Thursday, September 26, 2013

Homemade Granola

Autumn is one of my favorite times of the year!  This season, as I recover from surgery, I'm able to sit on the couch in our new house and look out our huge picture window.  It's given me a new perspective on the season.  Normally, I'd be out in nature and focusing on travel from place to place-- hiking through the woods and even harvesting some of the late season tree fruits and squashes.  This year?  No travel for me.  This temporary pause on major activity has allowed me to view things with a new perspective.  Instead of focusing on me in the nature, I'm focusing on the nature itself.  I'm watching the trees turn different shades of red, orange, and brown.  I'm observing animal behavior and how they are desperately leaving the area, building shelters, hiding food, and eating seeds like it's nobody's business!

But just because I'm not out in nature doesn't mean that the seasonal foods that I love this time of year have to stop, right?  Normally I would pack up a container of granola and be on my way outside.  So, why not still make the granola and lightly snack while looking out my window.  It helps me connect a bit with a sense of normalcy.

There are lots of different granola methods.  Cook high temp?  Cook low temp?  Use maple syrup or honey?  Plain or nuts/fruit?  The great thing about this recipe is that you can tailor it to you you'd like your granola to taste, and frankly, as long as you're attentive you can't really screw it up.  It's so good and so easy!  Another thing about making it, instead of buying it, is that it helps you to understand why granola is so high in calories!  I was shocked at how much sugar and oil it takes to make granola!  It's an energy food for activity.  This should not be consumed in large quantities as you're sitting on your couch and looking out the window.  So, when I made it this year, I'm didn't double the batch like I normally do.

  •  5 cups rolled oats (not instant or quick)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil + more as needed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups of nuts (slivered almonds, pepitas, cashews, etc...)
  • 1 - 2 cups of dried fruits (raisins, cranberries, mango, pineapple, etc)


Pre-heat an oven to 250 degrees.  Line two large, lipped cookie trays with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray or lightly oil the foil.

In a large bowl, mix the syrup, brown sugar, honey, vegetable oil, and salt.  After those ingredients are mixed well, add the oats and nuts to the bowl.  Mix until very well combined and all the oats/nuts are coated.  If you feel the oats are not coated well enough, add a bit more vegetable oil until coated. Spread the mixture on to the prepared cookie trays.  The mixture should be in a thin layer.  If it's too thick, it may not cook well and/or it will take too long to cook.

Place the trays in the oven.  Heat until the oats/nuts are completely browned, stirring the mixture every 15-20 minutes.  This browning process takes at least 1 hour and 15 minutes-- maybe a bit longer.  Careful when stirring the mixture because it's hot and sticky! 

After the mixture is toasted, remove from the oven and cool, stirring occasionally.  When completely cooled, if desired, add in the dried fruits.  Store in an air-tight container.

Hint: if you have some in your family, as I do, that do not care for certain kinds of dried fruits, feel free to divide the granola and make customized flavors!  This whole recipe is very customizable to whatever tastes you have in your family.  Feel free to experiment with different nuts, seeds and fruits.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Recovery Update-- Back to Blogging Soon!

This is a just a short post to let everyone know that blogging will resume this week!  I'm very excited to start back up after my medical hiatus. 

As some of you saw on the From Fast Food to Fresh Food Facebook Page, I ended up having major surgery this summer/autumn.  I'm finally feeling well enough to slowly start getting back into the groove of things.  It's been such a stressful summer! Between buying a house, selling a house (in process!) and having major surgery, this woman is exhausted!

But stay tuned-- I'm super excited to jump back into cooking again, and that means I get to share some fabulous recipes with all of you! 

From the bottom of my heart, thanks for sticking with me!
                                                                                        - Melanie