Inhaling as I wander past my blooming orange tree, visions of spring flash through my mind. The white blossoms cover the tree from head to foot, well... from top to bottom anyway, and lend their scent to the entire side yard. Little, baby oranges make their way out of the center of the blossoms and in a few months, they will be the juice on my table. Or perhaps they will be the peel in my granola as I'm certain that this last batch of Orange Granola won't last long.
This year I'm lucky to have my Dad's tree supplement my orange crop, as my crop totaled 3. Yep, 3 whole oranges. Unfortunately, our usually prolific tree received a cut from the gardener last year just as it was blooming. I didn't think it was possible to be moved to tears over a mere tree, but as I walked outside and saw the leaves and blossoms lying on the ground I could hardly hold it in.
|Next year's orange peel...|
The guy was new and in my broken Spanish I begged him to stop cutting, but the damage was done. He was only trying to shape the tree in a "pretty" way, but... well... but. Words can not describe my disappointment at seeing my entire orange crop on the ground, however, a year later the tree has regenerated, and is, I might add, thicker and even more prolific than ever due to its untimely trimming.
With a bowl of Dad's oranges on our counter and the granola bin empty, inspiration hit late this afternoon. Granola has been popular around our house as of late, as well as at the dance studio where one of my daughter's friends has been gushing about our flavorful Maple version.
Taking that maple version, adding a little of this and deleting a little of that, today's Orange Granola took on a delightfully light orange flavor. Keeping the crunch brought by the baked egg white, this granola truly hit the spot.
Low in fat, yet filled with whole grain oats and nutrient-rich almonds, the granola has been my snack of choice each time I've passed the overflowing jar. Tomorrow we'll share some with Liv's Maple Granola-addicted dance friend, Ellie, and see what she thinks.
I'm thinking it's a good thing next years crop is looking to be bigger than this year's...
Orange Vanilla Almond Granola
You define the strength of the orange flavor with the addition of a little, or a lot, of orange zest or candied orange peel.
3 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup ground flax meal
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup almonds, roughly chopped or halved
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 Tbs brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
salt to taste
1 cup dried fruit (raisins, blueberries, cranberries, chopped apricots, etc.)
1-2 Tbs grated orange zest of chopped candied orange peel
Preheat oven to 300º. Generously coat a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.
In a large bowl mix the rolled oats, flax meal, wheat germ, and almonds. Stir to mix.
In small bowl add the orange juice, egg whites, maple syrup, brown sugar and vanilla. Whisk to combine.
Pour the orange juice mixture into the oat mixture and stir to coat. Sprinkle with salt and stir again.
Spread the mixture evenly onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake about 15 minutes, then stir. Bake another 10 minutes, stir again. Bake another 10, then stir again. Bake until a rich golden brown in color, watching closely towards the end of the baking to avoid burning (we baked a total of 38 minutes).
Remove from oven, stir in dried fruits and orange zest or candied orange peel. Cool, then place into airtight containers.