Some days are notably better than others, while some are notably worse than others. Last week I had one those “worse than others” days. I am a newlywed with a full-time job that I absolutely adore running operations for a local specialty coffee roasting company (yes, I’m one of those coffee people) while simultaneously being a full-time student at university (UNT in Denton) working toward my business degree where I’m required to maintain a 3.7 or higher GPA throughout my entire educational career, no big deal, no stress. Not only am I super busy, which is something I actually enjoy most of the time, but my commuting is absolutely crazy between work, school and “home”. One of these days I may just let Jesus take the wheel.
Last week I had a flare up of my eye dystonia which I thought was gone, since I haven’t had an episode for maybe 12 or 13 years. It’s a really worrisome and quite frustrating condition where I’m not in control of my eye muscles contractions and if my eyelids want to shut, they will shut, against my will – when driving 70 mph down the highway, that’s really, really scary. I got home safely, a little shaken up by the events of the day, and changed into my glasses thinking it would solve the problem so I could drive up to Denton for a quiz in my night class, but it didn’t. The episode lasted all night and into the next more.
I was really distraught and confused, asking God “why?” a lot. Naturally, as if by another an uncontrolled reaction, I found myself in my kitchen with my arms full of ingredients. I wasn’t even hardly thinking, just moving about and the next thing I know I’m making granola. Cooking and baking are really therapeutic for me, it’s my safe and happy place. It’s the place I most enjoy being and the place I have the most fun as well as an outlet for creativity….and for a bad day. When the aroma of this granola fills your home you will be left with a wry smile of secretive satisfaction grow across your face as everyone else will believe you to be baking fresh cookies.
This super crunchy, tasty granola is BFFs with unsweetened cooked-down fruit and plain fat-free yogurt (skyr is my preference). When you think about how hazelnuts and chocolate already have the perfect love child in their famous chocolatey nut spread, you know that granola with the two would be equally as magical, but with way less sugar (and just as easy to eat straight out of the jar with a spoon!). The nibs are like crunchy morsels of chocolate, but without the chocolate. You don’t really need sugar in your yogurt and fruit with this granola, they all balance one another out quite nicely.
My emotional and physical recovery have gone very well thanks to my days starting off with this granola over my yogurt with some lightly cooked-down blueberries and hot black coffee. It really is my favorite way to start my mornings off.
What You’ll Need
3 cups rolled oats (gluten-free, if you need)
1/2 cup pepitas
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1/3 cup cacao nibs
2 Tbsp chia seeds
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
2 Tbsp flax meal
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon, ground
1/4 tsp cardamom, ground
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup neutral oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325F and line 2 baking trays with foil, set aside.
Mix all of your dry ingredients together in one large bowl. In a separate small bowl mix the honey, oil and vanilla extract together.
Pour the wet mixture into the dry and mix well! This is a great step to do with your kids if you’re a parent! Either use a wooden spoons or get your hands in there and have some fun.
Pour out the granola onto the two baking sheets into thin, even layers on each and bake for 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Let the granola cool completely then store in an airtight container. This is good for about 3 months on the shelf, but it will not last that long!
Tip: Sprinkle over ice cream, chia pudding, whole-grain waffles or pancakes for a great, nutty crunchy!