Easy Granola

I had plenty of time to putter in my garden this weekend – weeding and thinning out all those new seedlings. And thinning out some of the larger plants. I’m not completely sure, but I think I pulled up a few baby rutabegas (or possibly turnips?), as well as some beets and parsnips (the first parsnips I’ve ever grown, or eaten). I’m planning to roast them all up, as per my favorite way to prepare root vegetables.

Tomorrow is the last day of my birthday challenge. I made it to yoga every week, and hit most of my workout goals. I only slipped up once on the dairy front (and it made my stomach hurt, so it wasn’t even worth it). It really wasn’t too much of a stretch to not eat meat, dairy, or sugar. I didn’t have any cravings – although I yearned for cheese a bit. And really, I just don’t like being a picky eater. It takes all the fun out of eating at restaurants, or spending a weekend with friends eating good food (my girls’ nights comes standard with baguette and cheese). So I’m really looking forward to having the freedom to sprinkle a bit of cheese on my dishes! I’m also curious how my body will react to re-introducing meat and dairy. I can’t say I felt vastly better this month, which I think is because I eat so many vegetables normally anyway. If I was coming off a meat and dairy laden diet, I think this month would have shown a much bigger difference.

My mom used to make granola from scratch all the time when I was growing up. So I’m not sure why I don’t make it very often. We’re talking like once every few years! Its probably because there’s a great grocery store two blocks from my house that carries a wide variety of delicious (expensive) granola in its bulk bins. But that’s really not a great excuse.

Since I’ve been trying to avoid refined sugars, buying granola got a whole lot harder (and more expensive). So I decided that now, more than ever, was the time to make my own. I was scouting the internet for some good vegan camping recipes, when I stumbled upon this granola recipe at Dirty Gourmet. I happened to have all the ingredients on hand, which made it even more perfect!

I’ve made versions of this 3 times now in the past month. I also referenced a recipe in the Moosewood Restaurant “Cooking for Health” cookbook I got for Christmas. My favorite way to eat granola is on top of a thick green smoothie (Backyard Bowls style) or with a bit of almond milk. (My current green smoothie consists of frozen banana, berries, and mango, with chard, kale, broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, mandarin, hemp seed, chia seed, and berry juice.)

The best thing about granola is its flexibility – you can easily swap out the nuts and fruit for what you have or what you like. Maple syrup and honey (or brown sugar or agave) are all very easily substituted for each other too.

Easy Granola

1/4 c honey

1/2 c maple syrup

1/2 c safflower oil

1/2 tsp salt

3 cups rolled oats

1 c almonds (or 1/2 c almonds, 1/2 c cashews)

1/2 c coconut flakes (I like the big ones, unsweetened)

1/2 c sunflower seeds

1/4 c flax seeds

1/4 c hemp seeds (optional)

1/4 c dried cranberries (optional)

1/4-1/2 c dates chopped up

Preheat the oven to 325. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray.

Combine honey, maple syrup, oil and salt in small saucepan. Cook over low heat until its warmed up and liquidy. Remove from heat.

Combine the rest of the ingredients in a big bowl. Stir in the honey mixture to coat. Spread it out on the baking sheet in an even layer. Bake, and stir at 15 minutes. Check at 30 minutes to see how browned its getting – you want it golden, but not burned. Remove from oven and cool completely before storing in airtight container. If you like it chunky, don’t stir it while cooling.

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