Gruesli sounds like something akin to gruel, doesn’t it? Although admittedly it is not the best name, there are two reasons for it. One is to help me keep it a “little bit secret” – as much as I want to share it with my dear friends, it is so sacred that I am not prepared to release it to the world…yet! The name “Gruesli” acts as a bit of a deterrent – who wants to eat Gruesli, anyway?! The second reason for the name? It’s an amalgam of the words granola and muesli – which is exactly what this recipe is!
I love granola, but it is fattening. I started playing around with granola recipes a year ago, trying to concoct one of my own that would not have so many calories and fat grams associated with it. In the process of doing so, I learned the difference between muesli and granola, which essentially is that granola is coated in a sugary candied base and toasted, whereas muesli takes the same set of base ingredients but doesn’t toast or coat them. Knowing this distinction gave me the idea of aspiring to something in between, hence: gruesli – and amalgam of GRanola and mUESLI
When I finally perfected my granola, I began to share it with a few like-minded health conscious friends, and it was my friend Sarah who called it “Granola of the Gods”. Wow, my cooking and baking had never been referred to as food of the gods before – what an honour. But the more I think of it, it’s actually a pretty practical name in and of itself. Many of the ingredients that I have pulled into the recipe are associated with religious or spiritual traditions around the world. Pomegranate, for example, is a very prominent symbol of the Armenian church, where they adorn the inside of cathedrals as a symbol representing the blood of Christ. Quinoa was considered by the Inca (and later the Quechua) as a grain of the gods. Dates are commonly eaten at ifthar to break fast during the holy month of Ramadan and were loved by the Prophet. Oatmeal was thought of as food of the gods by the Norse, and the fig tree appears as a metaphor all over the Old and New Testament. So, call it what you like – Gruesli or Granola of the Gods – but whatever you do, enjoy it without guilt. My “secret” ingredient in this recipe is the pomegranate molasses. Available at Persian or Middle Eastern stores, it is made of pure pomegranate (it is not the sugary-sweet grenadine syrup found in the mixed drink section of the supermarket). This adds an intense flavour and also acts as a substitute for large amounts of oil that are normally called for in granola. If you aren’t going to add it, replace it with oil.
Set One: 2 cups organic old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 organic Fair Trade quinoa flakes
3 flax seeds, ground
1 1/2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tbsp cold water
2 tbsp pure pomegranate molasses (available at Middle Eastern stores)
2-3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla
Set Two: 8 finely chopped unsulphured dried apricots
4 finely chopped dried mission figs
6 finely chopped medjool dates
3 tbsp dried blueberries
2 tbsp Persian dried sour cherries (optional)
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup broken walnut pieces
1/4 cup pistachios
2 tbsp almond flakes
Mix set one together and then spread out over a large glass cake or lasagne pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 250 degrees, stirring every 15 minutes or so. Remove and cool. Add set two ingredients, toss, and store in an air tight container. This recipe should produce approximately 18 servings of 1/3 cup.