Sunday, March 8, 2009

Homemade Cherry Granola

I have been amazed at how much more groceries are lately, especially all-natural organic food. It is hard to be cheap and eat the way I like. So last week when I looked at the cereal and granola in my grocery store, I didn't feel like spending almost 6 dollars for the all-natural, small bag of granola. So I decided to make my own granola! I got the basic recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman.
One of the best things about making things yourself is control over ingredients. I watch the sugar in my cereal, so I put less honey in than normal. I also don't like raisins, so I used cherries. The variations to this recipe are endless. I would like to try using maple syrup and waluts and banana chips. I would also like to try adding peanut butter, and making a tropical fruit variation with dried mango. I may not buy pre-made granola for a long time!
I like to eat this with maple yogurt. (Just add a tablespoon to plain, whole milk yogurt!)
6 cups rolled oats (not quick cooking or instant)
2 cups thin sliced almonds and roasted pumpkin seeds, or other nuts
1 cup shredded coconut (I used unsweetened)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Dash salt
1/2-1 cup honey or maple syrup to taste (I probably used 1/4 cup)
1 cup dried tart cherries

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
First, dump six cups of rolled oats (organic or not) into a 9x13 baking pan. Put the pan over 2 burners if possible. DO NOT PUT IT ON HIGH! Use medium-low heat. Also, don't walk away. Stay at the stove and stir. I learned this the hard way. I burned the oats on the bottom of the pan.

Stir the oats until they are fragrant and toasty. (But not black!) It should take 3-5 mintues.
Add the nuts and seeds and continue to cook, stirring frequently (i.e. don't walk away here either.) for 2 minutes.

Add the coconut and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes longer. Add the cinnamon, salt and honey (or maple syrup), stir, and put in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Then, add the dried cherries and stir. Cool on a rack, continuing tO stir once in a while until the granola reaches room temperature. Transfer to a sealed container and store in the fridge, it will keep for a long time!

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