Friday, June 14, 2013

Homemade Granola - an ode to Erika

This is my friend, Erika's recipe. She was my first "real" friend when we moved here to Des Moines. Then she up and broke my heart and moved away, four years into our friendship. We've always operated on the same wavelength and Erika got me involved in the going-on's at church and always had an open door. We worked together and had kiddy-korner cubes at the same office, were in the same small group and she was the lady I went to when I had mommy questions. You can only imagine my complete dismay when they announced they were moving 7 months into my pregnancy. How in the world was I going to be able to take care of a little BOY? Then when we had Lucan and were still in the hospital, Erika came to visit me TWICE and called me everyday for two weeks when we went home. She was and is a blessing still today. Even living wayyy too far away now. But this is her recipe and I always smile and think of her when I make it.

One of our more glamorous pictures at the Iowa State Fair

One of my favorite summer breakfasts is greek yogurt parfaits with homemade granola and fresh fruit. Sliced bananas, strawberries and blueberries when they are in season are perfect in parfaits. The greek yogurt keeps you full with all the protein and I love the crunchy, slightly salty taste the granola adds too. I’ll make a big batch of granola to keep on hand and then use it to grab and go as I’m running out the door in the morning. Lance loves to snack on it plain in the afternoon as a pick-me-up.

4 cups old-fashioned oats (NOT quick oats!)
1 ½cup sliced almonds
½ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
1 ½ c. dried fruit

In a large bowl, mix the oats, almonds, cinnamon and brown sugar. Set aside. In a small bowl, lightly heat oil and honey in the microwave, maybe around 30 seconds. Stir in vanilla. Pour liquid over the oats and almonds, and mix until evenly-coated.

Spread oat mixture on cookie sheet, and place in the oven. Heat oven to 325 degrees and bake for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. (Funny story: for the longest time I had it in my mind that this needed to bake at 350 degrees, which would inevitably burn the granola. I did this three times until I finally highlighted in the recipe 325 degrees!) Remove from cookie sheet to cool and add dried fruit or dried coconut after everything has cooled. Store in a covered container and enjoy.

Variations: you can add any combination of dried fruit. In the past I’ve stirred in cranberries, cherries, cut up apricots and raisins. If you are feeling especially adventurous, add a few mini-chocolate chips too.

There are lots of great granola recipes, but I love the simplicity of this one. I especially love the price tag of homemade granola because it is so much less expensive than buying it at the grocery store. I especially love Big Sky Bakery’s granola (you can find it at many Hy-Vees and typically they’re at the Valley Junction Farmer’s Market and the Downtown Farmer’s Market) but I do not love the hefty price tag for a bag of their granola. This granola is so much cheaper and you have control of what exactly you put in. That’s what I love about making things – knowing what the ingredients are to the foods that you put into your body! 

1 comment:

*carrie* said...

I love granola and really should make it more often. I already have 3 recipes that I rotate, but I'm sure this one is good, too!