January 8, 2014

Paleo / Gluten-Free Homemade Cereal

Eating a Paleolithic diet is hella good for you. But I genuinely missed the crunch of cereal in ice cold milk, for instance. It was a good friend of mine that moved far, far away from my belly and that made me sad. (Here is where you learn the hard but healthy difference between Gluten Free and Paleo, peeps…) The food industry has given birth to hundreds of “gluten free” goodies – they come in a box, taste *pretty close* to the real thing, and don’t contain gluten. That part is great, but… um… I didn’t sign up to still eat crap. A gluten free donut is still a donut, hitting my ass on both sides. And gluten free cereal is still full of multiple grains, which irritate my tummy and put flabbies on my abbies. SO the point of this story is PALEO.  Paleo, guys. Paleo is always gluten free because there are ZERO grains (including wheat and gluten) in Paleo. Also, nothing industrialized or preserved or gross.

Back to cereal. When I found Paleo People’s “granola” I had to try it. It is delicious, but also very spendy. Which of course means I immediately decided to make it at home for myself for a lot less. Score!

I scoured the internet and read a bajillion recipes. Then I wrote my own. Here is my recipe:

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

Assemble 3.5 Cups dry ingredients in a BIG bowl – Use what you have on hand; I used these:
                1 C walnuts, but any nuts will do – chop them into smallish pieces, but not dust
                ½ C of flax seeds   
                ½ C of shredded coconut
                ½ C dried blueberries and cranberries, but any will do
½ C raisins, roughly chopped
                ½ C raw sunflower seeds
                ½ C pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

In a saucepan, combine on low heat:
                2/3 C honey
                3 tbsp coconut oil
                ½ tsp vanilla
                Pinch of salt

Whisk the wet ingredients until they are combined and bubbly warm. When it starts to bubble, pull the saucepan off the heat and whisk in your binding agent. I used ½ C pumpkin puree, but I may try ½ C almond butter the next time. This really just helps stick all of the ingredients together and the pumpkin is crazy good for your body.

Here is where the recipe gets fun! You can add in whatever spices you have and flavor this cereal any way you’d like. Add pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon to the wet ingredients (this recipe uses 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice and 1 tsp cinnamon) or if you’re like me, add in 2 tsp cocoa.  Technically I suppose the cavemen didn’t have Nestle cocoa, but I do so I’m using it (it’s gluten-free).  Raw cacao nibs would also be delicious here, but I tried the cocao first and it was fab. I was worried the cacao nibs would be TOO chocolatey and make me crave (inhale) this too much, like a treat that would hit my thighs.

Combine the wet ingredients (you will need a spatula) into the big dry ingredient bowl and stir and fold, stir and fold, stir and fold. I used a huge wooden spoon. Once it is well-combined, spread it THINLY onto parchment paper-covered cookie sheets. Use the parchment paper; if you don’t, you’ll be sorry. When I made mine, I put the entire mess onto one cookie sheet. It fit and flattened out nicely, but even after I extended the cooking time, the center still wasn’t crisping up. Therefore the next time I make this cereal, I plan on using two cookie sheets so that it is thinner.

Bake at 300 degrees for about 30 minutes before you check it. Feel the top carefully. If it’s too wet and sticky, keep baking it. Spin the cookie sheet around so that it cooks evenly.  I referred to several recipes in order to come up with my own and most of them baked for about 20 minutes. Perhaps my oven is stubborn because my batch took a full 45 minutes. Once I was satisfied that had dried out nicely and the edges had browned, I turned the heat off in the oven. If you don’t have little fur kids like we do, you may leave your cookie sheets out on the counter for a few hours so that the cereal can harden and dry out. However, if you, too have a cat who would lay in the middle of your cereal, you maybe want to do as I did: Keep the cookie sheets in the cooled oven overnight. It’s air tight-ish and definitely cat hair free in there.

Once it’s all dried out and loverly, you can cut into rectangular pieces and wrap in parchment paper for ‘cereal bars’. If you’re like me and just want to eat some cereal already, pick up the edges and start breaking it into bits. You can use a butcher knife to chop at it – it’s not hard to cut through. Store it in an air tight container. It should keep at least a week, but I promise you’ll eat it faster than it will spoil. Absolutely delicious over yogurt or in a bowl with fresh bananas and milk.

I could seriously pass out just writing this out for you.

Do it. You’ll love me. And a special thanks to the seriously, like 15 recipes I read (including the link above) in order to make this my own. God love Pinterest and all the cooks out there for sharing!

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