Monday, August 22, 2011

Homemade Granola


          I always told my Mom she could make something out of nothing..and she really could. I grew up in a single parent household for awhile and it was rough at times when it came to food. I didn't realise how bad we had it until I got older and looked back on alot of things. The one thing that stood out to me was that my Mom who worked full time and went to school managed to make home cooked meals for me. McDonalds was a rare treat for me and when I was able to pick out a box of animal cookies at the store..well let's just say those memories stick with me. I was so excited to get a treat like that.

It wasn't until I was older that I realised how different my home life was. I thought all moms made the meals. I was introduced to the world of frozen dinners, pop, poptarts, frozen waffles and sugar cereals when I stayed the night at my friend's homes. Sugar cereals were something I knew of but never really had. I grew up on plain Cheerios,plain cornflakes, oatmeal and later on when I was really really good, I would get golden grahams. I admit to begging for Smurf Berry Crunch, Fruity Pebbles and Lucky Charms. I rarely got those. What I did get though was homemade granola! My mom would make huge batches of it and I would eat it with yogurt, on ice cream, with milk, or in handfuls. I loved it. I learned alot from my mom when it came to cooking and baking. There were a few times when I had to make something out of nothing and Im grateful for those lessons. 

Granola is one of those budget friendly breakfast-stretchers. I think it tastes 100% better when you make it yourself. You control what goes in and what doesn't. The recipe my mom used has oil in it. I wanted to see if I could find one that didn't use it and still tasted just as great. I found it :) It's a straight forward recipe that allows you to add in the types of nuts and seeds your family likes. You store it in an airtight container in the fridge and it will last forever. We've been enjoying it for weeks now and I plan on sprinkling a few tablespoons on top of my ice cream tonight!

Granola

6 cups Rolled Oats ( Not quick-cooking or instant)
2 cups Mixed Nuts and Seeds: A combination of sunflower seeds, chopped walnuts, pecans, almonds cashews, sesame seeds..etc..
1 cup Shredded Coconut; optional but a wonderful addition
1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon, or to taste
Dash salt
1/2-1 cup Honey or Maple Syrup,or to taste..I used Maple Syrup
1 cup Raisins or chopped Dried Fruit

Preheat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. Spray one or two cookie sheets with nonstick spray,set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts and seeds, the coconut, cinnamon, salt and choice of sweetener. Spread evenly on baking sheet or sheets. Bake for 30 minutes or longer, stirring occasionally. The mixture should brown evenly and the browner you allow it to get without burning the more crunchier the granola will be.

Remove pan from oven and stir in the raisins. Cool on a wire rack, stirring once and awhile until the granola reaches room temperature. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge. It will keep indefinitely!

** I used two cookie sheets to bake the granola on. I also placed my oven rack closer to the bottom so it wouldn't burn. I was never able to go beyond 30 minutes but the granola was very crunchy**

Yield: TONS!! : ) 8 cups or so
Source: Mark Bittman