Posts Tagged ‘granola’

Quite a lot has transpired since I last posted on the day I was scheduled to be induced for labor. I had a long induction, beginning September 18th and finally resulting in the birth of our daughter on September 21st. My preeclampsia worsened after giving birth, so I ended up in the hospital for an additional four days. In addition, our daughter was small at birth, so she ended up in the NICU for 11 days. We finally were all home together on October 1st, and we began settling into our new life.

Unfortunately, my father-in-law became very sick a couple weeks later, spending some time in the ICU. He eventually died on October 22nd. We were all in shock; actually, I think we still are.

Granola Bars

I really have not been doing much cooking at all since I had my baby, though I have managed to crank out the three recipes from this episode of Good Eats. Thankfully, this episode was composed of easy recipes that are not time-consuming, as I am strictly working on someone else’s unpredictable schedule now. Still, I was able to find time to whip up Alton’s granola bars. Begin by preheating your oven to 350, and spread the following ingredients on a sheet pan:  8 oz old-fashioned oats, 1.5 oz raw (unshelled) sunflower seeds, 3 oz sliced almonds, and 1.5 oz wheat germ.

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Old-fashioned oats, raw sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, and wheat germ on a sheet pan.

Place the sheet pan in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, stirring the dry ingredients every five minutes. When you remove the sheet pan from the oven, decrease the oven temperature to 300.

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Old-fashioned oats, raw sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, and wheat germ after toasting.

Next it is time to prep the wet ingredients by placing 6 oz honey in a medium saucepan with 1 3/4 oz dark brown sugar, 1 oz unsalted butter, 2 t vanilla, and 1/2 t Kosher salt. Set the saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved.

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Honey, dark brown sugar, unsalted butter, vanilla, and Kosher salt.

Add the oat mix to the liquid mixture, along with 6.5 oz of chopped dried fruit (I used apricots and cranberries). Toss to mix the ingredients thoroughly.

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Oat mixture and dried fruit added to liquid ingredients.

Place the oat mixture in an oiled 9×9 pan, pressing it down with your hands.

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Granola mixture pressed into square pan.

Bake the bars at 300 degrees for 25 minutes.

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Granola mixture after baking.

Let the bars cool completely on a wire rack before turning them out onto a board, and cut the bars into 16 squares.

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Cooled granola bars turned onto a board.

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An Alton granola bar.

The nutrition in each granola bar is:

  • 193 calories
  • 30.5 g carbohydrates
  • 4.5 g protein
  • 6.8 g fat
  • 3.66 g fiber
  • 61.3 mg sodium

My bars crumbled a bit when I cut them, but they tasted really great. They were crunchy and chewy, and had a subtle hint of salt to compliment the sweetness of the fruit. I found myself reaching for these bars as an afternoon snack, and I ate some of the crumbly bits with yogurt for breakfast. This was my favorite recipe of this episode.

Protein Bars

If you’ve ever eaten a protein bar, you know they tend to taste less than stellar. With this recipe, Alton claims to have created the best tasting protein bar you can find anywhere. These bars start with preheating your oven to 350. While the oven heats, combine 4 oz soy protein powder, 2 1/4 oz oat bran, 2 3/4 oz whole wheat flour, 3/4 oz wheat germ, and 1/2 t Kosher salt in a bowl. I could not find soy protein powder even at my local health food store, so I finally ended up subbing whey protein powder.

Next, chop 3 oz each of raisins and dried blueberries, along with 2 1/2 oz each dried cherries and dried apricots.

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Raisins, dried blueberries, dried apricots, and dried cherries.

In a second bowl, whisk together a 12.3 oz package of silken tofu, 4 oz dark brown sugar, 2 eggs, 1/2 C unfiltered apple juice, and 2/3 C natural peanut butter. For those who have peanut allergies, you can substitute almond or cashew butter.

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Silken tofu, dark brown sugar, eggs, and apple juice.

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Silken tofu, dark brown sugar, eggs, apple juice, and peanut butter.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, followed by the chopped dried fruit.

Use your hands to thoroughly mix the batter, and pour/press the finished batter into a 9×13″ pan that has been lined with oiled parchment paper.

Bake the bars at 350 for 35 minutes, or until they have an internal temperature of 205 degrees.

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Bars after baking to an internal temperature of 205.

Cool the bars completely on a wire rack before turning them out onto a board, and cut with a pizza wheel into 24 bars.

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Bars, cut into 24 pieces.

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Alton’s protein bars.

These bars can be stored in the refrigerator for a week or in the freezer for up to three months. These bars are dense and cakey, and I really like the flavor/moisture from the dried fruit. They do have a fairly strong peanut butter flavor, so I’d opt for a different nut butter if you do not care for peanut butter. While I wouldn’t say these are a treat, they are pretty tasty for what they are, and I have grabbed them for a quick snack when I haven’t had time to eat. The nutritional breakdown for these bars is:

  • 154 calories
  • 21.1 g carbohydrates
  • 8.4 g protein
  • 4.8 g fat
  • 2.1 g fiber
  • 91.9 mg sodium
  • 17.7 mg cholesterol

Brown Rice Crispy Bar

The last bar Alton tackles in this episode is his take on the classic Rice Krispies treat. For his bars, Alton brings a pot of water to a bare simmer, placing a large metal mixing bowl over the top (my mixing bowls are insulated, so I used a large pot).

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Ingredients for bars: dried fruit, mini marshmallows, honey, flax seed oil, and puffed brown rice. Not pictured: toasted slivered almonds.

To the bowl he adds 1 T honey, 3 T flax seed oil, and 7 oz miniature marshmallows. He stirs the mixture until it is melted and smooth.

Once melted, he turns the heat off, but keeps the marshmallow mixture over the warm water. To this he adds 3 oz puffed brown rice, 3 oz toasted slivered almonds (I toasted my almonds in a skillet), 1 1/2 oz chopped dried cranberries, 1 1/2 oz chopped dried cherries, and 1 oz dried blueberries.

After stirring everything together, he dumps the mixture into a 9×13″ pan (metal is best) that has been oiled with vegetable or canola oil. With oiled hands (I find that using damp hands works just as well) he presses the mixture down into the pan and allows the pan to cool completely before cutting into 24 bars.

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Bar mixture placed in oiled pan.

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Alton’s rice crispy bars.

I had really high hopes for these bars because I am a fan of Rice Krispies treats, but these were super disappointing to me. My biggest grievance with these bars was their texture, which resembled stale cereal. After reading the online reviews of this recipe, I also saw that some people complained of the flax seed flavor, but that didn’t really bother me too much. Honestly, I tried to like these, but just couldn’t get past their unappealing texture. I did, however, like the dried fruit in these, so maybe I’ll add some dried fruit when I next make Rice Krispies treats. Nutrition-wise, these bars have:

  • 93.8 calories
  • 15.1 g carbohydrates
  • 1.16 g protein
  • 3.7 g fat
  • 1 g fiber
  • 4.3 mg sodium

The 56th episode of Good Eats commences with Alton dressed as a primitive Scotsman and making haggis in the woods. Though there is an online recipe for Alton’s haggis, it was really prepared as more of a shtick than as a real Good Eats demo; therefore, I’m taking the liberty of not preparing haggis. I will freely admit that I was quite happy to learn that haggis would not be a “required” portion of my blog project. If, however, I ever make a trip to Scotland (and, I hope I do), I will surely give haggis an honest try.

Steel Cut Oatmeal

Prior to watching this episode of Good Eats I had never before consumed steel cut oatmeal. Types of oats are differentiated by the amount of processing they have undergone. Whole oats are unprocessed oats that still have their coats, while steel cut/pinhead oats have been run through steel cutters. Rolled, or old-fashioned, oats are even further processed by being steamed, pressed, and dried. Finally, instant oats are the most processed oats, which have been further mashed, par-cooked, and dried. My brother loved flavored instant oatmeal packets when we were a kid, but they were never my thing. I decided to make Alton’s steel cut oatmeal for us on a lazy Saturday morning. The ingredients you will need for Alton’s steel cut oatmeal are butter, steel cut oats, boiling water, whole milk, buttermilk, Kosher salt, cinnamon, and brown sugar.

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Ingredients for steel cut oatmeal: whole milk, buttermilk, Kosher salt, brown sugar, cinnamon, butter, and steel cut oats. Not pictured: water.

In a large saucepan, saute 1 C steel cut oats in 1 T melted butter until there is a nutty aroma.

Add 3 C boiling water, decrease the heat to a simmer, and stir the oats. You do not want to add salt to the oats at this time because polysaccharides in the oats (called pentosans) give oatmeal its creamy texture; salt will compete with the pentosans for water, leaving you with non-creamy oatmeal.

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Three cups of boiling water to add to the sauteed oats.

Cover the pan with a lid and let it simmer for 30 minutes.

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Lid on the pan for a 30 minute simmer.

Meanwhile, combine 1/2 C whole milk with 1/2 C buttermilk. Combining the dairy ingredients will prevent the buttermilk from curdling when you add it to the hot oats.

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Buttermilk combined with whole milk.

When your 30 minute simmer is up, add the milks and 1/2 t Kosher salt to the oats.

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Dairy and salt added to oats.

Gently stir the oatmeal with the handle of a wooden spoon, letting it continue to cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Serve the warm oatmeal in bowls with buttermilk, cinnamon, and brown sugar.

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A delicious bowl of steel cut oatmeal with brown sugar, buttermilk, and cinnamon.

We really enjoyed our steel cut oatmeal and I will be making it again. It is a hearty breakfast and the oats have a lot more texture than old-fashioned or instant oats, which I really appreciate. I also really liked the addition of buttermilk for a bit of tang in the oatmeal. Though steel cut oatmeal takes a bit longer to prepare than old-fashioned oatmeal, I think it is well worth the additional time.

Overnight Oatmeal

If you are looking for a super easy, fast, and delicious hot breakfast, Alton’s overnight oatmeal is fantastic. All you will need for this are a few ingredients and a slow cooker. In your slow cooker combine 1 C steel cut oats, 4 C water, 1 C dried cranberries, 1/2 C sliced dried figs, and 1 C cream.

Note that the online recipe calls for 1/2 C half-and-half instead of the cup of cream Alton used in the episode. Set the slow cooker to low and let it cook overnight for 8-9 hours.

I made this for us to have in the morning before a long run and we both really thought it was good. Actually, we liked it so much that I made it a second time a few days later. The oatmeal is rich and still has some texture from the steel cut oats, and the dried fruit adds the perfect amount of sweetness. The dried fruit really plumps up after cooking overnight. Plus, you could add any dried fruit you would like. We found that no additional toppings or seasonings were needed for this oatmeal. As an aside, Ted is doing pretty well as he is going through chemo, and ran 10 miles recently!

Granola

A recipe for granola is the final recipe in this oat episode of Good Eats. You will need to be sure you can hang around your kitchen for a little while when you start this one. Begin by combining the following ingredients in a large bowl:  6 T brown sugar, 1 C slivered almonds, 3/4 C sweetened coconut, 1 C cashews, 3/4 t Kosher salt, and 3 C rolled oats.

Thoroughly mix all of these ingredients before adding 1/4 C canola oil and 6 T maple syrup. We are very fortunate because Ted’s aunt and uncle in Wisconsin produce their own maple syrup, and it is much better than what you can purchase in stores.

Toss the granola well and spread it on a sheet pan.

Bake the granola at 250 degrees for an hour and 15 minutes, stirring the granola every 15 minutes.

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My granola, after baking for about an hour and 15 minutes.

Let the granola cool for a half hour before adding dried fruit of your choice; I added a cup of dried cherries to my granola.

This granola is sweet, crunchy, and delicious. We still have some granola in our pantry and I find myself grabbing a handful when I pass by. This is another recipe I will keep on hand and plan to make again, perhaps altering the nuts and fruit.