Monday, March 19, 2012

Yummy Maple Granola!

My kids love granola for breakfast.....or lunch.....or really anytime!  Buying it is expensive, and some of the ingredients may be questionable.  After all, how does it stay on that grocery shelf for months and not go bad?  HUH???  

This is what should be in granola....all natural, organic ingredients.

My favorite granola recipe comes from the cookbook Food to Live By  by Myra Goodman who is one of the owners of "Earthbound Farm."  I should first say that I am a lover of cookbooks.  I just love them!  This is a beautiful book that I bought for my brother and sister-in-law.  Let's just say that it never made it into their hands.  When it arrived at my house, I looked through the gorgeous color photos, the fun family and food stories, and the yummy recipes, and I knew that this would be a book for me!  Now it graces my bookshelf, and I use it often.  The recipes are not all vegetarian/vegan, but there are so many that I have adapted to fit with our family's needs.

Myra's recipe for "Maple Almond Granola" has been adapted by me to exclude the almonds and include pumpkin seeds.  The truth is that you can take this general recipe and make it anything you want!  There are times that I add candied ginger pieces, dates, different seeds, coconut, etc.  You can also add your favorite nuts.  My nut-allergic son is CRAZY about granola, so they never make an appearance in mine.

Maple Granola (adapted from Myra Goodman's "Famous Maple Almond Granola")

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  On a large cooking sheet, measure out 4 1/2 cups rolled oats, 3/4 cup raw sunflower seeds, 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds, and 2 tbsp. cinnamon.  Stir it up.

The oats, sunflower seeds, and cinnamon ready to be mixed up.
 Next, add 1 1/2 cup maple syrup and 1/3 cup oil and stir until all ingredients are mixed well and wet.  I LOVE this part!  There is something so satisfying about mixing it up, almost like playing with wet sand at the beach.  

Spread out your granola on the cookie sheet and bake for 25 minutes.  Then take it out and stir it up.  Bake for another 15-20 minutes until dry and golden brown.  Mix it up one time during this last baking so that it doesn't burn and it evenly cooks.  

Mixin' it up!

After you remove it from the oven, stir in 1 cup of raisins and let the whole pan cool on a cooling rack.   After it is completely cool, I store in mason jars in the freezer.  It makes a lot!  It will keep for quite a while this way, though my kids usually eat it up before it could possibly spoil.

The finished granola cooling on the counter and smelling SO GOOD!

Besides eating this plain or with milk, we enjoy it on top of yogurt or ice-cream.  It is great mixed in with banana "ice-cream!"
But, my son, Ben's, favorite way to eat this is ......

Granola Balls
Put a few spoonfuls of granola in a bowl and add a heaping spoonful of sunflower seed butter (or your favorite nut/seed butter).  Mix it up well and form into balls or just eat it up with a spoon.  If you form balls,  leave them in the fridge for a bit to solidify, if you can wait.  Ben does not; he eats them as fast as I can make them!

Mixing the sunflower seed butter into the granola.

Anyway you make it, granola is a fast, easy way to make a healthy breakfast for your children.  Add some fruit or a smoothie and that's all, folks!

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