Finding balance with food, movement, and community for my (dairy-free) family.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Gingerbread Granola Al Fresco: Cool Breakfasts for Hot Days

Granola is the quintessential real food cool breakfast--actually intended to be eaten cool (unlike a lot of the breakfasts I've been feeding my family this summer).   It still requires heat, of course, to bake, but a few days ago I saw an idea at Stacy Makes Cents that resolved even that problem:  granola made in a slow cooker.

Gingerbread Granola 
Sure, the slow cooker still cranks out heat, but because it's portable it can be plugged in on the deck or in the garage to avoid heating up the kitchen, making for a truly cool breakfast for hot days.

Granola recipes are incredibly flexible, tolerating all sorts of adjustments and substitutions.   My current favorite granola recipe is very heavy on blackstrap molasses and traditional gingerbread spices.  It has a heavy molasses flavor which Sis and I love and big brother tolerates.

I'd been meaning to make granola, so I decided to give it a try in the crock pot.

Gingerbread Granola

2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
1/4 cup coconut oil

3 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup coarsely ground sesame seeds*
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves 
1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 cup dried sweet cherries
1/2 cup dried tart cherries

I mixed this all in the slow cooker to avoid making more dishes.

1)  I put honey, black strap molasses and coconut oil in the slow cooker, then covered and set to high for 10-15 minutes, until the coconut oil was melted and the honey and molasses were warm.

2)  I added the dry ingredients to the slow cooker.  

3)  I added spices, sprinkling them in a sweeping motion across the top of the dry ingredients, trying to avoid clumps.  

4)  Using tongs, I mixed the spices and dry ingredients.  Then switching to a stiff spatula, I combined the dry ingredients with wet ingredients.  I used the spatula to be sure to scrape all the molasses, honey, coconut oil goodness from the bottom of the crock pot.

5)  Once well-combined, I set the slow cooker to low with the lid ajar on the top (to allow moisture to escape, avoiding soggy granola). 

6)  I stirred it every half hour for 2-4 hours, until it seemed done.  The darkness of the black strap molasses makes it tough to tell if it's finished.  My best advice is to scoop out a spoonful, let it cool for several moments, and taste to see if it's dry and crisp enough.  

Ginger Bread Granola
7)  Once the granola finished cooking and had cooled a bit, I stirred in the dried cherries and put it in an air tight container.  

8)  Serve with coconut milk beverage.  

*Sesame seeds are probably not the tastiest add-in, but I bought a bunch after reading that they are very high in calcium, so I try to work them in where I can.  

I was pleased with how this turned out and am pleased to have a breakfast I can make without heating up my kitchen at all.  Cooking al fresco is fun and I do love this granola.  (Check out this nutritional data for more information on why I love black strap molasses for more than just its flavor.)

Cool Breakfasts for Hot Days

Granola cooked al fresco wins for being a truly cool breakfasts.  Check out these posts for other breakfasts that can be prepped in advance and served cool:

Dairy-Free Spinach Strata
Peanut Butter Banana Muffins
Hootenanny Fruitenanny Buffet

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