Sunday, July 15, 2012

ChezCindy: Good Morning Granola with Nuts & Seeds

My beautiful super-healthy friend advised that if I wanted to enhance my daily diet, I should consider eating oats.  My gorgeous sister also encourages me to eat cooked oatmeal for breakfast.  I like the taste of oatmeal, but I don't like the mushy texture.  Once after a dinner party, when we had all enjoyed a few glasses of wine, the conversation turned to healthy eating.  Somehow, we got on the topic of consuming raw oats.  I went to the pantry, pulled out the Quaker Oats container and tried it.  Not something I would recommend.  But granola, is quite tasty.  That I do enjoy.  And its primary ingredient is oats!  Maybe I can accomplish this daily oat eating thing. 

There are numerous ready-made granola products available at the grocery stores.  Some more healthy and delicious than others, but all are a bit expensive.  I have come to rely on making my own granola at home.  I have 2 favorite recipes.  Each are from Molly Wisenberg, author of food blog Orangette.  Molly is one of my favorite food writers.  Her first book, A Homemade Life, Stories and Recipes from my Kitchen Table, is full of delightful stories of her family's love for food.  Each chapter includes delicious recipes from her youth and travels.  A wonderful book.

My newest favorite granola recipe was influenced from a post on Orangette earlier this year. Surprisingly, this recipe uses olive oil.  It adds a unique flavor and also makes the oats crispy, almost flaky.  Really good.  There is a little bit of salt that balances the sweetness.  I use a variety of seeds, pumpkin, sunflower, etc.  Use what is your favorite or is available in your pantry.  

The recipe makes a large amount of granola.  It can be divided with some to store in your freezer for later use and the remainder stored in glass jars in the pantry for several weeks.

Everyday Granola
3 cups old fashioned oats (not quick cooking)
1/2 cup raw hulled pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup raw hulled sunflower seeds
1/4 cup walnuts
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup dried cherries (optional)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, seeds, nuts, flax seed, coconut, pecans, brown sugar and salt.  Stir to combine.  In a separate small bowl, add the olive oil and maple syrup, using a whisk to stir until well combined.  Pour the olive oil and syrup mixture over the oat mixture, stirring until well combined. 

Transfer the granola mixture dividing between the two the prepared sheets pan, spreading into an even layer.  Bake until the granola is golden brown and toasted, about 45 minutes.  Remove from the oven allow to cool completely without stirring.  Once cool add the dried fruit, if using.  Store in an airtight container or zip plastic bag.  I usually divide the granola into 2 zip bags, storing one in the freezer and the other in the pantry.  The granola will stay fresh, tightly sealed for 3-4 weeks at room temperature.

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