Granola: Not Just for Hippies

Granola: Not Just for Hippies

Granola has long since moved on past its association with Birkenstocks and hippies.  I do wear Birkenstocks, and I grew up in Ann Arbor, but I’m not sure that I’m really a hippie!  I do like to get my granola fix, though.  In our house, granola is one of the best-loved foods Mommy makes.  It’s a snack, a sweet treat, a topping, and a cereal.  My granola recipe is a modification of the cereal that was made at Camp Crystal in northern Michigan by the cook back many moons ago, when I was a child.  I have made it for years, and over time, I have modified it to best satisfy my taste buds.

When you make your own food, you control what goes into it.  As you read through the recipe, you will see that there are only a handful of ingredients, most are probably things you have at home already, and you can pronounce them!  The same can’t necessarily be said about the granola you buy at the store.  Also, it’s much cheaper to make cereal at home.  Prepared cereal is probably one of the most expensive “everyday” foods many of us buy on a regular basis.  Best of all–kids can easily help you make granola.  They can put the ingredients in and mix everything up.  All you have to do is bake it…and clean up the mess they’ve made when they “helped” you!

Our kids get their fair share of sweets, but they’re definitely served in moderation.  Likewise with the granola.  Since it’s not low in fat or sugar, it is served to our kids moderately.  They love it sprinkled on top of yogurt.  They’ll eat a handful for an after-school snack.  Jadon would eat it every morning with milk for breakfast if I let him.  When he does eat it, it’s sprinkled on top of another kind of cereal, like Cheerios.  I eat it for breakfast mixed with a boring cereal, like Shredded Wheat and all of a sudden it doesn’t seem like I’m eating soggy cardboard!  Watch out when you make it, though.  It makes the whole house smell good, and it tastes divine right when it comes out of the oven.  I always eat way too much of it before it’s even cooled off!  Yum!

Here’s the recipe:

6 1/2 Cups  rolled oats (not quick oats)
1 Cup wheat germ (toasted or raw)
1 1/4 C brown sugar
1 1/4 C canola oil
1 1/4 C water
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 C chopped walnuts*
2 1/2 C raisins**

Mix all ingredients, except walnuts and raisins, together in a large mixing bowl.  Transfer to two large baking pans (i.e., 9 in x 13 in) and bake at 350 degrees for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until crunchy, stirring every 20 minutes or so.  Store in an airtight container.

*About halfway through the baking time, add walnuts.

**Stir in raisins when granola is done, but still hot, so that the raisins soften.  Do NOT bake the raisins…they’ll get really chewy and sometimes even crunchy!  Eeewww, gross!  One of the best things Michigan has to offer is cherries.  I like to add some dried tart cherries along with the raisins.  Mmmm…delicious!  Dried apricots are a good addition also!