Monday, January 10, 2011

Maple Granola with Berries

I love cold cereal, not for breakfast, but for a snack either mid-day or evening. The problem with most cereals is that they are so processed, full of salt and sugar that you can't control, and most of the time taste like the cardboard box they are packaged in. When I was a kid my mother rarely bought "sugar cereal" as we called it. Things like Frosted Flakes, Captain Crunch and Lucky Charms did not show up on a daily basis - except on Saturdays. On Saturday we could have sugar cereal for breakfast. That was such a treat. Remember the little toys that used to come in the boxes? They ranged from little cars, animals or other toys to plastic spoons or crazy straws. My mother would save those in one of the drawers in the kitchen. I can see it now! Then, on certain Saturdays we would all get to pick a number between 1 and 10 and whoever got the number got to pick a toy from the drawer. With 5 kids, you didn't get to win often, but when you did, OH BOY!! I would like to publicly thank all of the "litigation happy" people who sued cereal makers for the inclusion of those toys in the boxes. I am sure some of them had very good reason to do so, but really doubt that blame can ever be placed on a cereal maker for any tragedy of any size involving a cereal box toy - I could be wrong... maybe. I miss those little toys!

Incidentally, it is snowing again this morning. Again, the grass is still showing through the snow and I have to put off the return to White House for enrichment classes. Most likely CHET will be closed tomorrow, giving me another day off - guess that means I get extra time to grade papers! Yipee!

Anyway... today's recipe is Maple Granola with Berries. You can make this any number of ways. Here are some alternatives:
1. Use old-fashioned rolled oats or quick cooking oats, but do not use instant oatmeal for this.
2, You can substitute honey or agave syrup for the maple syrup - just PLEASE don't use Aunt Jemima or Log Cabin - that is NOT maple syrup!!
3. Use any combination of UNSALTED nuts and/or seeds. You could use almonds, cashews, pistachios, pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts... the list is endless
4. Use any type of dried fruit such as dried cherries, raisins, apricots, apples, cranberries, blueberries or bananas.
5. You could make this into healthy trail mix by adding in m&ms, chocolate chips, yogurt covered raisins, or any other sweet treat. Just add it after you have toasted it in the oven and it is cooled.
6. Drizzle the cooled sheet pan with white or chocolate almond bark, allow candy to harden and then break into pieces.


3 cups oats
1 c. sliced almonds
1 c. pecan pieces
1 c. shredded coconut
1/3 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1/3 c. pure maple syrup
1 t. vanilla
1 c. dried cherry/cranberry/blueberry mix

Preheat oven to 250'. In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, coconut, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. Toss to thoroughly combine. In a small bowl whisk together the oil, syrup and vanilla. Pour over dry mixture and stir until everything is coated well. Divide mixture between 2 sheet pans and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes and rotating the pans. Allow mixture to cool on the pans and then stir in the dried fruit. Store in an airtight container.

As always, stay warm and loved!

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