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Super Seedy Caramel Granola

Super Seedy Caramel Granola

et’s make granola! Yes, I know how easy it is to pick it up at the store, but where is the fun in that? Making your own granola lets you be creative and provides crunchy clusters of greater nutritive value, if you so choose to make it that way. Store bought granolas tend to be high in sugar and fat, and lower in the good stuff like nuts and seeds. Sugar and fat is necessary to give structure and crunch to granola, but there is a place where function and nutrition can happily meet.

was intrigued to see just how many seeds I could fit into a granola. There are so many varieties of seeds available, all full of flavor, texture, and lots of good nutrition for your body. I feel like most granolas don’t nearly push the seed limit, and could gain a lot by going there. I also wanted to make a granola that didn’t use the traditional honey or maple syrup as a sugar binder, but something more interesting; caramel! Just enough to infuse some caramelized sweetness, but not too much to overpower the seeds or add superfluous sugar. So, a whole lotta seeds and a little caramel, and here we are.

So, why are seeds so good for you? Approaching this from a mother plant’s point of view, we can understand that she wants her baby plant to have protection and food to grow when released into the wild. Seeds therefore contain a rich fuel source called the endosperm that fuels the seedling’s growth. The endosperm has lots of carbohydrates, some protein, and a little bit of vitamins and minerals. The germ is the part of a seed that is the baby plant itself. It is rich in fats, minerals, B vitamins, and has some protein too. The protection for all of this is the bran. This outer seed shell has a high fiber content to make it tough. The bran also has B vitamins and antioxidants. The exact content of these different macro- and micronutrients differs between types of seeds, but they all have these components to some degree. 

Including seeds in your diet means giving your body awesome plant nutrition from fiber, carbs, protein, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Increasing seed consumption is associated with lower risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, serum cholesterol, and blood pressure. You can break down how different parts of a seed may benefit health in different ways, but it is simplest and most applicable to understand that as a whole, eating seeds helps promote a healthy body!

This granola is so packed with seeds, you can hardly tell there are any oats in there! Oats, technically are seeds though, as grains are part of the seed family. Only just seeds on seeds on seeds here. There are 7 types of seeds involved in this production; oats, quinoa, pepitas (pumpkin seed kernels), sunflower, flax, chia, and sesame! All super nutritious, and all widely available and pretty inexpensive.

don’t know about you, but I have certain standards when it comes to granola. To be good, it has to have some serious crunch. It can’t just be oats coated in sugar and fat. Granola should be really chunky. And, obviously it has to be yummy too. This granola is definitely up to these standards. One of the harder criterion to meet is chunkiness. To achieve big granola chunks, it is imperative to not stir the granola when it is baking, and to let it totally cool before you start to break it up. This allows the mixture to stick together nicely and results in those coveted granola chunks.

he flavor of the caramel in the granola is light when eaten plain, but is intensified when enjoyed in milk. It is also great on some creamy Greek yogurt, or however else you like your granola. Take a break from ordinary supermarket granola, and make some of this seedy, crunchy, chunky, and nutritious granola for yourself!

Super Seedy Caramel Granola
Makes 6 cups
 
Make sure to use raw seeds, or they can burn!
 
2 cups rolled oats
½ cup quinoa
¼ cup pepitas
¼ cup sunflower kernels
2 tbs. flax seeds
2 tbs. chia seeds
2 tbs. sesame seeds
½ tsp. coarse/kosher salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tbs. canola/vegetable oil
 
Caramel
¼ cup sugar
3 tbs. half and half or cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
big pinch salt
 
Preheat oven to 325°F/165°C. In a big bowl, combine the all the seeds (oats included), salt, and cinnamon. Mix well.
 
To make the caramel, add sugar to a small pot and heat on low. The sugar will slowly melt and turn clear and then get more golden. Don’t stir the sugar at all when cooking, but you can swirl the pot for more even melting and cooking. Turn heat off when sugar is amber in color. Slowly whisk in the cream a little at a time until caramel is smooth. The sugar is very, very hot and will bubble up when the cream is added, so be careful! Whisk in the vanilla and salt.
 
Mix the caramel into the oat and seed mixture until well combined. Then mix in the oil well. Spread onto a sheet tray and lightly press until about ½” thick.
 
Bake for 25 minutes, rotating half way through. Depending on your oven, the granola may take a little more or less time to cook. After 20 minutes, it is best to really keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t start to burn. Granola is done when it is a deep golden color and very fragrant.
 
Let cool completely on the sheet tray. Then break into chunks with a fork.
 
Store in a covered container at room temp. It will keep for about 10 days.

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