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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What to do on a Snow Day- Homemade granola!

Tip of the day: Use the time you have to prepare for days when you don't have time.

Well here I am sitting on the couch, watching the snow fall, thinking about the delicious (and healthy) breakfast I just ate. It's a snow day around here (which, for a substitute means that I don't get paid...:-( BUT! There is a silver lining. I get to cook! On days when I have free time I like to make up batches of things for those days when I am feeling lazy or rushed. I'll make things like sauce, big batches of soup, bread, pizza dough, and one of my favorites....granola!

OK, so granola has gotten a bit of a bad rap. Hippy food, right? Well, have you ever had granola, along with low fat yogurt, topped with dried fruits, a drizzle of honey, and some nuts, for crunch? It's more like a breakfast sundae than health food and it is just about my favorite breakfast. (p.s. get low fat plain yogurt and look for a kind with active cultures. I LOVE Stoneyfield Farms).

Want a killer recipe for granola? It is much fresher, much more delicious, super flexible and MUCH cheaper to make your own. Look no further than my own version for crunchy granola:

Crunchy Granola:

6 cups rolled oats (not instant oats, check the box)

2 cups mixed nuts & seeds (whatever you like. Try: slivered almonds, pecans, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, and flax seeds for a boost of Omega-3')
1/2 to 1 cup of liquid sweetner, to taste (that can be honey, maple syrup, molasses, agave nectar-I like 3/4 c. honey)
1/4 smooth, natural peanut butter (*check the label* only peanuts and salt! no oils)
pinch of salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon (also try adding nutmeg, ground ginger, vanilla bean, etc.)
1 cup dried fruits (I like cherries and blueberries)

Preheat oven to 300. In a large, microwave safe bowl, combine sweetner, peanut butter, and spices. (*not fruit*) Heat on high for 15 second intervals, stirring in between until the mixture is pourable. Alternately, you can do this on the stove top on low heat stirring frequently. When mixture is combined, throw oats and nuts/seeds into liquid and combine thoroughly. Pour and spread out onto baking pan that is covered in parchment, foil (greased), or silicone baking mat (Silpat). Remember, fruit should not be in yet. Bake in oven for at least 30 minutes, but stir occasionally to check for doneness. The longer it's in, the crunchier it gets. But don't let it go too far or you will have burnt instead of crunchy! Let cool completely. Now stir in the dried fruit. Store in airtight container or ziplock baggies.

Enjoy as is, with yogurt, or as cereal for an energizing and filling breakfast!

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