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Crunchy Chai Spice Granola Clusters

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Pumpkin spice gets all of the love this time of year, (I succumb to the temptation as well, and will be posting a pumpkin spice recipe soon), but what about other aromatic autumnal spice combinations? Chai spice is basically pumpkin spice with the addition of cardamom and allspice; you’ve still got the sweet cinnamon, spicy ginger, and warm nutmeg & cloves, but the additional two spices give the blend a deeper, more exotic flavor profile.

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The fragrant spice blend is used here to flavor crunchy granola clusters that are lightly sweetened and insanely addictive. You bake the granola at a low temperature in one giant “sheet”, and then break it up into clusters as big or as small as you’d like.

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Oat flour helps to hold the clusters together. I love this brand, and keep it on hand for ease of use, but you can absolutely make your own simply by tossing a few big handfuls of old fashioned rolled oats into a high-speed blender or food processor and blending/processing until the oats break down into a fine flour.

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Clusters, magnificent clusters!

You could certainly eat this clustery granola with milk for breakfast, but I personally think it’s better suited for snacking on throughout the day.

I helped myself to a few handfuls while taking photos for the post; even Lily couldn’t keep her hands away. In fact, when I asked her if she liked the granola, she said: “No. I LOVE it!”

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Well said, kiddo, well said.

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Crunchy Chai Spice Granola Clusters

by Lauren Zembron (method of baking adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup oat flour
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup neutral-flavored vegetable oil (such as safflower oil)
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

both old-fashioned rolled oats and oat flour can be found in certified gluten-free versions

    Instructions

    Preheat oven to 275°F. Line a 9 x 13 inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

    In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, oat flour, salt, and all of the spices.

    In a medium bowl, combine vegetable oil, coconut (or brown) sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla extract; whisk until well-mixed. Pour mixture over oat mixture and stir until dry mixture is fully and evenly moistened.

    Spread mixture evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Press down so the top is even. A pastry roller comes in handy here, as you want the mixture in as thin & even a layer as possible. The mixture should reach the edges of the baking sheet. The mixture will be sticky, so it can be helpful to lightly wet your fingers or a rubber spatula (if you don’t have a pastry roller) with water before pressing down.

    Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until hard through the center and golden brown, rotating baking sheet about every 15 minutes for even baking.

    Let cool completely, then break into pieces.

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    oat cakes

    Hearty Maple Oat Cakes [vegan]

    oat cakes

    The second trimester of pregnancy usually means an increase in appetite (finally!) and needing to have a bite to eat every few hours in order to avoid light-headedness and/or ravenous hunger.

    Being a mom to a 2 1/2 year old usually means eating on the go and not having a lot of time to either a) cook  or b) enjoy a leisurely meal.

    These maple oat cakes fulfill those two specific needs of a pregnant mom: avoiding low blood sugar and having an easy, quick, & portable snack on hand.

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    Now don’t be fooled by the “cakes” part of the title; these are nether fine, delicate, nor super sweet like birthday cake. They’re more akin to baked oatmeal: dense, hearty, and very lightly sweetened. I could have called them “pucks”, but let’s be honest… that doesn’t sound very appealing now does it?!

    Simple, rustic, and wholesome, these vegan oat cakes are a cinch to throw together and are ideal for tossing into an overstuffed diaper bag for when the inevitable pregnancy hunger strikes. They are 100% whole grain, sweetened only with a bit of pure maple syrup, and are perfect as a quick breakfast, snack-on-the-go, and/or healthy dessert. They are also fully customizable. Toss in a couple handfuls of dark chocolate chips, dried fruit, and/or nuts for a trail mix version. Add a few tablespoons of your favorite nut butter to the batter. You could even include some fresh berries. The possibilities are endless!

    oat cakes

     

    Hearty Maple Oat Cakes [vegan]

    by Lauren Zembron

    Prep Time: 5 minutes

    Cook Time: 12 minutes

    Keywords: bake breakfast dessert snack vegan

    Ingredients (3 cakes)

    • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
    • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/8 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 3 Tbsp neutral-flavored vegetable oil (I used safflower oil)
    • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
    • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup

    Instructions

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly oil 3 individual ramekins.

    In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir in the oil, vanilla, and maple syrup until well-combined.

    Evenly divide the cookie dough between the prepared ramekins, lightly pressing the dough down and smoothing the tops.

    Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until golden on top but still soft in the center. Enjoy warm straight from the ramekins or let cool completely before running a butter knife around the outside of each cake to help remove from ramekins. Best when eaten within a day or two of baking.

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