Thursday, March 7, 2013

Vegan Maple Granola

First lentil loaf, now granola - I might have to change the name of this thing to "That 70s Blog." In fact I have an abiding love for all kinds of hippie vegetarian food; it reminds me of my hometown, Bloomington Indiana, in the 1970s: The Tao restaurant, Rudi's Bakery, and the Bloomingfoods Co-op, its bulk bins overflowing with carob and wheat germ.

But honestly, the granola they were feeding us back then contained enough fat to quench a Big Mac Attack and more sugar than a Jell-O Pudding Pop. It was not the health food it pretended to be. These days, you can buy tasty and reasonably healthy granola in the grocery store, but the price! And the main ingredient is OATS, still one of the cheaper items from those good old bulk bins. So I put the kibosh on prepackaged granola, and here are the delicious, econo results. This is an incredibly versatile recipe - use your favorite nuts or seeds, and play around with spices. I always use maple syrup, but I wonder if other liquid sweeteners, like agave, might be tasty too? If you try, please let me know.

Making granola is a nice Sunday afternoon project; easy, low-maintenance, good-smelling, and entirely kid-friendly (let your kid pick his/her favorite seeds/nuts/spices and invent a unique blend), and it's fun to enjoy the fruits of your labor all week. Although if you're aiming for all-week supplies (and if you eat as much as we do), you might double the recipe.

Lovesmiths Vegan Maple Granola

2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon (or other spices - or omit spice and use 1 teaspoon vanilla, very yummy)
Big pinch salt
3 cups rolled oats
1.5 cups nuts and/or seeds, any combination (We love sliced almonds+pecans+walnuts)
Optional: 1/2 cup dried fruit (dried cherries are our favorite)

Preheat oven to 300

Melt coconut oil over medium heat in a large, deep skillet. Add maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt. Stir well.

Add oats and nuts and/or seeds and stir constantly for a minute or so to completely coat and lightly toast nuts and seeds.

Transfer mixture to lightly oiled baking dish - either a rimmed cookie sheet, or a 13 x 9 dish - you want to spread the granola out evenly in a reasonably thin layer.

Bake 30-40 minutes, until toasty and brown, stirring every 10 or so minutes. If using dried fruit, stir it in immediately after taking granola out of the oven.

Cool completely (be prepared for grabbing hands), and store whatever's left in a sealed container.