Granola… Such an innocent little word. It conjures up images of wellness, hiking, backpacking, yoga, and hippies. I’m sure many of you already know this but it’s also a densely packed calorie BOMB. One cup of this seducitive little grain delivers between 200 and 400 calories depending on the recipe. Unless you’re planning on running a marathon that day, it’s hard to justify consuming that many empty calories/sugar/fat for breakfast. If you have the self control to measure out a couple of tablespoons to sprinkle on your yogurt, then granola is a great option but many of us don’t have that self discipline and end up eating way more calories than we want to. Personally, I’d rather save my calorie chits for my evening mezcal.
Enter my mother in law. She and her husband live 20 miles outside Santa Fe, New Mexico on nine acres, surrounded by piñons, junipers, lone buttes and the siren cry of coyotes in the evening. It’s a magical place that lends itself to trail running and fitness. My father in law loves granola, is a triathlete and therefore consumes and burns an insane number of calories a day. So rather than buy granola in the supermarket (the nearest being 30 minutes away) which is loaded with calories and also costly my MIL started making it herself. Here I’ll share her granola recipe perfected over the last decade and lovingly stripped down to a delicious, healthy, crunchy, just sweet enough version:
4 cups gluten free ‘old fashioned’ oats (such as Bob’s Red Mill)
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds, walnuts or pecans (or nut free if you choose)
1 1/4 maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Heat oven to 300
Spread oats on a rimmed cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 350. Using a spatula, transfer the slightly toasted oats to a mixing bowl and combine with the sliced almonds. Add the maple syrup, and cinnamon and thoroughly coat the oat/almond mixture. Spread the mixture as evenly as possible onto a greased rimmed cookie sheet (use non stick spray or a silpat) and bake until brown for approximately 18-20 minutes. Longer baking will result in crunchier granola. Let cool and store in an airtight container.
Granola is a blank canvas that allows you to get creative with little downside. Some optional ingredients that you can add before baking at 350 (so after the intial ten minute toasting time) are 1/2 cup raisins or dried carnberries, pumpkin seeds, unsweetened coconut, wheat germ, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.
This is a low risk operation so have fun with it and remember to always let your taste buds soar!