My Ultimate Granola
When I was a kid growing up my idea of breakfast was cinnamon french toast, bacon and eggs and buttery pancakes. Granola? That was just a term I used to hear bandied about when referring to someone from the 60's. I didn't know the first thing about granola, except that I didn't want any part of it. So I stuck to the all-American breakfast and kept my hair short.
I still have this soft spot for the sweet and salty breakfasts I grew up on. We live in a health conscious society today but they say everything is ok in moderation. I hope that means every weekend. If not, I'm in for a wake-up call the next time I see Doc. Anyway, I still love the taste and texture of bacon, my favourite food group. It's hard to knock a
Today I need to mix things up a bit. It can't be all rainbows and butterflies and sugary snacks. So I pick and choose my spots and try and find a healthy alternative without sacrificing flavour. I still love my weekend rituals and my cup of coffee but from time to time I need to take a different path. A different routine.
I'm older now and I like to think a bit wiser. I don't fall prey to childhood verbal attacks and name calling anymore. Today I can reach for a bowl of granola without fear of retribution. The hippie era is long gone and has since been overtaken by the politically correct set. So I'm definitely safe here. Healthy is ok, at times even demanded.
I've experimented with granola for quite some time but it always lacked a certain something that satisfied my sweet and salty requirements or it lacked the texture and punch I need. After a seesaw battle between too much this and not enough that, I finally found the sweet spot. My Ultimate Granola. Doesn't that have a nice ring to it? I expected violins to play the first time I said it but I was quickly disappointed. C'est la vie.
So after countless epic failures, I finally came across the perfect combination of ingredients. Nuts and fruit and oats and a sweet binding agent that brought everything together. This was the set of goods that was going to make palette sing. A jar of granola I could turn to on a rushed weekday morning when I needed a kick start.
After trial and error I settled on a few hard rules. The first thing I determined was the need to toast the oats before getting started. By giving them a slight golden colour before mixing them in the batch it seemed to ensure a more crunchy finish when everything was done. I also added in maple syrup and honey and cinnamon. I'd lose my Canadian passport if I didn't use the sweet sap that's so readily available here.
The rest of the ingredients were a mix and match until I finally settled on this recipe. A bit of flaxseed, roasted and salted almonds, raw cashews, cranberries, bran, dates, and a bit of grated chocolate. This set of ingredients gave me the best combination of sweet and salty, crunchy and chewy. Basically, this granola gave me everything I wanted in a weekend breakfast when my arteries needed a break. Which is right about now.
I can sit down for breakfast with my wife and know I'm starting the day off on the right foot. This may be the healthy alternative to the breakfast I grew up on, but I'm not sacrificing a thing. This definitely beats any store-bought variety out there and it's not loaded with saturated fat. This granola is addictive so be prepared to make another batch next weekend. If it even lasts that long! Mine didn't.
From my kitchen to yours, happy eating!
My Ultimate Granola
- 1/4 cup roasted and salted almonds, chopped
- 1/4 cup raw cashews
- 1/4 cup flaxseed
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup dates, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats, toasted
- 1/2 cup bran cereal
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/4 cup grated chocolate
- Preheat oven 350 degrees. Spread oats onto a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes. They should be slightly crisp and have a bit of colour. Remove and set aside to cool.
- In a small saucepan combine maple syrup, honey and cinnamon over medium heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until fully combined. Remove from heat.
- In a large bowl add the oats, nuts, salt, dates, flaxseed and bran and mix. Pour the maple syrup sauce over the mixture and toss until completely combined. The oats mixture should fully absorb the maple syrup.
- Spread the mixture evenly onto a greased baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Stir halfway through. After 20 minutes stir in the cranberries and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and press down with a spatula. This should allow big clumps to form later. Let cool.