Kale-Nola (Raw Kale, Buckwheat and Cacao Granola)

by Gena on August 16, 2013

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Friends, I am incredibly moved and inspired by the incredible comments on yesterday’s post. Thank you so much for sharing your insights and feelings with me and this community. I’ll be reading, re-reading, and responding in the coming days. For now, I’ll only say that it was one of the harder posts I’ve written–lots of raw emotion, no pun intended–but I’m so glad I shared, and grateful to be reminded that I always can. Up until now, I’ve taken the role of a facilitator with green recovery, but I’d definitely like to start adding more of my own experience to the conversation.

But today, let’s get back to food for a little while. I’m sharing my first ever “kale-nola,” which was bound to happen at some point. There are few foods I don’t secretly want to infuse with kale, and granola, no matter how delicious on its own, is no exception. Crunchy sweetness meets everyone’s favorite superfood: what’s not to like? If there is a kale-phobe in your life, this recipe might be the game changer.

So far, I haven’t had much success with kale chips in the oven, unless it’s a simple, olive oil + salt variety (which are delicious, but different from heavily coated, nutty, cheezy varieties). Kale-nola is similar in that I can’t yet seem to get good results by baking–it can’t get dry enough–but if anyone has a great method for oven kale chips that are with a thick sauce/coating, please comment and share, because I’m sure it’ll work for the granola, too. I’d love to offer up that option.

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Check out all of the texture! So much crunch from the buckwheat and cacao, mixed up with crispy, delicate green kale.

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A few folks have told me lately that they’ve purchased the round, Ronco-style dehydrators and are wondering how to make kale chips in them without Teflex. I used to cut regular parchment paper into an appropriately sized circle, then trace out a hole in the center. It worked like a charm!

I served my kale-nola with a ton of blueberries and a nice splash of almond milk.

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A lovely breakfast: crunchy, sweet, and green.

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Hope you guys enjoy it. With that, I’m off to bed. Up next: some tips on packing for easy vegan travel, and a peek at my latest vegan lunch idea for Food52.

xo

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{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

Charl August 16, 2013 at 4:02 am

Thanks for a great looking recipe, I would never have thought of putting kale into granola – I’m definitely going to try it. On the kale chip thing, I found a nut free/cheeze free recipe which is thick spicy and sweet and delish. The ingredients for the sause are:- 2 chipotles (soaked), half a cup of soak water, 2 tbs olive oil, 3 tbs nama shoyu, 2 tbs cider vinegar, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp garlic granules. 1 tsp cumin powder, 1 cup sun dried tomatoes, 1 cup dates. Zap everything in a high speed blender and thats it. I cant remember where I got the recipe from, but if you like spice, this’l do it for you.

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Lauren (@PoweredbyPB) August 16, 2013 at 4:03 am

This looks amazing!!

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Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine August 16, 2013 at 5:49 am

Can’t wait to try this out Gina! I love that it is oat free too!

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Nadia August 16, 2013 at 6:50 am

Healthy and delicious – this is just what I need :)

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Karen August 16, 2013 at 7:38 am

I’m not quite ready to take the plunge into dehydrator territory as I’m just not sure I would get more than the occasional use out of yet another space-eating appliance, but if/when I feel it would make sense, what model/design type would you recommend? (The one you linked to wasn’t very highly rated; once I decide to invest, I’d opt for one of at least above average quality/performance.) Thanks, Gena.

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Sarah August 16, 2013 at 10:03 am

We have an Excalibur and its great! It is an investment, but if you feel that you may be delving into dehydrated foods much more in the future, I highly recommend it :)

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Gena August 17, 2013 at 10:09 am

Hi Karen,

So, I have the Excalibur 5-tray. It has been very good for me; the Excalibur machines are most definitely the highest quality/performance/versatility you can get, and if you do want to make dehydrated snacks/goodies a part of your life, you will have the most endurance with that brand, for sure. (They also have good customer service, which I can attest to.) The Ronco was my “starter” dehydrator, back when I wanted to make kale chips but was not yet ready to plunge into a rectangular model, but it doesn’t really stand the test of time.

Sarma Melngailis has mentioned to me that the 9-tray Excalibur is actually a more efficient/faster drying model than the 5-tray. This is something to keep in mind, and since I use mine more than ever I may consider an upgrade at some point. But I opted for the 5-tray for space reasons; in my old apartment, I couldn’t fit the machine in my kitchen at all, so it lived on my bedroom floor, and in my DC studio, the kitchen space is limited, and the 9 tray would just be too “space-eating,” as you say. It may be true that the 9 tray is a slightly more efficient machine, but I also can’t say I’ve had any problems with my 5-tray; I’ve had it for four years, it has dehydrated countless things for me, it’s quiet, and though it does generate some heat in the summer, it’s nothing too intense.

I definitely don’t think that dehydrators are essential the way blenders, food processors, or a good mandolin/knife set are, and for many things I use it for (like buckwheat or flax crackers), there is a good oven version, too. But with that said, I love using mine, and am really glad I have it — especially for crunchy snacks that I can tote around to work or (next year) to class and lab. And it’s nice to be able to dehydrator fruit, zucchini chips, and that sort of thing; I’ll often dehydrate fruit I haven’t eaten before I leave my place for a trip, so that it does not spoil.

I hope this is helpful — if you have more questions, holler!

G

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Karen August 18, 2013 at 7:38 am

Oh, terrific breakdown… thanks so much for the great info.!! I was set on the Excalibur brand, but it sounds like the 5 drawer would make most sense for me given the limited available kitchen space, plus the price point seems more appropriate given my likely usage. (I’ve had very good results baking soaked buckwheat in my conventional oven at 170 degrees too.)

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Gabby @ the veggie nook August 16, 2013 at 8:13 am

Oh Gena, I LOVE this! The ingredients are totally going on my grocery list this week :)

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Gena August 17, 2013 at 9:57 am

Hoorah! Enjoy, lady :-)

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kate August 16, 2013 at 8:42 am

Yum, yum, yum. Kale has just come back into season, so I know what my dehydrator will be working with this weekend; this kale granola and your awesome carrot pulp cookies. Re the latter, I made them with a mixture of carrot and sweet potato pulp from a juice recipe (a sweet potato, 4 large carrots, 1/4 cup walnuts, an inch of ginger and maybe some turmeric, plus cinnamon stirred in at the end), and they were absolutely stunning…. Thank you once again for all your kitchen creativity. So gratefully appreciated.

x

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Gena August 17, 2013 at 9:56 am

Oh, delicious cookies. That sounds fantastic, Kate.

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leslie August 16, 2013 at 9:10 am

question: can I use my oven if I don’t have a dehydrator and what temp/how long to keep the mixture in there? thank you!

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Gena August 17, 2013 at 9:56 am

Leslie, as I mentioned in the post, I haven’t figured out a good oven method yet. Hoping one of my readers might have a method that they use for kale chips. I’ll let you all know if I nail something down!

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Reba - Not So Perfect Life August 16, 2013 at 10:03 am

Such a great idea. I love eating granola or cereal in the AM but wish I could sneak in a veggie or two.

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andthisisthirty? August 16, 2013 at 11:01 am

This looks amazing – I’ve always wanted to try your recipes, and I think this is the one to start with! Can’t wait to give it a try!

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Gena August 17, 2013 at 9:55 am

Enjoy it! I hope you like the taste as much as I did :-)

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Elisabeth August 16, 2013 at 11:04 am

I love finding ways to add a bit of green or veggies to my breakfast besides a green smoothie or juice, and this looks like a delicious way to do that. Thanks for the recipe, Gena!

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Gena August 17, 2013 at 9:55 am

I hope you love it, E!

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Sarah Blunt August 16, 2013 at 11:09 am

Wow! This is a very interesting recipe. I would love to try this. I love the taste of cacao. Thanks for sharing! :-)

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Christina @ The Beautiful Balance August 16, 2013 at 11:27 am

Wow, this is such a unique recipe that I need to try! I absolutely love buckwheat groats in granola!

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Kira August 16, 2013 at 11:47 am

As I do not have a dehydrator, would my oven work? And, if so, what temp and for how long should it be in there? Can I use sprouted buckwheat? Also what can I sub for the cacao nibs? Thank you!

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Gena August 17, 2013 at 9:54 am

Kira, as I mentioned in the post, I haven’t nailed a good oven method for these, but I am hoping that a reader somewhere has! So sorry.

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janet @ the taste space August 16, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Love your version of kale granola, Gena! I like how you included the buckwheaties :)

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Gena August 17, 2013 at 9:54 am

:-) Thanks for your wonderful inspiration!

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Alan August 16, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Ooooh!! Look delicious! Pretty healthy and simple too! Granola is one of my favorite foods to eat for breakfast! Yum! Can’t wait to try this out.

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sarah August 16, 2013 at 8:37 pm

This is brilliant! Yet another way for me to get vegetables into foods that I can take with me when I travel for field work! I have the hardest time getting access to fresh vegetables when I do travel, so I am totally game to try kale in granola.

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Gena August 17, 2013 at 9:45 am

The idea of this came to me when I was in labs all day, for the same reason, but it just took me ages to sit down and make it. So tasty!

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Lea August 19, 2013 at 5:24 am

Gena, thanks for sharing this recipe. I’m on those ingredients already, can’t wait to try it eeek :)

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Jill August 19, 2013 at 5:55 am

This looks awesome! If I make a big batch, how and for how long can I store it?

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Gena August 20, 2013 at 6:07 am

I think you’ll have up to 10 days in the fridge…but honestly, it won’t last that long!

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Mary August 19, 2013 at 9:38 am

This is a great recipe! I prepared it the day after you posted it. I used carob instead of chocolate and it tasted great too. My four-year-old is crazy about them! I’ll have to make more because she asks for them every time we are in the kitchen. Her older sister says she would like them if I had made them with chocolate. :)

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Gena August 20, 2013 at 6:08 am

Aw, great! Glad it’s a hit :-)

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McKel Hill, MS, RD, LDN | Nutrition Stripped August 19, 2013 at 4:20 pm

This looks so beautiful! I love the recipe Gena

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Gena August 20, 2013 at 6:03 am

Thanks McKel!

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Blaine Arin @ Feel-good Food August 19, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Kale in granola… it’s a little crazy, and I’m likin’ it!

I’ve been finding more ways to love buckwheat lately, it’s pretty fantastic. My favorite way to eat it is soaked, then blended into waffle or muffin batter – it’s super nutritious, digestible, and really tasty. I’m going to have to play around with this whole buckwheatie business :)

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Gena August 20, 2013 at 6:02 am

Ooh! That’s a cool idea, re: blending into batter. Thanks for letting me know :-)

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Emily NA August 20, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Awesome idea for granola! This is something to share for sure!

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bitt August 25, 2013 at 5:11 pm

cool idea, for a snack. cross over of two of my faves: kale chips and granola. I may try an oven version if I make it. maybe a lower temp?

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kimmythevegan August 25, 2013 at 6:49 pm

Huh. Can’t say I would have thought making a granola using kale… but it sounds suspiciously intriguing, so I may have to give it a shot =)
I do like that you shared your personal experiences with us, it’s nice knowing other bloggers have gone through things – makes me feel more human.

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sbl07 September 1, 2013 at 2:45 pm

I just made this recipe and it is outstanding! Accidentally bought kasha (toasted groats), so I just skipped the soaking/cooking steps…gave ‘em a quick rinse, and dumped them right into the bowl with the kale and cacao nibs.

For the people who don’t have a dehydrator and want to use an oven – I followed the basic instructions from this post: http://plantpoweredkitchen.com/oven-dehydrated-kale-chips-no-dehydrator-needed/. Essentially, I spread the kale-nola mixture onto a silpat-covered baking sheet, and baked for about 45 minutes at my oven’s lowest setting (200 degrees F). Stirred once and watched for browning. Then, I turned the oven off and let the mixture sit for 45 more minutes. Stirred again, and still wanted it to be a bit crispier, so I turned the oven back on to 200 and cooked for about 20 minutes. Then cooled for 20.

The result was a crispy, crunchy, delicious kale-nola! Just ate some with blueberries and unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Thank you so much for this awesome “get-your-greens” breakfast!!

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Gena September 2, 2013 at 6:42 am

Oooh! Thanks so much for the oven option! I’m going to post soon with your notes :-)

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Elizabeth September 11, 2013 at 10:46 am

woah that is some next level granola!!!

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jennifer October 15, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Can you cook this in an oven if you dont have a dehydrator?

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Gena October 16, 2013 at 8:26 am

Jennifer,

I’ve never had any luck with oven versions for dehydrated kale! (I’ve had good luck with oven versions for buckwheat/nut-only granolas). Sorry not to be more helpful.

Gena

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