Chewy 'nola

Soaking the nuts, seeds and dates in preparation for Maple Cranberry Granola

My foodie friend is always coming up with amazing nutritious recipes and I'm always anxious to try them out. I was super stoked to see a chewy granola recipe up on her blog and decided to go ahead and make it, since I had just run out of our latest batch of granola.
As soon as I woke up, I measured out the needed amounts of dates, nuts and seeds and got them all set up on the counter in jars with water to start the soaking process. I let everything soak till evening time, when I was ready to make the granola. Soaking seeds and nuts is a good idea in order to reap the full benefit of the nutrition. Soaking releases a toxic enzyme inhibitor, allows the seeds to be more easily digestible and increases the amount of vitamins you can absorb. It's easy! Generally the thicker a nut/seed, the longer it needs to soak. For instance, almonds need to be soaked overnight, approximately 8-12 hours compared to walnuts which only need about 4 hours.
The great thing about soaking the dates for this recipe was saving the water from it, making "Datorade", an alternative to Gatorade! I squeezed the dates out after soaking them, then strained the water into a jar, lidded and refrigerated it. Yum! I think an even better idea would be to soak some dates in some coconut water (maybe even throw in a tablespoon of chia seeds)... talk about some energizing electrolytes! Throw that in your Nalgene and head off down a trail or for bike ride!

I had to change a few things in the recipe to make it adaptable to my kitchen and ingredients on hand. I don't have any pecans, so I used walnuts. I wasn't able to use a dehydrator because mine got lost somewhere between a move from Texas to North Carolina and back to Texas a few years ago. And now that I'm in Washington, a solar dehydrator isn't practical since the sun (nicknamed "Bob" by my hubby and his fellow soldiers, so as not to say the "s" word and jinx it from coming out) rarely makes an appearance here. Sigh.

So I used the oven and just baked it in bar form. They turned out chewy and scrumptious! A definite treat and power boost!
Don't they look yummy? The orange zest really gives it flavor. I didn't have any ground ginger, so I used a tiny bit of cardamom instead. Try the recipe for yourself and go give Jo a shout out on her blog!

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