You know those moments when you realize that you have been thinking way too hard about something, and you stumble upon a solution? Yeah, that happened to me this week. Basically, I have been in the throws of trying to determine a suitable way to visualize and quantify both protein and fat in my caramels, and let me tell you, it has been one big pain in the you-know-what. No wonder no other researchers have done it!! But this week, my lab’s post-doc had some awesome advice, and also took some pretty amazing images of my caramel with a confocal laser microscope. Oh. My. Gosh. If we could always see our food up-close….it’d be awesome. Or maybe just to me, because I am a food dork like that.
Well anyways, like a food dork, I can apply the same concept to the lonely jar of buckwheat groats in my cupboard. Besides sprinkling on top of granola bars and cereal for crunch, I really had no idea how to use them in an application that wasn’t gross to me. Buckwheat porridge? Ew. Sorry-I know…there are people who love it, and I want to love it, but I am not one of those people. I have tried it a few times, even with dark chocolate blended in, and it just doesn’t appeal to me. Buckwheat flour? Don’t like it. It has a weird grassy-soapy flavor to it, no matter which brand I try or even if I make my own from groats.
But all of those applications were classic cases of me thinking too hard, and banging my head against the proverbial buckwheat wall. Until I stumbled upon Raw. Vegan. Not Gross. hosted by Laura Miller. I was intrigued by a cereal Laura made, all from buckwheat groats that are soaked for an hour, rinsed and mixed with a few spices and some maple syrup. After dehydrating (or putting into a very low oven), you end up with a crunchy and delicious cereal! This, my friends, inspired this granola. To make it even MORE quirky (who else laughs at the word “groat”?), I used some quinoa. This makes for a granola packed with protein, healthy fats and fiber. Indeed, buckwheat groats and quinoa pack a complete protein punch, and are full of manganese, magnesium, copper, potassium and fiber. This granola UBER CRUNCHY…so it is great by itself, soaked in your favorite plant-based milk, over some coconut or soy yogurt, or even layered into a parfait with some cashew cream (like what Laura did!) with some berries and/or jam. Or just stuff it into your face by the handful. My method was as follows: I rinsed my quinoa and let it dry at room temperature overnight. I then soaked by groats in the fridge overnight, and thoroughly rinsed and drained them until the slimy coating that develops while soaking was gone (about 4-5 rinses). In the morning, I simply measured out the remaining ingredients, mixed everything together, and popped the granola into the oven for about 1.5 hours at 225F. Get up a bit earlier to make it, or just make it on a lazy weekend morning. If a crazy grad student covered in caramel has time for this, you do too!
So why did I rinse the and dry the quinoa? Quinoa has a natural soapy coating, which (in nature) protects it from being eaten by predators (or humans browsing the bulk food aisle). If not rinsed, the quinoa may have a weird, astringent taste and feeling in your mouth. Not a huge deal, but I personally don’t like it. In addition, I dried it because I didn’t want the excess moisture in the granola, which would add to the cooking time.
And why did I let the buckwheat groats soak, and rinse them thoroughly? The buckwheat groats benefit from a overnight soaking in the fridge. This helps us assimilate the nutrients and proteins better into our bodies, and rinsing thoroughly helps reduce that soapy flavor and slime-factor.
Note: you may substitute the 1 cup buckwheat groats with oats; use certified gluten-free for gluten-free granola. Do NOT use kasha, which is toasted buckwheat groats. You want raw (and preferably organic) buckwheat groats, commonly found in the bulk section of most co-ops, health food and hippie-food stores. In addition, I find that mixing in my dried fruit as I eat the granola, as opposed to stirring it in and letting it co-mingle with the finished granola, helps prevent moisture migration: if mixed, the dried fruit becomes even more dry, and the granola becomes a touch soggy. And yes, this even happens in the freezer, but you can certainly store this granola in a sealed container in your freezer for safe keeping for up to 2 months, or at room temperature for up to 2 week for maximum freshness.
This recipe was inspired by Laura’s recipe above, as well as two wonderful bloggers and their recipes: hungry hungry hippie, and a cozy kitchen.
Grain-Free Quinoa and Buckwheat Granola (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Refined Sugar-Free, Paleo-Friendly)
- 1 cup buckwheat groats (see note above)
- 1/3 cup quinoa, any color (see note above)
- 1 cup whole raw almonds
- 2 TB sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 1/4 cup raw sunflower kernels
- 1/2 cup dried, unsweetened coconut (large or small flakes)
- 1/3 + 2 TB cup agave, maple syrup (or honey for not-so-strict vegans)
- 1/4 cup virgin coconut oil (or other pleasant-to-no flavored oil, like grapeseed)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 heaped tsp cinnamon
- optional: dried fruit to mix-in, such as currants, raisins, cranberries, cherries, or chopped apricots.
- optional: cashew cream or chia pudding and fresh fruit for making parfaits (!!)
1. preheat oven to 225F. Line a baking tray with parchment.
2. Process the 1 cup of raw almonds in a food processor or high-speed blender until medium-fine texture, or do this by hand for a rougher texture. Be warned, it is sometimes a mess to chop nuts, but this is a good option for those who do not own a processor or blender, or don’t want to wake up their entire apartment complex making granola at 6am.
3. Measure out the remaining nuts, seeds and coconut in a large bowl, along with the rinsed and drained buckwheat, and dried quinoa (see not above).
4. In a small bowl, measure out the coconut oil. Tip: briefly place into the warming oven to melt, or microwave for 10-15 seconds to melt. Stir in the liquid sweetener, salt and cinnamon. Pour this over the nut, seed and coconut. Stir well to evenly coat each piece with the coconut oil-sweetener mixture.
5. Dump on the prepare pan, and spread into an even layer. Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the granola is golden (not burnt!) and firm. It may still have a slightly soft and damp feel, but it will harden as it cools on the pan. Allow the granola to cool completely before breaking into desired chunks and storing in an airtight container or jar. I like to separate mine into small bits and large chunks! Enjoy!!
I love the colors and textures of the bulk ingredients…simple, yet beautiful! Thanks, nature!
The soaked and drained buckwheat groats and dried (overnight) quinoa. You can use any color quinoa you like, I used tri-color because I had it on hand. The red is beautiful, though!
Here is the texture of the almonds I ended up with. Some was super coarse, some was fairly fine…doesn’t have to be perfect! Here is the melted coconut oil, sweetener, cinnamon and salt: Everything all mixed up, and ready for baking at 225F for 1.5 hours (or until golden and crispy-feeling) All baked, crunchy and delicious!! Love that texture and the colors.Loving the way that this was smelling, too! It will make your place smell to cinnamon-y and delicous!
Up-close and personal with granola…
Big chunks in a separate wide-mouth mason jar are perfect for snacking!
This granola is perfect in chia pudding, layered with fruit. I had a ripe mango and a blood orange on hand, and of course topped it with more coconut and some cacao nibs for even more crunch!
It was super tasty! It got me through a dairy chemistry lecture…and then some 🙂 And now, I can sleep well knowing that my fruit has a crunchy-granola army protecting it! Haha…oh dear. Long week-and I can’t wait to eat this granola for breakfast again tomorrow!