The Fancy Granola

Okay, it isn’t really all that fancy, but here’s the thing. I often go places where I know I can’t or do not want to eat the snacks provided, or I’m extremely hungry before, in between, or after jobs and do not feel like cooking a snack, or munching on something prepared in a bag and shipped to me. So, I’ve mastered the art of fancy granola. Granola is hardly offensive if pulled out in the presence of others (because thankfully it does not scream “I am trying to eat the way I think God intended and that snack is not cutting it!”), because, hey, it’s just granola.

My granola, however, is power-packed with excellent sources of nutrition and offers a variety of granola recipes depending on the spices, fruits, and nuts. My recipe at the bottom is my personal favorite (incorporating raw cacao powder!), but the options are endless. See below for a list.

The major benefits from my granola recipe come primarily from the cashews, almonds, cacao, agave nectar, chia and flax seeds, but the whole thing is an excellent choice. I use all organic products, but that isn’t always necessary. I just like knowing how my food has been handled.

The cashews and almonds provide copper, magnesium, calcium, fiber, selenium, oleic acid, and vitamin C. While high in fat, nuts are a source of good poly- and monounsaturated fats. The nuts help with immunity, lowering elevated blood pressure, and providing an appropriate fullness when munching.

The agave nectar is a low-glycemic sweetener, meaning that it does not cause a sharp spike or fall in one’s blood sugar (high fructose corn syrups sits at 89 on the glycemic index, while agave waves from 27). This sweet goodie also contains saponins and fructants which are anti-inflammatory and immune system-boosting properties, with antimicrobial capability. Fructants, specifically, have been considered as delivery systems for medicine to the gastrointestinal tract (for issues such as ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease).

Finally, the superfoods! Appropriately named, chia seeds and flax seeds are a common addition in my cooking. Chia seeds – get ready – provide the highest amount of omega-3 fatty acids in plant form, which supports both cardiovascular and neurological health. Chia also contains natural antioxidants and phytonutrients, has no cholesterol, is low in saturated fat, has no toxic or “anti-nutritional” factors, and offers digestive fiber and high-quality protein. Flax seeds also offer good omega-3 fatty acids, but contains lignans and an extraordinary amount of fiber. Lignans contain plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities, so much so that studies are being done on the positive effects on breast cancer.

What can I say? It’s just good all-around. So, take it with you in your bag, eat it at home, or offer it at a party. You can’t lose.

The Fancy Organic, All-Natural Granola

Ingredients:

• 4 cups rolled oats (not instant)

• 1 cup raw almonds, chopped (even better if you can soak these for 8 hours beforehand)

• 1 cup unsalted cashews

• 1 cup cranberries

• 1 1/2 cups flaked coconut (I used unsweetened)

• 1/4 cup of chia seeds

• 1/4 cup of flax seeds

• 2 Tbsp. of raw cacao

• 1/4 tsp. finely ground sea salt

• 1/3 cup liquid agave

• 4 Tbsp. coconut oil (sunflower oil is another option)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. In a small saucepan, over low-medium heat, whisk oil and agave together.

3. In a large bowl combine oats, almonds, cashews, flaked coconut, cacao, and sea salt.

4. Pour oil and agave mixture over the dry ingredients and stir very well. Everything should look sufficiently coated. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes; remove from the oven and stir. Place the granola back in the oven, removing and stirring every five minutes until the oats are golden brown (approximately 25-30 minutes).

5. Once the granola is baked, add the cranberries (or any dried fruit), chia, and flax seeds (or any other superfood).

Eat it up. Then share with friends. This makes excellent birthday, congratulatory, and Christmas gifts!