Homemade Granola

Homemade Granola

This is my favorite granola, and I’ve been making this recipe for about six years. It’s perfectly delicious, and I think better than anything from the store.

This granola is really distinguished by its simplicity, which begins with a mixture of rolled oats, pure maple syrup, and lots of cinnamon. Then, it’s oven toasted with chopped pecans, walnuts, and almonds. Easy, right?

Lightly sweet, crunchy, and loaded with energy, it’s great as a breakfast cereal on its own or sprinkled over hot oatmeal in the morning. It’s also an ideal topping for fruit or yogurt, and makes a wonderful trail mix with a bit of dried fruit, unsweetened coconut, or dark chocolate chips.

This recipe makes just about one quart, but I sometimes prepare a double batch just to share with friends, poured into little Mason jars and tied with pretty ribbons.

HOMEMADE GRANOLA

  • Servings: makes approximately 1 quart
  • Print

3 cups of old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup raw walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup raw pecans, chopped
1/4 cup raw almonds, chopped
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
pinch of salt

Instructions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, mixing well to coat everything with maple syrup. Spread mixture on a nonstick baking sheet or roasting pan (I adore my Scanpan roasting pans)..

Bake until golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack, and allow to cool completely. Store refrigerated, in an airtight jar.

(Inspired by Nutty Granola recipe in The Food You Crave, by Ellie Krieger)

Copyright © Vicki Brett-Gach | Ann Arbor Vegan Kitchen

Easy Homemade Soy Yogurt

After becoming vegan nine years ago, I missed yogurt, but through trial and error eventually found a couple of nice commercially available nondairy yogurts. My favorite almond milk yogurt is made by Kite Hill, and I used to like one made by Whole Soy (sadly a company that is no longer with us).

But you know what might be even better? Homemade yogurt! Why? It’s fresh, tangy, creamy, and delicious.

I make yogurt that’s unsweetened, which makes it perfect for adding to savory dips, dressings, and sauces. Unsweetened also invites you to control exactly what comes next, in case you want to add your own fresh fruit or jam, toss it into a smoothie, or top it with granola.

My method makes an entire quart, which easily means enough for 4 to 6 servings, so the savings can add up, too. Homemade yogurt may save you around $8 per week or more, depending upon how much yogurt you like to use.

I begin with Trader Joe’s soy milk, which is made only with organic soybeans and water. To that, I add live probiotic cultures. It’s the easiest starter ever.

For delicious yogurt, look for at least two strains of live cultures in your probiotic, including Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Lactobacillus acidophilus. I use Ultimate Flora Extra Care Probiotic(More information about cultures below.)

Many of the newer electric multi-cooker/pressure cookers have yogurt settings and that’s what I use now. (I actually used a Cuisinart Electronic Yogurt Maker for many years…another very fine way to go, because it ferments AND automatically chills the yogurt too.) 

If you have a different type of yogurt maker, just adapt these instructions to your system. The real story here is how easy and flexible live probiotic cultures make this process.

With probiotic cultures in your refrigerator, instead of relying on commercially purchased yogurt for a starter (or scouting for a nondairy starter online), making homemade yogurt is one step away, any day of the week.

EASY HOMEMADE SOY YOGURT

  • Servings: makes 1 quart yogurt
  • Print

1 quart plain unsweetened soy milk (Trader Joe’s is my favorite)
2 probiotic cultures capsules (look for 50 billion cultures per capsule)*

Electric Pressure Cooker Instructions

In a medium bowl, mix soy milk with probiotic cultures. To do this, just open each capsule, and separate the two halves. Pour all of the powder into the bowl with the milk, and discard empty capsules. Whisk together to incorporate fully.

In an Electric Pressure Cooker with a “Yogurt” setting, whisk together probiotics with milk, and pour mixture into Mason jars. (It will not matter how many jars you use or how full the jars are, as long as they all fit into the pressure cooking pot.) Place jars, all uncovered, into the pot. Lock lid in place. Select the Yogurt setting, and allow fermentation to take place for a full 8 hours. After fermentation is complete, carefully remove lid. Refrigerate yogurt for 8 to 12 hours. Stir well and serve, or store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Cuisinart Electronic Yogurt Maker Instructions

In a medium bowl, mix soy milk with probiotic cultures. To do this, just open each capsule, and separate the two halves. Pour all of the powder into the bowl with the milk, and discard empty capsules. Whisk together to incorporate fully.

Pour mixture into the yogurt container of the Cuisinart Electronic Yogurt Maker and cover with both lids. Select 7 or 8 hours for fermentation (or to taste), and press Start button. Allow to chill for another 8 to 12 hours in the machine, and then press Stop button. Remove yogurt container from its base. Stir yogurt well and serve, or store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

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* NOTE: I recommend using a vegan probiotic, available in capsules in the refrigerated supplements section of larger grocery stores or specialty health food stores. I use Ultimate Flora Extra Care Probiotic made by Renew Life, with 50 billion cultures per capsule. You can use one with less cultures, in which case you will just need to use more capsules.

Copyright © Vicki Brett-Gach | Ann Arbor Vegan Kitchen

Super Summer Smoothie Bowl

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This refreshing Super Summer Smoothie Bowl starts with a base of blended frozen cherries and frozen bananas, and finished with a colorful array of watermelon, cantaloupe, fresh bananas, and berries.

You might like to try mango, peaches, or plums, or add nuts, seeds, unsweetened coconut, or granola for crunch. Your kids will love this for breakfast, and I think it’s great for dessert on a hot summer night, too.

Use whatever fruits you have on hand, because it’s as flexible as you are, and big enough to share.

SUPER SUMMER SMOOTHIE BOWL

1 cup frozen cherries
2 frozen bananas
few splashes of water (or juice), as needed to blend

Toppings:
Watermelon, cantaloupe, fresh bananas, blackberries, and raspberries, or any fresh fruits you like! For crunch, add sliced almonds, chopped walnuts, pumpkin seeds, unsweetened coconut, or crunchy granola.

Instructions

Place cherries and frozen banana in a high-powered blender, such as a Vitamix. Process first on low, and gradually work up to high speed until mixture is completely smooth.

Pour into a bowl, flattening the top. Garnish with colorful fresh fruit, nuts, granola, etc., and enjoy immediately.

Copyright © Vicki Brett-Gach | Ann Arbor Vegan Kitchen

Review of Kite Hill Yogurt (and Breakfast Yogurt Parfait)

Breakfast Yogurt Parfait

I fell in love with Kite Hill cream cheese earlier this year, and have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of their new little bundles of yogurt. When Kite Hill recently invited me to write a review of their new yogurts, I promptly said yes.

Until now, I’ve always said no thanks to reviewing vegan foods. Why yes this time? Because Kite Hill is an intriguing company, creating some pretty amazing nondairy products from almond milk.

So, a few days later, Kite Hill shipped a refrigerated box of their new yogurt cups to me.

I was excited when they arrived, and they did not disappoint.

These yogurts are unlike any other – nondairy or otherwise. In fact, they’re  quite exceptional. Maybe the best yogurts I’ve ever had (including back in my dairy days).

Descriptions on the label include: Artisan Almond Milk Yogurt, Traditionally Cultured, Vegan, Gluten Free, Soy Free, Dairy Free, and Live Active Cultures. They had me at Artisan Almond Milk Yogurt.

The recyclable packaging is impressive too, with these proclamations: “No cows were harmed in the making of our yogurt” and, “No matter how you slice it, plant-based diets are gentler on the earth, kind to animals, and better for your body.”

So, yep…loving their yogurts. Loving their ethics, mission, and core values, too.

But Kite Hill, if you are listening, I do have one request. Okay…two.

  1. Can you please try to create flavors of Pear and Sour Cherry, too?
  2. And most importantly, please, please develop an unsweetened plain yogurt for us to use in savory dishes? We miss that so much since the WholeSoy & Co. disappeared.

Thank you, Kite Hill. I’m a devoted fan.

With several flavors to sample, I was inspired to create a delicious, easy, and very pretty breakfast parfait with Homemade Granola. Fresh berries would be great, too.

BREAKFAST YOGURT PARFAIT

  • Servings: makes 4 parfaits
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4 Kite Hill Almond Yogurts (peach, blueberry, vanilla, strawberry)
Homemade Granola
Fresh fruit (optional)

Instructions

Layer small scoops of a variety of yogurt flavors into 4 pretty glasses, separated by layers of homemade granola. Serve immediately.

Copyright © Vicki Brett-Gach | Ann Arbor Vegan Kitchen

Chai-Spiced Steel Cut Oats

Chai-Spiced Steel Cut Oats

My mighty slow cookers (of almost every size) continue to get a heavy workout during Michigan’s ultra-cold winter months.

A few weeks ago, I shared one of my favorite reasons – Breakfast Bean And Tofu Burritos – inspired by Kathy Hester’s book (Vegan Slow Cooking for Two or Just for You), an awesome resource that helps even the smallest slow cooker make you very happy.

My newest favorite (adapted from the same book) is Chai-Spiced Steel Cut Oats, an incredibly delicious, nutritious hot breakfast, set to cook overnight.  So it’s ready in the morning, the very moment you are.

Fortunately, I now have two little 2-quart crock-pots, so as often as not, I have been setting them both up together to cook these favorites (Chai-Spiced Steel Cut Oats and Breakfast Bean And Tofu Burritos) side by side, overnight, at the same time. That way, I can be all prepared for a few days in a row with great options.

Fragrant and enticing, these flavors will surely lure you to the breakfast table.  My recipe makes just a few minor adjustments to her recipe, notably adding vanilla instead of cloves, and using steel cut oats instead of oat groats.  I love topping this oatmeal very simply with chopped apples, sliced bananas, or thawed frozen cherries. Or, try a drizzle of maple syrup, your favorite dried fruit, or a spoonful of crunchy granola.

CHAI-SPICED STEEL CUT OATS

1/2 cup steel cut oats
2 cups of unsweetened vanilla or plain almond milk, or unsweetened or plain soy milk
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
splash vanilla extract

Instructions

The night before: Add all ingredients (steel cut oats through vanilla) to a 2-quart slow cooker. Mix well to combine. Set on low for 7 to 9 hours.

In the morning: Turn off slow cooker, and stir for a few moments until all spices that have risen to the top are combined evenly with the cooked oats below. Serve immediately. Refrigerate any leftovers for tomorrow!

Optional:

Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup, chopped apples, or sliced bananas.

(Adapted from Vegan Slow Cooking for Two or Just for You, by Kathy Hester)

Copyright © Vicki Brett-Gach | Ann Arbor Vegan Kitchen