Megan Monday: Granola Girls

Monday, January 31, 2011

I love granola.
It is a well known fact that Megan likes it too. Well, it's well known if you had the pleasure to live with her. I'm pretty sure granola was a staple for Megan while we lived together, the others being Cracklin' Oat Bran cereal turkey sandwiches and saltines. And let me tell you, that Cracklin' Oat Bran is the best cereal ever. But I am not giving you a recipe for Cracklin' Oat Bran so let's move on.
The granola options in the grocery stores are out of control. People hear granola and think it's synonymous for healthy, so every food maker in the country got the idea to make 12 varieties of granola, leaving me all hot and bothered with the amount of options. I peruse the boxes for calorie, sugar and fiber counts, and lose my mind trying to keep track of which is the best choice (and on sale, too!)
Instead of having one more reason to lose my mind, I make my own.
The best thing about granola is it requires little planning on your part. There are a few ingredients you should always have in a well stocked pantry; they happen to be a lot of what you need for granola.
Try to keep some variety of nut, olive oil, honey, old fashioned oats and either a seed (like sunflower), or flax seed and/or wheat germ in your cabinet. Most of these items are relatively cheap and they can be used in a ton of recipes, like cookies, cakes, muffins, etc.
You can truly build any type of granola with those main ingredients. Currently, my imagination is being sucked dry by the immense amount of reading I have for the semester. I'm talking 250 pages in ONE week for ONE class. Occasionally, I need a break, and for me, building my own granola sparks my creativity more than making a collage, trying to pretend I can knit, and the list goes on.
I know Megan is super busy with running, teaching, grading, wedding planning, and trying to find time to sleep. I promise the granola only requires a little effort and you can store small baggies of it in your desk and eat it all week long.

TIP: For snacks like granola, it's easy to go overboard on portion size. Once your snack is ready, divide into serving sizes and pour into small baggies. Stick them away until ready to go. This saves you from grabbing a mystery amount while you're running out the door, late, hoping to get some grub for the long day ahead. It's times like these that we can easily get off track from our healthy eating goals. Plan ahead and you'll always have ways to stay on track. Plus, you can eat your portioned granola straight from the bag, on yogurt, poured over milk, with fruit, or even on top of a smoothie. Gotta love the versatility.

Preheat oven to 350.

3 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 flaxseed and/or wheat germ
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup honey, or maple syrup/brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I prefer pecans or sliced almonds, but pistachios, walnuts, etc. work well too)
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup each of 3+ types of dried fruit (I scored and found dried pomegranate seeds at Trader Joes!) I also used chopped dried apricots and dried cranberries- try dried cherries and blueberries
1 cup coconut, if desired
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1 tsp. cinnamon

Mix all dry must haves in a bowl. Add olive oil. Then add sugar choice. If using honey, drizzle slowly to combine easier, or you'll have big clumps with sugar and lots of pieces without.
Place mixture on a cookie sheet with parchment paper (preferably one with an edge, so the granola doesn't slide around).
Put in oven for about 25 minutes. Halfway through, stir mixture to keep it from turning black. Remove mix when it's toasty golden brown.
Let cool, return to an airtight container and add all your choice items. Go with whatever you're craving- no rules here (there should be somewhere in life that you're not required to follow any rules.)


Megan said...

Wow! This sounds delicious! As Ali pointed out, I love granola on lots of items, but recently I have been eating Greek Yogurt, so this will be a perfect addition. Ali is so fabulous to put this together for me and all her readers--we have shared a lot in the past, like a bathroom--so I am thrilled to have her help, guidance and support as I try to trim down. My colleagues are starting a Biggest Loser competition at school, so I believe I will join, and then use Ali's awesome help to win the prize (I think it's like $20, woo hoo!). But having multiple motivations is good, so hopefully this will help me. I'll keep you posted on my progress with all of this yummy food!

AB said...

As always, you are completely hilarious: "we have shared a lot in the past, like a bathroom".
Glad to help, Megs. And $20 is $20! What is that, like the cost of one flower for your wed?

Post a Comment