Monday, July 20, 2009
Even during the height of my hippie days (picture dreadlocks, patchwork and hemp macrame), when my granola-feasting ways first came into being, I never actually made the hearty cereal myself. Always digging into the bulk bins at the health food store, the thought of it never really crossed my mind. Only in the last two years or so have I experimented with combinations of oats, kamut and spelt flakes, baked with honey or maple syrup into a blend of sweetened grains with nuts and dried fruits. It became obvious as soon as I delved into my first bowl that 1) this was one of the simplest things to make, and 2) I had been missing out all of these years with the grocery granola, big time.
The aspect of homemade granola, or homemade anything for that matter, that I enjoy most is the control I have over the ingredients. I say how sweet it is. I decide which spices, fruits, seeds, or nuts goes into it and eventually into my belly. This might be especially important to people feeding their children. Cereals tend to be consumed in the morning, and who wants the first thing that hits their kids to be jam packed with sugar, weird colors, and the mysterious, yet ubiquitous, "flavors" (All that "natural flavors" propoganda is for the birds. The stuff is still manufactured in a lab using chemicals to extract flavor from a strawberry or whatever. Why not just add a real strawberry yourself?).
So, when you decide to take matters into your own hands and finally feel ready to discover the wonders of do-it-yourself cereal, here is a recipe to aid you on your quest.
Homemade Granola Goodness
2 C. rolled oats (or try kamut, barley or spelt flakes)
1/8 C. canola oil
1/4 C. honey or agave nectar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 C. chopped nuts and/or seeds (I used walnuts, pumpkin seeds & sunflower seeds this time around)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 T. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/3-1/2 C. dried cranberries (or raisins or other dried fruit pieces)
1/8 C. cacao nibs (optional - for a chocolaty, antioxidant boost)
Preheat your oven to 300 F. Spread the oats out in a 13x9" baking pan and toast in the oven for 8-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the oil, honey and vanilla in a small saucepan. Heat on low, and stir until every thing is mixed well.
After the oats are out of the oven, add the nuts & seeds, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger and stir with a wooden spoon until well mixed. Pour the honey and oil mixture over the oat mixture and stir with the wooden spoon until all of the dry ingredients are coated with honey/oil. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 3 / 8 minute increments (a total of 24 minutes), removing the pan from the oven in between to stir. Your granola will be a little darker each time you take it out of the oven. If 24 minutes seems like too long or too short, based on the desired darkness of your granola, then add or subtract some bake time as you see fit.
Remove the pan from the oven and stir one last time. Allow the granola to cool for 20-30 minutes. Stir in your dried fruit, and you're ready to eat! I store my leftover granola in a large glass jar to keep it fresh and delicious for mornings to come.