Magic Quinoa Granola
Quinoa is magic. Just ask my sister, who is made of quinoa.
I recently went home to California for the holidays. It was an especially wonderful trip because my sister, Kendyl, who lives in Hawaii, was visiting at the same time. She's my best friend, yoga instructor, and health guru. Kendyl treats her body like a temple (which I aspire to do as well, till I see a cupcake), she only eats non GMO organic, and seems to put quinoa in everything. Like everything.
A handful of years ago I had never heard of quinoa. Today, the toasty, sesame-like plant food is everywhere, taking the health food world by storm. Known as the "ancient grain", it's in fact not a grain at all, but a seed from a 7000 year old South American plant; one they've been farming for a millennia. Given quinoa's impressive nutritional rap sheet, it makes me wonder- what took us so long to catch on?
Quinoa is a complete source of protein, which is very rare for a plant based food. One serving provides the body with 20 amino acids, 5 grams of fiber, and 8 grams of protein. It offers a strong protein to carbohydrate ratio, and bonus, those complex carbohydrates are gluten free. Compare that to a cup of spinach!
- Quinoa contains anti-inflamatory nutrients and healthy fats, making it heart healthy.
- With a high amount of insoluble fiber and protein, quinoa gives you a "full" feeling, which aids in weight loss.
- Quinoa provides a wonderful grain substitution to a gluten free diet or to those with celiac disease.
- The nutrients in quinoa have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help your body fight and prevent diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and inflammatory bowel diseases.
- Quinoa is easy and inexpensive to farm, making it a highly growable crop. It's even been researched by NASA to use for long-term space missions.
Quinoa is also incredibly versatile! I use it in salads, casseroles, burrito fillings, and my latest- granola.
This granola is packed with healthy fats, fiber, flavor, and quinoa's superfood nutrition. It's crunchy, toasty, and naturally sweetened. I like to use a variety of nuts and dried berries, but you can substitute any flavor combinations you like. It tastes amazing over a bowl of greek yogurt or as an afternoon snack.
Magic Quinoa Granola
* Makes 3-4 cups
- 1 cup golden quinoa, rinsed well and dried
- 1/2 pure maple syrup (Grade B preferred)
- 1/4 cup grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil such as avocado oil or canola oil)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1 cup coconut flakes
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, no shells
- 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries or dried mixed berries
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate, finely chopped (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, combine the maple syrup, oil, salt, and vanilla. Stir to combine and set aside.
- On the baking sheet, spread the rinsed and dried quinoa in an even layer. Bake for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, till the quinoa is lightly toasted.
- In a large bowl, combine the toasted quinoa, walnuts, pecans, coconut, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, and chocolate. Add the maple syrup mixture and stir to combine.
- Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, pour the mixture back onto the same lined baking sheet. Spread the mixture out, creating an even layer.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then stir. Bake for another 10 minutes till the granola has turned a golden brown. Given all ovens are different, the granola may need more baking time. Just keep checking and stirring, being careful not to burn.
- Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.