I'm always looking for ways to create wholesome, nourishing food for my family and save money at the grocery store. Both my kids love eating cereal for breakfast but with all the empty-caloried, sugar-filled yuck on the market, there are only a few brands that we'd buy -- and these don't come cheap. So I started making my own.
Here's our favourite wintertime cereal recipe : a simple Honey Almond Granola, filled with nutritious grains and crunchy nutty goodness, kissed with a hint of sweet and a dash of love.
I get most of the ingredients at the bulk food store, except for: the honey, which my dad buys from a local farmer (until we get our own hives buzzing); the vanilla, which we make ourselves from vanilla beans; and the vegetable oil. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
First, here's the recipe:
• 4 cups large flake rolled oats
• 1/2 cup oat bran
• 1/2 cup wheat germ
• 1/2 cup unsweetened large flake coconut
• 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
• 1/4 sesame seeds, not toasted
• 1 cup unsalted raw almonds, roughly chopped
• 1/2 cup honey
• 1/4 vegetable oil
• 1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 cup golden raisins *
• 1 cup dried cranberries *
• 1/2 cup dried currants *
* or dried fruit of your choosing
1.) Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Have ready two heavy-bottomed baking sheets.
2.) Stir together the rolled oats, oat bran, wheat germ, coconut, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and almonds in a large bowl and set aside.
3.) Stir the raisins, cranberries and currants (or dried fruit of your choosing) in a separate bowl. Marvel at how pretty and festive it looks. Set aside.
3.) Place the honey in a small pot and heat until melted. Add the vegetable oil and vanilla extract and stir until combined. Pour over the rolled oat mixture and stir until the grains are evenly coated with the honey mixture.
4.) Do not get swept away by your six-year-old's insistence that we should add the berries now because it would look oh-so-pretty.
5.) Do not spread the mixture out on the two baking sheets before re-checking the recipe.
6.) Do not spend the next 20 minutes hand-picking all the 'pretty berries' from the grains and cursing the recipe for having 2-1/2 cups of assorted dried fruit in it. Do not notice the pursed lips in the photo posted below.
7.) Do not give up and decide to bake the granola anyway, covering the baking sheets with tinfoil and hoping for the best. Do not ignore the scent of roasting cranberries/raisins.
8.) Skip steps 4 through 8.
9.) Divide the grains and honey mixture without the dried fruit onto the two baking sheets. Place in the oven without the tinfoil and bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes, stirring frequently. When ready, oats (but not the dried fruit) should start to turn a light golden brown. Check often as it can burn quickly.
10.) Remove from oven, cool and place mixture in a large bowl. Only then add the dried fruit mixture and stir until well combined.
The recipe makes about 12 cups and keeps up to four weeks, but it never lasts in our household that long.
Even with the 'oops', this hearty granola tastes delicious topped with with hemp seeds and served with your choice of milk. Or not. Lucas takes his straight up, sometimes with yogurt -- if he's feeling adventurous.
If you haven't already, be sure to visit my Valentine's Day Giveaway post for a chance to win a copy of Louise Riotte's 'Carrots Love Tomatoes!"