Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tree-Huggers, 401K's, and Easy Homemade Crunchy Maple Walnut Granola

crunchy maple walnut and banana granola

If I say, "She's so granola," you know exactly what I mean -- she's a tree-hugging, free-spirited, hemp-wearing woman with long graying hair who wears her well-worn Birkenstocks to walk to the local co-op where she buys only fair-trade goods.

Does that mean that a short-haired, Anthrolpologie-wearing, Cosmo-drinking girl with a 401K like me can't be "granola"? Cause I eat a lot of it.

I don't buy it at the local co-op; I make my own, while wearing high heels. Making homemade granola is easy and allows you to control the fat, sugar, and calorie content. It's also less expensive. Don't pay $5.00/pound for pre-made granola when you can buy oats for 79 cents a pound.

crunchy maple walnut granola

My current favorite is Easy Homemade Crunchy Maple Walnut Granola, a hearty maple-coated granola loaded with clusters of sticky walnuts and coconut, crisp banana chips, and tart cherries. I know it's expensive, but you have to use pure maple syrup.  

Recently someone said to me, "You're so Mad Men in that dress." Hah. Little do they know I'm so granola.

cherry, prune, and almond granola
Be sure to check out my homemade Cherry, Prune, and Almond Granola pictured above.

Easy Homemade Crunchy Maple Walnut Granola
Yield: Approximately 7 cups
Print recipe only here.

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
3/4 cup dried tart cherries
3/4 cup dried banana chips
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup unsalted butter (or butter substitute such as Smart Balance)
1-2 teaspoons maple extract*
1 /2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl.

2. In a small pan over medium heat, melt maple syrup and butter. Remove from heat; stir in maple extract, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

3. Pour maple-butter mixture over the oat mixture and stir until well coated. Spread mixture on a large rimmed baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring once or twice, until granola is golden brown. (If you want it extra crunchy, then turn off heat and leave in the warm oven for another 20-25 minutes.) Cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

*Note: Maple extract is intensely flavored, so it's a great, reduced calorie way to cut down on the amount of maple syrup needed. It's available in the spice section of most major supermarkets. If you can't find it, then add an extra 1/4 cup of maple syrup to the recipe.

Here are more healthy recipes from Food Blogga you might enjoy:
Low-Fat Date, Fennel, and Pistachio Scones
Shrimp, Pineapple, and 7-Whole Grain Pilaf Salad
Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Breadcrumbs and Lemon
Warm Bulgur Salad with Beets, Fennel, and Oranges
Healthy Tofu and Vegetables with an Orange-Honey-Ginger Glaze

Here are more homemade granola recipes you might enjoy:
Glorious Granola recipe at Cookie Baker Lynn
Coconut Almond Granola recipe at Baking Bites
Hearty Homemade Granola recipe at Adventures in Shaw
Very Nutty Homemade Granola recipe at The Passionate Cook
Granola with Almonds, Apricots, Cranberries, and Pineapple recipe at The Kitchn