September 5, 2012

Coconut Almond Granola and Homemade Yogurt


with Homemade Yogurt and Fresh Berries


I love this granola. It is heavy on the almonds, seeds and coconut,  and light on the actual oats, packing it full of healthy proteins keeping  me feeling fueled and energized all day long.  It's vegan, gluten free and not overly sweet, like some tend to be.  It also works wonders for a sluggish digestive system. Topped with homemade Greek style yogurt and fresh berries, it's addicting. And the best part is, it can be made in large batches and it will keep for weeks. For this recipe, go to the bulk bin section of your grocery store and load up on nuts, seeds, oats, and dried fruit. This would be fun project to make with your kids.You can follow this recipe or change it to your own preferences keeping similar proportions.









You can feel change in the air. Not only literally, with cool night temperatures, but with everything. The slow languid pace of summer is gradually being replaced by a mounting frenetic energy. An urgency.  Movement. People are driving faster, wrapping up their summer vacations,  making lists, buying  school supplies, getting binders in order, organizing drawers, scheduling, basically buttoning down the hatches for the mayhem to come. 'Tis the season I suppose. School has just started and it's time to get back to business. And just like that, summer is over.



  

For us though, "summer" is just starting.  In the catering business,  most weekends May through August are booked with weddings, and summer ends up being a a bit of a blur. September is when we can finally take a breath. It is the month I look forward to every year, not only for its promise of rest, but here in the Northwest, September is stunning.

One thing that helps me through our busy catering season is eating a good hearty breakfast, high in protein. It grounds me, arms me, steadies me for the craziness that inevitably comes. When I skip breakfast, I crumple under the pressure. I become irritable and cranky. By the end of the day I don’t like myself very much. So 44 years later, I am finally learning that breakfast, truly is, the most important meal of the day.




Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, flax seeds...







Instead of using oil or butter, try using coconut oil. Not only is it good for you, it has delicious flavor,  nutty and toasty sweet, perfect for granola.


Melt the coconut oil in a small sauce pan and add honey and tahini.







In a large bowl mix all nuts, oats, seeds and spices. Pour the melted coconut oil/ honey /tahini mixture over top and stir until everything is well coated. Spread out on a cookie sheet.




Place in a 275F Oven


Orange Zest adds a little brightness ...but remember to add this during the last 10 minutes of baking.
Add dried bing cherries after granola is baked. This will keep them from getting too chewy or hard.





The granola turns out perfectly crispy with just enough sweetness.
For easy access, store in a canister on your counter with a handy scoop.









Homemade yogurt and fresh berries are the icing on the cake....











Homemade Yogurt 




Homemade yogurt is easy and fun to make. There are lots of ways to make yogurt, but the basic concept is the same. Heat milk to the desired temperature, mix in cultures, usually in the form of plain yogurt containing active live cultures like lactobacillus bulgaricus or streptococcus thermophilus.  Keep at a steady temperature for a period of 7-12 hours, so the bacteria has a chance to eat the sugar found in the milk, called lactose. As a result the milk will thicken and produce lactic acid. The lactic acid is what preserves the yogurt and gives it the tangy taste. That's it. You now have yogurt. A creamy tangy yogurt packed with millions of alive active good bacteria, or probiotics, that aid in the digestion process.



You can make yogurt out of regular store bought pasteurized milk, organic milk, raw milk or even goats milk. Pasteurized milk, the kind you find at the grocery store, is basically milk that has been heated up to 180 F in order to slow the growth of bacteria in milk, which lengthens its shelf life. While this does make it safer by lowering the risk of  harmful bacteria, there is growing research that shows that pasteurization changes the chemistry of milk and makes it less digestible. Unpasteurized, or raw milk, is basically milk, fresh from the cow, that hasn’t been treated or heated. If you are curious about the benefits and risks of raw milk, here are a couple good websites that will explain both. Look at  this  and  this.  

Here is a list of places in Washington State that sell raw milk. Locally in Spokane you can find it at Lorien's, the Main Market Co Op, Huckleberries, and my very favorite, Cable Creek Farm in Post Falls.

The first step is to heat milk to desired temperature on the stove top. Here I am using Cable Creek Farm's fresh raw milk, so I will only heat 110 F to keep the good bacteria that is already in the milk alive. Otherwise, when using pasteurized milk, you would normally heat to 180F.  If you are leery, or this is your first time making yogurt, just heat it to 180F. You will feel more confident about the whole process.

See below for both options.


Add 3 T yogurt with live cultures. When you add yogurt, make sure to cool the milk down to 110 F. Otherwise you will kill the cultures.You can use any grocery store plain yogurt, or some of your own homemade yogurt. Don't be tempted to add more than 3-4 T yogurt, or your yogurt may end up sour and runny.


Place in a barely warm oven for 8 hours. You want to keep the temperature steady between 105-110F. I preheat oven on lowest setting for 5 minutes and then turn it off, but leave the light on. I wrap the dutch oven in a towel. In my gas oven, this works, and light and pilot keeps it warm enough. But it may not be warm enough in all ovens. There are many other ways to keep yogurt at a steady temperature like using a heating pad or dehydrator.....see links below.


After 8 hours, strain with a few layers of cheese cloth.



Flavor your fresh yogurt to your taste. I like to flavor smaller portions with honey, leaving the majority  plain. Store in jars in your fridge.



Fresh Raw Milk Yogurt

Making yogurt from unpasteurized raw fresh milk is full of nutritious enzymes, fat soluble vitamins and linoleic acid. If you want all the benefits of raw milk yogurt, heat only to 110 degrees.

Turn oven on lowest setting for 10 minutes. Turn off, but leave light on.
1/2 gallon milk
3 T unsweetened yogurt from the grocery store with active live cultures ( or yogurt from a previous batch)
Cheese cloth
Thermometer

If you want all the benefits of raw milk yogurt, remember to heat only to 110 degrees and no higher. This will keep the milks own bacteria alive.  Add 3 T yogurt. Resist the temptation to add more, or you will end up with yogurt that is watery and sour. Cover, wrap in a towel and place in the oven with the light on, or the oven on the lowest setting for short periods of time. The light will act as an incubator. You could also place on a heating pad on lowest setting. The idea is to keep yogurt at a steady warmth for a period of 8 hours. But if it gets too warm, it will curdle. After 8 hours, strain with a cheese cloth. Store in air tight container in the fridge. If you like sweetened yogurt mix in honey, vanilla, maple, or agave. I like to have sweetened yogurt in smaller batches, keeping my main batch plain.
Here is a an easy tutorial from  The Nourished Kitchen
You could also pasteurize this milk yourself by heating it to 180F first and follow directions below.

 Organic Pasteurized Milk Yogurt

On the stove top, heat milk to180F.  Pour in large glass mason jar and Cool down to 105-110F by placing in a cold water bath. When milk has cooled to 110 F, add 3 T yogurt or cultures ( remember don't be tempted to add more) and incubate 8 hours.  This website shows step by step instructions. Make your own Yogurt .

Counter top Yogurt
Here is another easy way of making yogurt that requires no heating of milk. My mom used to make yogurt this way, but I have yet to try it myself.







4 comments:

  1. This granola looks so good! I still haven't tried to make my own yogurt, but your pictures are helpful. Your blog is stunning!

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  2. Look at all those jars of amazing ingredients. No wonder you love this granola. It sounds fantastic!

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  3. I love how perfectly conscientious your writing in this post is--I'm a granola-and-yogurt addict, and I absolutely adore a good homemade granola recipe. I've been working up the nerve to tackle some homemade Greek yogurt to go with it, and your detailed instructions make me feel so much better about the task. Thanks for a great post!

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  4. This is gorgeous! I made this last week using the recipe.. The only thing I'd say is; that 275 farenheit on my oven is WAY too hot! If you can imagine 275 is the highest setting on my oven.. you get the idea that using gorgeous coconut oil.. with it's low melting point, will begin to blacken the oats, even if you are turning over every 10 mins as instructions say. I quickly realised this, scraped the black bits out, turned down to 150 and then 100 and turned every 10 mins or so and it was salvaged. That's the temp necessary. With the honey (i used 25% of what the reciepe states), tahini and coconut oil.. the whole house smelt amazing. It also keeps well. Thanks for sharing .. really enjoy the website.. xx

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