Triple Chocolate Quinoa Granola

When it comes to breakfast, I'm firmly in the savory-over-sweet camp. I love the idea of a stack of blueberry pancakes or french toast or a waffle, but I never find them anywhere near as satisfying as an omelet filled with salty smoked salmon and barely-cooked onions or a cozy bowl of cheesy scrambled eggs. I love home fries and little patties of breakfast sausage or crisp slices of bacon. Occasionally I'll reach over and grab a bite of one of Eugene's pancakes but that's enough for me. I can never really do a full stack.

When I'm home, my breakfasts tend to be super simple, but always savory. Scrambled eggs with hot sauce or cheese, a quick breakfast burrito with greek yogurt instead of sour cream, or my favorite: egg sandwiches with cayenne and mayo on un-toasted whole wheat bread.

Which is why it was super weird when I woke up the other morning craving granola.

Granola?! I literally NEVER eat granola. The few times I have, it's been as a snack when there was nothing else available. Meaning on a plane or train or in an airport. Never for breakfast. Never when I have plenty of other options.

But nonetheless, the craving was there. And even more specifically, I wanted a bowl of sweet chocolate granola. Something which I'd never even had before.

So I wandered into the kitchen and got to work rummaging through my pantry and combining ingredients in a bowl. I was initially going to go with a basic oatmeal base, but then I spotted the quinoa and wondered if perhaps there would be a way to use that, instead to increase the protein content of the granola.

I've recently been experimenting with making quinoa flour by rinsing, toasting, and grinding the quinoa down for a high-protein (and gluten-free) flour alternative so I figured it would work without having to boil it first. I decided to give it a shot, and substituted half the oatmeal in my recipe with rinsed dried quinoa (I didn't bother to toast as that would happen while the granola cooked anyway).

To add lots of chocolate flavor, I used cocoa powder, cocoa nibs, and chocolate chunks (the later, which I added after the granola had already cooled). A generous amount of salt, plus some cinnamon for a warm touch and a few handfuls of sliced almonds, and the results were stunning! I've been enjoying small bowls of it as a mid-afternoon snack topped off with delicious whole milk.  The chocolate mixes with the milk (reminiscent of those sugary childhood cereals!) and the toasted nuttiness of the almonds and quinoa work beautifully in the final dish.

I offered Eugene a bowl for dessert one night, and though he's usually averse to oatmeal, he agreed, but asked if I could put whipped cream on it instead. I loved that idea and served him a bowl topped off with loosely whipped heavy cream (which I just shook in the carton by hand)--thick, but still loose enough to spoon it up like cereal.

Absolutely lovely.

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Triple Chocolate Quinoa Granola
Makes 6-8 servings

2 cups rolled oats (not instant--for a gluten-free version, be sure to select gluten-free oats such as Bob's Red Mill)
2 cups dried quinoa, rinsed well (OK if still moist after rinsing)
1 1/2 cup sliced almonds + an additional 1/4 cup (divided)
1/4 cup chia seeds (optional, but wonderful! Feel free to substitute flax or pumpkin seeds)
1/4 cup raw cocoa nibs
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup raw turbinado sugar ("sugar in the raw") OR substitute regular granulated white sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 rounded teaspoon kosher salt (plus more to taste if you prefer)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks or chips

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, quinoa, 1 1/2 cups almonds, chia seeds, cocoa nibs, cocoa powder, turbinado sugar, honey, olive oil, and salt. Stir until completely combined and all pieces are coated with the honey and oil. (I just toss everything in my Kitchen Aid mixer and let the machine stir it up.)

Spread out on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes, or until completely toasted and golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Add the remaining 1/4 cup almonds and the chocolate chunks and stir to distribute (I like the contrast of the toasted and raw almonds, but if you prefer all toasted, you can just add them at the beginning).
Serve room temperature with milk or yogurt, or as a snack. Store in an air-tight container in a cool spot or in the refrigerator.

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