Step Away from the Cereal Aisle!

Posted in Susan Fekety on February 19th, 2010 by susanfekety
Unless otherwise noted, © Copyright 2010 by Susan Fekety. All Rights Reserved.

My farm share box this week contained a bulging bag of organic Maine-grown rolled oats.  I know I could have just stuck it away in the pantry for some future use but there is something about all the fresh food in those boxes that makes me want to come up with ideas to use them cleverly –NOW.  It’s an overachiever thing. 

A big bag of oats is not something I want to eat all at once.  Granola?  Brilliant!  And YOU could try this too!  Yes!  Really! 

Why bother?  First of all, if you’re a crunchy granola type you have probably noticed that commercial granola has gotten really expensive - like, some brands as much as 8 or 9 bucks a pound.  Friends - oats are CHEAP - like, a dollar or two a pound, even the organic stuff - so paying a fortune for it is foolhardy and may even put you at moral peril. 

Second, if you’ve looked at the label of your favorite brand, you’ve probably noticed that it’s got a LOT of added sugar and fat.  Ouch.  With homemade granola you are in total control of that, and control is generally something to be desired where food is involved.  (Of course it is possible to overdo this, but that’s not our concern right now.)

Finally, it’s EASY and GREEN to home-brew: you won’t have to drive anywhere, or get rid of the box or the plastic bag your commercial brand came in.  And your house will smell yummy while you’re cooking.  Indulge me here - - maybe try just once to make it yourself. 

Granola is a land of endless variations.  Once you get the basic idea, you can get way creative and I urge you to do so. Both the quantities and specific ingredients you can potentially use are limitless; you can modify quite liberally with stuff you have on hand and still end up with something good. 

Here’s my basic protocol -

Granola for Masters of Control

Preheat oven to 300°.

In a big bowl, mix together approximately:

        6 cups rolled oats

        1 cup of nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, peanuts; whole or chopped, doesn’t matter) (more is fine)

        1 cup of seeds (sunflower, sesame, pumpkin; whole or chopped, doesn’t matter) (more is fine)

        2 generous tablespoons of cinnamon

In a little bowl, mix together approximately:

        1 cup of some sort of juice (orange juice, apple cider, the dregs of the pomegranate juice you bought last week, whatever)

        2 tablespoons low impact sweetener (agave nectar, maple syrup, molasses, honey, doesn’t matter.)  (Or something like a ½ teaspoon of stevia, depending on the brand - a little stevia generally goes a very long way.)  

        2 tablespoons grapeseed oil  (This helps your granola get brown. You could use any sort of liquid fat that tolerates heat well and is flavorless.)

Stir the liquid stuff into the oat/nut mixture till fully incorporated.  Spread onto a couple of cookie sheets. The thinner your granola layer is the faster it will cook - here I’m figuring your spread is about ¾ of an inch thick.

Bake for about 30 minutes and check it - if it’s still moist, stir it around a bit and go for another 15 minutes.  When it’s dry, browning, and aromatic, it’s done.  

When the granola is cool, pop it back in the big bowl and stir in a cup or so of decadent fruit treats like raisins, dried cranberries or blueberries, chopped dried apricots, dates or figs - if you want. It’s lovely just plain, too.  Store sealed in a jar until it’s all gone.

Oats are good food - but all grains are pretty high-impact blood sugar- and insulin-wise.  You only want to have a little bit, like a half or two thirds of a cup, at a time, and it’s best paired with some protein to buffer the carbohydrate-sugar hit somewhat.  Moi, I like it stirred into a little cup of Greek yogurt or cottage cheese…..with some fresh berries, and a little cinnamon and vanilla extract.  MMMM……

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