“True healthcare reform starts in your kitchen, not in Washington” ~Anonymous
What an awesome quote. I discovered it as I was searching for a good opener for this post. I have been diligently going to the Farmer’s Market every Sunday and we are continuing our ritual of food preparation for the week. It feels so good to get into the kitchen for two hours and just chop, dice, mix, slice vegetables, fruit, meat. There is something very satisfying about preparing fresh food.
I made a pact with myself about two months ago that I would focus on eating only freshly prepared food, nothing from a package, nothing out of a wrapper. As a result, after much trial and error, I have learned to make my own granola. I had become addicted to Michele’s Granola. It is locally made and when I tried it for the first time, I ate the whole bag in one sitting. I am not lying. I could not put the bag down. I proceeded to buy more of it and continued to polish off bag after bag. I tried to justify the $7.00 I was spending. “I am supporting a local business.” “It is really good granola.” “It’s not that much money.” Uh, actually, it is and I quickly realized what eating an entire bag was doing to my waistline. Granola is oats….and sugar, even if it is organic, it is still sugar. Granola is a nice treat to have, to sprinkle on your yogurt, have a cup for a snack. I was going beyond the “treat” category. 😉 Anyway, long story short, I realized that A. I needed to break my Michele’s Granola addiction and B. The only way to do that was to learn how to make my own. And so, my husband and I set out to find the recipe that would satisfy my granola craving.
Of course, not all granola recipes are created equal. The first couple of times we made it, it came out loose, as in, no clusters. 🙁 This was not what I was going for. The whole reason for making my own was to mimic the awesome clusters that made up Michele’s Granola. So we continued our search for the perfect granola recipe. We finally discovered it. And yes, it requires honey, a little vegetable oil and a fruit puree, as well as brown sugar. Seems like a lot of sugar, doesn’t it? But would you believe that it is less, far less sweet and oily than Michele’s Granola made with organic this and organic that. In fact, I bought a bag after we had perfected our granola just to taste test. It was quite startling the difference between the store bought and our homemade granola. Hands down, ours tasted better, was less oily and less sweet but oh, so good!
Our recipe is inspired by the one here, which got us going in the right direction: gourmandeinthekitchen.com/Granola Deconstructed. We skip the rice cereal and the pumpkin seeds. We also add raisins to the mix before we bake it, not after. Same with the cranberries. And we throw in some chocolate chips to make it a real treat. Also, we discovered that it is really all about the wetness of the granola mix before it goes into the oven. The wetter it is, the harder the clusters. We got this wrong once and you could practically break a tooth on it. In order to get good clusters that are not too hard, the mix should feel wet but not dripping liquid if you squeeze it. You may have to experiment a little to get it right for your taste.
Here is the basic recipe. Feel free to accessorize:
- 1 lb old-fashioned rolled oats.
- 1 lb quick cooking oats.
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon.
- 1 tsp sea salt.
- 1 cup applesauce. We have also used other pureed fruit such as raspberries and blackberries.
- 1/2 cup honey.
- 1 cup dark brown sugar.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil.
- 2 tsp vanilla extract.
- 1 cup dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries, etc.
- 1/3 cup chocolate chips.
- Preheat the oven to 300 F.
- Line three metal baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, combine the oats, cinnamon and salt. Mix well.
- In a smaller bowl, combine the applesauce or pureed fruit, honey, sugar, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Mix well.
- Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ones, and mix until completely blended (it’s best to use your hands to get everything evenly coated.)
- Add the dried fruit and chocolate chips making sure to mix them evenly.
- Spread the mixture out thinly over the lined baking sheets. Wet hands help here.
- Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
- Flip over the granola with a large spatula.
- Bake for another 20 minutes.
- Turn the oven off and leave the granola in it for another 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let cool on baking sheets.
- Break into small clusters and store in an airtight container when completely cool.
Let me know what you think of it! Happy eating!