I won’t lie. I have naughty dreams about Trader Joe’s Ginger Almond & Cashew Granola. It’s that good.
But each time I’m awakened with a stomach ache, high blood sugar and the discovery that its sweet and intensely spicy love is nearly devoid of (nutritional) value. We can never be together. I thought I could runaway with TJ’s Gluten Free Granola, but he too lacked substance. Sense of humor is essential, but Mr. GFG and was way, way too corny to be tolerated.
Granola cereal and bars are fantastically delicious, and marketed to be very healthy. I grew up a Carbosaurus eating dominantly processed foods. I could easily snarf through a box of granola cereal in a day and a half, (and was permitted to as an athlete, but we’ll save mocking Carbo-loading and other bad diet trends for another day). Sadly, the granola in stores is highly processed and very caloric, most of those calories are sugar about 16-25 grams per serving, typically from high fructose corn syrup, sweetened dehydrated fruit and cheap fillers like instant oats, bleached and enriched flours and corn common to most cereals equitably provided by America’s breadbasket. The worst offenders are the ones labeled Low Fat Granola as the sole nutritious contributors – nuts have been reduced or removed, making room for more processed sugar and flakes.
However, I’ll take my own advice. Don’t get sad. Get busy.
I’ll share the recipe I concocted to fill my void. We use a base of nuts, seeds and steel cut oats, who haven’t been robbed of their fiber (the problem with instant oats, rice, etc). Certainly, this recipe is higher in fat than many granola cereals, but fortunately, that fat is healthy naturally-occurring monounsaturated fat and Omega 3s. Plus, a small 1/3 cup serving provides 15 grams of muscle building protein and only 4 grams of natural sugar! Plus it’s tasty. Very tasty. The secret ingredient – my dad is gonna love this one – Tabasco really delivers the ginger sizzle I crave. I used cashews and pecans since they were already en mi cocina; however, I encourage you to try any combo of 1 1/2 cups nuts you like. Throw it on top of fat free Greek yogurt and some fresh berries, for a head-to-toe Omega, anti-oxidant, protein bursting breakfast or snack.
Gluten-Free Ginger Cashew Granola
2 cups gluten-free steel cut oats
3/4 cup cashews, chopped
3/4 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup gluten-free flour (brown rice flour, almond meal, flaxseed meal?)
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp nutmeg
1tsp stevia extract
2 tbsp fresh ginger, finely minced
1 tbsp grapeseed, canola or olive oil
1 tbsp almond extract
1/2 cup honey
2/3 cup unsweetened apple juice
1-2 splashes Tabasco sauce
DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 275. Combine oats, nuts and seeds, flax seed meal, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl. In a small bowl, stir ginger, oil, almond extract, honey, juice and Tabasco. Pour over dry ingredients and stir together with wooden spoon to distribute. Place a thin layer onto sprayed baking sheets. Bake on the middle rack for15 minutes, scrape granola off pan with spatula and redistribute on pan. Repeat baking 15 minutes and stirring granola twice more or until it is thoroughly browned. Remove from oven and let it cool 15 minutes. Scrape the granola into storage container.
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