Tuesday, November 27, 2012

One-handed eating: Early Bird Granola

When you're breast-feeding, like, all the time, having food around that you can eat with one hand is pretty important. It also really helps if that food is easy to put together quickly, and it's a huge bonus if it's healthy. You're running through calories really quickly, and you want to be putting the best stuff possible into your body when it's doing such critical work.

Just before Adam and I got married in the spring of 2009, our very dear friend, Mayumi, sent us a bag of  Early Bird Farmhand's Choice Granola from a Brooklyn farmers market. I had never been a very big fan of granola; it was kind of a what's-the-point food for me. Then I had this granola.

A rich, crunchy, deeply satisfying balance of sweet and salty, this granola hits all kinds of spots. When Mayumi sent us a link to the Greene Grape blog where its recipe was posted, we immediately started making it and it's been a staple in our house for years now. Since Kamal has been in our lives, I've developed a new appreciation for Early Bird. It's very calorically dense, but largely because of good fats like olive oil and the oils of nuts, seeds and coconuts, which makes it perfect for busy days when I don't have time to sit down and eat a decent-sized meal, but I need enough fuel to get me through the next couple of hours. Because it's so rich, I do still want to manage my portion size, so I just scoop a little bit of it into a small Chinese teacup. This way I can just tip little bites of it into my mouth as I'm breast feeding, writing, playing with Kamal, or filling out patient charts. (A shot glass would work really well for this too.) This portion size works perfectly as a quick snack, or, when combined with a small bowl of cottage cheese, as a delicious light and protein-rich meal.

I've substituted walnuts in this recipe for pecans since giving birth. In Chinese medicine, walnuts are considered tonifying to the Kidney qi. Kidney qi gets depleted from activities like childbirth and breast-feeding, so incorporating Kidney-tonifying foods in pre- and post-natal months wherever possible is a wise preventive medicine measure. (Some other kidney-tonifying foods include lamb, black sesame seeds, and black beans.)

Here's the original recipe by Nekisia Davis, first posted on Martha Stewart Online:

Early Bird Farmhand’s Choice Granola
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, hulled
1 cup raw sunflower seeds, hulled
1 cup coconut chips
1 1/4 cup raw pecans, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup pure maple syrup, preferably Grade A
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
Coarse salt
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut, pecans, syrup, olive oil, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl and mix until well combined. Spread granola mixture in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake about 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until granola is toasted. Remove baking sheet from oven and season granola with salt. Let cool completely before serving or storing in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

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