I’m taking a break from my travel posts today to talk about a very important snack: Granola. Nuts.com has an ongoing healthy snacking campaign and I’m excited that they’ve asked me to be a part of it by sharing a recipe and giving others snacking inspiration. When I think about a healthy breakfast or a snack, my mind always hops over to Granola-ville. I’ve always considered it to be the first “adult” food I ever started liking, and it’s a staple in my diet up to today.
I started my lifelong affair with Granola after I first tasted Chewy Bars made by Quaker Oats. In my mind, I still have to call them “Chewy Tendre” because the boxes that we used to get had the French “tendre” right underneath in the same size font so it looked like it was one phrase. I later moved to Alpen, Nature Valley and Kind with the occasional Luna or Clif Bar. When I got married and embraced cooking and domesticity, I found out about the extent of sugar and random ingredients that go into making one granola bar. It’s insane, and some popular granola bars have had it on lists for products with the highest sugar content. Suffice it to say that when I came across the concept of making my own bars, I was more than intrigued. I thought it sounded incredibly cool and hippie which to be honest, added to the appeal :) I am absolutely amazed at the different granola bar variations out there. I personally have made dozens of variations, used dozens of ingredients and have made granola in squares, rectangles, clumps, loose, and they’ve all been delicious. I don’t think I’ve ever met a granola recipe that I didn’t like.
Making your own granola is quick and simple and easily customized. I’ve used so many different combinations of ingredients and I have never taken more than about 15 minutes (excluding baking) any time. Imagine that – 15 minutes (no I’m not gonna save you 15% or more on car insurance) is all it takes to make breakfast for the week! Or snacks that help you stick to your diet or healthy eating plan! I honestly think that the achilles heel of any diet is the snacks. You spend so much time focusing on eating your healthy or well portioned meals, and forget that at 2:30 when you want a cup of coffee, you want a snack to go with it. And thus comes a defining moment in your diet – fight to eat healthy or flight to the corner cafe to stuff your face with cupcakes? Failing to plan your snacks means that you’re one brownie or cookie away from ruining your diet. Which I often do. We’re all human.
Another benefit is that you can hide so many different ingredients in granola, including those that you know are superfoods but don’t want to or like to eat by itself. You can add so many ingredients and have so many variations – Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Almonds, Peanuts, Cashews, Pistachios, Macadamia, Hazelnuts, Chia Seeds, Ground Flaxseed, Shredded / Flaked Coconut, Chocolate Chips, White chocolate chips, Dark chocolate chips, Peppermint chips, Butterscotch chips, Dried Cranberries, Apricots, Blueberries, Raisins, Currants, Goji Berries, Acai Berries, Vanilla Extract, Almond Extract, Lemon Extract, Mint Extract, Pine Extract, Protein Powder, Matcha Green Tea Powder, Espresso Powder, and Ginger Powder. This is by no means an exhaustive list. But it sounds delicious, doesn’t it?
It’s not unusual for me to find bags of crushed and unrecognizable snacks in my purse with no recollection of when or how they got there. I seem to have a squirrel mentality…gotta store up those snacks in the inevitable event that I get hungry and mad and can’t concentrate on anything else until I eat! Finally figuring out that I should keep an emergency snack drawer at work was one of my greatest revelations. Up to a few years ago I had a pretty awesome emergency snack drawer at work, but in recent years my drawer deteriorated to a pathetic corner of the top drawer of my desk. I’ve been trying to rectify that, and the granola recipe I’m sharing with you today is item #1 in my new and improved snack drawer.
This granola isn’t too sweet, so it doesn’t feel like dessert, but it doesn’t feel like a tasteless blend of ingredients either.
Blueberry Almond Granola
2 1/2 cups Rolled Oats
1 cup whole Almonds
1 cup Sunflower Seeds
2/3 cups Dried Blueberries
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Agave (or Honey)
1 tbsp Cinnamon
1 tbsp dried Vanilla (or liquid vanilla extract)
1/4 cup Coconut Oil
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix dried ingredients in a bowl. Add agave, vanilla (if using extract) & oil. Mix well. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and spread mixture evenly on tray. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring at 20 minutes. Let cool and harden and store in an airtight container.
So check out Nuts.com for other snacking ideas and ingredients. Give this granola a try this weekend and start next week off right!