Thursday, February 21, 2013

38 Power Foods -- Week 32 -- Flax Seed -- Flax Seed Granola with Dark Chocolate


well......maybe not ALL:

Granola has a bad rep.  I have relatives who, when they want to make a derisive remark, say something like, "Those granola eaters  are tree-huggin' their way to ____. (Fill in the blank.) Others say, "Granola is just a crumbled up reason to call an oatmeal cookie breakfast."  (That might have been Melissa Clark, but I'm not sure.)  And, definitely, granola has the reputation of being full of fat and terribly caloric, despite its delicious character.


Welcome to healthy granola you can eat in amounts larger than one tablespoon without fear, blame, or shame.  Scoop out a bowlful, top it with milk, and call it your own homemade cereal.  Smother your Greek yogurt with a handful of the stuff.  Sprinkle it lovingly on chocolate gelato.  Snuggle it sweetly beneath a mound of fresh berries.  Top fresh vanilla pudding with a  big spoonful plus a quick splash of brandy. Take a little bag when you travel  or go to work to satisfy your crunch attacks.  Put some in a ribboned jar for a birthday gift.   Drizzle a banana with honey for your kiddoes and roll it in this munchy food -- for here, at least,  granola is not a snack; it is truly food.  And good food, at that.  

Tiny slivers of dark chocolate quell your chocolate desire daily.  In a nice way.

Here's why:
  • Only 2 tablespoons of heart healthy olive oil.  Applesauce stands in for the missing oil.
  • No white sugar and  no brown sugar.  There is honey; there is maple syrup. In my case, there is Minnesota honey and Minnesota syrup.  While you  might not be able to source local syrup, you should source local honey if possible.
  • More oats than anything, there are plenty of nuts for protein--but not enough to tip the calorie and fat balance.
  • This granola will be fresh and, while not cheap, is inexpensive and luscious compared to store-bought, sometimes stale packaged granola. (Which might not have your favorite things in it anyway.)
  • Dried fruit makes a cameo appearance, but doesn't dominate as dried fruit is full of sugar, calories, and doesn't have the fiber you can get in fresh fruit.
  • Plenty of seeds add crunch and nutrition, plus the flax seeds fight heart disease (among other things) as well as add additional fiber
  • Chocolate is for your heart (and mouth) happiness, of course, but can be left out if you'd rather.
  • Try this:

flax seed granola with dark chocolate

Cook's Note:  Granola is forgiving, like lots of things.  If you don't have all the ingredients, it will still make.  For instance, if you have only oats, nuts, and raisins, you'll have granola none-the-less.  You would use a little less liquid or increase the oats a bit to make up for the missing fruit and seeds.  The seasonings are also to your taste.  Don't like ginger?  Use a bit more cinnamon and skip it.  And so on.  BTW:   Make sure you use fresh nuts to make any granola; nuts become rancid fairly quickly due to their high oil content.  

Eater's Note:  Granola should be well-chewed for digestive comfort. 
  • 5 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup flax seed meal
  • 2t cinnamon
  • 2t ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves, optional
  • 1t kosher salt (or less per taste and diet)
  • 1/2 cup flaked, sweetened or unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup each; choose 2: chopped walnuts, pistachios,  pecans, or almonds
  • 1/4 cup each; choose 2:  pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and plain sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup total chopped dried  fruit: apricots, cherries, cranberries, currants or raisins (any/all) cut to 1/2" pieces when possible (smaller pieces become quite hard later on)
  • 1/3 cup each: real maple syrup and honey  (can use all honey, but a mix is tastier)
  • 3/4 c applesauce
  • 2T olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (about 1 3/4 ounces) good quality dark chocolate,  very finely chopped or slivered (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees F

Mix dry ingredients, except chocolate, in a large bowl or soup pot.  (oats through dried fruit)  Meantime, heat liquid ingredients over low heat, in a small sauce pan,  stirring until just warm and well-combined. (syrup, honey, applesauce, and oil). * Pour liquid ingredients over dry and mix well for a few minutes until mixture is evenly moistened.  Pour onto two or three large, rimmed baking sheets lined with aluminum foil and bake 50-60 minutes or until dry, golden, and crispy, stirring 3-4 times during the baking time. Remove sheets from oven and let granola cool. When very cool, sprinkle chocolate evenly over all and mix well. (If the granola is only partially cooled, the chocolate will still melt. In which case just mix it in.)  Store in a tightly-sealed container for up to a month.  (This granola will not keep well in a plastic bag; use a large glass jar or Tupperware. Store up to a month.)

*The granola bakes crispier if you do not heat the liquid ingredients, but it's much easier to mix with warm honey, etc.

 2/23:  A friend has put this into the Weight Watcher point counter; it's 4.5 points for half-cup.  WOW! Leave off the dried fruit and/or chocolate (or cut back) and it's even less.

I like my large fish spatula for turning and stirring granola.
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I got the  idea for using applesauce and very little oil for granola from the incredible pastry chef and food blogger, David Lebovitz--who says he got the idea from Nigella Lawson.  (I've blogged one version of my granola on an earlier post.)  If you haven't been a frequent visitor at David's addictive Paris blog, check out the granola, and peruse the site; you'll be sure to enjoy the trip.  Also available on the site is information about taking tours with David--often sold out-- when you're in Paris.

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If you weren't aware of it, flax--also known as linseed-- is an attractive plant with blue flowers  (grown in many places in the world) from which fibers are spun and woven into linen--and have been nearly forever.  Linseed oil is used as a drying oil for painting and varnishing.

Added to the diet too quickly and in too great quantities, flax seed or meal can cause some digestive problems.  Experts recommend beginning with one tablespoon a day in oatmeal, for instance.

about flax from web md:
 Although flaxseed contains all sorts of healthy components, it owes its primary healthy reputation to three of them:
  • Omega-3 essential fatty acids, "good" fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s.
  • Lignans, which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. Flaxseed contains 75 to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods.
  • Fiber. Flaxseed contains both the soluble and insoluble types.
  • more here
 Check out Flax Seed Health Questions and Storage 
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38 Power Foods is a group effort!  

Stop by these other blogs and see what they're cooking each week as we team up to bring you some of the healthiest cooking available:

Ansh –  
Minnie Gupta from
Sarah - Everything in the Kitchen Sink
  • All sites may not blog power foods every week.
        Are you a food blogger?  Join us! 
  • We'd like to have you as part of the group.  Get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits: 
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Sing a new song,
10 Pounds in 8 Weeks Update:  I haven't given up, but I've been sick for 10 days...  And whatever I've been able to eat, I've eaten---within reason.  WHEN I get well, I'll be back on the program and exercising.  Will I be done by 17 March?  Hm. Good Question!


  1. As long as you keep up exercising and eating healthier foods, the weight loss will happen. If not by March 17th , it will happen by march 31st. But happen it will :)

  2. It's interesting that we both added chocolate —or in my case— cocoa to the granola. I don't know about you but I don't care for the taste of flax. And hey, stick with the healthy eating and the pounds will come off.

  3. @Mireya Thanks and thanks!! Great minds think alike.

  4. I love chocolate so I would keep the chocolate. I use flax meal in lots of dishes and I don't sense the change the taste. I just made my dish, for last week, which I hope to put up after work, tomorrow. I made patties with spinach, ground nuts and flax seed meal. There are so many ways to make this, I bet it would please anyone who likes the spinach. They look like hamburgers though.

  5. @Chaya I don't mind the flax seed taste either. Really like it on my oatmeal, in fact. And since I like spinach very much, I'll try your patties once they're up.

  6. Wonderful!!!For me, nothing other than reducing portions work. I can't carb starve, or cream starve. Not even chocolate starve. So this recipe is just perfect for someone like me who can only portion starve.


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