Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Long-Awaited Granola Recipe

Because my family is attempting to eat healthfully, have some variety, and stay on a budget, breakfast is sometimes the hardest meal of the day for me to shop for. I make our own bread, but I really try to limit our consumption to one loaf per week, so toast is ideally only an option on two or three days out of seven. On Saturdays, I often make pancakes, but I don't have time for that the other six days of the week. Oatmeal, while cheap, gets kind of old and boring after a while. Sure, there are your inexpensive, processed cereals, but what kind of nutrition are we really getting from those? And what about all those wasted cardboard boxes and plastic linings to deal with? Enter homemade granola: a thrifty, health- and earth-conscious homemaker's best friend. I started making granola about six months ago, and I've gotta tell ya, there aren't many things that I make that are more filling, more nutritious, more economical, and more tasty than this homemade cereal, inspired by Mother Nature.

So, for my first post of the year, in honor of finishing things I started last year but never got to, I'm going to make good on a promise that I made to several of you months ago. Behold, The Granola Recipe:

Ingredients (amounts are approximates):

3 1/2 c. rolled oats

1/2 c. coconut flakes, unsweetened

3 T. ground flaxseeds

3 T. sesame seeds

1/4 c. sunflower or pumpkin seeds

1/2 c. mixed nuts, chopped

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. sea salt (or less if your nuts are already salted)

1/3 c. honey*

1 T. pure maple syrup*

1/4 c. canola oil

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 c. dried fruit (cranberries, cherries, raisins, or chopped apricots, etc.)

*For a cereal with a lower glycemic index, use agave syrup instead of honey and maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350oF. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except the dried fruit. Stir well to incorporate. Spread out the mixture on the baking sheet into an even layer. Bake for 20-23 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Remove the granola from the oven and cool completely, in its pan, on a wire rack. Once cool, put in a bowl or cereal container and mix in the dried fruit. Keeps for up to two weeks in a cool, dry place.

This cereal is so versatile. Don't have sesame seeds? Skip 'em. Don't like coconut? Cut it out. Like lots of nuts in your cereal? Pile 'em in! Want some hot cereal on a cold morning? Pour one cup of granola in a bowl with about half a cup of milk, microwave on high for 30 seconds or so, and you've got yourself a warm, hearty breakfast.

If you end up really liking this granola, try out some of these other recipes (all of which influenced my current recipe):

Homemade Granola from The Kitchen Sink Recipes
Tropical Granola from Annie's Eats
Granola Bars from Alton Brown on the Food Network
Homemade Granola from Joy of Baking