January 22, 2012

Taking Back Breakfast: Granola

Sometimes, I get to watching documentaries (Super-size Me, Fat Head, Food Inc., King Corn, Forks Over Knives) and I know I need to change the way my family eats in a big way. Cut out soy. Cut out GMOs. Cow's milk causes a host of problems. And high fructose corn syrup is from the devil. You get the idea.

I start making changes to what we eat and then it seems like I can't eat anything. I mean seriously. Nothing in our regular diet works. Most every food-like substance in the grocery store has one of those ingredients in it. And then discourangement sets in.

I'm getting better though. I've found that the only way to make permanent life-style changes in the way we eat is to change one thing at a time. Last spring, I decided to take back our breakfasts. I stopped buying cereal and started making breakfast every morning. Then I read about Carrie's granola recipe. All the ease of boxed cereals but with a nutritional boost. What's not to like?! Here we are half a year later and still going strong. Changing just one meal per day. No soy, GMOs, milk, or HFCS. We've taken back our breakfasts.

We've run into some problems at breakfast time, though. We get bored with the same thing each day. I usually make a batch of granola (lasts about a week) every other week. Then we mix it up with toast, oatmeal, pancakes, etc.

I've also altered Carrie's recipe to make it seem like we aren't eating the same thing all the time. I wanted granola with clusters in it. And I figured out how to do it. Sometimes I like mango almond granola and other times apple pecan. Most often I throw in craisins or raisins since they are more economical to buy. The one time I put in chocolate chips, my children praised me to high heaven and devoured the entire batch in just a couple of days. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that you're only limited in what you can do with your granola by your own imagination.

Note:  This recipe adapts well to Vegan and gluten-free diets.

Basic No Frills Granola
3/4 cup fat (coconut oil is my favorite and gives a fantastic flavor)
1 cup honey (or maple syrup or jelly)
4 cups oatmeal (any rolled grain works. I've used rolled barley and triticale with oats, too.)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla

Lovely additions
1/2 cup shredded coconut
3/4 cup dried fruit (raisins, craisins, mangos, apples, figs, dates, etc.)
1/2 cup wheat bran
1/2 cup ground flax seed
2 - 3 cups seeds/nuts (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, pecans, peanuts, etc.)

1 cup flour (I use whole wheat but have also used gluten-free flours)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 egg (optional)

Directions (preheat oven to 275-300 F)
  1. Melt coconut oil and combine with honey and vanilla in a small sauce pan (if you're adding peanut butter put it in at this step)
  2. Combine dry ingredients for the clusters in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add egg (optional) and then pour in oil/honey mixture and mix it up.
  4. Add oatmeal, cinnamon, and lovely additions (but NOT the dried fruit).
  5. Mix well and spread onto a cookie sheet/jelly roll sheet.
  6. Bake ~45 minutes stirring every 10-15 minutes.
  7. Stir in dried fruit and allow to cool before transferring to your storage container. Bon apetite!

6 Riveting COMMENTS:

  1. (Mary here) We too try to eat healthy foods, but I get tired of them. I have been trying to branch out on my breakfasts, but many of the things I've tried recently haven't gone over too well. One thing that we enjoy is french toast using homemade wheat bread and coconut milk. It's delicious.

  2. @Mary, I think getting tired of foods is a very real challenge. It happens with boxed cereal, too. But there are so many to choose from that it's easy to just switch to a different kind for a few weeks. I look at the cereals in the grocery store to see what flavor combinations I could try for my granola. Rotating between healthy options (granola vs. hot cereal vs. whole grain toast, etc)is definitely the way to go.

    I like the french toast idea. We are definitely into bread baking here and I'm sure it'd be fantastic with almond milk, too. (My family prefers almond to coconut milk...but sometimes I still buy it.)

  3. Thanks for the recipe. I bought some coconut oil and I am cooking some granola now!

  4. Yay! You will love it. Now that I've bought coconut oil for the past several months, the sting of the price has worn off. :o) Our family uses a 54oz container every month, so Amazon's subscribe and save works beautifully for us.

  5. Em... Why do you need fat for granola? Just asking.

    In this part of the world, muesli is very popular - lots of oat meal, but no fat.

    For example, http://www.bestrecipes.com.au/recipe/Bircher-Muesli-L1952.html

  6. Ethan and I made your granola recipe and it was yummy! Thanks for the recipe!


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