Since it’s nice to know you like something before purchasing a whole bag, Sarah is graciously offering all Fountain Avenue Kitchen readers a free, no-strings-attached sample of her granola through this link.
Faced with a need to raise funds for her college triathlon team a decade or so ago, Sarah Lanphier looked no further than her favorite homemade granola recipe. The nut-based granola sold like wildfire on campus, sending the team to collegiate nationals and laying the foundation for a future business, Nuts About Granola.
Despite early victories, which included being featured as the “Snack of the Day” on The Rachael Ray Show, Sarah often questioned the long-term viability of a specialty company that lacked the economies of scale enjoyed by larger businesses and struggled to acquire decent shelf space in a highly competitive industry.
Fittingly, I first got to know this hard-working triathlete and business owner at the gym, where we often swam laps on a similar schedule. Although I recognized the inherent challenges of a boutique company determined to maintain the integrity of its product, I underestimated the tough decisions Sarah would soon face.
In Sarah’s own words, 2015 was a rough year. It became apparent that she needed to downsize her business in order to keep it afloat. Downsizing meant that Sarah couldn’t maintain full-time status at her own company, so she began interviewing for another job. Ultimately, Sarah settled on work as a consultant, which enabled her to oversee the reorganization of Nuts About Granola.
Through it all, Sarah was always on the lookout for new outlets for her granola, which is available in many varieties, including bestselling flavors peanut butter & jelly and “muddy waffles,” seasonal favorites such as carrot cake, and newer savory and Paleo product lines.
Early last year, a buyer for Costco expressed interest in Sarah’s nut-and-seed-based Paleo granola, called Forager, but the high price of almonds at the time precluded a deal. Sarah kept in close communication with the buyer, and after a good almond season, hope of making a deal returned. For the following eight months, Sarah worked tirelessly on all aspects of packaging, manufacturing, marketing, and financing to get the order off the ground.
Although the hurdles along the way seemed endless, Sarah overcame them one by one, and in August, Forager hit the Costco shelves. As a result, Nuts About Granola was able to completely free itself of debt and invest for the future. Just when it seemed like the end was near, the stars aligned and Sarah’s never-give-up spirit paid off.
I have long been a fan of Sarah’s Forager granola because it can be used differently than standard oat-based granolas. The original variety, simply called nut+seed (other Forager flavors include chocolate chia and banana maple), is the most versatile and a rough chop will complement oatmeal, yogurt, and a variety of salads and baked goods—think of it as a flavor-added shortcut to toasting raw nuts and seeds yourself. Because the mix is only lightly sweetened, it pairs well with both sweet and savory recipes. Of course, as with any good granola, it can absolutely be enjoyed by the handful!
I began making the following recipe after enjoying something similar at a restaurant in Boston last summer. As with many of my recipes, you may absolutely use it as a framework, omitting any ingredients that you don’t enjoy and/or adjusting the specified quantities to taste. The prep can be done in stages, leftovers are fair game, and your favorite bottled balsamic may certainly be used. For those who prefer homemade vinaigrette, I have linked a personal favorite.
- 1 cup (6.5 ounces) wild rice or wild rice blend
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups cooked, chopped chicken breast* (2 small or 1 large breast; leftover or rotisserie chicken is fine)
- 1 1/2 cups roasted chopped sweet potato*
- 3-4 cups finely chopped kale (tough ribs removed—may substitute spinach)
- 1 apple, cored and chopped
- 2 ounces (1/2 cup) crumbled goat cheese (may substitute feta)
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1/3 cup chopped almonds (or try Sarah’s Forager original nut+seed granola**)
- Balsamic vinaigrette (I like this recipe; may use your favorite store brand)
- In a medium-sized pot with a tight-fitting lid, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Add the rice, stir once, and then cover, reduce the heat, and simmer until tender, about 25-30 minutes. (Check a few minutes early to see if the broth has been absorbed.) Remove from the heat and then let sit for 10 minutes, covered, to continue steaming. Fluff with a fork and cool slightly or to room temperature. (The harvest bowls make be served warm, room temperature, or chilled according to preference.
- Meanwhile, if making your own vinaigrette, combine those ingredients in a jar or small bowl. Shake or whisk to combine and set aside. The dressing may be made several days in advance and stored in the fridge. Bring to room temperature and shake or stir well before using.
- In a very large bowl combine the rice, chicken, sweet potatoes, kale, apple, goat cheese, dried cranberries, and nuts. Drizzle with the vinaigrette (start with approximately 1/3 cup, adding more to taste), and then toss to evenly coat. Serve immediately or refrigerate and enjoy later, served cold or at room temperature.
- * Much of the prep can be done in advance and leftovers work well in this recipe. I try to plan for extra chicken and roasted veggies one night to make this meal extra easy. Following are easy cooking instructions when leftovers aren’t available: to quickly cook boneless chicken, season it with salt and pepper and then sauté in a non-stick sprayed skillet over medium-high heat until no longer pink in the center, about 4 minutes per side, depending on thickness of breast. Remove to a plate to cool slightly, and then chop into bite-size pieces. To roast sweet potatoes, toss unpeeled, chopped pieces with a few teaspoons of olive oil, just enough to lightly coat. Season with salt and pepper, and roast on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet at 400 degrees F for approximately 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
- ** If using the Forager mix, you may wish to use a half cup or so (coarsely chopping it) and omit the dried cranberries. The mix contains raisins, which are a fine substitute. The original Forager granola is available at Costco, through nutsaboutgranola.com, and locally at Lemon Street Market and Green Circle Organics at Lancaster Central Market. Additional flavors can be found at both markets and online.