maple granolaPosted: March 25, 2013
Since I’ve been working a regular job with regular hours, finding breakfast foods that are healthy, filling, and quick to throw together in the morning is something I’ve been working on. I’m pretty much a zombie until I make it to my office, so I need breakfast foods that don’t require a lot of mental energy to transform into something edible. I’ve tried fried eggs on multigrain toast, for example, but frying eggs without breaking or overcooking the yolk is too much to ask of myself when I’ve just rolled out of bed.
So this granola, from the wonderful Smitten Kitchen cookbook (which has been receiving very deserved praise from various corners of the internet since its publication a few months ago) turned out to fit my breakfast needs in pretty much every way. I can make a batch during the weekend that will get me through about two weeks. It takes no effort at all to pair with some yogurt on my weekday mornings. It has lots of healthy stuff, from oats to coconut flakes to pecans to dried cherries, and very little added sugar (some maple syrup to make it sweet, but really not very much at all). I’ve been eating it for breakfast for months now, and I’m still not sick of it.
It’s so, so easy to make – you basically throw everything into a bowl, give it a few stirs, spread it on a baking sheet and bake for a little under an hour, and, voilà, you have breakfast ready for two weeks, minus the cost, additives, and excessive sugar of anything you might buy pre-made at the grocery store. Writing this is even making me ready for my alarm clock to start bleeping obnoxiously at 6:30 tomorrow morning (which is definitely weird) just so I can enjoy my granola again.
The original recipe calls for wheat germ, which I have yet to find (even shopping in Whole Foods in New York – maybe I’m looking in the wrong aisle??), but if you can find it, it will add some extra fiber-y goodness. You can use all kinds of dried fruits – raisins or cranberries would be good, as would chopped dates or prunes. If you stick with cherries, I recommend looking for unsweetened ones – I accidentally bought sweetened ones one time, and they basically tasted like sugar (ick). Unsweetened dried cherries are quite tart, but they balance the maple in the granola very nicely, and less sugar is always a good idea anyway. The egg white, according to the SK cookbook, makes the granola clump together so you end up with nice crunchy clusters to make things more interesting. I eat my granola with plain whole milk yogurt, but it could also be nice with milk, or whatever else sounds most delicious to you.
3 cups old-fashioned oats (i.e. not instant)
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large egg white
1 cup dried cherries, or any other dried fruits that you like
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except the egg white and dried fruit. Stir until the dry ingredients are coated evenly with the maple syrup and olive oil.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg white until frothy. Add to granola mixture and stir until evenly distributed.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread granola evenly on the baking sheet. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes. Halfway through the baking time, remove pan from oven and carefully turn over the granola one section at a time, using a spatula.
When the granola is done, it will be golden brown and feel dry. Remove the pan from the oven, and place on a cooling rack. Once the granola is completely cool, sprinkle on the dried cherries, and store in an airtight container. It will stay good for two weeks, and apparently it can be frozen as well, though I haven’t needed to do this as I work my way through a batch in two weeks anyway!
Recipe adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman