Thursday, March 04, 2010

Agave Sweetened Vegan Granola - Make Your Own Omega 3 Rich Oat Cereal Packed With Heart Healthy Nuts And Seeds

Vegan granola with soy milk and mixed berries.

An easy way to chop nuts.

Drizzle and stir liquid ingredients into the oat mixture.

Bake oat mixture in a roasting pan at low temperature.

Mix granola with fruit and yogurt for a healthful breakfast.

Mix in a few chocolate chips and serve on dairy free ice cream.

Make Your Own Cereal
It amazes me how expensive it is to buy cereal and my husband can polish off an entire box of it in a few days! Then, of course, there is the worry of what is in the ingredients. To get around these issues, I've decided to make my own cereal. A friend visited last week and shared her granola recipe with me. I modified it a bit to add more omega 3 fatty acids by adding ground flax seed, hemp seed and walnuts. I also replaced the honey with agave nectar and stevia for those vegans who do not include honey in their diets. I also added a touch of tahini just for fun. Except for the fact that I can't get it to clump very well, it is very delicious. (I did read somewhere that granola clumps better if you use "quick" oats but I haven't verified that yet). I've been in a granola mood all week and also developed a raw granola recipe which I posted on Tuesday so be sure to check out Raw Granola - The Health Benefits of Nuts and Seeds. Many of the nutrients and health benefits written about in that posting apply to this recipe. Although this recipe is not raw, many of the nutrients and fatty acids are preserved by starting out with raw nuts and seeds and baking at a very low temperature.

Simplify if you Must
OK, I admit, I got a bit carried away with all of the ingredients. As mentioned in the Raw Granola posting, every nut and seed has a unique nutritional benefit so not to miss out on any, I included many different types of nuts and seeds in this recipe. Besides flavor and packing in the vitamins and minerals, I also strived for optimizing the omega 3 to omega 6 ratio which is critical for vegans. See Best Fish and Vegetarian Sources of Omega 3 Fatty Acids. But if you want to simplify and only use a few nuts and seeds, just increase the amount of the ones you do use to get the same volume.

Use it For Everything!
I've made quite a few cups of granola this week trying to perfect this recipe so of course we've been eating it in many different ways. For breakfast, my favorites have been with raspberries and blueberries and unsweetened Silk soy milk. Another favorite was with a sliced banana and yogurt. I didn't particularly love the soy yogurt I used but once it was mixed with the yogurt and banana, it tasted pretty good. I bought several other non-dairy yogurts the other day which I will eat and review with you shortly. If you are not lactose intolerant or a vegan, try using goat yogurt. It's more digestible than cow's milk and goat farms are generally less "corporate" and the animals are treated more humanely. My husband also enjoyed the granola with a few chocolate chips mixed in and poured over a bowl of soy ice cream. Yummmm!


Agave Sweetened Vegan Granola
[makes 11 cups or 22 half cup servings]
[For the most healthful results, use organic ingredients where possible and raw, unsalted nuts and seeds]
4 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup raw wheat germ
1/2 cup raw walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup raw pistachios, broken
1/2 cup raw pecans, chopped
1/2 cup raw cashews, chopped
1/2 cup un-roasted sliced almonds
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup raw, shelled hemp seeds
1/4 cup ground flaxseeds
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
6 packets stevia extract (optional, for added sweetness)
2 tablespoons sesame tahini
1/2 cup raw agave nectar (or maple syrup)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil or organic canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried, unsweetened coconut
1 cup raisins (or cranberries and chopped dates)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F and get out a large roasting pan.
Add oats, wheat germ, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseeds, cinnamon, sea salt and stevia into a large bowl and combine.
[An easy way to break up pistachios or other large nuts is to put them in a zip lock freezer bag and hit them gently with a wooden mallet until they reach the desired consistency. Or buy nut "pieces" which are also less expensive].
In a small bowl, mix tahini, agave nectar, oil, and vanilla. Drizzle the wet mixture into the dry oat mixture and stir very well until the oats are well coated.
Spread out into a roasting pan and bake for 50 minutes or until golden. Don't over bake.Clean out the large bowl, you will be using it again.
Remove pan from the oven and scoop the baked granola into the large bowl to cool. Once cooled, mix in the coconut and dried fruit. When completely cooled, put into air tight containers and store in a cool place.
Serve with fresh berries and soy milk or with fresh fruit and yogurt. It's also delicious as a topping for ice cream with a few chocolate chips mixed in.

Per half cup serving: 215.4 calories, 16.9 g fat, 3.2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 4.1 g protein, 14.7 g carbohydrates, 2.5 g fiber, 793 mg omega 3 and 4,287 mg omega 6 fatty acids.

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