Oatmeal Week: Chocolate Almond Granola
What do you struggle with in raising your littles? If I boiled down my biggest hurdles, they are: worry with one kid and disappointment with the other. Esme frets about what’s coming and Julian stomps around about what’s already happened. But really, it’s all about control, right? How do you teach your kids to manage what they can and forget about the things they can’t. I guess you start by teaching yourself. Wow, who woke up feeling philosophical? My six a.m. runs are clearly fuelling some deep thoughts…
Cooking and food are great parallels to life challenges, don’t you find? If I’m looking for a way to tell my kids about frustrations or problem solving in my life, I don’t have to look much further than the kitchen. Take this granola for example. It started out as granola bars. I’d been researching easy, simple bars for weeks and had my mind set on these. The internet is packed with recipes for 5-ingredient bars and this is a riff on those recipes. I had my plan and I was all set for a studio day with our lovely photographer Maya Visnyei. Those shoot days take a lot of preparation, shopping, cooking, packing, thinking through prop ideas, etc. I like to go into the day feeling like I know exactly what I’m going to do. You can see where this is going, right?
I baked these bars the night before the shoot and wrapped them up, ready to go for the following morning. Of course the kids were poking around when they saw them on the counter at breakfast. I decided I could just cut a sliver off an end – both to give them a taste and to even up the edge of my bars. And…. no dice. The knife cracked and crumbled the bars as soon as it touched the top. I tried again as the kids watched. Hunks of granola were breaking and scattering everywhere. Julian looked up at me. “Is that wrong, Mummy?” “Nope,” I answered. “It’s granola.” And that’s what we’ve got here – these bars are not bars at all. I should have known – the batter was nowhere near as sticky as the other granola bars I make. But it makes a damn fine granola. And I’m just fine with that.
Chocolate Almond Granola
3 cups rolled oats
2 Tbsps chia seeds
1/2 cup chopped raw almonds
3/4 cup almond butter
3/4 cup brown rice syrup
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and/or line it with parchment. I prefer lining pans so you lift out your baking rather than scooping.
In a small pot, warm up and stir together the almond butter and brown rice syrup over medium low heat.
In a large bowl, mix together oats, chia seeds, almonds and chocolate chips. Pour the syrup and almond butter mixture over the dry ingredients. Stir it together until the dry ingredients get well coated – you may need to use your hands. Press the sticky dough into baking pan and use a spatula or your hands to push in into each corner and flatten it out. Press down hard onto the dough. Bake for about 25 minutes until the top is golden brown.
Remove from the oven and allow the “bars” to cool before you start breaking the granola up into small chunks. Place the chunks into an airtight container. It will keep for about a week that way. Serve with milk and fruit.
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