Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Basic Granola

Happy New Year all! Yesterday, I woke up moved to make a batch of this:

Not a bad way to start the year. Actually, I go through phases where yogurt & granola is my set breakfast, for months at a time. And I'm not complaining! A daily dose of probiotics from yogurt is great; nuts provide long-lasting energy and a bit of get-up&go from sugar & honey doesn't hurt, either (in my opinion). 

If you've never made your own granola before, then may I suggest 2013 be the year you begin. I'd wager you don't go back to the store-bought kind, if for no other reason than making your own -- and experimenting with endless add-ins and substitutes -- is so much fun!

I've tried a lot of granola recipes. Some use a bit of water, and this is supposed to aid in clumping; some warm the wet ingredients before combining with the oats. Some use a million spices. Peanut butter... agave nectar... bran... wheat germ: endless combinations, and none of them bad. But this recipe here is my current go-to, and I rather like it. If you prefer a less clumpy granola, skip the pressing part. 

Try this recipe as a jumping-off point. Experiment, then enjoy your unique creation w/ berries and yogurt (my fave) or on top of ice cream or all by itself. Hippie! ;)

2 c. rolled oats (not quick-cooking; I used Trader Joe's gluten-free)
1 tsp. cinnamon
pinch fresh grated nutmeg
pinch (no more than 1/2 tsp.) kosher salt
1/8 c. cacao nibs or flax seeds or combination of both
3 TB plus 1 tsp oil (I used Trader Joe's coconut oil; vegetable oil or even extra-virgin olive oil works, too, though it does impart some flavor)
1/4 c. honey or pure maple syrup 
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 c. nuts (I used half sliced almonds, half chopped pecans)
2/3 c. dried fruit (I like sour cherries)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F, and line a heavy baking sheet with parchment. Mix oats, spices and nibs/flax in large bowl. Mix oil, honey/syrup sugar and vanilla in small bowl until well-combined. Pour wet mixture onto oat mixture and use your hands to mix. Squeeze and clump and make sure all the oats are exposed to the wet mixture.

Spread evenly (leaving some clumps here and there) on prepared sheet and bake on the middle rack of oven for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and spread nuts over the top. Bake another 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and add dried fruit. Bake another 5 minutes.

Remove from oven and place sheet on a cooling rack. Using a spatula, firmly press/flatten the granola mixture. Let it cool completely. Once it's cool, break it apart (it's kind of like peanut brittle) into the size clumps you want. Store in an airtight container for up to a week or so.

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