Tuesday, February 17, 2009

granola, the staple of breakfast

I'm an oatmeal person. Steel cut, quick cooking, large flake, instant; with apples, bananas, soy milk, raisins, dates, chocolate chips, brown sugar, maple syrup... you get the idea. I will (most mornings) get up a half hour early just to make it, and I will keep doing this until I finally get that slow cooker I've been dreaming of - March 21 is my birthday, by the way.
On those mornings I can't drag myself out of bed, granola is a great stand-in. But it's SO overpriced, and usually filled with extra oil and not enough nuts and fruit. The solution: make some! Here's one of my favorite recipes. It's so delicious, it barely lasts a week in my kitchen. It's wonderful with soy milk or yogurt, covered in some organic bananas or peaches. Or, use it in baked apples or as a crumble topping.
Granola with many options:

1/4 cup juice (apple, orange, mango, whatever)
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
1/4 cup nut or seed butter (tahini, almond, sunflower, plain old peanut)
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups large flake oats (not quick cooking)
1 cup nuts (again, whatever you want)
1 cup dried fruit (raisins, apricots, dates)

Preheat oven to 325. Whisk together juice, honey or maple syrup, nut butter and vanilla. If your nut butter is lumpy, heat the mixture a little to help it get together. Set aside. Grease 2 9 x 13 pans, and spread oats and nuts evenly between the two. Pour the liquid over top of the oats and stir everything together. Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. This recipe is touchy because of the honey and juice - one second it can be fine, the next it's burnt. It's best to stay in the kitchen and make something else while you keep an eye on it. After it's golden brown and out of the oven, stir in the dried fruit and let it cool before storing in a sealed container.

Try different combos! The one in the picture is orange/honey/walnut/raisin. Other options? Apple/maple/pecan/apricot! The possibilities are endless. You could also throw in some shredded coconut, wheat germ, flax, sunflower seeds or sesame seeds.

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