At lunch, presiding over a mountain of plump and juicy shrimp & yellow leek dumplings, my good friend Ping was telling me about her “paleo” diet, whereby she eats a fairly restricted diet of lean proteins, healthy greens, nuts, seeds, and legumes. No refined sugars or flours. Based on her description, it’s a pretty solid approach to healthy eating, although (she admitted) it was pretty ironic we were discussing it over a gluten-laden early lunch at 101 Noodle Express, an amazing SGV outlet for Shanghainese beef rolls, crab dumplings, cold soy-poached chicken, and hand-made noodles in spicy beef broth. But our Ping knows her shit; that is, her food knowledge is broad and impressive and so, when she mentioned her diet, I pricked up my ears.
Now I love granola. If you know me at all you know I’m not a huge fan of cereal. No Captain Crunch fanatic am I; breakfast-wise I’m a sausage-and-over-easy man of the old school. But I LOVE grains — I do like oatmeal, I do like flax, I adore quinoa, although saying such a thing could probably get a man killed in less-populated regions of Mississippi. So when Ping mentioned her “paleo” granola, I knew I had to make it. It’s my kind of thing. Heck, it’s not even the granola itself, but the making of the granola. I’m a man who needs his projects.
Ping described the granola in pretty specific terms, although without measurements — oatmeal (I assumed rolled oats), flax seeds, chia seeds, pepitas (shucked pumpkin seeds), quinoa (preferably red), any kind of dried fruit, any kind of nuts, and then tossed with maple syrup, coconut oil, and maybe honey if you prefer it sweeter. It all sounded perfectly delicious to me. And it all sounded very healthy.
The list of ingredients is like a who’s who of super-foods.
- Oatmeal: Helps to lower cholesterol. High in fiber and protein.
- Flax seeds: Reduces cholesterol. Helps reduce colon-cancer risk. Etc.
- Chia seeds: Loaded with Omega-6 fatty acids. Makes cute potted plant animals.
- Pepitas: Rich in minerals. Inflammation reduction. Reduces cholesterol.
- Quinoa: High in magnesium. High is fiber. Rich in antioxidants.
- Coconut Oil: Aids in digestion. Bolsters immune system.
Ping’s Super-Crunchy Super Granola (My Version):
- 4 cups rolls oats
- 1 cup flax seeds
- 1 cup pepitas
- 1 cup chia seeds
- 3/4 cup red quinoa
- 2/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
- 2/3 cup slivered almonds
- 2 cups dried cherries
- 2 cups dried blueberries
- 20 medium dried apricots, diced
- 1 cup coconut oil
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 1 cup local honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
A note on honey. I like to use local honey if I can find it. I feel it’s important to support local purveyors for one thing, and I’ve read that eating local honey can help reduce allergies to local flora. That rule might apply only to raw honey, which this was not. But I like to make the effort, nonetheless.
Ping’s Super-Crunchy Super Granola (Original Version):
- 2 cups dry oats
- 3/4 cup quinoa
- 1/2 cup chopped raw almonds
- 1/2 cup pepitas
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 2 tablsepoons flax seeds
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)
- 1/4 cup shredded coconut (optional)
- 1/2 cup coconut oil (liquid form)
- 1/2 cup grade B maple syrup
- 1-2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 cup organic dark chocolate chips (optional)
I hope you try either version. Both are very healthy and very tasty!
Get your grains going on!