Gone are the days when my college boy can just stumble into the kitchen at 2 AM or at any time, for that matter, absentmindedly open the fridge, stand there, longing for that perfect snack to jump out and satiate his ravenous appetite.
Nope. No more.
Now, he has to wrestle with vending machines in his dorm, and be at the mercy of whatever is left at midnight. He may have to settle for those puny little 100 calorie “unhealthy” snacks, inhaling it with one quick toss into his, soon to be disappointed, bottomless pit. And I’ll be hit with a series of multiple $1.50 charges on his college spending card statement that will add up to a GNP of a small third world country.
So, to thwart off agonizing moments of “let-downs” for the both of us, I sent him his first care package…filled with some of his favorite snacks, including a granola mix he can have with soy milk, as a midnight cereal. The strange kid doesn’t like granola bars but prefers granola cereal. Go figure.
Inspired by Becky, my friend at Glue & Glitter, I followed the maple syrup smell to her blog and tried her simple and scrumptious Almond Cranberry Maple Granola recipe.
Almond Cranberry Maple Granola
- 2c rolled oats
- 1/2c sliced almonds (or nuts or seeds of your choice)
- 1/4c maple syrup
- 1/4c olive oil (or vegetable oil)
- 1/4c dried cranberries (or your favorite dried fruit)
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
- Combine the first 4 ingredients right there on your baking tray, stirring carefully to get everything coated in the maple syrup and oil.
- Bake for an hour to an hour and a half, stirring every 15 minutes. The granola is done when it’s looking toasty and brown. Transfer to your storage container, toss in the dried fruit, and store somewhere cool and dry.
A few things about Becky’s granola recipe.
- You can use the quick cooking oatmeal or whole grain rolled oats. I used the quick ones. I also added Steel Cut Oatmeal for more crunch. These turned out finer than the chunky ones. I had it as cereal with soy milk the next morning and it. was. delicious. The best cereal I ever had.
- I baked at 325 degrees for 30 minutes, turning once. I was too impatient to wait an hour. But it turned out great!
- I combined all the ingredients in a bowl before transferring it to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
The beauty of granola is that you can add whatever you want. You can add any kinds of nuts and dried fruits. You can add seeds too, like pumpkin seeds, sun flower seeds, hemp seeds and flax seeds. (add flax seeds after you cook the oatmeal since they should be eaten raw, not cooked.) Maybe I’ll try adding seeds next time.
Since I wanted chunkier granola, I bought whole grain oats and followed Silver Palate’s Outrageous Granola Recipe.
Silver Palate’s Outrageous Granola Recipe
- 3 C Organic Whole Oatmeal
- 1 C chopped organic nuts of your choice
- 1 C organic dried fruit of your choice (cranberries, raisins, apricots, dates, blueberries, etc)
- 1 Tbsp Organic Vanilla
- 1 Tbsp Cinnamon
- 1/2 Tsp salt
- 1/3 C packed light brown sugar
- 1 C pure organic maple syrup
- Mix ingredients together in a large bowl
- Transfer onto a large baking sheet lined with natural parchment paper sprayed with olive oil
- Bake at 325 degrees for 30-40 minutes – depending on your oven. Stir once halfway through cooking time.
- Allow to cool completely on tray.
- Store in airtight glass jars. Will keep for a month.
These turned out to be clumpier and crunchier, probably because of the 1/3 C of brown sugar! In addition to using the while grain oats, I think the trick is not to mix so much. Let the pieces stick together as the sugar melts.
The next one is MY FAVORITE recipe. It’s not too sweet, has a ton of nuts and makes about 30 servings and it makes perfect breakfasts to nourish a family of four for weeks! Top it with all kinds of fruit and it makes a nutritious and easy breakfast that keeps you full for hours. My kids use it to top Greek yogurt and fresh fruit to make yogurt parfait for snack.
Don’t let the quantity and the number of ingredients scare you. Store it in a glass container with airtight lid and it will last a month but we finish ours well before that.
The BEST Granola
- 8 C rolled oats
- 1 1/2 C wheat germ
- 1 1/2 C oat bran
- 1 C sunflower seeds (add midway when baking)
- 1 C finely chopped almonds
- 1 C finely chopped pecans
- 1 C finely chopped walnuts
- 1 Tsp salt
- 1/4 C brown sugar
- 1/4 C maple syrup
- 1/4 C honey
- 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 2 C raisins or Craisins (Add them at the end)
- Preheat the oven to 325 F° (165 C°). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Combine the oats, wheat germ, oat bran, almonds, pecans, and walnuts in a large bowl. Stir together the salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, and cinnamon in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Add vanilla extract, then pour over the dry ingredients, and stir to coat. Spread the mixture out evenly on the baking sheets.
- Bake in the preheated oven until crispy and toasted, about 15 minutes.
- Add sunflower seeds and stir the mixture and bake 10 more minutes or less, depending on your oven. Watch carefully not to burn the edges or the bottom. Sugar burns faster than other ingredients.
- Cool, then stir in the raisins or cranberries before storing in an airtight container.
Regardless what granola recipes you use, they are versatile, turned out great every time, and so inexpensive to make that you’ll never buy the packaged ones again, saving money and excess packaging. I usually buy the ingredients from bulk bins at Whole Foods and I never buy more than what I need so I use fresh ingredients every time.
:: Last word ::
Cook stale leftover granola with oatmeal. They add flavor, texture, and you can use up the stale ones without even trying.
Or, like I mentioned, you can use it to top your favorite ice cream or yogurt! Yum!
If you want to make a granola bars for on-the-go, try this Granola Bar Recipe. Unlike me, maybe you have kids who like granola bars instead of a cereal. Either way, what a great way to save money and reduce packaging by making your own cereal instead of buying sugary and fattening granola!