This week I tried two weird but tasty ways to get in some green veggies. Okay, they're not that weird, at least not to me. Then again I like to eat lots of raw veggies, maybe that's even weirder. Whatever, back to the recipes. If you want a new way to sneak in some veggies how about Brussels sprout chips or zucchini bread granola. Hey, did you know that the "Brussels" in Brussels sprout is capitalized and spelled with an S at the end? Being the terrible speller that I am, I just now realized this, and only because that squiggly red line wouldn't go away no matter how many ways I tried to spell it. We'll get back to our Brussels sprouts in a bit. Let's start with the zucchini bread granola.
Finely shredded zucchini releases a lot of moisture making it a perfect binding agent for the oats. Where many granola recipes use butter or oil, this one sneaks in a veggie. Don't worry, we still use a little oil to keep the crunch. Another great crunch factor is the use of crisp rice cereal. I almost always add crisp rice cereal to my granola. It absorbs some of the moisture so the oats don't get soggy and it adds just the right balance of crispy and crunchy.
Using crisp rice cereal also cuts down on the carb count so your portion size is bigger. Low-fat and lower-carb granola with vegetables? Hmmm, let's add nuts and chocolate. The mildly sweet oat clusters with cinnamon undertones are nicely balanced with chocolate chips and walnuts. But it really is still lower in fat and carbs than your typical granola and it does have zucchini, so go ahead and eat it for breakfast.
This granola had a nice balance of clusters without being too clumpy or looking like individual oats. You can add the chocolate chips while the granola is still slightly warm if you want it to stick together more. Some of the clusters did look a little stringy from the zucchini and there was the occasional speck of green, but that didn't stop anyone from eating it. Be sure to finely grate your zucchini for the best results, but don't squeeze out the liquid. It also helps to mix the granola with your hands before baking to break up any zucchini clumps that may be hiding in there. If you're looking for a new way to use up some zucchini, this granola is just the thing.
Brussels sprout chips, on the other hand, may not be your new favorite way to get in veggies. They are a lot more work than they're worth. I've made kale chips before and loved them. Yes, kale chips sound weird, but once you try them you'll know what I mean. When they're made correctly it's like eating potato chips, only better, plus they're healthy. You can season them with just about anything: salt, lemon pepper, vinegar, Parmesan, ranch, chili powder, the possibilities are endless When I saw the same concept using Brussels sprouts I thought it was a pretty good idea. All the leaves are shaped like little scoops and are already the right size. It should be pretty fast and easy to put them on a tray, season and bake until crispy.
Wrong. It took me forever to peel all those little leaves off of each Brussels sprout. You can't use the centers because the leaves are too small and compact. Then when I baked them they shrunk up to almost nothing. Since some pieces still had a little of the stem/core, they didn't get as crispy as kale chips. Don't get me wrong, they weren't bad, they just weren't worth the effort.
I'll stick to kale chips and do something else with the rest of those Brussels sprouts. At least I learned how to spell Brussels sprout.
The zucchini granola is a recipe I'll keep around for a while. Here's what I did if you want to try it out for yourself.
Zucchini Bread Granola
adapted slightly from Healthy Food For Living
3/4 cup very finely shredded unpeeled zucchini (don't squeeze out the liquid)
1 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp maple syrup or other liquid sweetener (such as honey or agave)
2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2-1/2 cups rolled oats (also called old-fashioned, not quick oats or instant oats)
1-1/2 cups crisp rice cereal
1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chocolate chips
* Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray and set aside.
* In a large bowl, combine shredded zucchini, oil, syrup, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Mix well.
*Add oats and crisp rice cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Use your hands to break apart any zucchini clumps.
*Spread onto prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Stir in walnuts and continue baking 15 more minutes or until granola is golden and begins to dry and crisp. Remove from oven and let cool. Stir in chocolate chips. (If desired, chips may be stirred in while granola is slightly warm. This will partially melt the chips and distribute the chocolate.) When completely cooled, store in an airtight container.
Food for Thought: "You are unrepeatable. There is a magic about you that is all your own..." -D.M. Dellinger