almond & apricot granola

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crunchy, chewy, filling and good for you

We were getting in a rut of eating toast and eggs for breakfast. Don’t get me wrong I love toast and eggs (especially because we get local fresh eggs from a dedicated amazing 12 year old egg farmer!). To change things up a bit, I recently purchased some granola from Farm Boy – a small little package on sale for $4.99.  $4.99 is better than $5.99 but that is still really quite expensive when you think about what it in the store-bought stuff…a few cranberries, tiny tiny slivers of almonds (maybe 2 tbsp!) and a whole lot of oats and brown rice syrup (the first two ingredients listed on the back of the package).

I actually really enjoy making my own granola but just haven’t done so in awhile. You get to put whatever you feel like in it and you can control the sweetness.  This time I used what I had in the pantry and I loved the combo – apricots and almonds (and I had to use up about 10 pecans so if you’re eyeing my pictures carefully that’s the other nut you see!). The apricots are super dark because I bought the unsulfured kind. They are actually really soft, sweet and really delicious.

Homemade granola is a great snack on its own, over yogurt, or can act as cereal with any kind of milk (2%, almond, soy, etc).  You can play around with the ratios a bit but you need the fat (I used coconut oil but you could use melted butter) and you need some liquid sweetness (like honey or maple syrup) so that your granola forms some clusters.  I like loading mine with mostly nuts and fruit, unlike the packaged stuff which is mostly oats. It’s definitely a better bang for your buck, and super easy and quick to make. It stores really well for at least 2 weeks in an airtight container (and even longer if you have it in the fridge).  It’s also a much more guilt-less snack when you’re craving something to munch on later in the evening once the kiddos are in bed!

what you need:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 cups of whole raw almonds
  • 1 generous cup of dried apricots (I used organic unsulfured)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt

what to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place almonds in a large ziplock bag and roughly crush them with a rolling pin.IMG_8048.JPG
  3. Place almonds and oats in a large bowl. Add cinnamon, salt, honey and melted coconut oil. Stir to coat and mix evenly.
  4. Spread mixture out on parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes – carefully stirring once halfway into cooking time – until golden brown (I have a convection oven which bakes faster).
  5. While almonds are baking roughly chop apricots into small pieces.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool – combine apricots and almond mixture, & enjoy!
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store in an airtight container

 

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date balls (energy bites!)

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So I am officially a huge date fan now and remember that huge bag of pressed dates I had kicking around in the pantry?…Well it is gone and I had to buy pitted dates this time (I couldn’t find the pressed ones) and the 1kg container is at it’s half life already!

These are very similar to the previous post crispy oat, nut & date bars but they have a hint of peanut butter in them (which means less butter butter!), less sugar and lots of almond & pumpkin seed goodness.  Definitely experiment your favourite seeds & nuts – and the measurements don’t have to be exact but be careful to add them slowly to the date mixture because the important part is to be sure there is enough date ratio so the ball holds together well. These are a household favourite now and my kids just love them! They are a great snack to keep in your purse (they snacked on them this morning at the grocery store) with minimal mess!

*If your seeds and/or nuts are salted – you don’t need to add salt to the recipe.

what you need (give or take!):

  • 1 1/4 cup pitted dates
  • 3/4 cup whole almonds
  • 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup rice crispy cereal
  • 2 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp brown sugar (or coconut sugar)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 small pinch of salt

what to do:

  1. In a food processor, pulse almonds until quite fine (you can keep it chunkier but it tends to stick better in the ball if it’s smaller). Remove.
  2. In the same processor, pulse pumpkin seeds. Add to almond mixture and combine.
  3. In the same processor, pulse the dates until it forms a ball going around and around – paste like.
  4. In a small pot on medium low, add dates, butter, peanut butter, cinnamon, salt and brown sugar – use a firm spatula or large fork to mash everything together, until evenly combined – then turn off the heat. Add vanilla and stir.
  5. Add about 3/4 of the seed and nut mixture to the date mixture – stir to combine – if it’s still quite sticky and date dominant – add the rest. Add the rice crispies as well – stir and either form balls or press into a 9×9″ square pan for squares.

*if you are making balls – grease your fingertips a little bit with vegetable oil or butter so that they don’t stick to you.

*if you are making squares – make sure they are completely cooled before you slice. a knife dipped in hot water will make the slicing easier.

ENJOY!