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Verses from my Kitchen: My Ultimate Granola

January 15, 2011

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 good  bad habit.

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

The Goods:
  • 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

  1. 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.
  2. In a small saucepan combine maple syrup, honey and cinnamon over medium heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until fully combined. Remove from heat.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Once fully cooled coarsely grate some good quality chocolate over top and stir. Store in an airtight container and it should keep for a good week. You can also put in a freezer bag and freeze for later.

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At January 15, 2011 at 11:43 AM , Blogger Lynn @ I'll Have What She's Having said...

Looks delicious! I love granola. Am I a bad Canadian for never having used maple syrup in my granola?

At January 15, 2011 at 12:01 PM , Blogger Michael Lewicki said...

Of course not Lynn! You're in Montreal and you have your own rules there. :)

At January 15, 2011 at 3:26 PM , Blogger Kori said...

This sounds and looks great! I love trying all sorts of granola recipes and mixing and matching my favorite ingredients in them (two of which are dates and almonds)! Thanks for sharing your favorite version!

At January 15, 2011 at 3:42 PM , Blogger Vicki Wilde said...

I love that you toast the oats, and that you add a little chocolate :)

At January 15, 2011 at 4:32 PM , Blogger Grace Massa Langlois said...

I want to run out to the grocery store and buy everything I'm missing to make this granola - sounds amazing!!!

At January 15, 2011 at 4:35 PM , Blogger Grace Massa Langlois said...

Michael I just realized we live so close to each other.

At January 15, 2011 at 4:47 PM , Blogger Annie's Dish said...

I love your granola recipe and it looks so cute in the mason jar!

At January 15, 2011 at 4:59 PM , Blogger Diethood.com said...

Michael, you have some amazing skills ... with the camera and with the spatula! This granola sounds fantabulous!

At January 15, 2011 at 5:29 PM , Blogger Be_Radiant said...

I love your granola recipe, looks so tempting!

At January 15, 2011 at 6:37 PM , Blogger Christina said...

This sounds fantastic! I'm so happy that good REAL maple syrup is not terribly expensive here in New England! Thanks for sharing your recipe!

At January 15, 2011 at 6:46 PM , Blogger Michael Lewicki said...

Thanks Kori! There's no other way to do it than by mixing and matching what your tastebuds prefer. Ty!

Wilde, toasting my oats was a lesson learned. The chocolate is a hard habit to break. Thanks!

Ha! Thanks Grace. The weather is too brutal to go to those lengths today! Another time. :)

Thanks Annie! I love my mason jars. I keeep my spices and stored goodies in there!

Thank you Kate! I appreciate that! I had it this morning, it's lovely.

Radiant, i'm trying to tempt. It's easy peasy ad oh so good. Thank you!

No, thank you Christina. I appreciate you coming back again. It's nice having real maple syrup,isn't it? I use mine whenever I can!

At January 16, 2011 at 12:22 AM , Blogger CakeWhiz said...

Oh wow! Those pictures are fan-tabulous ;)
i love how you added grated chocolate to this!

At January 16, 2011 at 11:14 AM , Blogger Peggy said...

I always love finding new granola recipes! Definitely will give this one a try!

At January 16, 2011 at 11:57 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Big granola fan...this combination is fantastic, I will try it, and I love this whole clear glass jar keeping goodies idea:)

At January 16, 2011 at 1:42 PM , Blogger briarrose said...

Delicious granola recipe. I love how it's fairly light on the sugar.

At January 16, 2011 at 4:03 PM , Blogger Carolyn said...

I love granola, grew up loving it ever since my mother went on Outward Bound and came back with a rockin' granola recipe. This one sounds fantastic!

At January 16, 2011 at 5:29 PM , Blogger Michael Lewicki said...

Thank you Cakewhiz! I guess I just like chocolate too much to leave it out.

Thanks Peggy, let me know if you like it!

wandering, thanks! I love the glass jars too! I love granola as well.

Briar, thank you! Gotta keep the sugar down, even if it's accidental. ha

Carolyn, i'd love to try that recipe! I bet it's fantastic!

At January 16, 2011 at 9:02 PM , Blogger Lisa@Pickles and Cheese said...

This looks so good. And I have a large stash of real Canadian Maple Syrup after visiting a friend in Ottawa last summer. Glad to have another use for it. Thanks!

At January 16, 2011 at 9:13 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

this must smell so scrumptious while baking up... i've been meaning to make my own granola one of these days - will definitely be saving your recipe to try! thanks for sharing! ~ lil

At January 16, 2011 at 9:17 PM , Blogger Michael Lewicki said...

Thanks Lisa! Nothing beats the good quality maple syrup and the uses are endless!

Sillianah, thanks! The aroma is wonderful when baking. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

At January 16, 2011 at 11:18 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I baked my first granola today and just loved it. I will never go back to store bought granola. Love your recipe, too. Thanks for sharing.
Greetings from Colorado.

At January 17, 2011 at 10:58 AM , Blogger Michael Lewicki said...

That's fantastic Kirsten! I'm glad you liked it and it defnitely beats the store bought stuff. Thank you!

At January 19, 2011 at 10:25 AM , Blogger Brian Samuels Photography said...

I really need to start making my own granola. So much healthier and I can make it my own. Great post!

At January 19, 2011 at 10:46 PM , Blogger Michael Lewicki said...

Brian, you're missing out if you buy store-bought. And you're right, you can add in anything you want. Thanks man!


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