Thursday, December 22, 2011

Kitchen Sink Granola

Although there are many wonderful granolas lining the aisles of the grocery store, there's rarely reason to buy them as granola is one of the easiest things to make yourself. Not only will you be able to combine your favorite ingredients in the perfect ratio for you, but you will save a ton of money in the process. Granola doesn't require a specific recipe, just a basic outline, but I still think it's worth browsing through recipes from reputable sources to look for creative combinations I may not have considered. I took a Martha Stewart recipe, adapted it for my preferences and what I had on hand to create what I've dubbed Kitchen Sink Granola. With an assortment of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit, this granola contains a little bit of everything, but could certainly accomodate additional ingredients or substitutions with whatever strikes your fancy. I have plain yogurt topped with granola a couple of times a week for breakfast, so I've had ample opportunity to make many different kinds, but I still seem to find delightful new combinations on a regular basis. While a granola with a more focused flavor palate can be delicious, I love granolas like this where no two bites are the same. And although I typically enjoy it as part of a well-balanced breakfast, granola can also move seamlessly to the dessert realm when sprinkled generously on top of a high-quality vanilla ice cream.

The only real stumbling block when making your own granola is the potential for burning during the toasting process. While you may be lulled into a false sense of security during the first 10 minutes or so of baking, granola can go from pleasantly toasty to unrecoverably burnt in short order (particularly the coconut), so make sure to keep a close eye on your granola, stirring frequently, particularly towards the end of the cooking time.

Whether you're making a New Year's resolution to eat healthier, spend more time in the kitchen, eat fewer processed foods, or save money, this recipe can have a place in helping you achieve that goal.

Kitchen Sink Granola
adapted from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook : The New Classics
makes about 2 3/4 cups

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup whole almonds, chopped
2 tablespoons flax seeds
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons honey
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup raisins (golden or regular)
2 tablespoons unsalted roasted sunflower seeds

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Toss together the oats, coconut, almonds, and flax seeds in a medium bowl; set aside. Whisk together the oil, honey, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl; stir into the oats mixture. Spread out the oats mixture on a rimmed baking sheet.

2. Bake, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Transfer to a large bowl; stir in the dried cranberries, raisins, and sunflower seeds.

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