Today I want to share with you one of my very favorite things to eat. No, not ice cream (although that is one of my favorite things to eat), but something almost as good…Greek yogurt. Until Greek yogurt came along I rarely ate yogurt…too runny ~ but now I make my special version 4 or 5 times a week.
I start with plain Greek yogurt. I usually use Fage 2%. I wish it was from grass-fed cows but I haven’t yet found grass-fed Greek yogurt. I like plain because flavored yogurts contain a lot of added sugar and are way too sweet for me. To this plain yogurt I add one mashed banana ~ this is a great use for bananas that are starting to get a bit ripe. After I add the banana I add 3 things…some of my homemade granola (recipe below), chia seeds and cacao nibs. I know, I probably lost you at granola. Chia seeds…is that like a chia pet? Kind of ~ they actually are the seeds used to grow chia pets. To understand the value of chia seeds and cacao nibs, I am going to refer you to an article by Brian St. Pierre, who I have referenced before. His article, titled “Five Foods You Should Be Eating” was written for Testosterone Nation (T-Nation). Contrary to what you might think, this online magazine actually gets really good contributions from people in the fitness and nutrition arenas who know their stuff (my coach also writes for T-Nation). Brian’s article also discusses pasture butter and coconut oil, which I have featured in previous posts, and sprouted grains (e.g. Ezekiel bread). Chia seeds have no taste, so they are an easy add-in. Just be aware that because they are so small they can get stuck in your teeth…take a look in the mirror before you head out anywhere. 🙂 The cacao nibs are basically unsweetened chocolate. I wouldn’t eat a spoon of them on their own, but mixed in with all the other stuff, they are good ~ they are a bit crunchy, which I like. I buy both chia seeds and cacao nibs at Whole Foods. The chia seeds cost about $6.50 and last a long time. The cacao nibs are much pricier ~ I just paid $18.50 today for a pound.
Now for the granola. I love granola ~ a little bit added to my yogurt gives it a bit more sweetness and lots of crunch. I will never, ever buy granola from the store. Once you make your own, you realize how much better it is. I can control the sources of the ingredients (I use organic when available) and I have tweaked the recipe to my liking. One batch makes a lot of granola ~ it will last you awhile. I got the recipe a long time ago from The Baker’s Catalog (makers of King Arthur Flour). I am including the recipe below, but if you want to print it out, here is a Word version for you: Vermont Maple Granola. I like to add more coconut. I have also switched to using coconut oil (melted in the microwave) in lieu of vegetable oil. You will need a really big bowl to mix this in. DO NOT add any raisins or other dried fruit until it comes out of the oven (one time I made the mistake of adding the raisins before…I ended up with really dried out, hard raisins). Pull it out of the oven a couple of times to stir it and break it up into smaller pieces. You can tell when it’s done when it is slightly brown and is a bit crunchy (the time spent in the oven is to dry the mixture out). Hope you enjoy it!
- 7 cups rolled oats, uncooked
- 1 cup toasted coconut
- 1 cup wheat germ
- 1 cup almonds, sliced or slivered
- 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- 1 cup sunflower seeds, raw or toasted
- ½ cup dry milk powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup vegetable oil (or coconut oil)
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup raisins or other dried fruit, optional
In a large bowl, combine the oats, coconut, wheat germ, nuts, seeds and milk powder. Mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the salt, oil, maple syrup and vanilla. Pour over dry mixture in bowl, stirring and tossing until everything is very well combined.
Spread granola on a couple of large cookie sheets. Bake in a preheated 250 degree oven for 1 ½ to 2 hours, tossing and stirring mixture several times. Remove from oven and cool completely. Transfer to a large bowl and mix in raisins or other dried fruit.