Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tahitian Vanilla Granola


Settling into our more leisurely summer routine, the phrase, "Mom... I'm hungry.  Is there anything good to eat?" has met my ears more than once in the last few days.  As I gaze at my overflowing pantry, I can't help but think, "Yes... there is plenty of good things to eat."  That being said, one can never have too many snacks around.  And if I orchestrate the snack, more than likely it will be a healthier choice than some of the chips and salsa alternatives.

Enter granola.  Earlier this year Liv, my son and my husband all turned up their noses at the thought of granola.  The kids more out of a "I don't eat that kind of stuff" kind of thought, and my husband with a "Have you seen the fat count in granola?" kind of thought.

Our first granola attempt, a pure maple syrup version, put an end to all of their prior thoughts and now has them asking, "When are you making more granola?".  Trying different versions we've come to love Coconut Mango Granola, Pumpkin Granola, and Peanut Butter Granola Bars since our first explorations.

As my thoughts of summer turn to swaying palms and have me reminiscing about my days sailing around the South Pacific, I grabbed the last little bottle of Tahitian Vanilla from my trip a year and a half ago.

Huahine - 2010
A stop in tropical Huahine had us settling into vacation mode almost immediately.  As our ship, the Paul Gauguin, entered the bay, low clouds hung over the lush volcanic peaks as we made our way on deck the first morning following our long flight from Los Angeles.

Coffee in hand, we took in the view of the vibrant waters and swaying palms from the back of the ship.  The February humidity was a treat to our winter-chilled bones, and we grew even more excited about our upcoming tour of the island.

Vanilla Pods
Boarding a vehicle with 8 passengers, Joelle, an American living on Huahine, took us around the island and filled our heads with lore, history, and stunning sights.  High on my list was a stop at a local vanilla bean "farm", where we not only had the opportunity to see how vanilla beans are grown and dried (a labor intensive job done by hand), but also purchase.  With Joelle's recommendation that these were some of the best beans in the South Pacific (a sales pitch?  Perhaps... but they lived up to their reputation) I jumped at the chance to load up on the fairly inexpensive pods in addition to some extract, and sure enough, wished I had purchased even more as I returned home.


Today, a year and a half later, my last bottle now held just one teaspoon of the floral scented liquid gold, and with Vanilla Granola on our minds I couldn't think of a better way to finish up the bottle.  Supplementing with pure vanilla seeds that a friend brought me from Paris, our Vanilla Granola took shape and soon had an aroma swirling about the house bringing memories of Huahine flooding back to my mind.

Now about that empty bottle... here's hoping my husband is reading and realizing that we really need to make a shopping expedition to the South Pacific sometime soon.


Tahitian Vanilla Granola
Light, crunchy, and tropical with the addition of not only coconut but dried mango, this Tahitian Vanilla Granola was a treat out of hand or layered with yogurt in a parfait.

4 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup flax meal
3/4 cup halved raw almonds
1/3 - 1/2  cup brown sugar (depending on your desired sweetness level)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 egg white
2 Tbs coconut oil, melted (or vegetable oil, or olive oil)
1/4 cup honey, agave or maple syrup
5 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
pepitas
raisins or dried fruit
flaked coconut (optional)

Preheat oven to 325ºF.

Place oats, flax, almonds, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl and whisk to combine, breaking up any brown sugar lumps as you go.

In a medium bowl, combine the egg white, oil, honey (or agave or maple syrup), vanilla and salt.  Whisk to combine.

Pour the wet ingredients into the oatmeal mixture and stir to coat.  Spread the granola onto a baking sheet prepared with cooking spray or lined with a silicone mat and spread the granola mixture evenly.

Bake for about 15 minutes, then stir.  Return the granola to the oven and cook another 10-15 minutes or until the granola is a golden brown.  Remove from oven and cool slightly.  Add dried fruit and pepitas, stirring to combine.  Add flaked coconut if desired.

Cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Enjoy your taste of the islands!

Liv Life Note:  Liv and her girlfriends like granola fairly sweet.  I prefer mine not so sweet.  As such our first version contained 1/3 cup of brown sugar (not packed) and the girls felt this was not sweet enough.  I, however, loved it.  They prefer the 1/2 cup of brown sugar packed in as much as you can pack!  Hence, adjust the sugar level to your sweet preference. 

Huahine - 2010




17 comments:

  1. I've been seeing a lot of granola blogs lately, and yours is on my list to try. The vanilla sounds wonderful.

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  2. I recently won a giveaway of vanilla beans! I have never seen how these are sold and it's interesting there is even vanilla bean farm! Your granola looks beautiful and delicious. I am going to make this for our healthy snack time too. We need some good snack in the morning since now they are not in school!

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  3. Granola like this is just what I desire through hectic exam periods - love it my friend :D

    Cheers
    CCU

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  4. I love granola! Especially during the summer with a nice sweet yogurt! This looks delicious!

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  5. Man, I wish I could eat granola. I'd try all of your flavours!

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  6. Oh, I'm loving the sound of this granola! On my "to make" list!

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  7. Have you seen the fat count in granola? <-- That's so totally my husband as well, although when I make something with tons butter he's a happy camper!
    Love granola, perfect for breakfast or in the afternoon. mmm

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  8. Liz did a vanilla granola with dried cherries that sounds wonderful too. I am going to have to try me some vanilla granola! Love the vacation pics (as usual)! A great way to use the last of that wonderful vanilla.

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  9. I don't mind starting a day with this Granola, Looks awesome.

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  10. I would love to sail around the South Pacific! What an experience!
    I love granola. I just posted my version! I eat my homemade version every day for breakfast with Greek yogurt. This looks like a recipe I will have to try next.

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  11. Sailing around the South Pacific sounds incredible! My husband and I are planning on taking sailing lessons soon...I can't wait! :) I love having granola on hand to snack on and throw in yogurt. This recipe looks delicious! :)

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  12. Beautiful recipe! This would be the perfect breakfast to start a happy day :-)

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  13. I'm so jealous! I wish I could just "pop" over to Tahiti. :( I have such an obsession with vanilla beans. Stocked up the last time I was in Paris and running low after all the baking I've done this summer so far.

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  14. I loooove homemade granola, and can only imagine how wonderful this must be with real vanilla!

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