A Pound of Organic Pleasure
Ah, island living … where “island time” slows to a crawl by urban standards, beachcombing is the popular local pastime, artists abound, nearly everyone has an edible garden (or two), and islanders shop local.
This past summer, your Hedonista took a much-loved trip to Orcas Island; last month she wrote up a review of Lisa Nakamura’s Allium (even more tales and reviews from Orcas will be forthcoming, so stay tuned).
Today, however, as the holidays fast approacheth, it’s time to think about unique, locally-sourced gifts and homemade goodies. Granted, nothing says “Happy Holidays!” more than homemade cookies/cakes/pastries/pies (especially for breakfast), but there’s a company on Orcas Island that makes lovely treats – such as organic granola and müesli – that would be great for gifts or personal consumption. Note that, while both granola and müesli are breakfast cereals or healthy snacks made with uncooked cereal grains (think rolled/whole grain oats and flakes of corn, wheat, and/or rye), seeds, and nuts, müesli tends to also add dried fruit into the mix.
The company is called Local-Goods – so named because they are an on-island company (with products available in stores throughout the San Juan, Lopez, Shaw and Orcas Islands of the San Juans, they also ship for one flat rate of $10) – and offers up everything from coffee to sauces and dressings to spices and rubs to pesto and preserves … oh, and the focus of today’s review: granola and müesli. This past summer your Hedonista met Heidi Bruce – granola-maker extraordinaire (with a nod to her Mexican roots) and girlfriend of Local-Goods founder and owner, Rob Kirby. Heidi was staffing the Local-Goods table at the seasonal Orcas Island Farmers Market that Saturday in late July. We got to chatting, and she shared an opened bag of their Island Lavender Granola with me. Immediately hooked, I contacted Rob and asked to sample all of this product line, which he promptly mailed to me. There are currently two granola products and one müesli offering available at Local-Goods ($6) – tasting notes below:
Original Hemp Granola – their first product of their oat cereal line, first released about six years ago. A nutty-salty-sweet taste profile, with natural sweeteners that makes the indulgence guilt-free: rolled oats, hemp seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, non-GMO canola oil, brown rice syrup, agave nectar, stevia, Mexican vanilla, and sea salt. (The sea salt is the only non-organic ingredient listed above.)
Island Lavender Granola - my absolute fav of their tasty trio – and to think that all they did was add culinary lavender blossoms! (Note: the Mexican vanilla is also of the fair trade variety.) Even in the dead of winter here in the Pacific Northwest, open up this bag and smell Sequim in July: rolled oats, hemp seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, non-GMO canola oil, brown rice syrup, agave nectar, stevia, Mexican vanilla, lavender, and sea salt. (The lavender and the sea salt are the only non-organic ingredient listed above.)
Currant Hazelnut Müesli – Müesli – invented at the turn of the last century, around 1900 by a Swiss physician and nutritional researcher by the name of Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Benner – is always tasty. This one, however, tastes like heavenly hazelnut high-end trail mix (sadly, without the chocolate, but one can always add one’s own), and is made with all-organic ingredients: rolled oats, rye flakes, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, walnuts, raisins, Zante currants, and date crumbles.
Local-Goods has a recipes page on their website; here’s one that I hope they add – good Pacific Northwest heart-healthy (relative to the other decadent offerings out there) holiday baked treats. Eat them with yoghurt or ice cream or wash them down with white hot chocolate (preferably spiked with Godiva white chocolate liqueur), chai tea, or just plain old milk. (Full disclosure: your Hedonista confesses she has yet to try out this recipe for herself, but plans to soon – please feel free to provide feedback if you try it on your own and wish to share your results)!
Organic Pleasure Oat Bars by Hedonista, Heed the Hedonist
5 cups of any one of the three oat cereals by Local-Goods
1/2 cup flaked coconut (toasted is optional)
1/2 cup of chopped dried fruit of your choice (think apricot, mango, apple, etc.)
1/2 cup of chocolate (think white, milk, or dark in chips, chunks, candy-coated, etc.)
1 beaten egg
2/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom (optional, but will give it a spicier, chai tea taste)
Mix together the following dry ingredients: cereal, coconut, fruit, and chocolate.
In a large bowl, mix together the beaten egg, melted butter, honey, vanilla, brown sugar, and spices. Add the dry ingredients and combine until well mixed.
Coat a 15″ x 10″ x 1″ baking pan with cooking spray; press mixture into the pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 12 to 18 minutes; remove pan from oven when the pressed mixture is set and the edges are lightly browned. Cool pan with baked mixture on a wire rack, then cut into bars and store in an airtight container either in the refrigerator or at room temperature.
Enjoy (and Happy Holidays to you and yours)!