|The finished product!|
My kids are processed breakfast cereal freaks. I knew I shouldn't have taken that leap from baby oatmeal to "finger food" Cheerios because my kids never went back. They now physically gag if I serve oatmeal. Breakfast cereals may be convenient, but they're also often made of who-knows-what (see my post on adulterated honey) and cost an arm and a leg. The current household favorite: Heritage Bites from Nature's Path. Yes, it's de-li-cious and organic and high in fiber, but I only ever buy it on sale because it comes in diminutive boxes meant to keep the price under, say, the cost of repairing your roof or giving your dog a few rounds of chemo.
Thank heavens for homemade granola. Crunchy like processed cereals but with ingredients I can control and a price I can stomach. Granola also doubles as a great food gift for Christmas or hostesses. Nobody doesn't like it, and it's easy to make gluten-free or nut-free or dairy-free versions for your more allergic acquaintances. I've pointed you toward Deborah Madison's recipe before, the typical one made in our house, but this Christmas I've laid hold of Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Every Day cookbook and have decided to give out a version "inspired by"combining her recipe with Deborah Madison's. Meaning, I'll try the coconut, walnut, currant combo she suggests but substitute local honey for the more distant, more expensive maple syrup and oil for the butter.
2011 Christmas Granola
6 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup shredded coconut
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup honey
grated zest of two oranges (optional)
Toss all together and spread over two rimmed cookie sheets. Bake at 300F for about 30-35 minutes, rotating the pans between the upper and lower rack every 10-12 minutes. Let cool. Add 1 cup currants and toss. Store in an airtight container or divvy up and give out as gifts!
Compare the homemade recipe to that of Quaker Oats Granola:
WHOLE GRAIN ROLLED OATS, WHOLE GRAIN ROLLED WHEAT, BROWN SUGAR, RAISINS, BROWN CRISP RICE (WHOLE GRAIN BROWN RICE, SUGAR, MALTED BARLEY FLOUR, SALT), CORN FLAKES (CORN, SUGAR, SALT, MALTED BARLEY FLOUR, CORN SYRUP), INULIN, PUFFED RICE, WHEY, GLYCERIN, CANOLA OIL, ALMONDS, WHEY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, HONEY, DRIED COCONUT, SALT, NATURAL FLAVOR, SUNFLOWER OIL, CINNAMON, SOY LECITHIN, NATURAL MIXED TOCOPHEROLS (ADDED TO PRESERVE FRESHNESS).
Hmm...(1) Corn flakes. Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't these a much cheaper cereal that I haven't bought in decades? Not to mention, I'm pretty anti- agroindustrial corn, since it's just about always genetically modified and low in nutritional value. (2) Inulin. A sweetish, fiber-y carb filler/stretcher. (3) Glycerin. Sweetener, filler, thickening agent. (4) Natural flavor. Uh-huh. (5) Soy lecithin. An emulsifier that keeps ingredients from separating. (6) Natural mixed tocopherols. Preservatives. But at least some people take them as supplements.
Not so bad, really, for a processed food. But I guarantee you, if you make/give your own granola, it won't be around long enough to require preservatives!