nectar does not have a coconutty flavor." Bummer.

For those of you who are curious, if I had to compare the flavor of coconut nectar to anything it would probably be barley malt syrup or perhaps dark agave nectar.  It has a deep, not quite caramely flavor that I didn't particularly take to.  My verdict is that while the nectar is a worthy product, I definitely prefer the flavor of maple syrup.  So I'll be sticking with the deliciously reliable grade b maple syrup for my usual granola, but I'm still going to play around with other uses for the remainder of my coconut nectar.  As for this granola, recently I've been enjoying it mixed in a bowl with chopped apples and raisins and topped with almond milk.  Breakfast or snack perfection.

Go-To Granola

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup raw buckwheat groats
1/2 cup raw almonds, chopped
1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds
2 1/2 tablespoons grade b maple syrup, coconut nectar, or other liquid sweetener
2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon ground chia or ground flaxseed (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of sea salt

Preheat your oven to 325 F.  Mix the first four ingredeints together in a large bowl.  In a small bowl (use the same one you melted the coconut oil in), whisk the last 5 ingredeints together and let sit for a few minutes to thicken if using ground chia/ flax.

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry until evenly coated.  Spread mixture onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20- 25 minutes, stirring every 10- 15 minutes, until golden.  Let cool and store in a sealed container.

June 12, 2011

Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies

To some of you, the combination of the words chickpea and blondie might make you shudder.  Trust me, I know how you feel.  When I first saw the "dessert hummus" recipes floating around the blog world, I cringed at the thought.  Sweet hummus?  It seemed so very wrong.  Soon enough though, my curiosity got the best of me and I tried my hand at some "cookie dough dip"-- more or less a blended mixture of chickpeas, nut butter, vanilla extract, maple syrup, and chocolate chips.  I didn't LOVE it, but really, it wasn't bad.  If I didn't have all these prior associations with hummus being a strictly savory Middle Eastern spread, I may have liked it even more.

Before the dessert hummus trend kicked in, Heidi from 101Cookbooks featured a recipe for Black Bean Brownies.  Initially, I was skeptical (though most of her recipes don't disappoint), but after this recent foray into the world of chickpea blondies, black bean brownies are definitely on my "must-bake" list.

To be honest, I didn't have high expectations going in to this recipe but I was pleasantly surprised with the results-- chickpea blondies are pretty good! And for all of you who are wondering: they don't taste like beans! Aside from being a fun kitchen experiment, they're are also great for those who are vegan and/or gluten-free.  I have to say, they might be some of the wholiest treats around.

Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies
If you don't have the two kinds of sweetener called for, I think these would work with 1/2 cup of either sucanat/ brown sugar or liquid sweetener. Also, feel free to add up to 3/4 cup sugar if you'd like them sweeter.  Next time I make these, I'll probably use a smaller pan because I like my blondies/ brownies to be thicker.

Adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie and Have Cake, Will Travel

1 1/2 cups chickpeas (1 can, drained and rinsed)
3 tablespoons sucanat or brown sugar
3 tablespoons agave nectar or maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
2 tablespoons coconut milk or almond milk
1/4 cup nut butter [I used 2 tbsps roasted almond butter and 2 tbsps roasted cashew]
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate

Preheat your oven to 350 F.  Blend all ingredients (except chocolate) in a food processor until very smooth. Mix in chocolate, and spread evenly into a greased 8×8 pan.

Bake for about 22 minutes.  Blondies should be just starting to crack at the middles and turn golden at the edges.  You want them to look a little undercooked when you take them out, because if over-baking will result in a dry, crumbly texture.

Once fully cooled, cut into 16 squares and serve.