A few days ago Marnely tweeted that she was eating granola instead of Nutella. The first thing that came to my mind was “why can’t it be both?” You may think that adding Nutella to granola is crazy, but I often add nut butters to granola to help it “clump” together. I saw no reason why Nutella couldn’t do the same thing.
At first I was going to just use Nutella and not any other nut butters. I changed my mind because of all the sugar in Nutella. A variety of sugars gives the best consistency to granola, and if I went with all Nutella I wouldn’t be able to add more sugars. Well, I could.. but then I couldn’t even pretend that it was healthy. If you make your own hazelnut chocolate spread you could probably use just that without the granola becoming overly sweet. I used coconut sugar for the same reason, it’s not as sweet as regular granulated sugar. If you don’t have any on hand feel free to use regular sugar.
My little experiment worked out really well. The granola tastes like granola, but with just a hint of Nutella in the background. The dried cherries gave it a really nice burst of tartness too. I ate some with milk tonight and it was like having Nutella cereal. So good!
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup puffed millet (or puffed cereal of your choice, I like millet because its small)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbs butter
- 1/4 cup Nutella
- 1/4 cup almond butter
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 cup almonds, chopped
- 1/2 cup dried sour cherries
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix the oats, millet, cinnamon and salt together. Set aside.
- In a small sauce pan, heat the butter, Nutella, and almond butter. Stir until they are well combined and quite liquid. Remove from the heat and add the sugar and maple syrup. (This mixture tastes really good, by the way)
- Pour the butter mixture into the oat mixture. Stir until the oats are well coated.
- Pour the oat mixture out onto the prepared baking sheet in an even layer.
- Bake for 20 minutes, then stir and add the almonds. Bake for 20 minutes more.
- Let cool, then stir in the dried cherries.
I did something stupid last week. My cousin and I have been discussing going on a trip this summer. I haven’t booked anything yet because my condo is still not sold. On Wednesday I was having a bad day so I decided to pretend that I actually am going away, and I went bikini shopping.
It’s been a few years since I bought a bikini; I know I’ve gained some weight in those years, so I tried one size bigger than what I used to buy. Disaster. I was popping out and bulging over all over the place. It really was horrifying to see.
I did not buy a bikini that day.
The experience did have a positive side. It motivated me to start going to the gym again. Because of my commute to the office, it’s easiest for me to go early in the morning. I get up around 5:45 and I’m at the gym by 6:30. After my workout I hope on the bus and head to the office.
To keep myself going after my workout, I need a snack I can eat easily on the bus. I used to buy granola bars, but the amount of sugar in them defeats the purpose of working out. Instead I’ve started making my own.
The recipe still needs some perfecting, the bars sometimes break apart when I’m cutting them, but I decided to share the recipe anyway. If any of you have made granola bars, I’d appreciate any tips you might have.
Cranberry Almond Granola Bars
- 1 ¼ cup oats
- ¼ cup bran flakes
- 1 tbsp flax seeds
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup chopped almonds
- 2 tbsp butter
- ¼ cup almond butter
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 325. Line an 8 x 8 in pan with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, mix the oats, salt, bran flakes, flax, chia, cranberries and almonds together.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter then add the maple syrup, almond butter and vanilla. Stir until combined.
- Pour the butter mixture over the oat mixture. Stir until all the oats are covered.
- Pour the oat mixture into the prepared pan, spreading the oat evenly.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until browned.
- Let cool completely. Using the overhang from the parchment paper, pull the granola out, and cut into bars.
Winter in Canada can last up to 6 months. In Montreal the first snowfall usually happens in November and the last one in April (sometimes even May). To avoid going completely insane, many of us take up winter sports like skiing or skating. On top of keeping us entertained, winter sports teach us some valuable skills. Most importantly, they teach us how to fall. Basic rule of thumb; sideways is better than backwards.
This week was a tough week for me in terms of falls. Thursday night I was walking home from the bus when I slipped on some ice. My skiing training kicked in, and I managed to fall on my side. The only bruise I suffered was to my ego. Friday was a different story. It was around the same time of night, and the same place, but this time the training did not kick in. My feet went straight out from under me, my tail bone hit the ground first, immediately followed by both my elbows. This fall was bad, the kind that makes you want to cry for your mommy. Unfortunately I’m a grown up and crying for my mommy is no longer socially acceptable, although there was no one around so I guess I could have done it.
Thankfully, I had three days to recover. For Saturday and Sunday, my couch and I were almost inseparable. I had planned on doing nothing the whole time, but by Monday nothing got kind of tiresome, and moving wasn’t that painful. So to pass the time I decided to make granola.
If you are looking for tips on how to make good crunchy granola that actually stays in clumps, this post from Gourmande in the Kitchen is great. Sylvie gives several easy tips in the post, and I added a couple of them to my standard granola recipe. First I used her idea of adding fruit puree to the granola to provide extra moisture, second I used her “clumping technique” to create nice chunks of granola. The granola turned out really well, next time I think I’ll try a few more of her tips.
- 2 cups quick oats
- 1 cup puffed millet
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cardamom
- 1/3 cup apple sauce
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp melted butter
- 1 cup raw pistachios
- 3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- Preheat oven to 300. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.
- In a large bowl, mix the oats, puffed millet, salt, and cardamom together.
- In a separate bowl, mix the apple sauce, maple syrup, sugar, and butter together. Add the wet mixture to the oat mixture. Make sure all of the oats are covered.
- Spread the granola mixture on to the prepared baking sheet. Clump some of the granola together making sure there is room on the sheet for air to circulate.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
- Add the nuts and seeds, and stir the granola. Bake for another 25-30 minutes, until the granola is a golden colour.
I have been trying to master the granola bar for a few weeks now, but so far every batch has had its issues. Batch number 1, too hard. Batch number 2, too soft. Both batches were very tasty though (probably due to an unhealthy dose of butter). Today I decided to try batch number 3. Martha Stewarts Cookie of the Day a couple of days ago was actually a health bar, which sounded pretty close to what I wanted . It also had the added bonus of giving me a way to use up the leftover pitted dates I had in the freezer. I thought the consistency in batch number 3 was the best, but my brother said they were more like a power bar than a granola bar.
We both thought they tasted..well.. lets just say they tasted healthy.
I changed the combination of nuts and dried fruit and used a combination of oatmeal and quinoa flakes, but otherwise made the recipe as instructed.
- 1 cup pitted pressed dates
- 1 cup oatmeal
- 1/2 cup quinoa flakes
- 1 cup almonds
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1/3 cup dried blueberries
- 1/3 cup dried apricots
- 3 tbsp ground flax
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350.
- In a large saucepan cover dates with water and bring to a simmer, mixing often. The water and dates will combine to form a paste.
- Add oatmeal, quinoa flakes, nuts, dried fruit, flax and cinnamon to pot. Stir until well combined.
- Press mixture into a greased 8 inch square baking pan.
- Bake for 25 minutes, until edges are golden.
- Allow to cool completely then cut into squares.
Although I realize these are very good for me and will make an excellent mid morning snack, I don’t think I’ll be making them again. The hunt for the perfect granola bar recipe continues.