Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Homemade Granola

Granola has a hippie stigma. So does tofu. I've even heard the word granola used to describe a person, like, "Is she a granola?" Meaning, "Is she a hippie?". Meaning, "Does she wear all cotton, eat health food, vote Green, play guitar, worship the goddess, etc.?". I'm actually not sure if healthy eating was a big facet of the original hippie movement. But somewhere along the line granola and tofu have come to be considered the quintessential "hippie" foods. Okay, I just checked my computer's dictionary for granola and it actually says this: chiefly derogatory, denoting those with liberal or environmentalist political views, typified as eating health foods. See?!?

I was born in the late 1960's between the Summer of Love and the Woodstock Festival. My parents embraced and embodied certain elements of "hippieness" through my childhood in the 70's and 80's. As far as food went, dad baked whole wheat bread and grew a vegetable garden. Mom experimented in the kitchen with vegetarian cuisine. But we never ate granola. Or tofu.

I must have been in my late teens by the time I even tasted granola. I liked it. I started making my own not long after that. I remember that I would melt butter and honey together in a pan and pour it over oats before toasting it in the oven and then adding lots of raisins. Wow. It was calorie-laden and I ate huge bowls of it with soy milk (I know, how hippie). But, as an aside, I am one of those adults who doesn't drink cow's milk. I think I had my last big tall glass at age 18. It just doesn't appeal to me. I'm not lactose intolerant. I cook with it and I adore cheese and yogurt, but milk, as a beverage, just doesn't do it for me.

Today, granola is the only cold cereal I ever eat. I make a batch of it every few weeks. I have found that just a half-cup of the stuff keeps me sated until lunch. I cover it with enriched vanilla rice milk (I know, how hoity-toity). My method now uses egg whites and olive oil instead of butter. It is nutritionally fortified with flaxseed meal and other seeds and nuts. It is sweetened with agave syrup, honey, or maple syrup and dried cranberries, cherries, golden, and dark brown raisins.

Happy Hippie Granola

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl combine:
5 cups of organic oats
1 cup of chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans [yum!])
1/4 cup of seeds (raw sunflower, pepitas [my favorite])
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1 t. cinnamon

Next whisk:
2 large or 3 medium egg whites and 3/4 t. kosher salt (or 1/2 t. salt) until frothy. Whisk in 2/3 cup of honey or agave syrup or maple syrup and 1/3 cup olive oil (I use non-extra-virgin, but extra-virgin will work.)
Pour this mixture over the oat mixture and stir thoroughly to coat. Spread out on a large baking sheet with a lip. Bake for 20 minutes. Pull from oven and flip brown edges in towards the center with a spatula. Re-spread and bake for 10 more minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in pan. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in 1 cup of mixed dried fruit of your choice (cherries, raisins, cranberries, blueberries, golden raisins, coconut, currants....) Store in airtight container.



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