Peace, Love and Granola
I’ll admit it. I’m not a big breakfast eater.
It’s not because I don’t like breakfast – I love it, in fact. I could shovel down a breakfast burrito any time of day. Sausage? Yes please. Bacon? Don’t mind if I do. Paper-thin crepes, pan-fried to perfection and sprinkled with a hint of sugar and lemon juice? Just might be what I’d choose for my last meal if I were on death row.
But. (There’s always a but, isn’t there?)
I have to be at work by 7:30. That means I would need to get up very early to cook a hearty breakfast, and let’s face it. I’m just not that motivated.
So instead, I usually end up grabbing a piece of toast (sometimes smeared with butter and braunschweiger – yes, that’s liverwurst – and don’t knock it ’till you try it) and eating it in the car on my way to the office.
Every so often, however, I think ahead. Last weekend we accomplished several things, one of which was making homemade granola. I’ve done this several times, and the results (texture, taste, color) always vary slightly – probably depending on how tired I am and the ingredients I have on hand. But one thing remains consistent: It’s always damn good.
And it makes a great breakfast, especially when sprinkled over light vanilla yogurt.
I adapted my granola from this recipe. Mine is slightly different because of personal tastes and my lack of ability to hunt down certain ingredients. (I’m not even sure “oat bran” is a real thing. Whatever.)
**Note: Don’t let the large number of ingredients fool you – granola is SO easy to make. I could do it half-drunk with both arms tied behind my back. In fact, I could just say, “mix all of the items below in a bowl and then bake.” But I know we all like the pictures.
Here’s what you’ll need to make it my way (oh and if you are sane, you will cut this recipe in HALF. Unless you really, really love granola.):
- 8 3/4 c. rolled oats
- 3/4 c. wheat germ
- 1 1/2 c. flax seed
- 1 c. sunflower seeds
- 1 c. almonds, finely chopped
- 2 c. pecans, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 c. brown sugar
- 1/4 c. maple syrup
- 3/4 c. honey
- 1 c. vegetable oil
- 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
- any “extras,” like dried cranberries or mini chocolate chips
1) Preheat the oven to 325-degrees F (320-degrees in my ridiculously overly-hot oven).
2) Combine the first 6 ingredients (oats, wheat germ, flax seed, sunflower seeds, and nuts of your choosing – basically all the “healthy-ish” stuff) in a very large bowl.
If your nuts come pre-chopped (I’ll avoid the obvious joke), you’ll probably want to chop them even smaller.
Just throw it all in, baby!
And mix it all together.
3) Stir together the remaining ingredients (minus the last “bonus” ingredient like cranberries or chocolate chips) in a saucepan on the stove over medium heat. Bring just to a boil.
**Just as a side note, there is something incredibly delicious about local honey. Is it because it comes in a jar, rather than one of those convenient squeeze bottles? Honestly – it’s a pain in the butt in the jar because it drips everywhere, but I swear it just tastes better. Oh, and I’ve heard that regularly eating local honey is supposed to help with allergies. And if I have to lick some off the side of the jar… well, that’s just the price I’ll have to pay.
So just keep on stirring until everything gets all melty and blendy.
Your kitchen should be smelling spectacular right about now. You’ll want to bottle this scent and spray it around the room whenever you have company coming.
It shouldn’t take long to start boiling. This ensures all of the sugar is getting dissolved.
4) After it’s boiled for about a minute or so, just pour it over all of your dry ingredients and mix everything together.
5) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the granola out evenly with your fingers. Eat unbaked granola directly off your fingers if you must. (Sometimes that’s a sacrifice a cook has to make.)
6) Bake at ~325-degrees F for about 20 minutes (watch closely!), stirring halfway through. The longer you cook it, the crispier it will be. I overdid it a bit more than usual this time, so I noticed my granola was more crumbly (smaller pieces) than I’ve been used to. But it still tasted yummy!
If you want to add a “bonus ingredient” like dried cranberries or chocolate chips, now’s the time to do it. In the case of chocolate chips, the longer you let it cool, the less melty they will be. It just depends on what you’re trying to achieve… I left mine plain this time.
Finally, go and buy yourself some plain or flavored yogurt. I prefer Dannon Light & Fit Vanilla, but I’m sure any fruit flavored yogurt would be delicious as well. Even better, add some fresh fruit (strawberries, mayhaps?) to your yogurt.
If I’m bringing this to work, I like to put the yogurt and granola in two separate containers. That way my granola stays crispy until I decide to eat it.
I store all my leftover granola in an air-tight container at room temperature.
The great thing about this recipe is you can experiment! If you’re anything like me, you might be nervous about messing with a recipe. But with this one, don’t be. It’s really hard to mess this up, friends. You just want to make sure you have enough moisture so that when you bake it (which is basically just toasting it), it doesn’t completely dry out.
I would’ve taken a picture of my morning yogurt/granola breakfast, but I ate it all before I could remember. Or maybe it’s because I just didn’t have my coffee yet.
So here’s an irrelevant picture for your viewing pleasure.
One more thing: This recipe makes a crapload of granola. Make a full batch at your own risk. It does, however, last a long time.