In the wee hours of the morning (when I can’t sleep), my mind careens like a drunken butterfly. Sometimes it has Monarch impulses, ranging across continents of thought. Other times it just flits from flower to flower on the willy-nilly train. Such is the nature of the mind, Grasshopper.
This is how chocolate granola popped into my head and settled for a while. I was thinking about cancer fighting foods. Of course, I immediately googled “cancer fighting foods” because, as everyone knows, the Internet is the mirror image of a mind gone amok. There I found a particularly good Ted Talk on cancer by Dr. William Li. From there I progressed to the website Eat to Defeat, where he recommends eating one cancer fighting food with every meal. Why not start with breakfast?
Ergo: chocolate granola.
I was slightly skeptical about whether this was a good idea, so I came up with an ambivalent, or shall we say, dualistic, recipe for granola, consisting of half chocolate and half vanilla. (Yes, Grasshopper, as I said, such is the nature of the mind.) I was hedging my bets. Just in case. Leave it open. Decide later. Of course, they were both better than just edible.
I’ll let you choose. Make all-chocolate granola by doubling the amount of cocoa powder and mixing it into the honey blend, or leave it out entirely. Or do both, and compare. The best cancer-fighting cocoa powder, according to Dr. Li, is natural (not “Dutch-processed”). Olive oil (mild), almonds, and honey are also on his list. Eating this granola is a virtuous way to start the day when you want to stick to the plan but veer off the strait and narrow just a teensy bit, and it makes a good snack, too. Good, and good for you.
Chocolate/vanilla almond granola
Makes about 12 cups
8 cups oats
3/4 cup flax seeds
3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1 1/2 cups whole almonds
3/4 cup honey
1/3 cup mild olive oil
2 tablespons vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsweetened “natural” cocoa powder
1 cup chopped dried apricots, or dried fruit of your choosing like cherries or cranberries
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment.
2. Mix oats, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and almonds together in a large bowl. Divide the mixture in half and mound each half in the center of each of the baking sheets.
3. Warm the honey, olive oil, vanilla, and salt together in a saucepan over medium heat, or in a Pyrex bowl for about 1 minute in the microwave, just until warm. Pour half the mixture over half the grains on the first baking sheet. Toss with your hands to mix, and spread in an even layer.
4. Stir the cocoa powder into the remaining liquid ingredients until smooth. Pour the chocolate over the grains on the second baking sheet. Mix with your hands until combined (it will be sticky.) Spread on the baking sheet.
5. Bake the granola for 20 minutes. Remove the baking sheets from the oven, and stir. Return them to the oven, rotating the pans (switch the pan from the top rack to the bottom and vice versa). Continue to bake, removing the pans, stirring, and rotating the pans every 7 minutes or so for 10 to 15 more minutes, or until the vanilla granola is golden and toasty. Leave on the baking sheets to cool. Stir in the apricots, and store in airtight containers.