Monday, November 21, 2011

Soaked Granola

Eating real food on a budget is a real challenge for a lot of families. Moving into this world of real food is challenging to do all at one time and it helps to do things one step at a time as you can afford it. One of the first things I did was replace my aluminum and teflon coated cookware with stainless steel cookware. I already had a lot of cast iron pans acquired over the course of a decade. I found a wonderful glass bowl collection at Target once. It was on sale and I splurged. Little by little, I've changed out my cooking utensils to get rid of the plastic.

I found over the course of about 3 months that NOT buying junk like breakfast cereal, snack cakes, chips, candy and most commercial bread; saved enough money for me to make one or two LARGE bulk purchases each month that last me for 6 or more months. For example, I bought a 50 pound bag of organic wheat berries and another 50 pound bag of organic rye berries for about $1.27 a pound. I soak the grains and spout then dry them, grind them in a grain grinder and make my own sprouted flours. A cup of raw wheat makes about 2 cups of flour. I can make a loaf of bread with about 3 1/2 cups. There are a lot of cups of wheat in a 50 pound bag. I store them in galvanized tins in an unheated and unused bedroom. I sprinkle grain with food grade Diatomaceous earth to keep the weavils out. Basically, I'm using about 50 cents of grain to make a loaf of bread. I also purchase yeast in bulk and keep it in the freezer.

Equipment is expensive, but when cared for properly. lasts for many years. I could not do this without my very large deep freezer. I keep it set below zero and I can keep foods for a very, very long time. It does not auto defrost, so I have to do that manually once a year or so, but that's an easy job. The grain grinder and my table top electric mixer are very important. I also have a meat grinder attachment for my electric mixer and a food processor and stick blender. I do not have a microwave, or a toaster.

Some basic foods like coconut oil, nuts, sea salt, and meat are much cheaper purchased in bulk. It's just a little scary to anticipate and budget for 1/2 beef, for example when you know you will be paying $1000 or more in a lump sum. But you are purchasing a year's worth of beef at one time. Sit down and really figure out what you are paying when you buy a year's worth of meat in incremental bits. I bet it will be more. What's nice about making that large bulk purchase of pastured beef from a local farmer is that you can very specifically dictate how you want your cuts done, how much of it is going to be ground beef, you get the organs. If you really get the opportunity to work out details, you can also ask for the hide -- if you have a use for it.

Start small and go for a 1/2 lamb. Then try 1/2 a hog. Find someone with pastured chickens and buy 6 of them. My husband fishes, but he does not hunt; but I know hunters and most years they will bring me a whole deer if I pay for the tag. You see why I need a large freezer.

If I could talk my husband into it, I would buy two of them and have one for meat and one for vegetables, fruit and other home prepared foods like broth.

But let me share my recipe for CHEAP healthy granola. Buy all the ingredients in bulk.

Soaked Granola

2 cups of organic raw oatmeal
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 cups of warm water

1/4 cup of dried fruit (I like organic raisins or cherries)
1/2 cup of crispy nuts (pecans or walnuts)
1/2 cup of crispy pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup flaked coconut

Put the oatmeal in a large glass bowl, stir the sea salt into the warm water until dissolved. Pour liquid over the oatmeal. Stir gently until all the oatmeal is submerged. Cover the bowl with a towel and put on the counter overnight.

In the morning drain the oatmeal through a colander and rinse. Dump back in the bowl. Heat coconut oil and maple syrup in a sauce pan until blended and the oil is melted. Pour oil and syrup mixture over the oats and stir a couple of times. Spread the wet oatmeal out onto a jelly roll pan (a cookie sheet with edges). Put in the oven and set the temperature to just below warm. Leave for 8 hours. I put it in before I go to work and take it out when I get home. Once dried it will be crispy. Break it up and put it into a dry bowl. Add the fruit, nuts and seeds and coconut flakes. Stir. Store in quart jars. Eat with yogurt, kefir or raw milk.

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