I’ve been going through an interminable five month depression, primarily brought on by a work schedule impossible to maintain. Work has finally slowed and I’m beginning to come up for air – sixteen pounds heavier, toxic and worn out. In an effort to find my health again, I joined a gym and hired a personal trainer last week. After eating a full bag of Pepperidge Farm Maui cookies on Monday and three quarters of a bag of Newton’s blueberry Fruit Thins on Wednesday, I decided my diet needs an overhaul, too, but any willpower I may possess is melted by crispy, crunchy, chewy, buttery sweet carbs. Pastries make me happy like Prozac. In an effort to channel my love of a good cookie into something a bit more healthful, I whipped up a batch of granola this morning, capturing the flavors and textures without all the wheat, sugar and fat.
Beginning to See the Light Granola
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3 cups assorted nuts and seeds (unsalted and unroasted, if possible)
½ – ¾ t. salt
½ t. cinnamon
½ t. cardamom
¼ t. ginger
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup liquid sweetener (such as honey, maple syrup or agave syrup)
1 t. vanilla
1 cup dried fruit, chopped if needed (unsweetened and unsulfured, if possible)
Preheat oven to 350F. Combine oats, nuts and seeds in a large bowl (I used chopped almonds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. I also used about ¼ cup toasted flax seeds, but added them at the end since they were pre-toasted). Add salt and spices. Add oil, sweetener and vanilla. Stir until moistened and combined. Turn out on to a Silpat covered sheet pan.
Bake for about 30-35 minutes, stirring at the following times: 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 25 minutes, 30 minutes, and 35 minutes. Chop and measure fruit while granola bakes. If you use coconut, add coconut at the 20 minute mark. Add dried fruit (and any toasted nuts) to the hot granola. I used coconut, dried blueberries, dried cranberries, and apricots and also added the flax at this time. Cool granola and store.
Note: I like to pour almond milk over the still hot granola to make a tummy-warming snack to nibble while the rest of the granola cools.