It is my goal to make as much of the food my family and I consume in my kitchen instead of buying ready made foods and snacks. I strive to maintain a healthy balanced diet and making my own foods means that I can choose my ingredients and cook them in the healthiest and tastiest way I can. This does not mean that I don’t consume any ready made snacks, but I really try to make most of the foods we consume. Cooking requires time management and organization, but in the long run, it really saves a ton of money and I guarantee you that things just taste so much better. The more you cook, the better you become at creating flavors. Once you gain confidence in the kitchen, you can easily substitute ingredients and try your own innovations. I have always found a great sense of satisfaction and pleasure in cooking. This makes for a happy and contented household, especially around meal times.
I love granola and enjoy eating small bowls as snacks or sprinkling it over a bowl of creamy greek yoghurt. When you make your own granola you control the sugar and salt levels as well as the quality and quantity of the ingredients. If you are allergic to nuts, you may substitute with seeds like sunflower, pepita or pumpkin seeds. You can also add chia seeds and try dried blueberries, goji berries, or raisins as your fruit choice. From experience, I prefer not to use two dried fruits as I find the sweetness level increases quite a bit for my taste, but you can mix and match as you please. I like a 2: 1 the ratio of oats to fruit and nut additions.
With regard to sweeteners you can use various types like honey, maple syrup or agave. I have used honey in my recipe as I have a large quantity on hand at the moment from a great local supplier. The viscosity of honey is thicker, so it really is wonderful for coating the grains and creating a crunch after it has been baked. The choice of sweetener is entirely yours.
I have used coconut oil in my recipe as it is a healthy saturated fat. The nutty flavor is also great for the granola and goes well with my addition of coconut flakes. You may also use canola oil if you have no coconut oil on hand. The fragrant spices add a lovely warming quality to the granola. There is a wonderful aroma that wafts through the house while the granola bakes. It hints that there is a change in season as the air is perfumed with cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg.
I hope you enjoy this little treat. Why not make some this weekend?
Coconut Cashew Cranberry Granola
4 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup raw cashews
½ cup dried coconut slivers
½ cup coconut oil
½ cup honey
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp sea salt
In a small bowl add the coconut oil, honey, spices and salt. Mix together well.
In a large bowl pour the old fashioned oats, sunflower seeds, cranberries, cashews and coconut. Stir the oats, nuts and fruit, then pour the syrup of the dry ingredients coating everything.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Line a large cookie sheet with a silpat or parchment paper. Pour the sticky mixture onto the prepared pan and spread evenly from corner to corner.
Bake for 30 minutes. Remove and stir granola, then continue baking for another 10 minutes.
Your granola will still be slightly wet at this point but golden. Remove from oven and leave to cool for about half an hour. It is at this point that it will harden, so be patient and allow it to cool.
Using a spatula, loosen the granola from the base. You will have some clusters as well as loose granola.
Place in an airtight container and enjoy as a snack or with your favorite yoghurt or milk.
Stays fresh for 2 weeks. You may also keep in the freezer in a ziplock bag for an extended period of time.
Note: pumpkin pie spice is a mixture of cinnamon,cloves, nutmeg and ginger.