Sometimes, I’m just rolling along with my life and I’m suddenly hit upside the head with the realization I’ve been doing something completely silly for years.
Case in point: Granola. Why have I been buying granola? I feel like such a dope for having paid Kellogg’s to make a substandard version of it for me.
And speaking of big American companies, granola actually is a very American invention. By now, granola has made its way into health food stores across the world, but interestingly, it was invented in a little town in western New York as a health food for a sanitarium.
These days, some folks claim that granola is “unhealthy,” but I think that depends a lot on the preparation. Sure, you can add a ton of sweetener, oil and chocolate hunks. You can cover it in sweetened yogurts. But you can also make a very simple granola that fits your tastes and needs.
It’s extremely quick and easy to make. It creates a warm, homey aroma in your kitchen. It’s fresh. It’s yummy. It can even be very economical if you go light on the nuts. (I don’t.)
And when you make it at home, you can put whatever you want in it. Looking to make it healthier? Toss in some extra flax seeds. Not a big fan of raisins? No problem. Love hazelnuts more than life itself? Go nuts. Literally.
This stuff is good with milk, nice for crunch over yogurt, ice cream, fresh fruit or pudding. Get yourself a big bag of rolled oats and forage for some dried fruit and nuts in the back of your cupboard.
So don’t be a rube like me. Stop buying granola. Take this recipe and fly free, little sparrow.
DIY Granola Base Recipe (Makes about 4 1/2 cups)
4 cups large rolled oats (NOT instant)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp molasses
1/2 cup maple syrup or honey 1/2 cup canola oil (or another light, unflavored oil)
1/2 to 1 cup of your favorite chopped nuts or seeds. Try a combination: sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chopped walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, almonds, pecans, flax seeds, etc.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. In a mixing bowl, blend all the ingredients.
- Spread the mix on a cookie sheet or sheet tray and bake 15-25 minutes, stirring once or twice during baking to brown the mix evenly. (Tip: if you like it clumpy, press it down in the pan, only stir it once, and don’t move it much when you take it out of the oven)
- It should look a light honey-brown color and smell toasty as you take it from the oven. Cool the tray on a rack. It will continue to develop toastiness as it cools.
- Add 1/2 to 1 cup dried fruit (currants, raisins, cranberries, dried apples), if desired, after granola has cooled.
After you’ve done the base batch once or twice, experiment with coconut flakes, macadamia nuts and dried pineapple or perhaps hazelnut and cranberry or maybe dried cherries and almonds or maybe dried apple and walnut. Throw in some cardamom or dried ginger if you’re feeling spicy.
When you make the granola, you control your granola destiny.