I'm not a food writer, and though cooking is certainly the Do-It-Yourself activity nearly everyone practices, I know that when I read recipe blogs online, I often skip straight to the ingredients, so here's my recipe for gluten-free granola, followed by the story behind it, in case you're interested.
Nut and Seedy Gluten-Free Granola
Preheat oven to 275 degrees
Mix these dry ingredients in a large bowl:
2 cups gluten-free oats (I use Bob's Red Mill)
1 cup sliced almonds (I buy Mariani's brand pre-sliced from Costco)
1/4 cup hemp seeds (I buy Manitoba Harvest from Costco)
1/4 cup chia seeds (I buy Nature's Path from Costco)
1/4 cup ground flax seed (I buy Premium Gold from Costco)
Stir these wet ingredients in a measuring cup and microwave until warm and runny,
about 20 seconds.
1/4 cup honey
1 Tbs cooking oil
1 tsp vanilla
Slowly stir wet mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients to coat well.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment or foil and spread out the granola mixture.
Bake at 275 degrees for 45 minutes, removing pan to stir halfway through.
Granola will be golden brown and loose and flaky rather than clusters when done.
Let cool in pan. Store in covered container, refrigerate for longevity.
I've been eating gluten-free for at least a dozen years now, not to be trendy, but because I'm intolerant. It was tough at first, since ours is a wheaty world: toast for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, pasta and pizza and dinner rolls, cookies and cakes for dessert. When I was first diagnosed as gluten intolerant, I eliminated wheat, barley, oats, along with eggs, soy, and other troublesome (for me) foods. It was a difficult adjustment, and on occasion in that first year, I'd eat a small piece of birthday cake at a party every now and then, because I felt deprived. But after feeling the instant distress a few times—abdominal pain and bloating, migraines, canker sores—I began to look at pastries and other baked goods, not with longing as I had, but as poison.
In those first years, I spent lots of money and time buying obscure flours, leavening ingredients, and egg replacers—like garbanzo and tapioca flour and xantham gum—that were available only at pricey health foods stores, trying to bake my own bread using the Gluten-Free Gourmet's recipes. My results were brick-like loaves with nearly burnt crusts and gluey insides, which pretty much mimicked the rice bread bricks available at my local market.
Commercial gluten-free baked goods have come a long way since, and I can find tasty breads, baked treats, and pastas at any market. Which is wonderful, but which also means there are a lot more carbs in my diet now that bread, spaghetti and the occasional brownie are no longer poison.
Since I don't eat eggs, breakfast is the most troubling meal of the day for me. For years I ate Trader Joe's frozen wheat-free waffles with tea and o.j. for breakfast. I added in a chicken-apple sausage 5 years ago, when my husband and I began to eat lower-carb for health reasons.
And then, a year and a half ago, I began waking at 6 a.m. to leave the house by 7 a.m., where after an hour drive to our project house, I put in 8 hours of physical work. I was starving by 9 a.m.—for some strange reason, the earlier I wake up each day, the hungrier I am throughout the day. I started drinking protein powder and eating nuts on my morning break, but I needed a better breakfast. And I do mean a single breakfast. I'm an 8:30 a.m. morning person, not a 6 a.m. morning person, so I needed to know exactly what I was going to eat each morning.
Enter plain Greek yogurt, low-carb protein powerhouse—which by itself makes me gag. So I doctored it up; thinning it with unsweetened almond milk, and mixing in some Chex brand gluten-free granola and some blueberries. Once our project house was finished, and my mornings have been more leisurely, I've added chia seeds, sliced almonds, and hemp seeds to the mix, as well as dried cherries if I don't have fresh berries.
It all seemed to be going great, though both a visiting friend and my daughter home from college commented on how long it took me to assemble my morning ingredients, which was anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour depending on how distracted I got with feeding cats, boiling tea kettle, unloading the dishwasher, etc. Yes, I could've mixed all the ingredients and popped them in a Tupperware, but I knew the tiny seeds would fall the the bottom, and the oats and Chex would stay at the top, so each day I scooped yogurt into a bowl, stirred in almond milk to my desired consistency, sprinkled the chia seeds, then hemp, then the sliced almonds, then the granola, then the berries, then stirred it up and ate.
Chex gluten-free granola has disappeared from my local grocery stores (though found it on Amazon for double the price, I didn't buy it) and the clerks say the warehouse is out of stock. No one seems to know if it's discontinued or just a temporary setback. Either way, without a few oats, my breakfast the past two weeks has been simply too seedy.
So, I reluctantly made my own gluten-free granola this morning. I was reluctant to try it, given my bad luck with baking, and having never made granola before. I did some Internet research, and cobbled together my own recipe using some guidelines from Bon Appetit and this recipe from Keep it Kind. It was easy and quick to assemble (not any longer than my daily breakfast routine). It smelled great while baking, and it turned out tasty. The result is a loose flaky granola, not clusters, but it's perfect for my breakfast concoction.
I am a writer who, in December 2011, fortified by a new MFA, empty nest, and changes in my husband's employment, relocated from my native California to Washington state to see what would unfold next.