Monday, May 20, 2013

Basic Granola

I can gauge how good a recipe is based on the reactions of my friends and family. My first batch of granola is still sitting in a plastic bag on my boyfriend's kitchen counter, slowly being incorporated into yogurt.  The second batch, given to my parents, yielded the response "this is better than anything I could make!," a humble lie from my mom who is a very talented cook.  Anything already prepared is better than having to make it yourself; that doesn't mean it's good.  However, the last batch sealed the deal.  I finally figured out the timing so the granola cools at just the right temperature.  My parents and my sister requested some the last time I saw them, which means it finally passed the test.

Though it took a few drafts, the final version of this granola is amazing.  I eat nearly a cup while I'm making it and I snack on it like popcorn every time I pass through the kitchen.  The trick is to remove the granola from the oven just as it starts to turn golden brown.  The pan is hot and the granola will continue to cook a bit more as it cools outside the oven. You can add anything you like after the granola is cooked- dried cranberries, chocolate chips, walnuts, almonds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, pecans- to make your version even better! Enjoy every bite :)

What makes this bite better?
Finding quick, healthy breakfast options is always challenging.  Store bought granola can have tons of added sugar and fat (check the labels!), not to mention that it can be very expensive.  Making it at home is a great way to control what ingredients go into the granola and it is more economical.  This granola is  gluten-free (make sure you get certified gluten-free oats), high in omega-3s (from the addition of the flax meal), high in fiber and completely satisfying.  Make it ahead of time for breakfast all week.  Serve with yogurt and fruit or eat it like cereal with almond milk.

4 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups unsweetened dried shredded coconut 
1/2 cup flax meal
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup oil (any healthy oil will work well)
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Heat the honey, oil and vanilla in a small pot on low heat to blend. Add the honey mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well.  Spread evenly onto a large baking sheet.  Bake for 10-15 minutes, tossing the oats as needed to allow for even cooking.  Remove the pan from the oven as soon as the oats turn golden brown.  They will continue to brown as the pan cools outside the oven.  After the granola has cooled, add additional ingredients such as dried cranberries, nuts, seeds or chocolate chips.

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