Granola, Pistachios, and 90 pounds!

It’s been almost a year and a half, but I have a good reason! For 8 months, I embarked on a journey that took all my concentration, will power, and energy: I lost 90 pounds!

No, I’m not anorexic. Yes, I have strong muscles. And yes, I’m still a foodie.

What have I learned? Well, I have reset my metabolism and my palate so that my cravings are for more natural deliciousness like fruits. I maintain my weight by separating fat-rich and carb-rich foods at lunch and dinner. I give myself one day off a week followed by one “recovery” day that’s protein-rich and fat- and carb-poor. I drink tons of water (at least 70 oz per day) if I want to feel fabulous.

So what does that mean for this documentation? Welp, it means I’ve become a granola-making fiend. I’m also researching ways to keep the balance of nutrients while still getting variety, fulfilling cravings (or preventing others), and making delicious food.

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Here is a recipe for a crunchy granola that I adapted from my friend Toby after having my second “day off” for New Year’s Eve. I make a variation on this theme often, now (only in smaller batches)! And as usual, I made it work for ingredients I had/wanted/needed to use. I strikethrough if I didn’t use an ingredient and bold if I added or chose differently.

Ingredients:

Dry:
5 cups (450g) multi-grain flakes or old-fashioned rolled oats
3 cups (375g) almonds, pistachios coarsely chopped
1 cup (125g) sunflower seeds
3/4 cup (100g) untoasted sesame seeds
1/2 cup (120g) packed light brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp dried ground ginger
1 tsp sea salt

Syrup:
3/4 cup (180g) unsweetened applesauce (or another unsweetened fruit puree)
1/3 cup (100g) brown rice syrup
1/4 cup (80g) honey
2 Tbsp vegetable coconut oil

After Baking:

1 cup raisins

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Metrics:
Yield:Makes about 2 pounds (1kg)
Attribution:Adapted from Feast, by Nigella Lawson

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 250°F. Mix oats, nuts, and sunflower seeds in a very large bowl. Pour onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Toast for 20-30 minutes. Mixture should become fragrant.
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2. Combine sesame seeds, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, salt in the very large bowl. Add toasted oats, nuts, and sunflower seeds. Turn oven up to 300°F.

3. In a small saucepan, warm the fruit puree with the rice syrup, honey, and oil. Stir to homogenize. Bring to a boil slowly on a low heat. Mixture should become fragrant.

4. Mix the fruit mixture into the dry ingredients until thoroughly dispersed, then divide and spread the mixture evenly on two baking sheets. (If you have ones with sides, often called jelly-roll pans, use them.)

5. Bake the granola for about 45 minutes, stirring every ten minutes, until the granola is deep golden brown.
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6. Remove from oven, add raisins while still warm then cool mixture completely.

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Store the granola in a large, airtight container. It will keep for up to one month.

EmCa$h’s notes:

This recipe is bangarang for several reasons.

  1. The brown rice syrup and sesame seeds create a fantastic crispy, crunchy texture while the raisins add the chewy sweetness. I’m in love with this texture and now want it in all my granola.
  2. This is a savory and sweet granola. More savory if you omit the dried fruit. More sweet if you add some sugar or use maple syrup instead of honey. But I was aiming for using more natural sugars. In a variation of this, I used coconut palm sugar instead of brown sugar and VitaSyrup (a fiber rich prebiotic) instead of some of the honey. It’s still delicious, just not as sweet as I like it.
  3. I can modify one or several ingredients and it’s STILL fantastic. Add a little hazelnut oil to replace some of the coconut oil? Sure! Use walnuts instead of pistachios? Or almonds? Or pecans? Use pumpkin seeds instead of sunflower seeds?
  4. The deal-breaker ingredient? APPLE SAUCE. While I used the Mixed Berry Apple Sauce (365 Brand available at Whole Foods Market), as long as it’s unsweetened apple sauce, it will make or break this recipe. And fill your kitchen with an intoxicating aroma.
  5. I would eat this for breakfast (like I’m supposed to) but on my day off? I’d eat it every meal if I could!
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