oh my god, granola


granola, originally uploaded by shaunaforce.

Okay, this is going to set some people talking.

When I first found out I could no longer eat gluten, I felt no real mourning at giving up bread or hamburger buns or doughnuts. Whatever. Clearly, they made me ill, and so I waved goodbye to them with both hands. Since my diagnosis, I have not eaten anything made of gluten. I don’t sneak a cookie from the bakery, because it looks so good, and think, “Oh, what the hell, I’ll just feel crummy for a couple of days.” It would never occur to me to do that. Who would I be cheating but myself?

That doesn’t mean I haven’t accidentally been glutenized. It happened a lot when I was first diagnosed, more often than I wanted. Sometimes, occasionally, it happens still. Even though I keep this website, and I’m writing a book, and there are other interesting possiblities lurking in the future — still, I am caught off guard. In spite of my vigilance, I get sick from cross-contamination or a hidden gluten ingredient in places I would never suspect. Living gluten-free is hard, and it requires constant vigilance.

All this to say that I am incredibly sensitive. Because I never eat gluten, and because I am so vigilant, I can tell instantly if I have been infected with gluten. A few bread crumbs, unexpectedly (and I am going to tell that story, soon), and I have a blotchy red rash across my face and neck within ten minutes. I develop a dull headache that turns vicious within minutes. I start to feel fogged in and dumb. My stomach hurts. And in the next couple of days, I feel logey and dopey and doubled over in abdominal pain. There are other, unpleasant symptoms, as well, but this is a food website, so I’ll leave it to your imagination.

Because I am so sensitive — and I hate that three-day fugue that occurs when I’ve been glutenized — I avoid anything that could be dangerous for me. And for a year and a half, that meant oatmeal.

Oats are a source of controversy for celiacs. The protein in oats is not gluten, but it’s biologically similar, and some celiacs experience problems with it for that reason. More than that, most commercially available oats are contaminated with wheat, from the way they are grown to the processing in plants. For those reasons, almost everyone who has celiac avoids oats.

I missed oatmeal more than I ever missed bread.

A few months ago, however, I read that McCann’s oats from Ireland are considered safe for people with celiac. Dr. Peter Green from the Celiac Center at Columbia University recommended them. Well, since he’s one of my gluten-free gurus, and I so dearly missed oatmeal, I tempted the fates and bought a can of McCann’s Irish oats.

Oh, that first bite of oatmeal tasted so good. The Chef didn’t quite understand — he has never been a fan of hot cereal — but he watched with pleasure as I spooned each creamy bite into my mouth, the memories of mornings when I ate oats without thinking suddenly in sharp focus in my mind. “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,” Joni Mitchell sang, and it was running through my head that time. (But I know what I have these days, and I am damned grateful.)

For the past few months, I’ve been eating these oats, sporadically. The official recommendation is that someone with celiac should re-introduce oats slowly, and thus have only 1/4 cup no more than three times a week. That was damned hard to follow when I had a steaming bowl of oatmeal in front of me.

And then I remembered Molly’s granola.

My dear friend Molly, over at Orangette, wrote about her favorite granola recipe almost two years ago, but I have been dreaming of it since I found out I could not eat oats. I loved granola when I was a kid, even the kind made by big-name cereal companies, which probably had more fats and sugars than anything good for me. However, since I was terribly ill for months before I was diagnosed, I had not eaten granola in nearly two years. Almost as long as it had been since Molly wrote that post.

So, this week, I made some granola. Light and crunchy, darkly sweet with chestnut honey, and crunchy without being cloying — this is the best granola I have ever eaten. I crumbled my requisite 1/4 cup on top of plain yogurt and crunched through breakfast, humming. I love it.

I’m back.

Now, since various gluten-free experts began recommending McCann’s, the company has said they cannot absolutely guarantee that there is no cross-contamination. Some celiacs have gone off of McCann’s for this reason. There are two certified gluten-free oats, but they are both exorbitantly expensive. However, they are worth a look:

Cream Hill Estates (in Canada)

and

Gluten-Free Oats (in Wyoming).

I have not tried either one of these, because they are about $10 a bag and require shipping. McCann’s isn’t cheap either, but it’s at the grocery store across the street from me. That’s hard to resist.

Let me say this clearly: I am no medical expert. I cannot recommend McCann’s to you with a completely clear conscience, because some people might have reactions. However, I know my own story. And my experience is that this gluten-free girl, who is so sensitive to gluten that she gets sick if her fiance kisses her with bread crumbs in his mouth or flour touches a cutting board where her salad is made? This gluten-free girl has had no reaction to McCann’s.

So, you should make up your own mind. Whatever your decision, when you find oats that you feel comfortable eating, you should make some of this granola.

In fact, I’m going to go have a small bowl of it right now.

Good, Gluten-Free Granola
Adapted from Molly at Orangette, who adapted this from The Rancho La Puerta Cookbook

3 cups McCann’s oats
½ cup chopped cashews
½ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup rice flour
¼ cup sorghum flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon (if you can find Saigon cinnamon, use a touch less)
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ginger
¾ cup best honey you can find (I used a chestnut honey from Tuscany)
½ cup cranberry juice, unsweetened
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (make sure it’s gluten-free)
2 teaspoons canola oil

Preheat the oven to 250°, at least half an hour before you will put the granola in the oven. Coat a baking sheet with canola oil (or, you can use vegetable oil spray, if you are sure it is gluten-free).

Combine the oats, cashews, sunflower seeds, rice flour, and sorghum flour. Toss them until the flours coat everything else. Then, add the cinnamon, allspice, and ginger. Toss again.

In a large measuring cup (or bowl), combine the honey, cranberry juice, vanilla extract, and canola oil. Whisk them together until they have become a single, coherent entity.

Pour the honey mixture into the dry ingredients. Carefully, stir it all together with a wooden spoon, until the liquids have thoroughly saturated all the oats. Turn the mixture onto the baking sheet and pat it all out into an even layer.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for fifteen minutes. Take the sheet out of the oven and turn the entire mixture over with a strong spatula, as though you are tilling dirt. Spread and pat, then put it back in the oven. Check again after fifteen minutes. When the new layer of granola is slightly browned, turn it all over again. Cook for at least an hour and a half, to two hours, checking and turning the granola throughout this process.

When the granola is thoroughly browned, and dry to the touch rather than sticky, take the baking sheet out of the oven. Let it rest for fifteen minutes, to cool. Afterwards, scrape the granola into your favorite, wide-mouthed container with a lid. Store it in the refrigerator, where it will keep for up to a week to ten days.

Makes four cups of granola.

34 comments on “oh my god, granola

  1. Molly

    Looks wonderful, my friend! So glad that my old Rancho La Puerta granola inspired something so good — and gluten-free, to boot. xo

  2. Anonymous

    Thank you thank you! Looks tasty.

    BTW, re: knishes — I love Zabar’s!

    I also plan to make a knish dough recipe that is from scratch when I have the chance, but to be honest the Chebe one was pretty darn good!

  3. Anonymous

    I Biochemist/Natural Product Chemist friend of mine, who is celiac, ran a bunch of assays on oats, using commercial antibodies, as well as his own serum.

    It turns out that some varieties of oats give reaction, and some don’t. There will always be the issue of cross-contamination, but as long as McCann’s doesn’t switch varieties of oats, or start processing wheat in their plants, we should be safe.

  4. Anonymous

    Shauna, I think I’ll be joining you soon with trying out Oats again. I just purchased some Gluten-Free Oats at the Columbus, OH Celiac Conference this weekend from a vendor specializing in GF Oats. I plan to start out with a small amount and work up. If that goes well, I will give your Granola recipe a shot. Next will be an Oatmeal Cookie! Oh how I am looking forward to tasting Oats again!

  5. beenzzz

    I’m a first timer to your site. I’ve been living gluten free for a year and half now. I react the same way to gluten as you do. The three day thing is no joke. The rash suck. The migraines are horrid, and the nausea and stomach cramps (accompanied by other swell things) is disgusting.

  6. Us

    I was in Seattle this weekend and I went to Da Vinci’s (formerly Kaili’s Kitchen) and had a yummy scone but was disappointed its not a restaurant anymore. I also went to Trader Joe’s in Issaquah for the first time and I imagined it to be a type of mecca of gluten free food. Though they did have a brochure that lists their gluten free items, the first one I tried to find in the frozen section had wheat listed as an ingredient. How disappointing. I should have tried Chef’s restaurant instead! sigh. Gluten Free is so frustrating sometimes.

  7. stephanie e. in ohio

    Whoa…I, too, have missed my simple granola on my yogurt…I, too, have just recently discovered that oats (or at least some brands?) are fine for me…I, too, do not find it worth it to cheat at all, because I prefer to avoid the two days of fog and depression and more…thank you for the recipe–I can’t wait to try it! Oh, and, as you may remember…I was diagnosed about the same time as you, and I am about to turn 40, also. And, though not as public or *as* exciting, I do also feel like I have been given a 2nd chance on life. And, finally, I live in Columbus, Ohio, and I did not know about the celiac conference last weekend?! Oh, well…always the best to you!

  8. Mardel

    Well, I have been gluten free for about 3 years now, and reading your blog since this summer but have never said hello.

    If McCann’s oats work for you that sounds good enough to try. I have considered ordering the other gluten free varieties, and my brother has mentioned McCann’s but he has been reluctant to try them as well. I actually think it was the mention of oats with chestnut honey that won me over. I firmly believe that chestnut honey is the elixir of the gods.

  9. Anonymous

    Oh, oh oh — GRANOLA! Homemade granola!! I’ve purchased GF granolas (w/o oats) and have enjoyed it but I always find that commercial granolas are so sweet. I’d love to make my own. Thanks for the recipe! I’m excited (can you tell? LOL) I haven’t tried GF oats or oats but I have substituted quinoa flakes instead of oats and been quite happy. Not the same taste — but good IMO. I would like to try GF oats. Thanks for that link too. I’m too afraid to try McCann oats — but I have been tempted. It’s just not worth the risk to me — I’m done with feeling/being sick — and even if I don’t get sick, how do I know that I’m not damaging my intestines? GF eating has changed my life. I’m not going back. I enjoy your Blog. Thanks so much!

  10. susie

    I’m a sensitive gluten intolerant person and I react to McCann’s and Cream Hill estates oats. I was so disappointed. :( So, it’s poha flakes for me.

  11. hollygee

    I’ve used both Cream Hill and Gluten Free Oats with no problems (I had tried Bob’s Red Mill Rolled Oats in hopes that they would work and gave them away after one meal). The cost is prohibitive, but it is lovely to have another grain.

  12. Shauna

    Molly,

    Oh my dear, how many times you have inspired me! Every recipe of yours does. Every conversation with you does, even more. xo

    bythebay,

    It is tasty! But your knish recipe just rocks. If I didn’t have so many recipes lined up to tweak for the book, I’d be making yours today.

    Elwoodcity,

    So good to hear that. It’s clear from these comments that some people react to oats, no matter how they are grown. I feel lucky that I can seem to eat them.

    Mike,

    I know! Oatmeal cookies! I want some of those today.

    Beenzzz,

    Thanks for sharing that. Really. I think we live in a society that says we shouldn’t talk about this stuff. That’s why so many people remain undiagnosed, I believe.

    US,

    Oh dear, you were in Seattle and didn’t go to Impromptu? Heavens, please rectify that situation soon. I know what you mean about Trader Joe’s and all those lists. They go out of date, immediately. We have to be vigilant.

    Stephanie,

    Happy Birthday soon! 40 is truly splendid, so far. And the oats? Congratulations that you can eat them again!

    Mardel,

    I am with you on the chestnut honey. My god. And the oats are worth a try, although be aware of your reactions. I was just sent some of the oats from Creamhill, and I’m going to try those today. I’ll let you know how they are.

    Dee,

    I just love the excitement in your comment! Yes, yes, I completely agree. Nothing is worth being sick again like we were before we found we had to stop eating gluten. Good for you for taking care of yourself. And thanks for commenting!

    Susie,

    Oh dear, I’m so sorry. You reacted to Creamhill? Then it must be something in oats themselves that gets to you. Lousy. Thanks for letting us know. Now, what are poha flakes?

    Hollygee,

    I’m so glad to hear they worked for you. I’m eager to try the Creamhill Estates that came in the mail the other day. I’ll let you know.

  13. Anonymous

    Is there any truth to you doing a cooking show?I sooooooooooooo hope so,if so please,keep us up to date,it would be wonderful for those of us who have family that are celiac.Cree

  14. Anonymous

    I echo your sentiments about “no love lost” over a few missing buns or bread, but by golly I miss my oatmeal! I have the Gluten-free Oats and have savored every small bowl. I also make millet in the crockpot “as oatmeal.” Now, I just did a search for a gluten-free oats granola recipe and yours popped up…can’t wait to try it! My old recipe was chock-full of gluten ingredients.
    Thank you!!!

  15. Anonymous

    Just bought some gf granola, ick. So am glad I found your site and am ready to try your recipe. Oh, and gf oatmeal can replace bread crumbs in meatloaf. Well grandma always used oatmeal instead of bread crumbs.

  16. Anonymous

    Bob’s Red Mill makes certified gluten free oats. You can find them on their web site — but they you have to pay shipping (and they’ve been sold out). I have found then at Rainbow grocery in San Francisco, and I was able to get my old grocer in Palo Alto to order then for me. They taste great and haven’t given me any adverse reactions. They also have certified gluten free steel-cut oats and a lot of gluten free recipes on their web site.

    –Rachel

  17. xy2442z

    never in my wildest dreams did i imagine mccann’s in granola would be edible. all i could think was “eeek–pebbles! watch your teeth!”

    well this def rocks, but does not break the teeth.

    think grape nuts, but SO much better. ty!!

  18. Desiree

    I realize this is an old post, but I just wanted to tell how much I enjoyed the OMG GF granola. It’s the first time I’ve had oats since being diagnosed with celiac and I love it! I added mini chocolate morsels to half the batch for my kids and it’s fantastic. Thanks!

  19. thevansleaving

    YESYESYES I did a search on the internet for g-Free granola, and found this! I am so excited because I love granola! Thank you so much!

  20. thevansleaving

    Wow I am so happy that I have found this site, and especially the G-Free Granola it looks oh so yummy yummy can’t wait to make it!

  21. Anonymous

    My sister can’t do gluten, and we’re visiting her for the holidays.
    I found your blog simply by searching for gluten free granola recipes.
    Thank you so much! Can’t wait to make it tomorrow.

  22. Denise

    You’re site has been a great resource since I went gluten free, thanks for sharing all your knowledge!

    I recently discovered Legacy Valley, Montana Monster Munchies quick oats that are certified gluten free, I believe I spent about $3.50 for a 1 1/2 lb bag at New Seasons Market in OR.

  23. slecker

    I’ve been craving a good granola since going gluten free and am going to try this recipe, but does it really need to be stored in the fridge?

  24. Mario

    Just made your recipe for granola. Found that after baking and turning over every 15 minutes for a period of two hours, it seemed over toasted and very crunchy. If I were to bake for a shorter period, would this still work? Also thought that 1 teaspoon of allspice was to much, but that is me.

  25. Mario

    Wanted to thank you for the site and effort you put into it, yesterday I was about what went wrong with my own attempt. Thanks again and I do apologize for my rudeness.

  26. Gracie

    recipe looks great. Bob’s Red Mill, which has a massive line of gluten free flours and baking goods, also has gluten free oats that aren’t insanely expensive. depending upon where you buy them, they are anywhere from 5 to 7 dollars a bag. and I’ve never had any problems with them!

  27. Sharon M

    I love the Bob’s Red Mill gf oats!!! Specific request: I have a unique situation. I recently retired to Cuenca, Ecuador, high in the South American Andes Mountains. It is a city of about 400,000. The word ‘celiac” is barely known here. Finding the grains and supplies I need to take care of myself is surprisingly hard. Shipping things from the US is VERY slow and the cost is beyond outrageous — not an option. Does anyone reading this have suggestions about locating some South American/Ecuadoran resources for gf food/supplies such as the gf flours: teff, brown rice find grind, blue corn. Ecuador prides itself on using only Ecuadorian products as much as possible. But i cannoteven find things Peru would have! Such as blue corn flour.
    Of course the tropical fruits and veggies are excellent and chickens are fresh . But… I long for granola, super fine brown rice flour (apparently not a known item here anywhere), sorghum flour, etc. I knew I would not find pre-packaged foods like pancake mix or gf pastas. I brought as many as I could but they are gone. When I visit the US, I will stock up as much as my suitcase weight limit will allow. Meanwhile, anyone know of any resources I might tap into. Or people here who might be helpful in locating some items. I have found corn starch, white rice flour, a few things like that but not my main desires! HUGE Thanks, S

  28. Trish Lopez

    Holy crap — granola! I can’t even explain how much I LOVE granola and I’ve missed it so much since I’ve been gluten free. I ran across your recipe a few days ago and made it last night. I used raw honey, I was out of cashews so I used walnuts instead and I don’t use canola so I substituted with grapeseed oil. It came out perfectly crunchy with just the right amount of sweetness. I had a big bowl of it for breakfast this morning with a handful of raisins and some ice cold raw milk. It was ah-ma-zing! It’s so easy to make and so delicious. Thank you, thank you, thank you!