delicious discourse

hearty & wholesome as always

Posted in recipe by delicious:discourse on February 16, 2009
Homemade Granola

Homemade Almond Raisin Granola

For this one, I really don’t know where to start. So, I guess I’ll have to begin at well, the beginning. For as long as I can remember, my mother has had a cup of granola with milk for breakfast. She would occasionally vary on the flavor, but usually the three jars with yellow screw-tops that always (and to this day) sat on the counter were usually filled with some variation on Super Nutty that she bought in bulk at one of the health food stores. When we teased my mother about this, her reply was always framed with a sheepish smile as she claimed nothing else could hold her over until lunch like granola. So, I guess you could say, I learned to love granola at a young age, though when I was growing up I usually opted for the Cheerios, Raisin Bran, Grape Nuts, or some other variety of non-sugary cereal my parents would allow us to eat.

However, my senior year of college, I became hooked on granola. I wonder if these things are genetic. I love ice cream too and I grew up with a grandfather who is known for getting up in the middle of the night and eating ice cream straight from the carton, with a long-stemmed spoon, in the dark. His daughter, my mother, interestingly enough, eats her granola with long-stemmed spoons. My scientist boyfriend I know would argue that this habit is not genetic, but environmental. Either way is fine with me. Granola is a great, healthy, high-energy way to start the day, and if I look like my mom at 50, I am cool with that too. I could eat granola and yogurt with sliced fresh berries morning, noon, and night if I felt like it.

Anyway, then I met Matt, who at the time was drinking protein shakes for breakfast, which was just not going to do. Somehow, some way, I don’t recall the exact moment of the crossover,  but he began to start each morning with granola, with milk at first, I think. Then we discovered Fage, thick and creamy Greek yogurt loaded with protein (17 grams in one cup!) and he was straight granola doomed. Every week we were buying granola from the bulk bins at Whole Foods at first and then Central Market. I always tried to pick out the varieties with the fewest ingredients (and without ones I could not pronounce), but they were always the more expensive kinds. Granola is like ice cream, the fewer ingredients the better. For ice cream all you really need is cream and sugar, maybe some eggs, but if you look at a carton, the ingredients flow halfway down the page!

As for granola, or should I say granula, as it was called when it was invented in 1863 by Dr. James Caleb Jackson at Jackson Sanitarium, a prominent health spa, in Dansville, New York,  was just rolled oats with honey, baked until crispy. What is more natural than that? Fibrous oats and a natural sweetener. Muesli on the other hand, is neither baked nor sweetened. I had often wondered the difference between the two. Granula was originally sold under the name Our Home Granola Co. by the sanitariam and turned into granola after James Harvey Kellogg being the cereal king he is, developed a similar cereal and wanted to avoid all that legal trouble.

Continuing on its wholesome path, granola, with the addition of nuts and fruit to the oats and honey, was revived in the 1960s (maybe this is why mi madre loves it so much) as a health food targeted at the hippie movement. Apparently, granola made a major appearance at Woodstock 1969. Yes, granola just got a whole lot cooler.

Then in 1972, Jim Matson, an executive at Pet Milk, introduced Heartland Natural Cereal, the first commercial cereal and what many of us know today. Quaker, General Mills, and Kellogg, quickly followed suit.

Rooted in its revitalization, its healthy properties, its use in hiking, backpacking, and camping because of its lightness, calorie density, and easiness to store, and the conscious people that usually consume the more wholesome varieties,  the term granola has evolved to refer to someone who is hippie-like, a modern bohemian, or an environmentalist. For those of you who know me, I am not someone you would normally describe as granola. But if granola means I am a conscious individual, who makes thoughtful and educated decisions about what I put in my body, who cares about preserving the environment and its beauty, as well as a free spirit, bring it on. I will be as granola as you like.

In the true spirit of granola and this Green age, Bon Appetit (February 2009) featured making your own granola as one of their “50 Ways to Eat Green,” which was something I had been wanting to do for awhile. Why I hadn’t done it, don’t ask. BA focusing on the environmental aspects, suggested making your own granola was not only greener because it saved on packaging (especially if you bought the ingredients in bulk), but also less expensive.  I am going to add to the list of benefits that if you make your own granola, you will know exactly what goes into it, especially if you buy quality organic ingredients. There will be no funny ingredients with long names. It might not last for months on the shelf because it does not have preservatives, but a) it is better for you and the world you live in and b) it is so good it won’t need to last that long. Matt and I make a new batch every week. Not to mention, the flavors and varieties are endless. So, do something good for yourself and the environment, and have some fun along the way.

The recipe below uses honey for the sweetener, walnuts for the nut, and chopped dates for the dried fruit. Just yesterday, M and I swapped out the honey for maple syrup, almonds for the walnuts, and raisins for the dates. You really can use almost any type of nut or dried fruit. Just think of the endless combinations. To get ready for a tropical vacation – think coconut and pineapple, for more protein add a variety of nuts, or add some peanut butter into the honey with chopped dried bananas.

Hearty & Wholesome Granola Recipe
Courtesy of
Bon Appetit

Makes about 6 cups.

4 Tablespoons walnut oil, divided
3/4 cups dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cups egg whites (usually 2)
1/2 teaspoon course kosher salt
3 cups organic old-fashioned oats
1 cups walnuts (or any type of nut)
1/2 cups flaxseed meal (ground flaxseeds)
1 cups pitted dates, coursely chopped (or any dried fruit, I have been using plump fire rasins)
1/4 cups honey

Preheat oven to 350F. Brush heavy large rimmed baking sheet with 2T walnut oil.
Whisk 2 T. oil, sugar, egg whites, and salt in a large bowl. Add oats, walnuts, and flaxseed and toss well. Spread mixture evenly on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Using a spatula, stir granola. Bake another 15 minutes. Stir again. Sprinkle dates and drizzle with honey. Bake about 10 minutes longer, until golden brown. Stir to loosed and transfer to a clean baking sheet to cool. Keep in an airtight container.

Yes. Really. It is this easy.


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