Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Dream Granola

When I finished college and moved back home, the thing I was most excited for was being able to cook again. After living in a two-person dorm room and eating in a cafeteria (or making Kraft Dinner in a hot pot when that food just didn't suffice) for the past four years, living in a house where you can utilize an entire kitchen to yourself whenever you want is a dream come true. I am a big fan and advocate of having food homemade as much as possible, especially over the processed, unneccessarily sweet, packaged foods, many of which are way better (and cheaper) to make at home. Not that I am adverse eating out or buying ready made, I just like the satisfaction of taking something one would usually buy, and making it myself. Usually much more satisfying to eat, too. Compare eating a brownie you made yourself with good, high quality ingredients over a cheap "two-bite" brownie from a bag and you'll know what I mean.

While I loved being at school and living the lifestyle of a typical college student, I yearned for a kitchen, and there were many days where I found myself reminiscing (often when I should have been studying) about the kinds of foods I would make and how I would make them when I was able. As simple as it might be, granola was a high one on the list. To me, granola is so flavourful, healthy, and hearty, probably because it reminds me of walking through the trails with my "hippie" friends on various trips to BC's gulf islands.

Granola is great. There are so many variations, and you can eat it many different ways, at any time. When I came home and decided that it was time, once and for all, to finally make the granola of my dreams, I began my search. Unfortunately, as "basic" as granola is, I had a hard time finding "the" recipe. Many of the recipes were not what I had hoped for; they often involved ingredients that I didn't particularly want, but that didn't sound good without those ingredients, either. For a short moment, my dreams were dashed and I was actually quite discouraged (you can now imagine how important making this granola was to me). Then I thought, how hard is it to bake some oats? I will just make up my own recipe.

So I did. And, it turns out, baking oats is not hard at all.

And, not to brag or anything (except I'm totally going to) those baked oats turned out awesome. I guess I'm biased, but that's ok.

And, it's not that original, but really, do I care? Nope. For me this was a great moment.

Alas, my dream granola recipe:

1 cup oats
¼ cup brown sugar (I always use dark brown, but you can use whatever sugar you want)
¼ cup chopped pumpkin seeds
¼ cup dried coconut
¼ cup melted butter
                                                                   ½ tsp. of cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
Pinch of salt
Mix melted butter in last
Put on a lightly greased baker’s sheet and spread around.
Bake for 15 minutes on 375 or until it reaches desired crunchiness

Of course, you can add or subtract as much or as little of anything as you wish. One good thing about making your own granola is that you can control the amount of sugar and what key ingredients you want, as well as the crunchiness. Ever since I first made this granola, I make it all the time, in big batches, and I don't feel the need to measure everything, I just put in what feels right. This recipe is more if a guide than anything. And over time I've even adapted it a little. For example, I don't bother to chop the pumpkin seeds anymore, I simply just leave them whole. I also add a little vanilly extract, and sometimes I add slivered almonds to make it more substantial. Also, if you're going to bake it for a long time, make sure to periodically toss it around the pan with a scoop so that it gets evenly browned.
I figured the making of this was pretty straight forward, so I didn't bother to document the process. I will, however, show you one my favourite granola breakfasts.

Here's what I do:
- slice a banana and lay it at the bottom of the bowl
- lay some blueberries on top (I only have frozen blueberries right now so I put some in a dish the night before to defrost in the fridge)
- spoon as much yogurt as you want over the fruit. I like to use plain Greek yogurt, but first I mix a little bit of honey in just to take the tarty edge away.
- sprinkle some granola on top, and voila!
It is the most delicious breakfast; healthy yet indulgent and satisfying! It keeps me going until lunch. Actually, sometimes I can't even finish it, it's so filling. It's also great as an afternoon snack.


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