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?

Breakfast Pumpkin Polenta

Think outside the gluten free cereal box.

 

breakfast pumpkin polenta

breakfast pumpkin polenta photo by vsimon

In a jiffy, stir up some steamy delish-ish-ness.  

You can also make a bigger batch and keep it in the fridge for a few days. It will thicken over time, just add some water to thin. Warm in the microwave or on the stovetop.

Breakfast Pumpkin Polenta

serves 1 metric measures
1/4 cup cornmeal 35 gm
1 cup water 240 ml
¼ cup pumpkin 60 gm
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar 8 gm

Dried cranberries and walnuts to garnish.

Mix cornmeal and water in a saucepan. Traditional polenta recipes say to bring the water to a boil, and carefully whisk in the cornmeal. Don’t do that, you are sure to get lumps.

Completely stir the cornmeal into the water BEFORE you turn on the heat.

Add pumpkin to the mix.

Bring to a simmer, stir constantly. Cook until thick, about 5 minutes. Guaranteed- no lumps!

You can read the morning paper as you stir if you must multi task.

Put into serving bowl. Top with dark brown sugar, dried cranberries, and walnuts. How often do you garnish your breakfast? I do it every time I have some version of cereal. I like the extra texture and flavor.

Appreciation for inspiration for this simple delight goes to Jes at VeganMofo III. Check out her post for more up line credits. Jes shared her version in the Go Ahead Honey, It is Gluten Free pumpkin issue at Life, Gluten Free.

Cranberry Carrot Salad with Lemon and Honey

carrot-salad (14) 

cranberry carrot salad photo by vsimon

Do you need a super quick crunchy salad? Perfect for dinner, or a brown bag lunch?

The simplest recipes are often the best. If you are short on time and just want the recipe, skip the middle and go to the bottom of the post. That is the simplest way. You could be eating this in five minutes.

But keep reading if you want info on the ingredients.

Carrots

If you buy shredded carrots, this mixes up in just a few minutes. Sweet, tart, and lively lemon flavor.

I like to keep a bag on hand. They hold up well, and are easy additions to soups, green salads, and even muffins.

Organic carrots

We can get shredded organic carrots in our market. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) website publishes a list of produce that has the highest, and lowest levels of pesticides.

The Dirty Dozen is the most likely to have high levels, and EWG recommends you by these items organic. EWG also publishes the Clean 15, produce that is least likely to have high pesticide levels. Buying organic doesn’t matter so much here.

You can print a wallet sized reference to take with you to the store. Carrots are #11 on the Dirty Dozen list.

Cranberries

Does a cranberry a day keep the doctor away? No, you probably need to eat  more than one. But a serving a day offers many health benefits.

Lemons

I like to use organic lemons because I am using the outside, the part that would be sprayed with pesticides. Organic lemons are smaller than regular lemons, so you might need two here.

Also, organic lemons are not waxed. According the The World’s Healthiest Foods web site, sometimes the wax is mixed with casein, a protein in milk. This would be a very low amount, but might be important to know if you have a severe milk allergy.

Lemon Zest

At my house, if a dish has fresh lemon juice, it has zest too.  I never miss the happy opportunity to inhale the fresh scent of lemon zest. You can smell it across the room, but it is even better right under your nose.

A microplane makes swift work of zesting the peel. Personally, I don’t measure the zest and use all of it, from the whole lemon. As you probably can guess, I can’t get too much lemon zest.

If you are using a different tool to zest, be sure to catch just the outer yellow rind. The white pith is unpleasantly bitter.

Cranberry Carrot Salad

serves 4 metric measures
4 cups shredded carrots 360 gm
½ cup dried cranberries 75 gm
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 45 ml
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest weightless?
2 tablespoons honey 30 ml

Stir it all together until it glistens.

Serve right away if you like chewy cranberries.

Store in the fridge and serve the next day if you like plump, soft cranberries.

BTW, lemon juice is a good source of citrate. Helpful to prevent kidney stones. Maybe a lemon a day keeps the doctor away too.

PS I am changing the subject now. This is so cool! Bon Appetit magazine is holding a blogger Holiday Bake-Off. I have entered Pumpkin Custard, Hold the Dairy. Wouldn’t you love to see a gluten free, dairy free winner?

There are several categories, including cakes, pies, custards, cookies, more. If you are a blogger, add your creations at BA Holiday Bake-Off.

Everyone can vote for your favorite in each category. I would be honored to receive your vote.