Sunday, November 20, 2011

Snacky Snacks

Are you a snacky person? I definitely am. I know people that eat three meals and nothing in between. I just can't do that. Snacks are wonderful. They perk me up and refuel me for the next chapter of the day. They are definitely worth taking time out to prepare. I usually make a nice big batch of snack-worthy treats that are enjoyed throughout the week. More than often, these are super healthy snacks loaded with good things that nuts, fruits, fiber and natural sugars. I love decadent treats as snacks --hey, who wouldn't love some chocolate smack in the middle of the day to keep you going? But usually these treats just give you a short term high, when what I mostly need is some long-term sustenance.

Healthy muffins and oatmeal cookies are definitely popular in my snack repertoire, as are fruit-packed or nut-butter loaded quick breads. But lately it's been granola. I love granola. I love it with soy milk, or yogurt, or most lately kefir. But usually, it's just on it's own, crunched while walking to the streetcar stop, forgotten about until the 3:30 bell and then happily munched on the way home. I've made fancy granola chunks, batches with ancient grains like kamut and spelt, and even peanut butter granola and tahini granola.

I've seen many different granola recipes lately, and my best friend raved about one from the New York Times made with olive oil, but I have to say that I love to play with this recipe that uses apple sauce instead. I made this granola batch beautifully fragrant with the addition of orange zest, and I added chopped dates instead of raisins or dried cranberries, a lovely, sweet and sticky alternative that goes great with the orange flavour. There's also chopped almonds and sunflower seeds in there too, because a snack always needs to give you a little protein boost, right? Right?! Get snacking people!

Orange Scented Granola with Dates

adapted from Everybody Likes Sandwiches
makes a big batch!

***3 little apples or 2 big ones -- I used empires, chopped and peeled (if you like .. I left the peel on)
splash of water
1/2 teaspoon of almond extract
3 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup
3 tablespoons of orange juice

2 cups of spelt flakes
1 cup of old fashioned oats
1/2 cup of raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup of chopped raw almonds
1/2 cup of chopped dates
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of ground cardamom
zest of 1 large orange

1. In a small saucepan, place the apples and water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Turn the heat to low, put the lid on, and let them cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until the apples gets nice and soft.

2. Take the apples off the heat and let them cool a bit. Add the almond extract and honey, and give mix well. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine everything else except that dates and mix well so that the spices and zest are well distributed. Add the apple sauce mixture and mix carefully so that everything is coated.

4. Spread the mixture out on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven, tossing frequently, until the mixture has dried out and turns golden brown. For me, this took about 45 minutes, turning every 15 minutes.

5. Remove the granola from the oven and add the chopped dates immediately. Toss and let cool. Snack away!

***If you don't feel like making home made applesauce, or already have a nice batch, use about 1 cup

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