Dec 222014

Quinoa Flake Granola

So, who else is totally new to the existence of quinoa flakes? Until recently, I had no idea! But there, in the oatmeal aisle of my local Whole Foods, was this solitary aqua blue box of these things. Turns out, quinoa flakes are much like other hot cereals and remind me of a sort of grassier-tasting cream of wheat. (They taste better than that sounds…)

They also work nicely as a substitute for oats in a sweet and savory granola — perfect for those of you who avoid oats, or for the rest of us who are just looking for a new twist on granola. This would make a tasty addition to a holiday breakfast spread, as well as a healthy way to kick off 2015.

I love using olive oil in granola of all sorts. I like that savory edge to balance the sweet (here, maple syrup), and it gives a depth of flavor to the toasted oats or quinoa flakes. Plus, it seems healthy on some level, so there’s that.

The recipe below doesn’t specify which nuts, seeds and dried fruits to use. And that’s because I’m always using up odds and ends of those things — I encourage you to do the same! From walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, to dried apricots, figs, cranberries, apples and raisins — they all work. My recent favorite combinations include walnut, pumpkin seed, dried figs, and golden raisins; pecans, apples and raisins; and walnuts, pine nuts, figs and apricots.

Quinoa Flake Granola + Almond Milk

Pairing: (Not just any) Almond Milk

Okay, I’ve tried ALL the almond milks on the shelves. Really. And I also survived the great almond milk shortage of 2013. (That’s when all the Houston Whole Foods completely ran out of my favorite, and I had to taste my way through every single other brand on the shelves before order was restored in the universe and my favorite almond milk was available again.)

I don’t want added sugar. And I don’t want added flavors. No vanilla flavored almond milk for me. So trust me when I say that this is the one to get. Whole Food’s 365 brand, unsweetened, unflavored almond milk. It’s the closest I’ve found to making almond milk from scratch — which isn’t that hard, but doesn’t seem to be something I manage to do very often.

Recipe: Quinoa Flake Granola

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup Grade B maple syrup
3 cups quinoa flakes
kosher salt
2 1/2 cups roughly-chopped raw nuts and seeds (see headnote)
1 1/2 cup roughly chopped dried fruit (see headnote)

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet (with sides!) with parchment paper.

Whisk together the olive oil and maple syrup in a very large mixing bowl. Add quinoa flakes and stir to evenly combine. Spread quinoa on prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Bake until quinoa is lightly-browned, dried and crunchy — 20 to 25 minutes, stirring at least once along the way. Watch carefully toward the end, particularly around the edges. Burned or darkly-toasted quinoa is seriously bitter.

Let quinoa cool completely before tipping into a clean bowl and stirring in nuts, seeds and dried fruit. Will stay crunchy and delicious for a couple of weeks if stored in an airtight container.

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