Sunday, September 29, 2013

Maple-Walnut-Chia Granola with Dried Cranberries

Until this year, in my world, chia was relegated to the cheesy terra cotta figurines. But like all stereotypically hippie health foods, it was only a matter of time before I tried it out for myself. And just like with nutritional yeast, it has stuck around far after its first appearance. At first I was mostly using chia seeds in my smoothies, but when the time came to replenish my granola supply, I saw the perfect time to incorporate it into something different. I always add a few tablespoons of tiny seeds to my granola for that extra bit of crunch and this new addition to my pantry was an obvious choice. The egg whites, another new addition for me, make this granola especially golden and crunchy, though it was the double dose of maple (syrup and extract) that really won my heart (and tastebuds). Perhaps more than any other granola I've made, this one can really do double-duty at breakfast with yogurt and dessert over ice cream.

This granola was part of my Labor Day kitchen marathon, during which I also turned out Zucchini, Banana, and Flaxseed MuffinsZucchini Corn MuffinsSpicy Cold Tomatillo Soup, and Zucchini Rice Gratin. It may have been just one of a long list of culinary projects that day, but that makes it no less worthy of a chance in your kitchen or a repeat appearance in mine.

Maple-Walnut-Chia Granola with Dried Cranberries
adapted from Bon App├ętit
makes about 3 cups

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar, divided
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons egg whites (about 1 large egg white)
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoonground allspice
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons chia, flax or sesame seeds
1/2 cup dried cranberries

1. Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 325°F. Generously coat heavy large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Stir sugar and syrup in heavy small saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves, occasionally brushing down sides with wet pastry brush. Pour into large bowl; cool to lukewarm. Whisk in egg whites, extracts, and spices. Add oats, nuts, and seeds; toss well.

2. Spread mixture in even layer on prepared baking sheet. Bake 35 minutes. Using metal spatula, turn granola over (bottom will be brown). Bake 10 minutes. Sprinkle cranberries over; bake until dry, about 10 minutes longer. Cool granola completely in pan.

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