The one food I get asked about all the time is quinoa. What is it? Why is so healthy? How do you cook it? And my answer is most frequently, “um, not sure.” I like quinoa, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve never quite found that perfect recipe that makes me want to eat it (although this one was pretty great) regularly.
To find the answers I needed, I turned to my friend, fellow mom, blogger, and hot yoga lover, Heidi from The Busy Nothings. Her family is gluten free, so she knows all about quinoa. This recipe for Cranberry Almond Granola is naturally gluten free, meaning you can get all the ingredients at the grocery store without having to find the gluten free section. I’d probably substitute regular Rice Krispies because we aren’t gluten free, but if you are, you already know all about where to get those, I’ll bet.
Heidi also knows about a lot of other stuff, too. She blogs about raising her two boys (one with special needs,) fashion on a budget, DIY, and life in general. Check out her blog and you’ll discover her refreshing honesty about everything and her amazingly beautiful hair! Follow her on twitter, too.
When the doctors told me that my best bet with my oldest son was to be gluten free my life was rocked a little bit. By “little bit” I mean my whole world was shaken to it’s core! We were a family that lived on carbs- all with delicious gluten. After I picked myself up off the ground, I began to explore with grains which was a strange journey on it’s own! At first I was intimidated by it all- Quinoa was actually one of the first I tried and the first time I cooked it it tasted terrible. I nearly crossed it off my list of grains to eat but thankfully persevered until today I use it in most of the recipes I make because of it’s high nutrition and protein. Our whole family eats gluten free now and except for some cheating here and there, (I’m sorry but Chickfila nuggets are worth it!) and even my husband has come around.
But let me back up… What is Quinoa? It’s a South American seed actually, that has gotten put in the grain category because of it’s grain-like properties. You can serve it hot like oatmeal with milk and brown sugar, cook it in soup like barley or noodles, or even cook it like rice pilaf and serve as a side or thrown into a spinach salad. It’s a protein packed super seed/grain that has a bit of a nutty bite to it. I’ve found that when I cook it in soups or like rice, I use a hearty broth to tame it down. Don’t get me wrong, it’s delicious but some people, such as my dear husband, don’t like it plain but loves it in dishes.
As trendy as eating gluten free has become, it is still expensive and so one of the ways I like to save money is by making as much from scratch as my busy life allows. Making granola seems intimidating at first, but after you make it once it’s embarrassingly easy but still impressive to friends who you can give it to as a Christmas or birthday present in a mason jar…
The best thing about granola is how you can customize it to your tastes. Pick your favorite nuts, dried fruits and make your own creation! Until you are at the point where you feel comfortable doing this however, here is my recipe to get you started on your journey to becoming a granola master. Stick with it, it’s a healthy, good for you snack packed with all the good things and without the extra sugar. Enjoy!
Cranberry Almond Quinoa Granola
1 1/2 cups Quinoa
3/4 cup Steel Cut Oats
3/4 cup Old Fashioned Oats
1 cup Gluten Free Rice Crispies
1/2 cup Slivered Almonds
1/2 cup Sunflower Seeds
1/2 cup Pumpkin Seeds
2 Tbsp. Flax Seeds
2 Tbsp. Chia Seeds
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Cinnamon
Mix all the dry ingredients together, holding the Rice Crispies.
1/2 Cup Coconut Oil (or butter)
1 Cup Honey
2 egg whites
Whisk the egg whites into the melted coconut oil and honey. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mix well, gently stirring in the Rice Crispies last.
Put on greased, foiled lined cookie sheet. Spread evenly and bake for 300 degrees for 45 min.
Add after 45 min, on the top, don’t stir:
3/4 cup Shredded Coconut
1 1/2 cups dried Cranberries
Cook for another 15-30 min until the granola is browned and toasted. Let cool completely, if possible, overnight.
Take quinoa granola and store in an air tight container for 1-2 weeks.