Friday, September 2, 2016

Blueberry Crisp Granola

Are you all prepped for back to school season? As a teacher, this is quite possibly the busiest time of the year - even though I (and most of my colleagues) spend all summer lesson planning, preparing learning materials and generally working, it sometimes feels like we spent the season the way many people think teachers do - on the beach, drink in hand, golfing and/or generally lazing about. 

Regardless, the season of learning starts up again in a few days, bringing with it harried mornings and ever-hungry kids. Personally, I'm not one for scarfing breakfast half asleep while making sure I've got my shirt on the right way and my lunch is packed. Instead, I do what many parents at my school seem to do with their kids - packing grabbable, low-mess, low-fuss baggies of food to eat in the car. My selections range from the "weird" - baby carrots, roasted chickpeas or baked tofu - to the more "standard" - "O" cereal and sliced bananas, a crunchy mix of sweet cereal, dried cranberries and toasted, salted cashews (yes, I wash my hands before going to work!) or, when I'm good at planning ahead on the weekends, homemade granola.

Blueberry Crisp Granola

What I love about granola (and I'm sure I've said this before) is that it's almost infinitely variable. I'm almost always inspired by one Toast Topper or another, fleshing out the mix with oats (usually), various grains, dried fruit, nuts and chocolate. This time around, I capitalized on the bright, Summery flavours in my Blueberry Beet Butter, eventually building up to something I could only describe as a "breakfast friendly blueberry crisp". I followed my usual procedure for making granola (simply omitting the nuts and chocolate), but amped up the sweetness of the mix with cookie butter, honey, apple juice and Golden Grahams. Even more texture (and a hint of extra protein) came via a dose of
whole grain Cream of Wheat and kinako , which along with the lemon extract helped temper any overly saccharine notes.

What emerged from the oven was a crispy, crunchy, chunky pan of light-blue tinted delight. Perfectly acceptable to eat out of hand, I also used it to fill the hollows of apple halves before baking them for an impromptu dessert, and Mom has been tossing a bit onto her oatmeal-flax-blueberry porridge in the morning for an extra boost (especially this week, when she's been busy helping both my sister and I prepare to get back to the books). At this rate, I'm not sure if it will last the week!

Blueberry Crisp Granola
Makes ~8 cups, 16 (1/2 cup) servings
2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup whole grain Cream of Wheat
½ cup kinako (toasted soy flour)
¼ tsp kosher salt
¼ cup honey
⅓ cup cookie butter (like Biscoff)
½ cup apple juice
⅓ cup Blueberry Beet Butter (or blueberry jam)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp butter flavouring
½ tsp lemon extract
¼ cup dried blueberries
½ cup Golden Grahams cereal (or coarsely crumbled graham crackers)
  1. Heat the oven to 300°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
  2. Place the oats, cream of wheat, kinako and salt, set aside.
  3. Place the honey, cookie butter, blueberry butter,and extracts in a small bowl and stir to combine.
  4. Pour over the oat mixture and mix until the oats are thoroughly coated.
  5. Spread the mixture in a thin, even layer on a rimmed baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, then stir and continue baking 15 minutes longer.
  7. Turn off the oven and cool inside.
  8. Add the blueberries and cereal to the baking sheet and toss to combine.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 162.6
Total Fat: 3.3 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 106.3 mg
Total Carbs: 31.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.4 g
Protein: 4.7 g