Thursday, July 29, 2010


Granola is a word that can conjure many images. I often think of it as a cereal that requires a lot of work to eat. It can also evoke ideas of "hippies" and "rabbit food." Other people are quite enamored with the cereal mix and make it part of their daily lives. I think granola suffers from a large amount of variability in preparation. Some make it into extra crunchy bars. Others keep it more bland and soft. They can contain nearly any ingredient, from antioxidant-filled dried blueberries to less-than-healthy chocolate chips and candies. The only solutions are to either keep trying bag after bag until you find the one you like or craft your own to your personal preferences. Here is how, in under an hour, you can make your own tasty granola.

Yields 5 cups. Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine.

3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
3 tbsp brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup honey
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup dried strawberries
1/4 cup chopped dates

Preheat oven to 300F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Mix together the first seven ingredients.

Granola, Step 1

Mix honey and oil in a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until smooth, about 3 minutes. Pour this mixture over the oat mixture and toss to coat evenly. Spread this on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 40 minutes until golden brown, stirring every 10 minutes. You can remove the pan from the oven earlier if you want your granola softer or leave it in longer if you want it more crunchy.

Granola, Fresh from the Oven

Allow the granola to cool completely. Stir it occasionally as it cools to ensure that clumps don't form (unless you like large clumps, then let it cool undisturbed). Stir in the dried fruit and enjoy.

Strawberry-Cherry Granola

The versatility of this recipe makes it hard not to like it. I got to put one of my favorite fruits (strawberries, in dried form) into this batch, but I could easily see many other ingredients in the mix. Nearly any nut would be great, as would pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, other cereals, any dried fruits, and, if your sweet tooth is acting up, various candies. I enjoyed this granola immensely, probably moreso than any other version I've tried. Part of it is, undoubtedly, that I made it with my own two hands and I knew that there were no strange chemical additives. The other part is that I tailored it to my tastes. This version was more simple, but has been great as a snack or for breakfast with milk. I will definitely make other versions of this granola in the future and it may become a delightful staple in my diet.

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