A bowl of Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, a drizzle of honey, and a handful of granola is what a perfect morning looks like to me. Add in a cup of coffee and any song by Branches playing in the background and I can’t think of a better way to start the day. Recently, I’ve been getting into the vegan & gluten free food movements. I’m neither vegan nor gluten intolerant, but I am still intrigued by the art and science that goes into constructing and reconstructing recipes that are vegan and/or gluten-free. There is something powerful about the art of repurposing and substituting one ingredient for another that I just love about developing any recipe. It’s the thrill of discovery. It’s trying new recipes and daring to relearn old ones. It’s the constant search of that ‘eureka’ moment. It’s the process of starting from nothing to ending with something beautiful and memorable.
Speaking of beginnings (and endings), Monday marks the start to my senior year of college. After this year, I will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management and with no clear idea as to where I want to go or do with that degree. Perfect! Earlier this week I packed up my car and moved back down into my apartment and got settled in. In between the unboxing of food props (in which there were MANY) and developing recipes, I found time to myself to just breath and relax. Senior year is going to be a great year; I can just feel it. I am gaining some new clients while doing work with current ones (announcements coming soon on that). I have a few blog collaborations coming up in September and October (which I’m really excited about). Outside of the blog, I’m the Outreach Coordinator for the Student Event Planners Association. Topped with school work and “being social”, it’s going to be a fun but a busy year!
Last year around this time I wrote a post where I made pan-fried bananas and ate them over yogurt. This year I wanted to carry on that tradition and write a post that was morning inspired. I stumbled across this recipe on Valentina’s YouTube page and fell instantly in love with it. I adored everything about it, from the cinematography to the recipe itself. I knew I needed to make it ASAP! I didn’t have a few of the ingredients on her list, like hemp hearts or coconut oil, so I was excited to try new ingredients (and hopefully incorporate them into some future recipes). Warning: the smell that will come out of your oven when these are close to done is DECADENT! From the nutty aromas of the toasted almonds, pecans, and walnuts to the cinnamon spice and floral notes of rose water, every flavor and smell were welcomed.
For my version, I wanted to add some homemade dried blueberries to the mix, because I just wanted to. No exciting explanation here. To be honest, who knew drying out berries was so easy? Toss with honey, then line on a baking sheet, and bake! Super easy and completely worth it. As the berries cool, they will create this slightly dry exterior, but biting into one you get a warm and juicy interior. Momma Crawford and Father approved as well (due to the fact they tried to eat it while I was shooting it!). Parents, am I right?
Gluten-Free Quinoa & Dried Blueberry Granola
Original dried berry recipe from Martha Stewart
Original granola recipe from Hortus Natural Cooking
For the granola
1 cup almonds
½ cup walnuts halves
½ cup pecans
½ cup quinoa, well rinsed
¼ hemp hearts or seeds
¼ cup chia seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
A pinch of salt
3 tablespoons coconut oil
2-3 heaping tablespoons honey or maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon rose water or orange blossom water
2 cups dried blueberries* or other dried berries (topping)
For the dried blueberries
2 cups blueberries
3 teaspoons honey
For the dried blueberries. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Toss the blueberries with the honey in a bowl. Transfer berries to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until shriveled but still supple about 2 hours. Allow to cool.
For the granola. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Add the nuts to a food processor and pulse just until chopped. Scrape them into a bowl, and add the rinsed quinoa, hemp heart, chia seeds, salt, and spices. Mix well.
In a microwave safe bowl, combine the coconut oil, vanilla, honey or maple syrup, and rose water. Microwave for 30 seconds, just for the coconut oil to melt. Pour the oil mixture over the nut mixture and toss to combine. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and spread to evenly coat. Place in the oven and turn the temperature down to 300 degrees F. Bake for 20 minutes before checking on the granola and stirring it around. Bake for 10 for minutes. Once it is golden and toasty, take it out and let it cool. Add in your berries and store in a clean jar. Top over yogurt or oatmeal.