Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Cooking

Rich granola finds a hearty mate in popped quinoa

In December I make double and triple batches of granola to give as Christmas presents, party favors and host gifts: my customary mix of oats, oat bran, coconut chips, spices and lots of nuts and seeds. But this could also be a healthy snack as we look ahead to a new year.

This year I added popped quinoa, which is quinoa that is toasted until the seeds begin to pop, like popcorn. It's crunchy but not hard, with a flavor both grassy and nutty.

I'm seeing popped quinoa in restaurant dishes and in recipes, where the popped seeds are sometimes used to garnish soups, cooked grains or yogurt and fruit. They enrich this granola in the nicest way, adding texture and flavor, as well as a bit of "stealth health" — the quinoa bumps up the protein content.

One of the reasons I prefer to make my own granola is that most commercial granola is too sweet for my palate. I like it sweet, mind you, but not cloying. I find that a half-cup of sweetener is more than adequate for this nine-cup batch. I used agave syrup, which, like honey, has more depth of flavor than sugar. But unlike honey, it also works for vegans.

For fat, I use a mix of fragrant coconut oil tempered with lighter, more neutral grapeseed oil. If you want a richer result with a stronger coconut flavor, you can use all coconut oil. But this granola, fragrant with vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg, and generous with its nuts, tastes plenty rich to me.

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