Granola

Granola has been an often seen item on our breakfast menu for almost 30 years. During that time it has experienced several incarnations. In the beginning, it was a recipe learned from an older, mama-of-many, friend, a staple at her breakfast table, primarily rolled oats, a bit of cinnamon, a few chopped almonds, some wheat germ, drizzlings of honey and olive oil, baked low and slow, with raisins added post oven. I lived that version for quite a while.

Always learning something new, I took the cereal through a Nourishing Traditions phase, with added yogurt and water, soaking for 12-24 hours before setting it to bake. More recently, I tried a grain-free version that was delicious, decadent with its assortment and quantity of nuts and seeds.

Not grain-free by any means, I am conscious of the amount, type, and quality of grains that I and my family consume. I don’t think our bodies need lots of rolled oats at breakfast, and I actually balk at their use since learning that oat producers marketed the grain as human food only after the demise of horse-drawn transportation, but I do use the grain in my current granola. In a lesser quantity, with other plant-based proteins to balance the potential glycemic hit of the grain, I use it for economy. Just like General Mills.

IMG_6711I use about half nuts and seeds and half oats, a bit more generous with the nuts/seeds. I like, in varying degrees: almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts, and ground flax, all of which mix with organic regular rolled oats. These prone-to-stale items are kept on hand in the freezer, staying fresh longer when I over buy, the many little bulk bags corralled together in larger Ziploc.

IMG_6709After sprinkling liberally with cinnamon, I pour melted coconut oil, maybe 1/4 cup for 1 pan of granola, across the olio (a gratuitous homage to words I never knew before doing newspaper crosswords), along with a few tablespoons of honey, a pinch or two of salt, then I stir. This goes into a 325F oven for 30-45 minutes, stirred 2 or 3 times during baking.

IMG_6708When the slightly golden cereal cools, I might add some raisins or dried currents, but generally add fresh fruit before eating. Invariably, many of the hardly chopped almonds never make it to the half-gallon canning jar which serves as the granola’s home, their delicious coconut/honey/cinnamon coating hard to resist!

As granola is very open to adaptation and experimentation, the ratios here can be adjusted to your taste or dietary needs. You can chop by hand, resulting in the uneven pieces as pictured, or have a more uniform cereal, giving the larger almonds & walnuts a whirl in the food processor before combining with the other ingredients.

This cereal is lovely with any milk and fresh strawberries, served with yogurt and frozen berries, or used as the topping for a fruit crisp. Don’t settle for boxed or bulk ready-made granolas. This food is easy to make, easy to store, easy to eat, allowing you, once again, to control the quality of the food you eat. Cheers to that!

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