Friday, June 10, 2011

Homemade Granola - Guest Post

Today, I am really happy to introduce you to C's Dad as my guest post author.  He is an amazing photographer, please take a look at his site to see his wonderful world of photos - Paul Nichol Photography.  I'm very lucky in that I have supporters of my blog all around me, and C's parents have been some of my biggest fans.  They really enjoy food, and of course his pictures speak for themselves.  
PS Don't get too used to the amazing photos, he's a professional, and I have a longgg way to go.
Everyone enjoy this special post! 
I'm off to the east coast to see my baby brother graduate college, and expect to feel ridiculously old.  I'll be back here on Tuesday, have a great weekend :)
I love granola.  From my days as a boy on the hiking trail with a pocket full of “Gorp” to keeping a handy bag of granola to snack on during those college road trips and now as an adult concerned about my diet and the amount of fiber I consume – granola has always been a favorite.   One of the great things about granola is its versatility.  It can be a breakfast cereal, a snack, a sustaining supplement for the outdoor enthusiast or something you sprinkle on your yogurt or ice cream and enjoy curled up on the couch.
Today we’ll make the base for all those variations.
Have you read the nutrition labels on the granola boxes in the cereal aisle ?  It’s pretty scary… This recipe grew out of my frustration with the high fat content of most commercially available granola breakfast cereals.  This all-natural granola substitutes Splenda for sugar with a little molasses to replace the brown sugar you see in most granola recipes.  There is no added fat.
I will heat the water in a large quart sized measuring bowl to allow the salt and other ingredients to dissolve easier. 
While it’s heating, mix the cinnamon into the oats.  Cinnamon has surprising nutritional value, I always add a bit extra.
Drizzle the liquid over the oats and mix well. 
Spread the granola onto a couple of cookie sheets.  Bake in a 275 degree oven for 45 to 60 minutes until golden and crunchy. 
If you use only one cookie sheet or put it in a roasting pan where the granola is not spread so thinly on the pan, your granola will not be as crunchy when cooked.
Here is where you can customize the granola for its intended use.   After baking and cooling:
For a desert topping – really no need to add anything if all you are looking to add is texture and crunch to your yogurt or ice cream.
For cereal – I like to add shelled sunflower seeds, roasted soy nuts, chopped almonds and dried cranberries. 
This has been my breakfast of choice for nearly 10 years.  With its fiber, protein, minerals and sustained energy from the good fats in nuts – it is a solid way to start the day.
For trail mix – add the above plus peanuts and M&Ms
Store your granola in an airtight container.  It will keep for a couple of months.  Of course, it never lasts that long around our house.
Crunchy Granola
8 Cups Old Fashioned rolled oats
1 Cup water
1 tsp salt
¼ cup cinnamon
1 Tablespoon molasses
1 cup Splenda
2 Tablespoons Vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 275o.  While your water is heating, add the cinnamon to the oats and mix well.  Add the salt, molasses and Splenda to warm water and stir until dissolved.  Pour the water mix over the oats and thoroughly mix until uniformly moist.  Spread the oats over one or two cookie sheets.  The thinner the layer of oats the crunchier it will be and the shorter the cooking time.
Add ins:
Desert and yogurt topping – use as is – just sprinkle on top.
Breakfast cereal – add 1 Cup of chopped almonds, ¾ cup of toasted soy nuts and ¾ cup of raw or toasted shelled sunflower seeds, 1 cup of dried fruit – I like dried cranberries but raisins are good too.  More or less of each to taste.
Trail Mix or “Gorp” - add 1 cup of peanuts or mixed nuts if you prefer and 3/4 cup of M&Ms.  Of course if you eat trail mix just for the M&Ms and pick them out first like I do – add more.
All photography copyright Paul Nichol 2011 all rights reserved

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