So another one of my new ideas was to make my own breakfast cereal- no, not as an inventor, and not as a grain grower, but as a result of seeing the long list of unknowns on my box of Special-K cereal. It has been one of my thoughts since reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma. I’m not a big breakfast person, I like eggs, but definitely not everyday, especially on a weekday morning when it takes every ounce of energy I have just to start my coffee! A heavy, stick to your ribs kind of breakfast has it’s time and place, but not in my stomach while I’m running around in fifteen different directions at work! So granola became the breakfast of choice.
Before my Special-K, all fall and winter my breakfast was store bought Quaker Oats granola. The reason I changed this spring was 1) it was getting to the point where I was paying close to $7 a box 2) it was starting to feel heavy and too sweet for the coming heat and 3) there was just way too much sugar and unknowns in that too and I wanted something that might prove to be “healthier”. So a low calorie and moderate vitamin and mineral replacement of Special-K was chosen.
Despite what the nutritional facts were saying, I could tell that what I was eating may not have been the best choice. Some mornings I felt unnaturally full, other mornings, slightly nauseous. But because it was “good for me” and low in calories, I stuck to it- until I had a “whole vs. processed foods” epiphany. It was while I was eating breakfast that I began to learn how processed everything was (even corn flakes) and how all the vitamins and minerals were lost in the processing and later had to be artificially replaced. I also quickly realized how little remains of “real” food once all these steps are made and how strange all the preservatives and additives really are. That was it, the deciding point of trying to figure out a breakfast with more whole foods and less unknowns. Homemade granola became my obvious answer.
Before you start cracking the hippie and granola jokes, I want to state that I honestly like granola. I like everything that goes into it and I love grain type foods, the way they taste, the way they make me feel, everything! Besides, it’s relatively cheap to make (that of course depends on what you want to put in it though) and because everything you put in it pretty much unprocessed, it remains all of it’s natural good for you kind of properties- vitamins, minerals, and of course, fiber!
So I went searching through my cookbooks and online to find a recipe with the least amount of added sugar, fat, and processed ingredients. The recipe I found and tried was found on the Food Network’s website. The ingredients were simple. A mixture of honey and a little unsalted butter for the light sweetness and ability to brown in the oven, old fashioned rolled oats, almonds, shredded unsweetened coconut (I had to use sweetened though because it’s all I could find at the time) a little salt, optional pumpkin or sunflower seeds, which I chose to omit, and some dried fruit of choice. After about 15 to 20 minutes in the oven, it was golden brown and smelled wonderful. After it cooled, I added the dried fruit and threw it in my cereal Tupperware.
And guess what? It tastes great! Better than the store bought kind, way better than my Special-K, left me feeling satisfied, and even helps me stay fuller longer! I know of everything that goes into it, no overly strange preservatives, high in whole grain, plenty of protein from the almonds, and just all together good! I’m so glad I made the switch. There’s still a few little things I want to try with it, different ingredients, combinations, cooking time, etc., but that’s a good thing! I highly recommend trying to make homemade granola to anyone. It’s a LOT easier than you think and wonderful! I’m including the link for the recipe that I found online. If anyone tries it, do tell me how it comes out! And if anyone has any other recipes to share, I’d love to hear them!