Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola

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So, I have never been a fan of oatmeal, it’s always been a little mushy-mushy for me. However, these days, I’ve been eating it a lot lately because I know oats are super good for you and it’s a hot, easy breakfast to make on these chilly Michigan mornings. Since I’ve been forcing myself to embrace oatmeal, I usually have it with a little maple syrup and maybe a few pecans or walnuts mixed in, for a bit of sweetness and texture. The other day, though, I was out of my usual mix-ins and opted for a spoonful of peanut butter…and it was so good! So, it got me thinking that peanut butter might just be a great addition to my favorite granola.

And, surprise, it totes was.

I mean, you can’t really go wrong with nutty, creamy peanut butter, crunchy oats, and little chocolate chips. Can you? I don’t think so.

[recipe]

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola

I use both honey and maple in this recipe, though you could use just one sweetener if you like. The coconut oil can be subbed for olive oil, if you prefer. Also, chia seeds can be substituted with flax and the mini chips can be replace with whatever chip or chopped bar you like. 

3 1/2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

2 tablespoons chia seeds

scant 1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/3 cup coconut oil

1 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 325˚F and line a baking sheet with parchment.

Pour the oats, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon into a bowl.

On the stovetop in a saucepan heat the maple syrup, honey, peanut butter and coconut oil until the peanut butter and oil are melted and the mixture is nicely combined. Pour the peanut butter mixture into the oat mixture and stir to coat evenly. Scrape the mixture onto the baking sheet and spread in an even layer. Bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes so the peanut butter does not burn, until golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and cool completely before mixing in the mini chocolate chips. Store in an airtight container for well over a week. [/recipe]

Oatmeal Brownies

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If you were married to me, like Sean, then you would know that one of the hazards of being my bed-mate is that I basically sleep like a hibernating bear-wolf and don’t take well to being disturbed. He tells me that sometimes it’s like trying to hug an angry baby, who swears at you. All punching arms and vitriol.

It’s not the cutest, but I seriously am not even aware of it…because I’M ASLEEP. Jeez, let a girl slumber, ya know?

 

Anyway, even though my R.E.M cycle is, obviously, super important to my unconsicous mind, I still feel a touch guilty at times, especially if I learn that one of my sleeping-wild-animal-angry-baby-punches actually makes contact. I don’t want to be a sleep-fighter, ya know? Not that Sean ever holds it against me — he thinks it hilarious, actually — but I still find it necessary to treat him and brownies are always a win with that guy.

These brownies are made with oat flour, buzzed up to a coarse meal in the food processor. They have the littlest bit of chew from the tiny nibs of oat throughout, with an intense chocolate flavor. I’m kind of in love with these brownies, they aren’t messing around when it comes to deep, dark, chocolatey goodness. I added some cinnamon and cayenne for some warmth and because I love spice and chocolate together. The brownies are a little bit crumbly, I suspect from lack of gluten, but I really think it lets their fudge-y nature shine. Not only are these brownies a chocolate dream, they can be certifiably gluten-free with a little attention to the ingredients. Just make sure your oats, chocolate, and cocoa powder were not processed in a plant with wheat/gluten products (i.e. read that label!).

[recipe]

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Oatmeal Brownies

Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen and Alice Medrich’s Best Cocoa Brownies

I made my own oat flour by simply processing it in a food processor. My flour was fairly coarse, which was fine with Sean and I, as we liked the chewy bits throughout the brownies. Process yours finely, or purchase it already milled from the store, if you prefer. I used 1/2 maple syrup and 1/2 sugar to sweeten this recipe, you can use all sugar if you want (brown or white). If you make sure to use oats that are guaranteed gluten-free (as well as cocoa and chocolate) these brownies are gluten-free friendly. Hurray! 

8 Tablespoons unsalted butter

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

1/2 cup oat flour

Preheat your oven to 325˚F. Line an 8×8 inch baking sheet with parchment, leaving an inch or 2 overhang on 2 sides, and grease both the pan and parchment well. Set aside.

In a pan on low heat melt the butter and chocolate, stirring so as not to burn, until smooth and melted. Scrape into a bowl and whisk in the sugar, maple syrup, cocoa, cinnamon, cayenne, salt, and vanilla, until combined completely. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, until combined well. Fold in the oat flour and let the batter rest a few minutes so the oats absorb some of the liquid and begin to soften. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the center of the oven for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the brownie comes out with a few sticky crumbs. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack before cutting. Can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days. [/recipe]

Maple-Pumpkin Granola

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Sometimes, when stressed and trying not to eat a whole pizza worth of feelings, I turn to something crunchy. It’s just so dang satisfying and if I’m going to eat my feelings, my jaw should have to work a little for it.

Enter granola. I tend to make it pretty healthful–reaching for honey or maple in place of plain sugar, and filling it with plenty of seeds and nuts for texture and interest. Granola can be as plain-jane as you want it or as crazy as you’d like–it’s versatile that way. This batch is flavored with lots of maple for sweetness and fragrance, olive oil encourages maximum crunchiness, pumpkin makes a subtle earthy appearance, warm spices and toasty nuts + seeds add depth, thick-rolled oats add great chewy-crunchy texture. This granola makes a great pair sprinkled over yogurt or swimming in a bowl of milk. It’s also great, out of hand, for crunching through some stress.

Maple-Pumpkin Granola

Adapted from this recipe. 

I use Bob’s Red Mill Thick Rolled Oats here, which I find at any supermarket in the natural foods section. I like the more substantial chew of these particular oats, but any brand you like works just as well. The pumpkin isn’t front-and-center in this recipe, it’s mostly a background flavor, as the puree softens the oats and works against that crunchy texture so beloved in granola. Also, I added a variety of seeds and nuts–I usually just add whatever is left over from other recipes–feel free to switch them up or omit as desired. 

3 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup raw walnuts

1/2 cup raw almonds

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/3 cup sunflower seeds

3 Tablespoons flax seeds

3 Tablespoons sesame seeds

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 Tablespoons plain pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 325*F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

In a large bowl combine oats, nuts, coconut, seeds, salt, and spices. In a large measuring cup whisk together maple, oil, vanilla, and pumpkin. Pour the maple-pumpkin mixture over the oats mixture and stir to coat well. Spread the mixture onto the baking sheet in an even layer and bake 15 minutes, stir, and continue to bake in 10-15 minutes intervals, stirring well between each, until the granola is uniformly golden and no longer moist. The granola will crisp a bit more as it cools. Store completely cooled granola in airtight containers for  1-2 weeks.