Cocoa Cherry Muesli

cocoa cherry muesli

cocoa cherry muesli photo by vsimon

Need some more gluten free gift ideas from your kitchen?

This is a treat, some will say, an extravagant gift. Certified gluten free oats, dried cherries, and almonds are not inexpensive ingredients. But they are healthy, delicious, and combine to make an easy gift. Worthy of a splurge.

What is the difference between muesli and granola?

Both are a combination of grains, usually oatmeal, fruit, and nuts. Very few are made with certified gluten free oats, be sure to check the label.

Most granola for sale has lots, really lots, of oil and sweeteners added. These help to make crunchy clusters, but also add many calories.

Muesli simply means “mixture” in German. Our take on breakfast muesli is less sweet than granola and has no added oils.

Serving suggestions

Your giftee can add their choice of milk in the morning, and watch it magically turn into chocolate milk.

Or they can add it at night and keep it all in the fridge, ready to pull out and enjoy in the morning. This soaked version will be softer, since the oatmeal and cherries absorb the liquid overnight.

Muesli can be served warm too. Simply add liquid and microwave like plain oatmeal.

Cocoa Cherry Muesli

makes 8-9 cups metric measures
6 cups certified gluten free oatmeal 550 gm
1 1/2 cups toasted whole almonds 225 gm
1/2 cup dark brown sugar 100 gm
1/2 cup pure cocoa powder, not cocoa drink mix 45 gm
1 1/2 cup dried cherries 225 gm

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Put oatmeal on an 18×12 inch rimmed baking sheet. Or two smaller ones.

Toast oatmeal for about 10 minutes. Stir and bake about 10 minutes more. You may not need to bake this long if using two baking sheets.

Transfer toasted oatmeal to a cool baking sheet, or a large bowl.

Add the almonds, dark brown sugar, and cocoa powder. Stir to thoroughly combine. 

Add cherries and stir just a turn or two. Additional stirring will cause the cherries to pick up brown cocoa coats. This is not bad, but they are prettier unadorned.

When the muesli is completely cool, package in holiday tins. Just add a bow, and give with a smile.

What flavors do you like in muesli or granola?

N is for Nuts-Pecan Mushroom Fish

Almond, Brazil, cashew, hazelnuts, hickory, macadamia, pecan, pistachio, pine nut, walnut. But not peanut, that is a legume.

chipmunk-with-hazelnut photo by Gilles_Gonthier

Eating 1.5 ounces, or about 1/3 cup, of nuts five times a week reduces the risk of diabetes and heart disease. And this amount does not cause weight gain. Click here for pictures of how many of each kind of nut are in one ounce.

Nuts are high fiber, high in healthy fat, a good source of vitamin E, and are cholesterol free. If you are interested, has a chart with tiny print of specific nutrients in each kind of nut.

It is easy to add 1.5 ounces of nuts to your day. They make quick and tasty, nutritious gluten free snacks. Buy them raw or roasted, just check the label for any added gluten containing flavorings.

Or add nuts to any salad, top a casserole, garnish vegetables or even thick soups!

Equally useful is substituting ground nuts for bread crumbs. Gluten free breadcrumbs are either very time consuming to make from scratch, or mighty expensive to buy. Nuts are a great alternative that add lots of flavor, healthy richness, and tummy pleasing satisfaction.

Ground nuts are wonderful in meatloaves and meatballs. Or as toppings for fish!

Below is an adaptation of my grand prize winning recipe, substituting ground pecans for bread crumbs. I truly like version better than the original.


pecan-mushroom-fish-with-tomatoes photo by vsimon

Pecan Mushroom Fish with Tomatoes

Serves 4

8 oz fresh mushrooms                         

2 tablespoons oil

½ cup ground pecans                           

¼ cup chopped fresh herbs

salt and pepper to taste

1 pound fresh tomatoes, diced              

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 pound tilapia fillets or other thin fish   

Pulse mushrooms in a mini food processor until finely minced.

Cook mushrooms until dry and slightly browned. Cool.

Mix mushrooms, oil, ground pecans, herbs, salt and pepper together.

Pour tomatoes into an oven proof baking dish. Drizzle in the balsamic vinegar and mix well.

Top tomatoes with fish. Top fish with mushroom mix.

Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes, or until fish flakes, topping is browned, and tomatoes are bubbly.

Notes                                                                                                                    If your tomatoes are not at the peak of summer flavor, you can add some diced dried tomatoes to give it an extra punch of flavor. No need to hydrate them before mixing with the fresh tomatoes. The dried ones will soften as the dish cooks.

Use your favorite herbs. This is a mild flavored, family friendly recipe, and fun place to experiment. Basil, green onion, oregano, tarragon and thyme all work well here. Or substitute 1-2 tablespoons of dried herbs for the fresh.

Unwrap and expose the mushrooms to direct sunlight to greatly increase the Vitamin D.

Cook the mushrooms in a cast iron skillet to increase the iron.

Please share your favorite way to enjoy nuts.