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.
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
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!
|Huahine - 2010|