Thursday, February 9, 2012

DIY Granola

I've been procrastinating yet again. You see, I live in this cute, quaint one bedroom flat. And while my digs are pretty sweet, it has one draw-back. I only have a small counter top convection oven with three racks that hold a quarter size baking sheet. It requires almost double the time to make this granola because I can only bake half the recipe quantity at a time. Yes, I suppose I could cut the recipe in half and stop my whining, but I have family genetics that say "if you're gonna do it, well then you might as well make enough to feed a small army!" The batch makes alot. I can eat granola and yogurt well over a month before having to make it again. And now that I've made it, I'm happy. Happy because my breakfast routine will consistently be more healthy than it has been in, well, awhile.

ps. This recipe goes together quick. It can be made start to finish in 30 or so minutes.

This recipe has a history, as does most recipes I've collected over the years. It  given to me by a guest while cooking at the Lazy E-L Ranch. I was told the recipe came from Martha Stewart, however I have not taken the time to research this statement.  The only modifications I've made to the recipe is using organic ingredients wherever possible and using oat bran rather that wheat germ/bran so that it is gluten free.

For those folks living in our small mountain town, most, if not all recipe ingredients can be purchased from the bulk grocery section at Cafe Regis.

Crunchy Nutty Granola

makes approximately 14 cups or 42 1/3 cup servings

1 cup chopped dates
1 cup water
1/4 cup organic canola oil
1/4 cup frozen apple juice concentrate

8 cups organic rolled oats
1 cup organic oat bran
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut (referred to as desiccated coconut)
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raw slivered almonds

1 cup dried fruit, such as raisins, craisins, cherries, etc.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place first four ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until mixture resembles a paste.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix oats, oat bran, coconut, seeds & nuts. Divide mixture amongst sheet pans. For you "normal" size oven folks this would be 3 half sheet pans. Place in oven and toast mixture for about 15 minutes, rotating half way through cooking time.

Remove from oven and transfer back to large mixing bowl. Pour date paste mixture over top of oat mixture. Stir well so that date paste is well incorporated. Divide mixture amongst sheet pans for a second time. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until a nice golden brown, rotating half way through cooking time.

Remove from oven and allow granola to cool in sheet pans. The granola will become crispy as it cools.

Transfer back into large mixing bowl. This is the point you would add the dried fruit. Over the years I have started omitting this ingredient as like to eat my granola with berries. I purchase the frozen variety at Costco & thaw as I need them.

Transfer to storage container. My container of choice is a one gallon glass jar I obtained from my days working in the restaurant business. I have stored a batch this size well over a month and have not noticed a decline in freshness, so in my opinion, it stores well.

The recipe as written has approximately 150 calories for each 1/3 cup serving. For this particular batch, I added an extra 1/2 cup each of sliced almonds and pepitas because I had them on hand and wanted to utilize them. In the past I've added raw whole almonds, cashews and pecans. Feel free to add your nut of choice with the understanding the calorie count will change.

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