Some consider breakfast cereal and cartoons a Saturday morning ritual. Be me? I don't really like either. I do make an exception for a good granola though. One homemade with lots of crunch and goodness. One that can be eaten any time, not just for breakfast. One that will not only satisfy, but nourish at the same time.
Just to make it a little wicked, there is chocolate in the granola I am sharing today. But, I mean wicked in only the very best way as this recipe uses raw cacao, which is wickedly, wickedly good for you.
Cacao: Trick or Treat?
You thought blueberries were good for you. Maybe even prunes. But look here. Treat yourself to these ratings. Look how high the ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity), a method of measuring antioxidants in biological samples, rates raw cacao and cocoa powder.
ORAC Scores for the Top 10 Antioxidants Foods
1) Raw cocoa powder 95,500
2) Raw cacao nibs 62,100
3) Roasted cocoa powder 26,000
4) Organic Goji Berries 25,300
5) Acai Berries* 18,500
6) Dark Chocolate 13,120
7) Milk Chocolate 6,740
8) Prunes 5,770
9) Raisins 2,830
10) Blueberries 2,400
per 100 grams
Source: US department of Agriculture/Journal of American Chemical Society
Raw Cacao vs. Cacao Nibs vs. Cocoa PowderRaw cacao, nibs and cocoa power are all nutrient giants in the antioxidant world. But, note a few things about the ratings. Look at numbers one, two and three: The raw cacao powder is the king in this comparison; it has the most antioxidant magic of the three. The roasted cocoa powder (which is the processed form of raw cacao) is still a contender, but a minion to the raw form. The raw cacao, once sold only in speciality shops, can be found at many grocery stores and makes a great addition to smoothies and when baking.
- Many of the antioxidants present in cacao are flavonoids, including anthocyanidin - great for the prevention of free radical damage and boosting collagen protection - a strong anti-ager.
- Chocolate, in both its processed and natural form, is a mood booster. Perhaps there lies the reason for the piece of chocolate on your pillow at fine hotels.
- Cacao may be an aide to cardiovascular disease as it may block the oxidation of undesirable LDL cholesterol.
- Cacao contains over 300 important compounds, including protein, fat, certain B-vitamins and minerals such as calcium, sulfur, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc and copper. (However, the roasting process can make cocoa lose much of these nutritional benefits.)
Anytime Cacao Granola with AlmondsThis granola makes a great portable, filling, anytime snack. And the smell, when it is baking? It is down right bewitching!
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin organic coconut oil
- 1/2 -3/4 cup raw organic honey (start with 1/2 cup)
- 1/3 cup unsweetened organic raw cacao powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- splash of vanilla extract
- 3 cups organic rolled oats
- 1 cup slivered almonds
- 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1/4 cup organic cacao nibs
- 1 heaping tablespoon ground flax seed
- 3/4 cup chopped dried fruit of choice: The sour of dried cherries or cranberries are great, but dried bananas, strawberries or raisins could be nice. too.
Now do this:
- Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
- Warm the coconut oil until it melts by placing it in a small saucepan on a very low flame for just a few seconds or even just near the warm stove. It melts quickly! Take off the heat.
- To the warm and melted, but not hot, coconut oil, add the cacao powder, salt, vanilla and honey. Mix until smooth. Taste and adjust for sweetness.
- In a very large mixing bowl add the oats, almonds, cacao nibs, flax and coconut. Mix well.
- Pour the the coconut oil mixture over the oat mixture and combine until well coated.
- Add the granola to a sheet pan with parchment paper and spread to a thin and even layer.
- Bake the granola for 25-45 minutes. But keep an eye on it and check every 5 minutes or so after the 20 minute mark. Shuffle it around a bit, too, with a spoon. (The goal is to get the granola crisp but not burned or browned. Better to undercook it and put it back in the oven a bit later to crisp up some more than burn it!)
- Cool the granola.
- Add the dried fruit of choice and mix well.
- Store in airtight container.
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pennstatelive/5388176116/">pennstatenews</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">cc</a>
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/expressmonorail/3259107614/">Express Monorail</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>