Monday, June 6, 2011

Granola- Far More Than a Friendly Adjective

Garam Masala Spiced Granola

As with many things, I didn't really discover my fondness for granola until I started working at The Steeping Room.  Living in Ann Arbor, Michigan for nearly 6 years, my association with the word was slightly different. :)  Breakfast for me previously was, well.....sporadic.  A breakfast bar while riding the bus to school, a breakfast taco on the rare occasion I wasn't running late.  So working the opening shift at the restaurant and having to contend with a 90 minute commute through morning rush hour traffic, it was impressed upon me that breakfast was, in fact, important.  Weird, I know.

And that's when I began my love affair with granola.

Unfortunately, when I started transitioning to a gluten-free diet, I learned that conventional oats are not considered gluten-free.  The main issue is cross-contamination, as oats are commonly grown on plots of land directly adjacent to wheat, barley, and rye, and often processed and packaged on the same equipment.  Another concern is that avenin, the protein found in oats, has been found to trigger the same immune response as gluten in some celiacs.  Well, it's better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all, right?

Well, lucky for me, certified gluten-free oats have become more readily available in the last 2 years.  These are pure, uncontaminated oats that have been rigorously tested for the presence of gluten.  So after determining that I didn't react to avenin, I have gradually reintroduced oats back into my diet.  Making my own oat flour for baking, warm oatmeal, topping a blueberry crumble, and of course, granola.  [sigh] 

Adapted from a wonderful granola recipe on The Amateur Gourmet, here's my own twist on the breakfast classic.

Gluten-Free/Vegan Garam Masala Spiced Granola
(GF, DF, V, rSF, SF)

3 c certified GF rolled oats
1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 c agave                                                    
1/3 c light oil 
1 teaspoon GF vanilla extract                                                 
1/4 c unrefined sugar                       
1/3 c nuts of choice
1 tablespoon flax seeds                                          
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1/3 c dried coconut
1/3 c dried fruit of choice

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2.  Toss oats with salt and spices in a large mixing bowl.
3.  In another bowl, combine agave, sugar, oil, and vanilla extract.
4.  Slowly pour wet ingredients over oats, mixing to coat.
5.  Line a shallow baking pan with parchment paper or a silicone mat.  Spread granola evenly.
6.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and use a spatula to turn the granola.  The oats should be slightly drier in texture and not sticking together as much.  If needed, return to oven and bake for 5-10 additional minutes.
7.  Add nuts to granola.  I used raw cashews and pumpkin seeds.  Incorporate them into the mixture, turn the granola, and return to the oven to bake for 5-10 minutes.
8.  Add flax and chia seeds to mixture.  Turn the granola and return to oven to bake for 5 minutes.
9.  Add the dried coconut.  Incorporate it in, turn the granola, and return to the oven one more time to bake for 5 minutes.
10.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.  It may still appear sticky, but as it cools, the caramelized sugar will harden and dry.
11.  The final addition is the dried fruit.  I used a variety of raisins, goji berries, and cherries.  Make sure the granola has sufficiently cooled before incorporating the dried fruit.
12.  Makes 6-10 servings, or just over 4 cups.

Sweet all over

Ready for the first trip to the oven

Cuckoo for coconut

Served with coconut milk and bananas

The beauty of granola is in its versatility.  What you put in it is entirely up to you and what ingredients you have on hand.  If you love the ingredients, you will most likely love the end product. 

Now, in closing, I just want to add a little disclaimer. 

If you have been diagnosed with celiac disease or are gluten intolerant, please consult your physician/health care provider before integrating GF oats into your diet.  If you are early in the stages of transitioning to a GF diet due to a health concern, it is not recommended that you eat even GF oats until your gut has made sufficient headway in its recovery.  When you do start incorporating them back into your diet, slowly and moderately are the key words.  The batch of granola that results from this recipe I never eat on my own.  I'll have maybe 1/2 to 1 cup a day at the most, and the rest I share. 

Listen to your body.  Open your mind, your heart, and your ears. Even when you don't know the questions, it will always give you the answers.


  1. Whoaaa what's going on with google again..
    It's Jess.

    I'm on the edge of granola and I'm having a bite of it now! =) The combination of ingredients sounds good to me. When I can make a batch I'm going to use it as a topper for fruit crumbles and for a granola cake/cookie. I'm so glad they have GF certified Oats available because oats are so good. I remember when I had a lot of transatlantic friends and we would IM and I talked about how I liked Oatcakes (scottish crackers made from oat flour) my friends was basically repulsed because she thought they tasted like cardboard. Hehe. My favorite was to have them with a piece of dark chocolate. Yummy. Anyhow, good work with the recipe kuya.

  2. And knowing *you* has changed mine! Thanks for the love, La!


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