Aug 27, 2012

Granola For Grown-Ups

Once again I go looking for ways to improve the foods I love. By improve I mean remove unwanted salt, sugar, and fat. This damaging trio is too often a hidden component of processed foods, restaurant food, and even food prepared at home. Granted, food prepared at home should have fewer hidden ingredients but it depends on the ingredients you are using to make the entire meal. If thrown together without the least bit of consideration, a dish that sounds healthful might be just as lacking in nutrition as a fast-food meal.

Granola is high on the list of foods that people assume are healthy. After all, hikers eat it, right? Folks who are, well, granola eat granola. And granola types are into natural foods, right? And the granola products in the stores claim granola is "all natural" and "whole grain" with "no preservatives".  So what's the problem?

The recipes I found online had one thing in common - lots of sugar and unnecessary fat and calories. One recipe called for honey, maple syrup, brown sugar, and raisins (sugar, sugar, sugar, and sugar) plus a substantial amount of vegetable oil (fat), and two kinds of nuts and sunflower seeds. The nuts and seeds are the most nutritious items in the recipe. There are countless benefits from eating nuts and seeds. The fat they contain is far better than most any other fats. Still, nuts and seeds are also high in calories and a serving is only an ounce.

Here is what I use. It's easy to replace the walnuts with whichever nuts you prefer. Same for the dried fruit and the spices.

2 cups rolled oats
2 cups 7 grain ceral mix
1/4-1/3 cup ground golden fax seeds
1/4-1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/4-1/3 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons walnut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt

Pre-heat oven to 325.

Mix maple syrup, walnut oil and vanilla. In a large bowl mix all of the dry ingredients until well combined. Add the wet mixture to the dry and toss and toss until everything is coated, scraping any extra goodness from the sides of the bowl. Spread out the mix onto a large rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until it reaches the tasty color you prefer. Remove from the oven and let cool before mixing in the raisins.

Enjoy this on yogurt, with milk, on ice cream, mixed into any number of baked goods, or just a handful now and then. This freezes very well in a large resealable freezer bag so it's always ready when you are.
What a delicious time you'll have experimenting with flavors and spices. I'm going to try chopped crystallized ginger,cashews, and a dash of lemon zest. How about dried cranberries, nutmeg, and orange zest for the holidays? 

1 comment:

The Rowdy Chowgirl said...

Looks great--I don't like granola that's too sugary. I made my own for a while, and you're right--all the recipes were loaded with honey and vegetable oil.


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