Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Peanut Butter Cranberry Almond Granola

Nothing drives me more crazy than watching food go to waste. I can't help but feel overwhelmed with that same sort of guilt you feel after say accidentally hurting someone's feelings, lying to a loved one, or handing in an assignment you know you rushed through. It's something that most people don't even think about, but for me, can eat through my conscience and keep me up at night. Despite people poking fun at my strange, neurotic food wasting guilt, I take pride in the fact that my parents raised me to value being fortunate enough to have access to three well-balanced meals a day, not to mention snacks and desserts. Whenever I let food go to waste as a child and teenager or made a snotty comment about certain foods that were served to me being "gross", my parents would always remind my sister and I how "gross" those comments truly were, and how ungrateful we were to be saying those things when there are so many children in the world that hardly have access to food at all. At the time, it drove me crazy when my parents would lecture me like that, but today I'm so thankful for the values that they've instilled in me. 

When I first began feeling that food wasting guilt, I remember reluctantly eating through past-their-prime leftovers and overripe fruit and vegetables with a frown on my face, forcing myself to finish it so that it wouldn't get thrown out. It was around the time that I first began writing my blog that I changed my perspective and started looking at those almost-ready-for-the-compost foods as an opportunity as opposed to a struggle. I began to feel inspired to challenge myself to create new and exciting dishes with those almost-compost-ready foods as the star. I even started a series on my blog, Leftover Lovin', where I transform leftovers into new and delicious dishes that you would be excited and proud to serve. I came up with some of my favourite dishes, such as my Pulled Pork Shepherds Pie, Stuffed French Toast, and Butternut Squash Cannelloni, thanks to my food wasting guilt! 

I was hit with my food saving instinct once again last week. For Christmas this year, my sister overwhelmed me with an assortment of gifts, some of which were on my list, with a few surprise items here and there that definitely caught my attention. One of the surprise items was meant to give me a bit of a laugh and embarrass me in front of my family, a quirky SexCereal, complete with a cute pinup girl package, and full of grains and seeds to "fuel your fire". Although I appreciated the cute idea, unfortunately I wasn't too fond of the taste of the uber-healthy cereal. Refusing to let the unappetizing cereal go to waste, I decided to take the cereal into my own hands and transform it into a treat I would look forward to indulging in! I originally approached the cereal with the goal of creating granola bars, but in the end I actually ended up preferring to crumble the bars over yogurt to act as a very indulgent granola. I loved how simple this granola was to prepare, how inexpensive it was (why the heck is pre-made granola so expensive anyway?), and being able to control exactly what was going into my granola. I was so pleasantly surprised how the cereal could go from something that I had to fight through the pain to eat, to a treat so addictive I couldn't stop eating! 

*Rather than buy a brand new cereal to use in this recipe, use a cereal that is beginning to go stale. The baking process and other ingredients will mask the staleness, extending its life! 
*When looking for a "healthy" cereal, look at the sugar content and words you can't pronounce. You want as little sugar as possible and none of those unpronounceable words!
**For a healthier granola, simply stir in the dried cranberries here and serve! 

3/4 cup honey, divided
2 tbsp unsalted butter, plus more to grease baking dish
1 cup rolled oats
2 cups healthy cereal* (you may sub with more rolled oats)
1 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, lightly toasted
pinch of salt
1 cup unsweetened dried cranberries
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup brown sugar (optional)

  1. In a small saucepan, heat 1/4 honey on low with butter, stirring occasionally, until melted. 
  2. In a large bowl, stir together rolled oats, cereal, almonds, coconut, and salt. Drizzle over honey and butter mixture and stir to combine. 
  3. Spread mixture evenly in one layer on a large, rimmed baking sheet (you may need two baking sheets). Bake at 325º until golden, about 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool.**
  4. Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking dish. In a small saucepan at medium heat, combine 1/2 cup honey, peanut butter, and brown sugar (optional). Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a boil.
  5. Pour oat mixture into a large mixing bowl, and stir in dried cranberries. Drizzle over honey and peanut butter mixture and stir to combine. Pour evenly into prepared baking dish, pressing down firmly with a spatula. Chill for 2 hours. Remove from fridge. Loosen sides with a knife and remove from baking dish, crumbling mixture as you go. Store in an air-tight container. Eat on its own or over yogurt. 

Listening To:
Hot Chip - Flutes

Powered by mp3skull.com

No comments: