When the two of us were discussing what to make for brunch today, my demand was that it be "fresh and healthy", while still doable with my dwindling food supply (I've been procrastinating on grocery shopping). Granola seemed like a good candidate for that - well, in theory anyway. Most granola recipes have a crazy amount of oil and sugar, so you might as well be eating dessert for breakfast. I'm often cool with that, but wanted something a little less decadent this week.
I used to make granola a lot way back in the day (those must've been good days), so I knew it was possible to make a lighter batch that still tasted awesome. But still, granola is basically just cereal, and I don't find that cereal fits the "fresh and healthy" category. However, if it's served parfait-style with lots of fresh fruit, I think we've got a candidate that meets my brunchy demands.
Fruit and granola parfaits are so easy to make (even easier if you just use pre-made granola), and they're really aesthetically pleasing. I love 'em with coconut milk yogurt, but lacking any yogurt in my fridge I just blended up some frozen banana and almond milk for a creamy filling.
And winter fruit doesn't get enough love. Everyone's all into the berries and whatnot, which I totally understand, but hey - citrus is pretty badass too. And apples are the troopers of the fruit kingdom, those things last forever. Kiwis and bananas are all over the place at this time of year, and I don't think I could ever tire of those. So thank you, winter fruit, for existing.
The Easiest Granola
2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup mix of chopped nuts and/or seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup liquid sweetener (agave and maple syrup work well)
1 tablespoon brown sugar (or more, to taste)
2 tablespoons neutral oil
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried fruit (large pieces chopped)
1/4 cup ground flaxseed (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 300 F. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients: Rolled oats, nuts/seeds, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the liquid sweetener, sugar, oil, water and vanilla until everything is well combined.
2. Pour out the oat mixture on a well-oiled 9x13 baking sheet (parchment paper works even better) and clump the mixture together with your hands, to encourage the granola to stick together and form clusters. Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so and more toward the end - granola goes from golden to burnt very quickly. After stirring, press down on the granola with the back of a spoon to encourage clusters. Remove it from the oven when it's crisp, golden, and smells heavenly. Stir in the dried fruit and ground flaxseed, if desired.
Some notes on granola-making:
-For a budget-friendly granola, use pumpkin and sunflower seeds, raisins, and simple syrup (sugar boiled in water).
-This can be made fat-free - just use water. I used to do that all the time.
-Try playing around with the sugar content until you find something you're happy with. I like granola that isn't too sweet, especially if I'm serving it with sweetened non-dairy milk, yogurt or fruit. You might want to add a little extra sweetener if you're into that.
-Granola is the perfect template for fun add-ins! Cacao nibs, goji berries, green powders, it's all good. Just remember, if it's a heat-sensitive food, add it after the granola's done cooking (I would do that with all the above mentioned items).
Mike: My parfait wasn't all that different from Allysia's, but since I had some on hand, I used store-bought yogurt. I decided to go with plain coconut yogurt and flavor it myself with a little bit of maple syrup and vanilla. My granola didn't cluster very much, but hot damn was it tasty. Pile it all up in a wine glass and it was one gorgeous looking breakfast. As a bonus, I found out that I have gotten past an old food aversion: I used to absolutely hate crunchy things mixed in with yogurt. It made me gag (something about thinking it was the yogurt getting crunchy, maybe?), but not today. Not even a little bit!
Eating breakfast outside on a February morning is right up there on the list of 'best things ever'. Keep warm wherever you are, and I hope you're having an awesome weekend!