Cocoa Hazelnut Granola

I love that food has the ability to take me back to another place in time.  One bite of something familiar and memories flow back as if it were yesterday.  Our taste buds can be path to the the past.

When I first moved to Portland I was going to culinary school in the evenings from four to nine.  I’d usually eat a late dinner afterward throwing something together that resided in my fridge.  On Friday nights the boyfriend and I would go to Whole Foods.  I got just about the same thing every week– soup, my favorite was mushroom barley, a seeded roll, and a container of granola that they made in-house.  I am definitely a creature of habit and that was my standard for a long time.

This stage of my life consisted of lots of strange, you could also say obsessive, habits.  I’d eat two crunchy kashi bars everyday- one with my cup of coffee that I ventured out to get around 2 o clock and the other at night before bed (except for weekend nights).  I did the same workout everyday.  Lots of cardio machines.  I had to be slightly insane to keep that boring nonsense up for so long.  I can’t recall what I had for breakfast but assuredly it was the same thing everyday.  I wrote my calorie intake down before I’d go to bed every night.  If it was over 2000 kcal I’d make note and go way under the next day.

This is just a glimpse of my crazy brain.  Needless to say I was in an unhealthy state regarding my relationship with food, one that had been taking place for several years prior to coming to Portland.

As I made and then ate this granola fresh from the oven Sunday my taste buds took me back to that time in my life.  It seems so long ago now.  Habits have changed, obsessions have been worked through.  But, nonetheless, I remember that state I was in.  Completely wrapped up in the outside of myself while ignoring all that was going on inside, the true driving force behind my behavior.

Food has been a double edged sword for me for quite some time now.

I love food.  I love the experience of baking, eating out, or having a meal with friends and family. I enjoy and look forward to the next meal.  I love to taste, smell, and admire the beauty that food offers our senses.

But while I greatly enjoy food I have feared it equally as much.  The fear comes from deeper places of desiring perfection or a “better” figure.  But the fear manifests itself in the same thing that I love and am passionate about.  It’s strange how that happens… one thing causing both excitement and anxiety.

I am glad to reflect on that time only to see how far I’ve come.  As I bite into this homemade granola I am transported back but I am also made aware of where I sit currently; a place where I can eat without the fear that each tiny calorie will add to my frame.  I sit more in a place of acceptance than of judgement for myself.  A place of continually seeking a healthy balance.

Alright, enough blabbing about my past food troubles.  If you made it through all that you a high five. Or pat on the back.  Your choice!  If you skipped to this part where I’ll talk about the granola, I totally understand.

This granola makes my taste buds so happy.  Its crunchy.  Its nutty.  Its crunchy some more.  Slightly sweet from honey and sugar it also has a bit of a salty bite every once in a while.  The cocoa powder adds a hint of chocolate flavor but nothing over powering.  The coconut oil lends itself beautifully against the nutty oats and toasted hazelnuts.  And millet seeds.  Oh millet seeds.  I adore them.  I really have no words.  They just make this granola a 1000 times better.  Trust me.

I enjoy my granola most topped with a little milk.  Maybe you like yours mixed with some fruit and yogurt.  Or perhaps on top of some ice cream with a touch of honey.  How-about just a handful right out of the jar?  Yeah, I do that a lot too.

Cocoa Hazelnut Granola

Adapted from the Joy the Baker Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup raw hazelnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup millet seeds
  • 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 11/2 Tbsp honey
  • 5 Tbsp coconut oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and prepare baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
  2. In a large bowl combine oats, hazelnuts, coconut, millet seeds, cocoa powder, and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, honey, and coconut oil.  Place saucepan on medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves and bubbling occurs.  Remove from heat and pour over oat mixture.  Mix until well combined.
  4. Pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet and spread into an even layer.  Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Stir granola and continue baking for 10 minute intervals until golden and fragrant.  (mine was in for about 25 minutes)
  5. Remove from oven and let cool completely.  Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.