December 25, 2013

Natural Foodie: Homemade granola fun to bake and good fuel for body

The popular cereal has enjoyed a revival in recent decades, but got its start back in the 19th century.

By Avery Yale Kamila

Winter is the perfect time to bake granola.

click image to enlarge

Once it has cooled, store granola in tightly sealed glass jars. From left, the jars contain hemp and pumpkin seed granola, cherry almond granola and cranberry walnut granola.

Photo by Avery Yale Kamila

MAINE-MADE GRANOLA

IF YOU’RE NOT READY to make your own granola, there are plenty of locally made versions to try. Here’s a list of some of the Maine-made granolas on the market:

Big Sky Bread Co., www.mainebread.com/granola.html

Debbie’s Heartland Granola, www.debbies heartlandgranola.com

Grandy Oats Certified Organic Granola, grandyoats.com

Little Lad’s Bakery Granola, www.littlelads.com/granola.asp

Lucy’s Granola, www.lucysgranola.com

Moose Bee Granola, find it on Facebook

Quick and easy to make – and an ideal cooking project for kids – granola fills the house with a sweet, toasty aroma as it bakes. Once cooled, the cereal can be stored in glass jars for weeks, but it’s unlikely to last that long. Mine never even makes it to the weekend.

Most of us associate granola with the hippies of the 1960s and ’70s, but this original breakfast cereal actually traces its roots to the 1800s counterculture. In the aftermath of the Civil War, reform was in the air and many American religious leaders, literary figures and medical professionals embraced the vegetarian diet.

This was an era when health spas were in vogue. In addition to water baths and fresh air, many of these institutions advocated better diet as a way to regain health. One 19th-century vegetarian advocate was physician John Harvey Kellogg, who ran the famous Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan and sold an early version of granola made from baked oatmeal, wheat flour and cornmeal.

But it’s likely he and his brother William K. Kellogg (the founder of the cereal company) got the idea for this novel cold breakfast from Dr. James Caleb Jackson, the head of a similar health retreat in upstate New York. Jackson’s dry cereal was called granula and was made from twice-baked graham flour, which needed to be soaked overnight in milk to be edible.

In the 1970s, granola returned to vogue and cereal companies began to manufacture it once again. But there’s no reason to rely on store-bought granola. Instead, crank up your oven and try one of my granola recipes.

Each follows the same cooking steps, with the only difference being the choice of ingredients. The hemp and pumpkin seed granola is my go-to blend, but sometimes I like to switch it up and toss in dried fruit and different nuts.

Whichever one you make, it will provide fuel you need to get through this coldest time of the year.

HEMP AND PUMPKIN SEED GRANOLA

41/2 cups rolled oats

21/2 cups raw pumpkin seeds

11/4 cups hemp seeds

1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

1 teaspoon finely ground sea salt

2/3 cup maple syrup

2/3 cup coconut oil, melted

CRANBERRY WLANUT GRANOLA

41/2 cups rolled oats

3 cups walnut pieces

2 cups fruit juice-sweetened dried cranberries

1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

1 teaspoon finely ground sea salt

3/4 cup unrefined coconut oil, melted

2/3 cup maple syrup

CHERRY ALMOND GRANOLA

41/2 cups rolled oats

31/2 cups almonds, chopped

11/2 cups dried cherries sweetened with fruit juice

1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

1 teaspoon finely ground sea salt

3/4 cup unrefined coconut oil, melted

2/3 cup maple syrup

Preheat oven to 300. Place one rack toward the bottom of the oven and one toward the top.

In a large bowl, mix the oats, almonds, cherries, coconut and salt. Combine syrup and oil in a small bowl. When well mixed, pour the syrup mixture over the oat mixture and stir until fully covered.

Divide the granola between two ungreased, rimmed baking sheets. Spread the granola so it forms an even layer. Place both baking sheets in the oven – one on each rack – and bake for 40 to 45 minutes.

While baking, stir the mixture every 15 minutes and rotate the baking sheets to the other racks halfway through baking.

Granola is done when it is golden brown and well toasted. Remove from oven and press each mixture down with a spoon. Allow to cool and then serve or store in a glass container. Serves 8.

Avery Yale Kamila is a freelancer who lives in Portland, where she loves to bake granola at this time of year. She can be reached at:

avery.kamila@gmail.com

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila

 

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