The good­ness of gra­nola

It’s su­per as a snack or for a hearty breakfast, and it’s easy to make

The Daily Herald - - FOOD -

Ire­mem­ber my first batch of home­made gra­nola. I was sure some­thing so won­der­ful would be com­pli­cated to make at home. I mean, if mak­ing ce­real were sim­ple, why would there be an en­tire aisle of the gro­cery store ded­i­cated to this breakfast staple?

Weeks be­fore, I sam­pled a fresh batch of gra­nola made by a friend who shared the tasty treat with our moms’ group. It was in­cred­i­ble! Each bite was full of nuts, dried fruit, aro­matic spices, and of course su­per crunchy oats. It was leagues be­yond my usual breakfast ce­real to the ex­tent that those first toasty bites felt more like a dessert than a nu­tri­tious breakfast food.

For days af­ter, I thought about the com­bi­na­tion of sweet toasty oats and crunchy nuts; I could nearly taste them they were so vivid in my mind. I wanted to en­joy the fla­vors again. How­ever, my un­founded ideas of what the process might in­volve made me hes­i­tant to try mak­ing my own. When it be­came clear the mem­ory would not be dis­missed, I made up my mind to give mak­ing gra­nola a try. As I gath­ered the in­gre­di­ents for my friend’s recipe I men­tally pre­pared for a chal­lenge.

As it turns out, I could not have been more over the top in my think­ing. By the time my first batch of home­made gra­nola was cool­ing I re­al­ized gra­nola was prob­a­bly one of the eas­i­est, most re­ward­ing cook­ing projects I had ever at­tempted. In fact, I was so proud of my newly de­vel­oped skill I went on to make batch af­ter batch to give away as Christ­mas gifts. I am snick­er­ing now but at the time, I was so ner­vous I was some­how go­ing to fail at home­made gra­nola, I al­most gave up be­fore turn­ing on the oven.

This home­made gra­nola, with fra­grant cin­na­mon and crisp ap­ple chips, is even eas­ier than the recipe I fell in love with years ago. Com­pared to both com­mer­cially pre­pared and home­made gra­nola recipes this one uses very lit­tle added su­gar or fat. There is just enough oil to coat the in­gre­di­ents thus al­low­ing the oats to achieve that essential crunch I love. The sub­tle fla­vor of agave gives a quiet boost to the nat­u­ral sweet­ness of the ap­ples and cin­na­mon with­out com­pet­ing to be the dom­i­nate fla­vor. If agave is not in your pantry it can eas­ily be re­placed with and equal amount of honey.

For a su­per-fast breakfast that tastes a lot like ap­ple pie, sprin­kle a bit of this gra­nola with a cou­ple tea­spoons of minced pecans and serve over plain Greek yo­gurt. If you are re­ally pinched for time, layer it in a con­tainer with yo­gurt on the bot­tom, berries in the mid­dle, and gra­nola on the top, seal it up with a tight fit­ting lid and take your breakfast to-go. This gra­nola is so much tastier than those pricey cof­fee shop par­faits and you will save both time and money by mak­ing your breakfast at home.

Ex­pe­ri­enced gra­nola mak­ers will love this sim­ple recipe fea­tur­ing bold au­tumn-in­spired fla­vors. For any­one newly as­pir­ing to make home­made gra­nola, this ap­ple cin­na­mon home­made gra­nola, is the per­fect recipe to be­come con­fi­dent in this re­ward­ing skill. I hope you will be so ex­cited you share your new love with fam­ily and friends. Low-fat ap­ple cin­na­mon gra­nola 2 cups old fash­ioned oats 2 ta­ble­spoons grape­seed oil (may sub­sti­tute other neu­tral-fla­vored oil) 2 ta­ble­spoons agave (may sub­sti­tute

honey) 2 tea­spoons cin­na­mon ½ tea­spoon sea salt ¼ tea­spoon ground all spice 1 cup Bare ap­ple chips, Fuji & Reds, crushed into pieces ½ inch or smaller Pre-heat your oven to 325 de­grees. Line a rimmed bak­ing sheet with a piece of parch­ment pa­per.

In a large mix­ing bowl, com­bine the oats with the oil, agave, cin­na­mon, salt, and all spice. Stir un­til the oats are uni­formly coated with the sea­son­ings.

Spread the oats on the pre­pared pan then bake for 15 min­utes, re­move from the oven and stir gen­tly, then re­turn to the oven to con­tinue bak­ing for an ad­di­tional 15 min­utes. The oats will be a toasty color and very fra­grant but feel soft when stirred. Gen­tly stir in the crushed ap­ple chips. Al­low the gra­nola to cool com­pletely be­fore stor­ing in a sealed con­tainer. Keep the gra­nola in a cool dry cup­board, it should stay fresh for up to 2 weeks.

Note: Make a day ahead to give the ap­ple fla­vor time to fully in­fuse the oats.

Makes four serv­ings. Ap­prox­i­mate nu­tri­tion per serv­ing: 99 calo­ries, 3g fat, 97mg sodium, 17g car­bo­hy­drates, 2g fiber, 7g su­gar, 2g pro­tein 4-5 cloves gar­lic 1 medium jalapeno pep­per 1 tea­spoon salt or to taste 1 ta­ble­spoon honey 2 ta­ble­spoons lemon juice 3 large av­o­ca­dos, peeled, pit­ted

and di­vided 1 can (46 ounces) tomato juice,

chilled cup chopped cilantro 1 cup diced sweet onion, prefer­ably red or Walla Walla 2 large fresh ripe toma­toes,

diced 1 can corn, drained Tor­tilla chips

In food pro­ces­sor, process gar­lic un­til fine, then add jalapeno, salt, honey and lemon juice. To this, add 11⁄2 of the av­o­ca­dos and puree. Add the chilled tomato juice and puree un­til mix­ture is smooth. Turn into suit­able con­tainer and add cilantro, diced onion, diced tomato and drained corn. Lastly, dice and add the re­main­ing 11⁄2 av­o­ca­dos. Cover and chill thor­oughly. Serve with tor­tilla chips.

Chili corn­bread salad

1 pack­age (8.5 ounces) corn­bread

muf­fin mix 1 can (4 ounces) chopped green

chilies, undrained tea­spoon ground cumin tea­spoon dried oregano Pinch rubbed sage 1 cup may­on­naise 1 cup sour cream 1 en­ve­lope ranch salad dress­ing

mix 2 cans (15 ounces each) pinto beans, rinsed and drained, di­vided 2 cans (151⁄2 ounces each) whole-kernel corn, drained, di­vided 3 medium toma­toes, chopped,

di­vided 1 cup chopped green pep­per.

di­vided 1 cup chopped green onions,

di­vided 10 ba­con strips, cooked and

crum­bled, di­vided 2 cups shred­ded ched­dar cheese,

di­vided Pre­pare corn­bread ac­cord­ing to pack­age. Stir in chilies, cumin, oregano and sage. Spread in an 8-inch pan. Bake at 400 de­grees for 20 to 25 min­utes. Cool.

Com­bine may­on­naise, sour cream and dress­ing mix

Crum­ble half of the corn­bread into a 9- by 13-inch pan. Layer with half of the beans, may­on­naise mix­ture, corn, toma­toes, green pep­per, green onions, ba­con and cheese. Re­peat lay­ers. Cover and re­frig­er­ate.

PHOTO BY ROSE MCAVOY

Home­made gra­nola may well be one of the eas­i­est, most re­ward­ing cook­ing projects you’ll ever at­tempt.

ROSE McAVOY

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