Decidedly Not Sweet Granola

I am a huge granola lover. I make my own granola every couple of weeks, and there are few days that go by that don't include any granola. I've made so many different recipes over the years it's difficult to keep straight. Lara got Allison Roman's new cookbook, Dining In, over Christmas and has been enjoying it for several weeks now. We've made a few recipes together and this was one of the first. It's a granola recipe, but a savory one, very different from my usual! It is also very heavy on seeds, with less oats than a traditional granola. I absolutely love the fennel and caraway seeds, they add so much unique flavor, and really help this granola stand out as truly savory. I wouldn't skip them as it would really change the flavor. 

I've been sprinkling this granola over pretty much everything and anything. It's great on salads instead of the usual crouton to add a nice crunch, or really added on top of any roasted vegetable. It's also good in yogurt just like traditional granola, I would just probably avoid sweetened and flavored yogurt. I really only eat plain yogurt myself and it's great in that. I have no doubt there are so many other places that would be enhanced by this delicious granola. 

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I halved the original recipe from the cookbook, just to make sure I liked it enough to use up a whole batch. I do. Because of this I ended up using one whole egg instead of egg whites (it would have been 1.5 egg whites which is just annoying). I also didn't have the nigella seeds it called for, I'm going to keep looking though! The recipe said to just replace these with a little more sesame seeds if you can't find them so that's what I did. This equals out to an additional 2 tablespoons seeds for the half of the recipe. 

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Decidedly Not Sweet Granola
Adapted from Allison Roman's Dining In
Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (60 grams) oats
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat groats
  • 1/4 cup flax seed
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sesame seeds*
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seed
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seed
  • 1 tablespoon ground Aleppo (this is what I used) or Ancho pepper (this is what the original recipe calls for)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and toss to mix until everything is evenly coated. Season with plenty of black pepper.

Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and bake, stirring every 15 minutes or so, until everything is golden brown and toasty, 45 to 55 minutes. Let cool completely and break any large clumps into smaller pieces before storing in glass jars or ziplock bags.

*If you can find nigella seeds, use 2 tablespoons of nigella seeds, and just 1/4 cup total of the sesame seeds

Date and Oat Cookies

A few months back I bought a bag of medjool dates with plans to turn them into some sort of naturally sweetened dessert. I brought them home and placed them in my pantry where they have sat ever since. Occasionally I have thought, "I should do something with those dates" and then nothing would happen. Today I decided was finally the day to pull those dates out and make use of them. I decided on a cookie. There are about a million options out there for date cookies, so I just picked one and went for it. I made a few alterations along the way, but ended up with a sweet and flavorful cookie filled with wholesome ingredients that I can at least try to convince myself is a little healthier than the norm! 

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To suit my own preferences I made a few changes which included substituting almonds for pecans, olive oil for walnut oil, and omitted the honey which in my opinion is just added even more sugar to an already sweet cookie. I added a little milk to make up a little extra liquid. All these changes seemed to work out very well. I'm excited for snack time!

 
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Date and Oat Cookies
Adapted from Dishing Up the Dirt
Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (90 grams) oat flour
  • 3/4 cup (60 grams) old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup (180 grams) Medjool dates, pitted- about 10 dates
  • 3 tablespoons (40 grams) olive oil
  • 1/4 c (55 grams) milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chunks

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl combine the oat flour, rolled oats, cardamom and salt.

In a food processor grind the almonds, dates, olive oil, milk, egg and vanilla until a smooth ball of dough is formed.

Combine the date mixture with the oat mixture and mix everything together until well combined, adding in the chocolate chunks as things start to come together. Cover the bowl with a towel and place in the fridge for 15 minutes.

When ready, remove the dough from the fridge, form dough balls (about 50 grams each) and then lightly flatten the tops with the back of a spoon. The cookies wont spread while baking so you can keep them fairly close to each other on the baking sheet. Bake until the bottoms are lightly brown but the cookies are still soft in the middle, about 18-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Yields: 12 cookies (approximately 205 calories each)

Spiced Oat Cookies with Chocolate and Fruit

Cookies are the best. They're always a hit, they're easy to make, the options are endless, and did I mention, they're delicious! I'm always on the lookout for a new cookie to try even though I have plenty of good recipes in the archives. You never know when you'll stumble upon the best recipe ever. Recently I came across this recipe for Cardamom-Spice Oat Cookies from King Arthur Flour and they looked just different enough and tasty enough to try. 

Don't ask me how, but I managed to completely forget to add the cardamom to the cardamom-spice cookies so they became just plain "spiced" cookies, but that didn't seem to matter too much in the end. The final cookie was fantastic! Visually beautiful with a wonderful texture, slightly crisp on the edges yet nice and chewy in the center. I've had some trouble with oatmeal cookies in the past always being too soft for my liking but these were perfect. They baked up well, spread perfectly, not too flat, not too round, a smashing success. 

When I started to make these cookies I realized that my brown sugar was as hard as a rock and I didn't feel like dealing with trying to soften it up, so I just replaced it with white sugar and it was fine. I threw in some chocolate and dried fruit, prunes were what I had so in they went! Any dried fruit would do, I'm partial to chocolate cherry myself, but really anything will work. 

I halved the original recipe and didn't want to halve an egg so I just skipped it and added a little 1/2 and 1/2 for fat and liquid. Necessary? Probably not, but they turned out great, so whatever! I ended up getting 8 nice sized cookies out of this recipe, each cookie was about 50-55 grams of dough. I thought they were a perfect size in the end, not too big and not too small. All around delicious!

 
 

Spiced Oat Cookies with Chocolate and Fruit
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Ingredients

  • 5/8 cup (75 grams) all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (60 grams) old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 cup (70 grams) butter
  • 1/3 cup (70 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (20 grams) maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) half and half
  • 1/4 cup (28 grams) chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup (28 grams) prunes, chopped into bite-sized pieces

Directions
Line a baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and syrup together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the vanilla and half and half and beat at medium speed until smooth. Scrape the bowl once again.

Add the dry mixture and mix at low speed until just combined. Scrape the bowl and mix once more for 30 seconds. Add the chocolate and fruit and mix until well blended.

Place the dough and refrigerate at least a couple of hours, or overnight. When ready to bake, scoop out pin pong-sized balls of dough (I did 50 grams of dough each), and place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Place in a preheated 350°F oven and bake for 18-20 minutes, until just golden at the edges and have set in the center. Remove from the oven and cool on the pan for 5-10 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Yields: approximately 8 large cookies
Nutrition: approximately 180 calories per cookie

Crunchy Olive Oil and Maple Granola

I have quite a few granola recipes on this site. This makes sense when I think about the fact that of everything I bake and cook I make granola the most frequently of all. I have been making some kind of granola every 2-3 weeks for probably at least 4-5 years now. I ALWYAS have granola in the pantry. To be honest, I can barely eat a meal without finished it with a bite (or two...or three...) of granola. It's my little sweet treat. Needless to say, I love granola!

I usually go in spurts; I'll find a good recipe and make it for months and months without trying something new. I get on a roll where I love what I'm eating and have no desire to stray from it. Well, this granola is my current favorite. Earlier this year, I can' even remember when, I was looking for a change. I found a recipe on Food52 for olive oil and maple granola. I took this recipe for inspiration and then completely changed it to suit me! It was a good base recipe to build off of to create my very own recipe, a recipe I've been absolutely loving! The finished product is super crunchy and deliciously sweet, but not so sweet as to make you feel like your eating dessert. It's just the right balance of sweet and savory, and an absolute joy to eat. Every. Single. Day. 

I cut back quite a bit on both the sugar and the fat from the original recipe because I like to keep things just a bit lighter. Not that the original recipe was super sugar-y or oily, but I just wanted to a bit less. I also cut back on the nuts (first, because they're expensive, second because they are super high in calories) and replaced them with more oats. I then added in some wheat bran (or you could use oat bran) for more nutrition, and coconut flakes instead of chips. The final product is my very own favorite, personalized granola. I highly recommend checking it out. And make some of your own adjustments. To fit your very own wants and and needs.

I recently took this recipe and made a few different variations of this recipe. One was mocha (with cocoa and espresso powder) and another was pumpkin spice (add in a bit of pumpkin and some of your favorite fall spices like nutmeg, ginger and allspice). I also sometimes switch things up and add a bit of melted butter or coconut oil in place of some of the olive oil. All of these spin-offs have turned out great as well. Granola is so forgiving that it's a blast to experiment with!

 
 


Crunchy Olive Oil and Maple Granola
Inspired by Food 52
Ingredients

  • 4 cups (320 grams) old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup (30grams) unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 1/4 cup (35 grams) raw almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup (20 grams) raw walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup (15 grams) wheat bran
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) brown sugar 
  • 1/4 cup (75 grams) maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) olive oil

Directions
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.

In a large bowl place the oats, coconut, salt, almonds, walnuts, bran and brown sugar. Stir to combine. In a small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup and olive oil. Pour over the oat mixture, stirring well, until everything is evenly coated and no dry pockets remain. 

Pour the granola onto the prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer. Bake the granola for 45-55 minutes, rotating halfway through, until golden brown and toasty. Towards the end of baking time check the granola more frequently to ensure that it is not over-browning. 

Remove from oven and let cool on the pan. When completely cool, transfer granola to an airtight container for storage. 

 

Pumpkin Oatmeal Bars with Chocolate and Walnuts

We're halfway into October now, which means that for several weeks now, every food blog has been posting pumpkin recipes ad nauseam. Well, I don't want to miss out on all of the fun, so I thought I'd share these pumpkin oat breakfast bars today. I made this recipe twice in the couple of weeks and have been eating them for breakfast pretty much every day. I've been doing a pediatric rotation this month, and have to be at the hospital at 6:30 every day. I haven't been getting up early enough to eat breakfast at home before I head to work so these bars have been the perfect thing to throw into my lunch bag each morning. Then, whenever I get a few minutes (more like 30 seconds) to scarf something down, I can enjoy a little treat for a (very) quick breakfast. 

The recipe is simple, and not fancy at all. Oats, pumpkin, a little sweetener and some spices. That's the bulk of it. Plenty of room to switch things up as you see fit. Add more chocolate, add less; try some dried fruit and/or your favorite nut instead. Swap out the spices if you don't care for all those warm fall flavors. Whatever you decide, you should end up with a hearty breakfast bar, sturdy enough to carry in your purse and eat out of hand whenever you have a chance. If you have a few extra minutes, do what I've been doing, and top the bar with a little bit of almond or peanut butter for a little extra protein boost. This is my favorite way to enjoy these bars. I hope you enjoy them too!

 
 

Pumpkin Oatmeal Bars with Chocolate and Walnuts
Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction
Ingredients

  • 2.5 cups (200 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup (30 grams) whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (160 grams) canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons (40 grams) molasses
  • 2 tablespoons (40 grams) maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup (30 grams) chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup (26 grams) chocolate chunks

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Lightly spray 8 x 8 square baking pan with cooking spray or line with parchment paper. Set aside.

Mix together oats, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices. Add in the vanilla, pumpkin, milk, egg, molasses and maple syrup. Mix together until evenly combined. Stir in walnuts and chocolate.

Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 20 minutes-30 minutes, or until baked through in the center. Allow to cool and cut into bars.
 

Zucchini Greek Yogurt Muffins

It's that time of year again, zucchini season. The summer squash are exploding from every stand at the farmer's market, dark green, light green, yellow. Every year I hear people groaning about their excess of summer squash but to be honest I've never felt like I had too much of this mild vegetable. I honestly think I could eat grilled zucchini all day, every day of August. It is so good. A little olive oil, a pinch or two of salt, +/- some chili powder or smoked paprika, I never get tired of this simple preparation. And then there's summer squash's sweeter side, the magic of zucchini bread and muffins. 

I whipped up these muffins last weekend to keep in my freezer all week, easy to pull out for a mid-morning snack or to tide me over in the late afternoon before dinner. They ended up being the perfect choice. Nothing flashy, mildly flavored, not overly sweet. A true snack. Each one is on the smaller side, good for a quick bite when you need something fast! 

These muffins are full of wholesome ingredients, the zucchini obviously, whole grain oats,  whole wheat flour, and Greek yogurt. Naturally sweetened for the most part with a little honey (plus just a bit of brown sugar), and lightly spiced with cinnamon. They may not win any beauty contests, but they will give you something tasty and nutritions to sink your teeth into when that craving strikes. 

 
 

Greek Yogurt Zucchini Muffins
Adapted from Running with Spoons
Ingredients

  • 1 cup (120 g) whole wheat or spelt flour
  • 1 cup (80 g) old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup (225 g) plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup (80g) honey
  • 2 tbsp (25 g) brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (115 g) shredded zucchini, squeezed of excess liquid

Directions
Preheat your oven to 350F (176C) and prepare a muffin pan by lining the cavities with paper liners or greasing them with oil or cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg until it becomes slightly frothy. Whisk in the yogurt, honey, sugar, and vanilla, mixing until well combined. Fold in the shredded zucchini.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing gently until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips, if using.

Divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups, filling them almost to the top.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins begin to turn golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for ~15 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Store them in an airtight container 

Yields: 12 small muffins

Oatmeal Cookie Bars

Last week I looked in the freezer and realized that I had almost no cookies or bars or anything else to eat for my bedtime snack! Moving into a new place can really throw off your baking schedule. I wanted something easy to quickly remedy this dire situation. Since I have a huge bag of oats floating around in my kitchen, I thought a simple oat bar of some kind would be nice. And while there are tons of oat bar recipes that call for peanut butter, I decided against a PB oat bar, looking instead for something even more basic; simply butter, oats, sugar and some chocolate of course. 

These bars fit the bill perfectly. Nothing fancy, nothing difficult, exactly what I was looking for. They come together in about a minute, really couldn't be easier. If you're looking for a little something to satisfy your sweet tooth but don't want to get into anything fancy or complicated these bars are for you. My first baking endeavor in new apartment was most definitely a success!

I cut my pan into small, bite-sized bars, perfect for a quick little snack, just the size I like before heading to bed each night. You of course can cut them however big you want, whatever your situation calls for. Since I didn't have tons of chocolate chips, I cut back on the amount of chocolate that I added to these bars in order to save some of my precious chocolate for something else later. But they would be even more decadent and delicious chocked full of chocolate. You can always add some nuts too if you like that sort of thing. I think walnuts would be especially delicious in this recipe, a perfect complement to the chewy oats and the sweet chocolate, this recipe is easy to really make your own. 

Oatmeal Cookie Bars

Adapted from 

Half Baked Harvest

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup (4.25 ounces) old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup (5 ounces) all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (2.5 ounces) brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon of ground coffee, optional
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Chocolate chips, up to 4 ounces (about 3/4 cup), I only used 1 ounce

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8 inch baking dish with cooking spray, or line with parchment paper. Set aside. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, sugar, soda, salt and coffee if using. Add the melted butter, egg and vanilla and mix until almost combined. Add in the chocolate chips, reserving a few to sprinkle over the top if desired. 

Transfer dough to prepared baking dish. Spread evenly with fingers. Sprinkle with reserved chocolate chips if desired, pressing them down gently. Bake in preheated oven for 20-22 minutes, don't overbake, it's okay if they are slightly underdone. Let cool in pan before cutting into bars. 

Approximate Calorie Count:

If cut into 16 medium sized bars: 143 calories each

If cut into 25 small bars: 92 calories each

Chai-Spiced Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins

I am a complete morning person. I love waking up early and getting my workout out of the way first thing in the morning. Then it's time for breakfast, one of my favorite parts of the day. Relaxing over a mug of coffee and some sort of baked good along with some fruit or a fruit smoothy. It doesn't get much better than that. I hate having to rush around in the morning shoving some breakfast down as I walk out the door, it just doesn't cut it for me. This means I always have something in my freezer, most often muffins or slices of a quickbread, ready and waiting for me. All I have to do is pull one out the night before and I'm done, ready for the next day. 

Last week the freezer was running a little low on baked goods so I decided it was time for some pumpkin muffins. Sometimes I go all out and bake something rich and decadent, but this time I decided to go with something on the healthier side and I baked up these spiced pumpkin muffins with oats. I really liked how they turned out, moist and full of spicy fall flavors. They are hearty and dense, most definitely not decadent, but a wonderful way to start a cold fall morning off right. 

These muffins are definitely not sweet, but they are incredibly moist and flavorful. If you're looking for something a little sweeter, I would advise adding some chopped chocolate or some dried fruit (cranberries or raisins, etc.), or even increasing the sugar a bit, there isn't much in them as written. I don't mind this at all, but others might need a bit more sweetness to really be happy. But give them a try and see what you think. Play around with the recipe and make it your own. I do that all the time, and it makes baking even more fun!

Chai-Spiced Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins

Adapted from 

Ambitious Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 cup (8 oz) canned pumpkin 
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 12 muffin tin with paper cups or spray with nonstick spray. If you use muffin cups, make sure to spray the inside of the cups.

In a large bowl whisk together flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add in ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and a pinch of nutmeg; whisk again.

In a separate large bowl combine pumpkin, brown sugar, egg whites, applesauce, oil, and vanilla; mixing until smooth. Slowly whisk in milk.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not over mix! Bake for 16-18 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of muffins comes out clean. Cool for approximately 10 minutes before transferring to wire racks to finish cooling.

Yields: 12 muffins