As a child, there were four foods I hated:blue cheese, green peppers, hot dogs, and peanut butter.Thankfully, taste buds mature.I mean, what would a tongue be like without blue cheese? *Peanut butter, however, I never grew into. I like peanuts just fine.And in the last few years since I discovered that I liked almond butter, my cholesterol numbers have dropped about 40 points.But even almond butter was no onramp to peanut butter.My wife eats PB for lunch every day—the healthy woman’s version of SOS—on apple slices, little raisins dotting the brown goo. I can smell it on other side of the house.
The aversion can’t be entirely genetic.My brother’s been asking for a peanut butter granola since I launched this business.To this day, my uncles and aunts love to razz my dad about rolling up balls of peanut butter and keeping them in his pockets when he was a kid.
This month I decided the time had come.It is September.School is starting.The air is thick with nostalgia and patriotism.Peanut butter sandwiches may not be allowed in school anymore, but back in the good old days, like it or not, that’s what children ate; so peanut butter just seemed like the right thing to do.For better or worse, here at PGP, we are at least trying to do the right thing.
My thinking was that by making the granola taste as peanutty as possible, as opposed to peanut buttery, I would survive. I went to visit our local peanut aficionados, the Kaloostian clan at Providence’s own Virginia and Spanish peanut company on Dexter Ave. Their peanut butter is made with Spanish peanuts only and nothing else—no salt, no preservatives, no sugar. I almost liked it.I caught myself dipping in my pinky finger in for little nips, just to make sure I wasn’t totally grossed out (maybe a bit like some people—I assure you this is not personal experience—keep smelling their underarms).Yes, it was actually almost good.Gross, but good.Still slightly gross.I tried closing my eyes.Actually kind of good—just like peanuts.The goodness of peanuts.
With the Koloostian’s help, I decided to use both ground peanuts (otherwise known as butter) and granulated Spanish peanuts, complete with the skins which add taste and nutritional value (a source of resveratrol—bet you didn’t know that!), along with some whole Virginia peanuts for show. (Actually one of the Mr. Kaloostians voted against the skins for fear they’d be ugly and “all over the place,” but I explained that our granola is made to clump and our customers understand that being healthy has a beauty all its own.)
That decision made, I could see three potential paths:a) Beer.Don’t laugh—what is beer other than liquefied, fermented granola? b) Bankok—with coconut, a scrape of jaggery, and sizzle of hot pepper; c) Jelly.
Making the trial batches was fun, though it involved eating an awful lot of peanut butter granola.It took me about 5 tries.A few were not so good, but the beer version was excellent and surprisingly breakfast-appropriate, though cost-prohibitive.I estimated that achieving the taste we were looking for would require about 60 bottles of reduced Guinness per batch.And Bankok granola, I decided, was just a bit ahead of its time.So jelly it was.To avoid any additional refined sugar or corn syrup, I relied on grape molasses, which is simply grape juice reduced to a thick syrup.We did throw in some hot pepper (you might not taste it but it’s part of the goodness).V&S Co. was kind enough to grind and granulate the peanuts the morning we made the granola.
I’m pleased.I have conquered a personal fear and Maitham, who is from Iraq, proclaimed it our best granola yet.But, as always, you must be the judge.The first bags have gone out to granola of the month customers and you can find it at our farmer’s markets.Those of you who have tried it, please feel free to weigh in here with a comment or suggestion. (And any granola of the month customers who are either peanut allergic or peanut phobic are welcome to contact us for a replacement.)While we’re almost sold out of the first batch, a second will go into the ovens today.By the time you read this it should be up on our website.
This is our first attempt at low-gluten granola.Low—not free!While oats do contain some gluten, there are no wheat products.Also, we substituted ultra-healthy organic quinoa for a third of the grains, making this our highest protein granola to date.(Note: there is an error in some of our labels saying there is wheat germ—the one below is correct:.) And fair warning:this granola is neither very sweet nor salty.If you want a more traditional peanut buttery taste, a few shakes of salt might do the trick.
Ingredients: Oats (org), Spanish peanuts, honey (pesticide-free from Auidneckhoney), cranberries (cranberries, sugar, safflower oil), quinoa (org, tri-color), canola oil (org), granulated cane juice, coconut (org), sesame seeds (org), raisins, Virginia peanuts, oat bran (org), almonds, sunflower seeds (org), grape molasses, flax seeds (org), oat fiber, sea salt, peanut oil, cinnamon, almond extract, vanilla, chili powder, nutmeg.
As always, we encourage you to keep your granola fresh in the fridge or freezer.
*Old style SAT analogy question—just to get you in the mood for schoolish things.
Tongue : blue cheese
Ears:a) Barry Manilow, b) Bach, C) Bengal Tigers, D) Bay City Rollers.