My earliest memory was of the granola my mother would buy. I would spend precious minutes in the morning picking out the raisins from my mix. You'd think I'd just find another cereal, but I really loved the oats part. Somewhere along the way I OD'd on those little red boxes of raisins as a kid... and thus the scavenging to "fix" my bowl of cereal.
While working my way through my collection of books by Diane Morgan, I came across and decided to make her granola out of "Gifts Cooks Love." I brought it to my classes at work as a healthy alternative to a holiday treat last year. It was more than a hit. The motto quickly became "do it for the granola!" It's amazing what a little bribery can do.
I'm using Diane's baking technique here, but omitted the coconut (not enough of my people love it) and added dried cranberries, blueberries, apricots and various nuts. Feel free to add or omit what you want. Just don't over do it on the extras, the oat part is the real star of the show. AAAAHHHHH it's so good, I can't wait any longer! I just must share it!
Might I add that this can be stored in an air tight container for a month and would make for a wonderful homemade holiday gift! I would take flax seed laced granola over Christmas fudge any day!
The Best Granola Ever
(Adapted from Diane Morgan's Coconut Granola Crunch)
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup honey
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
4 cups rolled old fashioned oats
1 cup whole unsalted almonds
1 cup cashews
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
Heat your oven to 325. Position your oven racks with one in the middle, and one in the lower third.
First mix together the sugar, oil, honey, vanilla, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Then add your oats. Mix by hand. It's gonna get messy. But it's so worth it.
Spread the mixture between 2 large rimmed sheet pans. I love my jelly-roll pans. An inexpensive gift for your favorite chefs.
1) Bake for 15 minutes. Note which pan is on the top rack.
2) Remove from oven. Add your nuts evenly to the granola. Stir with a spatula to combine. SWITCHING the pans between racks, bake for 5 min.
3) Remove pans and add flax seed evenly between pans and stir in. SWITCH pans again in the oven and bake for 10 min.
4) Remove pans and stir one last time. No adding, but SWITCH for the final 10 minutes.
Let granola cool on the pans. It will harden as it cools. Once it has cooled, scrape into bowl and stir in dry fruit! Sample away!!!
Look how beautiful it is!!! If this granola doesn't cheer you up, I don't know what will.
I've used it for breakfast with almond or soy milk, over ice cream (oh gosh!), to pair with yogurt for flavor and crunch, or as a little snack by itself (a filling afternoon snack or in lieu of typical bar nuts for happy hour). Take home message: EAT ANYTIME OF DAY!!!