Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Cherry Almond Granola

I seriously cannot believe that it is almost Memorial Day weekend already. Where has the month of May gone? Oh yeah, a lot of it has been spent in our backyard working hard on our 2014 Outdoor Project. All three of us now have bumps, bruises, calluses, scrapes, and anything else that comes along with having a construction site in your backyard. We are getting there slowly but surely and we will continue to plug away until we are finally done.

In the meantime I decided to sneak away into the kitchen while Ashlyn was taking a nap this last weekend. When we made our plant based switch one of the things we had to give up were the boxes of processed sugar laden cereal. Now, I have never been a big fan of the stuff. I was the weird kid that preferred Raisin Bran over Lucky Charms. Mark on the other hand liked his cereal. Luckily in his old age he has come to appreciate the taste of cereal that has a little more nutritional value than just sugar covered marshmallows.

I was looking for a substitute for our boxed cereal when I realized that granola is cereal that is not processed. Seriously it was a total DUH moment. I guess I always ate granola with yogurt, but never considered pouring milk on it (almond milk in our case). Let me tell you it is a fantastic substitute for boxed cereal. I was searching around for a granola recipe that our whole family could enjoy and came across this 100 Days Granola recipe. This has been our go to for at least 6 months now with a few changes that I made to suit our family.

We all really like this recipe, (I make a double batch every week if that tells you anything) but I felt like a little change up was in store. I decided to make a little variation on it. I had some cherries in my freezer that I needed to use up and decided a cherry almond version of this granola definitely needed to happen this weekend. This one is for sure a winner in my book and with cherry season coming up I know that I will be making this variation again very soon.

Cherry Almond Granola

3 1/2 cups rolled oats*
1 cup walnuts chopped*
1 cup pecans chopped*
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups frozen pitted cherries (thawed)*
1 1/2 Tbs lemon juice (1/2 a lemon)
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp salt

-Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
-Mix the oats, walnuts, pecans, coconut, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and cinnamon together in a large bowl.
-Place the cherries and lemon juice in a food processor. Puree until the cherries are completely broken down and look almost like cherry juice.
-Place the honey, olive oil, almond extract, and salt in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute until warm and able to whisk together.
-Pour the honey mixture and cherry puree onto the oat mixture and stir together until evenly coated.
-Spread the mixture onto the prepared pan in one even layer. Bake for 2 hours.
-Remove from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes. Break up the granola into chunks and store in an air tight container.
-Enjoy with almond milk, yogurt, over ice cream, or even on top of a salad!

*Do not use quick oats.
*Use any nuts you would like. I only had walnuts and pecans on hand but obviously almonds would be fantastic in this.
*I used frozen cherries, but i am sure fresh would work as well.

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