After the high-fat fright of the past few decades, granola got a bad rap. Atkins didn’t help any either. And while you can buy packaged granola that’s high in saturated fat and sugar, plenty are healthy (I won’t say low calorie). If you make your own, then controlling and understanding the fat and sugar content gets much, much easier.
Granola is the sort of food that’s so forgiving, so pantry friendly, so easy and gratifying to make that once your first batch goes into the oven, you’ll never be able to buy granola with a free conscience again.
As we lurch into the new year, plenty of folks, including myself, have vowed to live healthier, fitter and leaner in 2011. Virtue and good intentions are essential elements for self-improvement and granola, we thought, could help you along. It’s known as good hippie food for a reason: the nuts, the oats and sweet little dried fruit gems are fiber rich, nutritious foods. Michelle Fuerst, the doyenne of the Eatsy kitchen, recommends tossing in other grains such as rye flakes, flax seed, oat bran and barley for additional fiber. Honey and maple syrup are good stands-ins for refined sugar, she adds.
I like my granola with coconut flakes, pumpkin seeds, almonds and sour cherries. Michelle likes currants and golden raisins, though many dried fruits get tossed into her regular granola making routine. Figs, if you haven’t tried them, are really good too. The best tasting granola is only faintly sweet. Mainly it’s crunchy and nutty, robust and round in flavor, crisp and varied in texture. You know when you’ve made a good batch because, well, your hand will constantly be reaching for another fistful. But, that’s the behavior of 2010. In 2011, it’s all about portion control.
Granola Recipe 1.0
Yield: About 7 cups
This recipe is just a starting point. Granola is one of the most adaptable foods you can make. Use up the oats you have, if you’re low on those stir in extra nuts, seeds, or other fiber flakes. If you’re low on honey or maple syrup, do as Michelle does when in a pinch and make use of the jam jars in your fridge. The important thing to keep in mind is to add enough oil so the dried ingredients crisp. I like olive oil (after all I’m part Portuguese) and Michelle, a more sensible cook, likes coconut oil. Tweak to your liking.
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats or equivalent measurement with oat bran, barley and flax seed mixed in
1 cups raw almonds or pecans, roughly chopped
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup coconut flakes
3/4 cup honey or maple syrup
3/4 to 1 cup olive oil or coconut oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup chopped dried cherries, currants, yellow raisins or a mix of all three
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the oats, nuts, pumpkin seeds, coconut flakes, maple syrup or honey, oil, salt and cinnamon together. Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown and well toasted.
2. Transfer granola to a large bowl and add the dried fruit, tossing to combine.
Photo: Maple Spice Granola from larissalmarks