Cinnamon & Honey Granola

9 Mar

I love granola. I eat it any time of the day. Homemade is especially delicious because its made for me and my specific taste buds not to mention I can pronounce everything that goes into it. That reminds me: I’ve been trying to buy natural organic unprocessed foods because its a healthier option for me and my family AND it helps me feel great! I notice that there is a huge difference in my energy level when I eat my fruits, vegetables, whole grains and water versus a ‘cheat’ day when I dive right into that bag of chips and whole bowl of guacamole…..not that there’s anything wrong with eating chips and guacamole–its just that I tend to eat the whole bag of chips with the entire bowl of guac. I love food and CLEARLY its a problem (sometimes).

So, in an effort to have ‘healthier food options’ in my house, I made some fantastic granola. This for some reason brings me back to my childhood. I remember my mom making loads and loads of granola and storing it all in those huge ice cream containers that were inevitably left over from my siblings and I chowing down. My Mom used sesame seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almonds, and anything else that happened to be in the cupboard that day for her granola. There lies the beauty of granola–anything goes and anything can work in it! Dried fruits, nuts, seeds, you name it. Its all good and all combinations are delicious.
Did I mention its really inexpensive and ridiculously easy to make too? Well it is! Oats, which make up the majority of our granola, are some of the cheapest grains you can purchase. Then if you hit up your bulk foods section, you can pick up some other ingredients for just pennies! I’m on a budget, so me and the bulk food bins are friends. Try them out sometime!
So, you probably already know that granola is healthy for you. I eat it for breakfast, snacks and sometimes lunch too! Its good plain, with milk or yogurt and even tossed into cookie or pancake batter for a different kind of crunch. Make sure that when you make it, you add in the things you want. If you don’t like raisins….don’t add them in! Easy! Now, lets get cooking!
Cinnamon & Honey Granola
Yield: 8 cups of cereal
Ingredients:
6 cups old fashioned oats (such as Quaker)
2 cups of any variation of the following (or anything you can think of):
-sesame seeds
-flax seeds
-raisins
-craisins
-dried cherries
-dried apples
-dried pineapple
-dried mango
-banana chips
-coconut
-almonds
-cashews
-macadamia nuts
-pecans
-peanuts
(I used 1/2 cup each of the following: cashews, banana chips, coconut and craisins)
3/4 cup canola oil (its heart healthy!)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
dash salt
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place oats on a large sheet tray with tall sides and spread to create an even layer. Toast for 20 minutes in oven.
2. While oats are toasting, chop desired add-ins to small bite sized (spoon appropriate) pieces. Also, in large liquid measuring cup, stir together oil, honey, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and salt. The brown sugar will not dissolve completely.
3. Once oats have been removed from oven, stir in remaining granola ingredients except for dried fruits and coconut**see note at bottom**. Pour oil and sugar mixture over entire pan. Stir until all ingredients are coated evenly. Spread into 1 even layer and return to oven. Bake 1 hour stirring every 15-20 minutes.
4. Turn oven off after the hour of baking and leave granola in warm oven for 30 more minutes. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet. Break granola apart and store in air tight container for up to 2 weeks.
Recipe TIPS
-Granola won’t be crunchy once all cooking has been completed, so don’t worry!
-Granola needs to cool on the baking sheet completely in order for it to get crunchy! DO NOT put warm granola into a sealed container! I promise it will get mushy and soft and will not get crunchy!
-You can add more sugar and/or honey to this recipe if you want a sweeter tasting cereal. This recipe as is, in my opinion, is sweet enough.
– **If you choose to use coconut in your recipe, add it in the last 20-30 minutes of cooking because its toasts up really fast! Also, dried fruit does not need to be toasted, so toss it in once your granola has completely cooled.
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