Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Maple Pecan Granola

I present to you one of my favorite things: maple pecan granola.

I'm not a big breakfast girl. I'm not saying I skip it - I'm gunning for food as soon as I wake up in the morning - but I'm content with a nice bowl of cereal. The problem with cereal is that it tends to be super-processed, especially if it's fortified with vitamins and minerals (not bad things in themselves, but I'd prefer to get them naturally). That and a desire for more whole grains inspired me to move to granola. But if you've ever bought a lovely bag of artisanal granola from the grocery store, you know that it can be incredibly expensive.

Enter this recipe from Naturally Ella, which solved all my problems. I've been making this stuff nearly once a week for the past eight or nine months. I never get tired of it. Sometimes I branch out and try different granola recipes, but this is what I always come back to. Just a few simple ingredients, but packed with flavor. It's not clumpy, so it's better as a cereal than for random snacking, but I still grab messy handfuls throughout the day to munch on, which keeps me from munching on less healthy snacks.

I can also throw in a health claim (in case you miss all the propaganda from your cereal box): this granola has been a staple in the diet that brought my cholesterol down forty points over the past year. Yes, that's right - eating a plant-based diet full of vegetables, whole grains and legumes and avoiding animal products can make a huge difference if you're willing to stick to it. The deliciousness of this oat-y, nutty, crunchy granola in a bit of skim milk helps me stick to it every day.

Maple Pecan Granola
Adapted from Naturally Ella.

2 c rolled oats
1 c chopped pecans
1/2 c wheat germ
pinch of salt
optional: 1/3 c shredded coconut (I throw it in if I have it around, like this time)
1/4 c nut oil (I've used peanut, walnut, almond - roasted peanut was my absolute favorite)
1/4 c grade B maple syrup

Preheat oven to 275° F. Line a baking sheet with foil.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the oats, pecans, wheat germ, salt and coconut.

Add the oil and syrup and mix until the oat mixture is evenly moistened. Pour onto the baking sheet in a single layer.

Bake for 1 hour until toasty and brown, stirring every 15 minutes to keep the granola from sticking to the foil. Remove from the oven and cool completely before removing to a sealed container for storage. Enjoy with cold milk, over yogurt or by the handful!

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