The more I learn about commercial cereals, the more horrified (and outraged) I become at the fact that these so-called “foods” have become the staple of our American get-out-of-bed and out-the-door routines. As a part of my soak, sprout, and ferment fanaticism, I’ve almost completely replaced all cold cereals with more healthy options. But the reality is, these healthy options take TIME, and sometimes I just need everybody to get dressed and brush their hair and put on their shoes and grab something to eat or else we’re all GOING TO BE LATE FOR CHURCH and didn’t I tell you to brush your hair?!?!
So that’s where the granola comes in. I keep the pantry stocked with these healthy breakfast options so when time is of the essence, we don’t have to sacrifice the most important meal of the day on the alter of the urgent. Be sure to scroll down for the second recipe, which uses the exact same techniques as the first one but with a very different flavor.
Cranberry Apple Raw Granola
(otherwise known as “Crabby Apple Granola” since I usually serve it when I’m running late and, well, cranky)
8 c. organic rolled oats
1 c. soaked almonds*, coarsely chopped
1 c. soaked sunflower seeds*
1 c. soaked sesame seeds*
1/4 c. flax seeds
1 c. unsweetened cranberries, raw or dehydrated, chopped fine
1 c. dried apple slices, coarsely chopped
1 c. raisins, optional (one of my children hates raisins, so I don’t always put these in)
1 T. grated orange peel, option
1/4 c. (or more!) bee pollen, optional
Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. If you have a food processor, you can make quick work of the chopping by processing the almonds, cranberries, and apples together using short pulses. The bee pollen is a wonderful addition, but if you’ve never eaten it before, you might want to start with only a tablespoon and work your way up to more. It is an amazing superfood and I encourage you to try it!
1 c. applesauce (no sugar added)
3/4 c. coconut oil
3/4 c. raw honey (you may use more or less depending on how sweet your family likes it)
1 T. vanilla
2 t. cinnamon
Coconut oil turns solid at 76 degrees, so you may need to heat it to turn it back into a liquid. Warm it gently over low heat to preserve the nutrients. Once it’s liquid, remove from heat and stir in the rest of the liquid ingredients. Don’t worry if the ingredients don’t combine completely. Just stir them together as best you can and pour over the dry ingredients. Stir until well combined.
Now here’s an important step: Cover the bowl and set aside for 12-24 hours, stirring occasionally. The reason we do this is because the oats, which are seeds, have the same nasty enzyme inhibitors (phytates) that other seeds have (more, in fact). In order to access the valuable nutrients oats offer, we must soak them. But, it’s difficult to soak oats without them turning to mush. Here’s the good news: the powerful enzymes in honey can go to work on those oats and break down the phytates so our bodies can use the nutrition in the oats. It just takes time. So, plan ahead and let the granola sit. I’m sure you can find something else to do in the mean time. Laundry, anyone?
Fast forward to the next day: Your granola has “soaked” and it’s time to crisp it back up or there’s no way it’s going to pass for an alternative to Cocoa Puffs. Spread the granola out onto prepared dehydrator sheets. If your dehydrator has a thermostat, set it no higher than 135 degrees (the granola won’t get that hot, so don’t worry about killing any enzymes) until the granola is crispy (usually 6-8 hours for my dehydrator). If you do not have a dehydrator, you can bake the granola on your oven’s lowest setting, but be aware that it will no longer be raw (and therefore, not as nutritious nor as trendy).
*Soaking seeds and nuts, which are seeds, is an important step to creating a healthy granola because these foods contain enzyme inhibitors (a natural coating which prevents the seeds from sprouting before they’re ready). The enzyme inhibitors keep the nutrients locked up in the seeds, and make them more difficult for our bodies to digest. Soaking the seeds releases the enzyme inhibitors, “wakes up” the seeds, and creates a living, highly nutritious food. To soak seeds, simply place them in individual, impeccably clean glass jars and cover with plenty of filtered water. Allow the seeds to soak for 12-24 hours. Rinse and drain well. I dehydrate my soaked seeds for later use, or store them in the refrigerator if I’m going to use them within a week. Dehydrated soaked seeds taste almost exactly like their non-soaked counterparts and can be used in exactly the same way. I process my seeds and nuts in big batches so I always have them ready to use and don’t have to hold up my granola making because I’m waiting for nuts to soak.
Now that you have the basic process down, here’s another recipe!
Tropical Twist Raw Granola
SO TASTY, even Fruity Pebbles would be jealous
8 c. organic rolled oats
2 c. dried peaches, apricots, and/or mangos, diced or cut into small pieces
1 c. raw soaked and dried nuts (macadamia or cashews are wonderful, but expensive. Soaked almonds taste almost as good).
1 c. soaked and dried sunflower seeds
1 c. flaked coconut (unsweetened)
1 c. soaked sesame seeds
1/4 c. flax seeds
1/4 c. (or more!) bee pollen
Combine all dry ingredients. See notes above for information on soaking nuts (it’s a fascinating read, really).
1 c. unrefined coconut oil (heated over low temperature to liquify, if necessary)
1 c. raw honey
1 T. vanilla
Combine wet ingredients as well as you can, and pour over the dry ingredients. Stir well to combine. Cover and set aside for 12-24 hours. Then, spread the granola evenly on dehydrator trays and set the thermostat for no more than 135 degrees. Allow to dry until crispy, about 6-8 hours.