Weekday breakfasts need to be quick and easy and what fits those requirements better than a bowl of cereal? Like almost all processed foods, breakfast cereals are a hard world to navigate….. frosted this and all natural that, most brands seem to promise you the world as far as the health benefits are concerned. No matter how healthy, very few store bought cereals are completely natural so it has been on our list of processed items that we intend to stop buying.
The problem was coming up with alternate breakfast items that would not leave us yearning for good old cereal, or in my case, completely skip breakfast because it was too much trouble. That’s where granola comes in. I won’t go into the benefits of granola, a google search with yield that information for you. And yes, you can buy granola at the store but as always, we believe homemade is better! Besides you get to customize it any way you like.
I typically make a batch over the weekend and these proportions last us two to three weeks, depending on how frequently we have it each week. You can have it with milk, but we prefer homemade yogurt (recipe to follow), some fruit and a dollop of homemade jam.
This recipe is taken from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. What I love about it is that it basically serves as a guideline and leaves room for you to customize it anyway you like.
6 cups rolled oats (not quick-cooking or instant)
2 cups mixed nuts and seeds (e.g. combination of sunflower seeds, chopped walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, sesame seeds, etc.)
1 cup shredded coconut (optional)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or to taste
Dash of salt
1/2 to 1 cup honey or maple syrup, or to taste
1 cup raisins or chopped dried fruit (optional)
1. Heat the oven to 350°F. In a bowl, combine the oats, nuts and seeds, the coconut if you’re using it, cinnamon, salt, and sweetener. Spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or a little longer, stirring occasionally. The mixture should brown evenly; the browner it gets without burning, the crunchier the granola will be.
2. Remove the pan from the oven and add the raisins. Cool on a rack, stirring once in a while until the granola reaches room temperature. Transfer to a sealed container and store in the refrigerator.
Once you master the basic recipe you can mix things up by using other whole grains such as wheat, rye, quinoa, millet, kamut, or brown rice flakes. Many recipes also call for adding 1/2 to a cup of vegetable or olive oil to the mix to help with the browning and clumping but I prefer to go without (at least when using oats) for health reasons. You could do a spiced version by adding another teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon each ground anise and cardamom, 1/4 teaspoon each freshly grated nutmeg and ground cloves, and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Nut butters stirred into the honey/maple syrup are a great addition although you must keep stirring ever so often in the oven to prevent it the butter from burning.
Happy granola making!