Crunchy Quinoa Granola

Crunchy Quinoa Granola–tasty, healthy, high in fiber and protein, other nutrients-it’s hard to find something that both tastes good and is good for you. This recipe is both-plus it’s easy to make and lends itself to lots of variations. The granola recipe includes quinoa, which has been described as a “superfood,” whatever that is. It is great for breakfast with yogurt and fresh fruit.

Quinona Granola with Yogurt and Fruit - IMG_2201_1

What is Quinoa?

I’ve got a box of quinoa sitting in my cupboard that my husband purchased some time ago. He thought the package looked interesting. I’ve made several recipes using the quinoa, but a box goes a long way.

Quinoa is from Peru and the Andes region, cultivated there for 5000 years. It is similar to other grains and cereals, such as rice, but technically is a seed. It grows on a plant that is in the spinach, beetroot and tumbleweed family. In the Andes, the plant is harvested by hand, the plants are dried, threshed by hand and “willowed” to remove the husk.

Quinoa has a bitter-tasting coating, “saponins”. Often this coating is removed before reaching our market. However, some brands of quinoa and recipes recommend washing the seeds prior to cooking. This is to remove the bitter coating. I recommend placing a coffee filter in your strainer to avoid losing many of the seeds.

Cooking Quinoa

Quinoa is similar to rice, couscous and barley in cooking and can be substituted in similar recipes. It cooks faster than rice and is ready in about 15 minutes. Boil 1 part quinoa and 2 parts water. I’ve used it in a pilaf with olive oil, ginger, garlic, cucumber and other vegetables. It has a very non-descriptive, mild flavor.

Nutritional Value

Much of the interest in quinoa is in the nutritional value. It is a complete protein, containing lysine, and is higher in protein content that other grains. It also contains calcium, B-complex vitamins, folic acid and Vitamin E and minerals, zinc copper, manganese and magnesium and some fiber.

The United Nations declared 2013 as “International Year of Quinoa” to highlight potential as a means to support food security and nutrition around the world.

Gluten-free

Quinoa is gluten-free making it an excellent choice for those with celiac disease. This granola recipe uses wheat germ, which would not be appropriate for a gluten-free diet. Omit this ingredient. I suggest substituting soy flour. Not the same nutritional wise, but adds the same volume and extra protein. In addition, you should check to make sure you are using oatmeal that has been certified as gluten-free.

Quinoa Granola

I found my mom’s granola recipe–she liked to make homemade granola in large quantities. We had a Mennonite market close by that sold ingredients in bulk such as wheat bran, germ, soy flour in addition to all kinds of cheeses, meats, honey and canned goods. She’d purchase just what she needed.  Those types of stores have kind of gone by the way, I guess Whole Foods and similar stores might have some of these ingredients.

Granola uses oatmeal as the base–either old-fashioned or quick-cooking. Then add other ingredients to your pleasure, such as wheat germ, wheat bran, whole wheat and soy flour, nuts and seeds.  Melt margarine, oil, honey and cinnamon. Stir into the dry ingredients and bake in a 300 degree oven for 30 – 45 minutes, stirring several times during baking. Remove from the oven and add dried fruit.

Homemade granola is a good way to use up all the partial bags of ingredients you’ have lying around. It stores well in a sealed jar.Quinona Granola in Antique Ball Jar - IMG_2094_1

Recipe:

Here are the ingredients I used. They can be varied according to what you have in your cupboard. Usually I’ll add some pumpkin or sunflower seeds. Another variation is to use coconut oil in place of the margarine. Yum!

2 cups old-fashioned dry oatmeal
1 cup dry quinoa
1/2 cup wheat germ (omit on a gluten-free diet)
1/4 cup slivered almonds
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp. margarine
1/4 tsp salt (optional)
1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in large bowl. Melt honey and margarine in saucepan on medium heat; add in salt (optional) and cinnamon and stir. Add honey mixture to dry ingredients and stir. Pour in thin layer onto baking sheet and bake for 30-45 minutes, stirring every 10 – 15 minutes. Remove from oven, stir in dried cranberry (or other dried fruit). Cool and store in air-tight container.

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