Saturday, November 20, 2010

"Health" Food

The oven was on a lot today, which is nice on a chilly, gray day.  I love the warmth of the kitchen and the many scents that fill the air.  Owen walked in and said, "Mmmm.  Something smells good.  What is it Mommy?"  I told him it was the cinnamon in the granola I was making.  He suddenly wasn't so enticed once he found out it was granola I had in the oven.  Of course, he thought the chicken that was roasting later in the day smelled good too, but then was kind enough to offer me that exaggerated fake barfing sound once he found out what was for dinner tonight.  Still working on our manners.

I don't make this granola very often.  People have the misconception that granola is health food.  It's not.  It's actually very high in calories.  It can, if made properly, be loaded with some very good "good fats" via things like flax seed and almonds.  I can recall my first childhood memories of granola and people hiking and wearing lots of plaid.  Must have been those Nature Valley granola bar commercials or something.  (Yes, I am a child of the 70's.)  I don't think I ever ate a granola bar until maybe in high school and those were the chocolate covered variety.  NOT healthy food, that is for sure.  I would have never guessed back then that I would be making homemade granola someday and have any sort of knowledge about good fats.

I acquired this recipe for Merry-Making Breakfast Granola several years ago from an issue of Midwest Living magazine.  If I remember correctly, the article was featuring recipes on food served at various inns throughout the Midwest.  This one happens to be served, according to the recipe caption, at the Ravenwood Castle Inn in New Plymouth, Ohio (down around the Hocking Hills area).  For a snack, I love to eat this granola sprinkled on top of vanilla yogurt.  You can eat it just like cereal as well.  This recipe makes a large batch, so plan to share some with a friend or two.  If you don't think you'll eat it all within two weeks, store some in a freezer bag and toss it into the freezer.  This makes a nice hostess gift.  I'm giving some to my friend Joy who is having a get-together this weekend. 

Merry-Making Breakfast Granola

Here's What You Need:
5 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans - I used pecans
1 cup flaked or shredded coconut
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup shelled sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup cooking oil
2/3 cup honey or maple syrup - I use buckwheat honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup raisins - I prefer dried cranberries instead

Here's What You Do:
Spray a large roasting pan with cooking spray and preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, nuts, coconut, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and cinnamon.  I also added about 1/4 cup of flax seed for added health benefits.

In a small glass bowl, combine the cooking oil and honey.  Heat on high in the microwave for about 3 minutes. Stir in the vanilla.  Drizzle the oil mixture over the granola mixture and toss to coat. Spread the granola in an even layer in the roasting pan.

Bake granola for 40 to 45 minutes or until granola is lightly browned, stirring every 10 minutes during baking.
Remove the roasting pan from the oven and place it on a cooling rack. Stir in the cranberries. Spread the granola on a large rimmed cookie sheet.  Let it stand at room temperature to cool.

Store the granola in a tightly covered container for no longer than 2 weeks.  Makes about 10-1/2 cups.  Now go hug a tree!

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