Monday, June 2, 2014

My First Attempt at Making Granola at Home

My First Attempt at Making Granola at Home

Yes, I love granola. I am not a stereotypical tree-hugger. I do not routinely recycle. My affinity for organic produce is spotty at best. I love nature but also understand that man requires the natural resources of our earth to live comfortably. I drink wine, eat chocolate, indulge in processed meats, devour cookies during the holiday season and am more sedentary than is optimum. But I do aspire in small ways to live a healthier lifestyle.

First and foremost I practice yoga, which is beneficial to my mind, emotional health and body. My alcoholic beverage of choice is red wine, which my husband and I believe, in conjunction with Greek olives and garlic, bestows immortality. But to hedge my bets, I sprinkle granola in my yogurt, on fruit and my morning Wheat Chex.

For several years I’ve been on a mission to find the Holy Grail of granola- crunchy, sweet, a bit pungent from spices, imbued with tasty dried fruits that I like, nutty, and healthy. I’ve found some mixes from health food stores or small grocers that are good, but expensive. Most of the commercial options are too sweet and highly caloric and leave an unpleasant aftertaste. Trail mix includes candy, which in my mind defeats the purpose of a healthy snack.

Over the weekend my husband and I stayed at the Silver Thatch Inn, a wonderful Bed & Breakfast in Charlottesville, Virginia. Our hostess served fruit with a sweet Greek yogurt and a homemade granola. She said that making granola at home is simple and far better than what one can buy at a reasonable price. So, I decided that would be my mission for the following week – making granola.

Naturally, my ODC kicked in and I scoured the Internet for recipes. And, typically, I could not copy a simple recipe. Nope – I HAD to take what I deemed the best ideas from multiple recipes and create my own. This evening, my creative juices flowed and I created my first batch. The results~ crunchy, nutty, the right amount of sweetness but a bit too much salt. But this effort will work for the next week. Then I will try again.

For those wanting to give it a go, there are multiple recipes available online. But all require:

            3 cups of regular rolled oats
            ¼ to 1/3 cup of olive oil or vegetable oil
            1/3 cup of brown sugar
            1/3 cup of either honey or maple syrup
            ½ to ¾ teaspoon of kosher salt (for me ¾ was too much)
            ¼ to ½ cup of shredded coconut (optional)
            ½ teaspoon + of cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, ginger or your favorite
            1 teaspoon of vanilla (optional)
            ½ cup + of slice almonds, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts or your favorite
½ cut+ of your favorite dried fruit (cherries, blueberries, raisons,
            cranberries, apricots, applies, etc.
Mix the dried ingredients in a large bowl.

Mix the oil, vanilla, and honey or maple syrup in a separate bowl and then pour over the dry mixture.

Spread on a cookie sheet (or 2) at 300 degrees for 15 minutes.
Stir and then reset the timer for another 15 minutes.
Stir and repeat.
The 3rd time, stir the mix and turn off the oven. After an additional 15 minutes, remove the cookies sheets and let cool.

Pour into glass jars or plastic containers. Use on cereal, yogurt, grab a handful for a snack, sprinkle on fresh fruit, enhance ice cream pie or cake.

Again, experiment with what you like. My first batch wasn’t perfect, but it was tastier than most commercially made granola. I am encouraged!

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