Makin’ Granola

I don’t like to eat first thing in the morning. My stomach is not ready. I believe if my motor skills are operating enough to get me showered, dressed, and out the door, my stomach can sleep in until later.

When my stomach is ready, I’m usually sitting at my desk at work. I’ve learned to be prepared and along with my lunch, I also pack my breakfast.

Sometimes my breakfast is leftovers from the night before. There is no better way for you to know how your co-workers feel about you than by opening up a container of last night’s Indian food and eating it at your desk at 9:30 am. It’s a meal and a career barometer.

Sometimes, if English muffins had been on sale that week at Kroger, I bring in an egg sandwich. This flat out impresses co-workers who think you can only get an egg sandwich at McDonalds.

But my go-to breakfast is the low-key yogurt and granola. Well, mostly low key. Since I buy a large container of yogurt and pour a serving into a small container each morning, instead of buying branded cups, people can’t always identify my food. We are at a point where food that doesn’t come in a package looks weird. When I tell them it’s just yogurt they’re all like, “of course. I knew that.”

Additionally, I do make my own granola. It’s a super easy, lazy recipe I can make on Sundays and for me it makes enough for two weeks (if I don’t snack on it too much every time I walk by it in the kitchen). Granola is easy because you can make it how you like it and control the sugar and fat, both of of which can be astronomically high in store-bought granola.

Here’s my recipe:

4 cups Oats (not quick cook…I use Quaker)
1 cup chopped nuts (I usually use walnuts, but if I’ve got pecans or sliced or whole almonds, those work, too)
¼ cup brown sugar (You can use more, but I like to reduce the processed sugar in favor of the sugar that’s going to come from the dried fruits I’m adding later)
½ teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons cinnamon
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup maple syrup (or molasses for deep flavor, or agave for a light flavor)
About 2 Tablespoons Kailua (aka adult maple syrup)
1-2 cups of dried fruit

Minus the fruit, all of the above gets mixed together in a large bowl until the oats and nuts are well coated. That mixture is going to the oven on a cookie sheet. Use that crappy dark one that you’re always embarrassed about…the cookie sheet you wonder why you don’t replace. (Don’t. It’s just getting good.) Just throw the oat mixture on it. No foil. No foolin’. Just do it. Then, shake the tray to even the goods out.

Bake at 250 degrees for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes, preferably with a spatula, to make sure all the oats get pan time. (You might not love the way your cookie sheet looks, but those cooking oats can’t wait to cuddle up right next to the darkened metal).

In the meantime, you’ll have rinsed out and dried that original mixing bowl (Yes, you have. You’re keeping your area clean, right?) That means the bowl is ready for you to add 1-2 cups of dried fruit. I personally like a melange of dried fruit using a couple type of raisins, and dried pineapple, mango, cranberries, blueberries, and bananas (slightly broken up with a mallet or by hand). Use whatever combination you want, of course. This is granola, man, not a surgery.

Throw the fruit in the bowl. After the hour of cooking is done, pour the hot oat/nut mixture over the dried fruit. Stir to combine. Throw a dish towel over everything, like draping the towel over the bowl. Come back a couple of hours later and put the granola in an air tight container.

Congratulate yourself on being awesome and nutritionally wholesome every time you eat some for the next week or so.

Good job!

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