Pulling together the last of our holiday gifts, I've reluctantly packaged up the end of my batch of Cranberry Granola. Filled with toasted almonds and pepitas, this granola seems to brightly shine with the addition of freshly grated orange peel.
2012 was my granola discovery year. Even though I am a child of the 60's, I always looked at granola as "hippie food" (not that there is anything wrong with that...) and life took me through some 45 years before I gave granola a try. Now that I have a number of recipes under my belt, I can't seem to get enough of the crunchy goodness, and I'm thrilled to make it cheaper and healthier at home.
On the forefront of the natural food revolution, granola made a name for itself in the 1960's as young adults took a stand against processed food. Adding fruit and nuts to a mixture of baked grains, hippies of the 60's revived the crunchy cereal and soon had others referring to them as "Crunchy" or "Granola Heads".
Lately granola has again made a resurgence of sorts, and recipes for all kinds of flavors can be found across the internet. Often thought of as "health food", one does have to be careful though, as the cereal can be sugar and fat laden, becoming more of a crunchy dessert than a healthy breakfast.
Enter the homemade version. Inexpensive, lower in fat and sugar, and tailored to your exact preference, what's not to like? Filled with the whole grain goodness of oats, flax, rye or wheat germ, you choose the grains. Bound with oils, eggs, fruit purees or nut butters, you choose the fat content. Sweetened with brown sugar, maple syrup, agave or even apple sauce, you choose the sweetener. And so on. Add in your favorite nuts and dried fruits and you have an ideal crunchy topping for yogurt, a delightful bowl with milk or a tasty, energy providing snack eaten out of hand.
Placed in a cute jar or simply tied in a cellophane gift bag, granola is easy to package and works wonderfully as a homemade gift. With a decent shelf life, granola can be made ahead of time, or tossed together at the last minute when a quick gift is needed.
Celebrating the season, Liv and I tossed together this simple Cranberry Pomegranate Almond Granola and added freshly grated orange peel bringing a beautiful, bright, and healthy treat that is sure to be appreciated. Our recipe is below, but now that I can claim to be a real Granola Head, I've got a few additional recipes that just might pique your interest:
Peanut Butter Granola
Slightly higher in fat, but I think this one is my all time favorite!
Lower in fat, this granola brings a tropical twist.
Pure Maple Syrup brings you a sweet breakfast in a bowl
Filled with heart healthy ingredients, this granola also brings flavors of Pumpkin Pie
And now we bring your our latest version.... Cranberry Pom Granola with Almonds and Orange Essence. Package some up for a neighbor today!
Cranberry Pomegranate Almond Granola with Orange Essence
2/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened Pomegranate Juice
1 Tbs cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
4 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup ground flax meal
1 cup whole raw almonds
1 egg white, beaten
1 cup dried cranberries
1 Tbs freshly grated orange peel
1/2 cup pepitas
Preheat oven to 330ºF.
Add the maple syrup, brown sugar, and Pom juice to a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until the brown sugar has dissolved. Set aside.
In a large bowl, add the oats, flax, and whole almonds and mix to combine. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and salt, mixing again.
Pour the maple syrup mixture over the oats and add the egg white. Mix well to combined. Spread the oat mixture evenly onto a prepared baking sheet and bake (stirring every 10 minutes or so) for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
Remove granola from the oven and pour into a large bowl. Immediately add the dried cranberries and pepitas and stir to incorporate. Cool completely.
Package granola into airtight containers. Most granolas recommend using within a week, but we have had ours for up to 2 weeks and still enjoyed the crunchy goodness.
Liv Life Note: My favorite way to eat this crunchy version is over Greek Yogurt and topped with fresh pomegranage seeds. A nice gift would be a package of the granola along with a fresh pomegranate tied in a dish towel.