Friday, April 16, 2010

¡HOLA! Granola

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First, there’s the growling stomach. It starts at a whisper and gains volume with every minute it’s ignored. Then, the lethargy hits. Time’s slower, you’re slower, sitting is a chore. Finally, the world turns against you. Somehow, someway, everyone and everything has acquired the same ultimate goal: to annoy you mercilessly. The symptoms are classic. Hunger strikes again, and it will stop for nothing until its satisfied.
Low blood-sugar episodes are no fun, and it is one of my main priorities to avoid them at all costs. This is why in almost every purse, backpack, and even jacket pocket of mine, you’ll find some sort of snack tucked away. I call it my emergency stash. Some people carry around Epipens, I carry granola. I guess we all have our issues…
Although some sort of store bought version is always safely stored away in my cabinets (can you tell I like to be prepared?) you will most likely find me making a batch of granola every Sunday to get me through the week ahead. Quite frankly, I like to say that my granola recipe got me through college. On those marathon days of ungodly amounts of hours straight in the library, bringing a bag of my granola with me would be just as important as bringing my textbooks. While everyone rushed to the vending machines for caffeinated cans of who-knows-what, I knew my concoction of oats and nuts would fuel me right through any paper or study session. As my friends and classmates slowly caught on to my routine, they started asking me when I was going to start selling it around campus. I never quite got to that point since finishing my degree overruled starting full-time granola production, but I figured my creation at least deserved an official name. So, since more often than not what I was studying while munching was somehow Spanish related due to my major, ¡Hola! Granola was born.
The recipe below is the backbone of every batch I make. It is certainly tasty enough on its own, but other versions often appear from whatever is in my reach within my cabinets that particular week. Some days I add coconut, others wheat germ, and a few different spices have been known to make an appearance as well. It’s a recipe that is completely open to variation, so feel free to experiment with your favorite tastes. With warmer weather coming our way too (finally!), it is a perfect companion for any hike or outdoor activity to keep you energized. Now you can finally combat those painful hunger spells and say ¡Hola! to satisfaction with your own stash of granola.

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
· ½ cup slivered almonds
· ½ cup chopped walnuts
· ½ cup 100% pure maple syrup
· ¼ cup honey
· 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
· ½ teaspoon cinnamon
· ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
· ¼ teaspoon salt
· ¾ cup dried fruit (I usually do a mixture of raisins, cranberries, and cherries)
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Spray a sided sheet pan liberally with non-stick cooking spray.
Combine the oats, almonds, and walnuts in a medium bowl, set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the maple syrup, honey, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt. Mix with a fork or whisk until thoroughly combined. Pour the syrup mixture over the oat mixture and stir to evenly coat the oats and nuts.
Pour the oat mixture on to the pan and spread into an even layer using a spatula, packing it down to create a flat surface. Bake until golden brown and smelling nutty, about 27-30 minutes. Sprinkle the dried fruit over the top of the warm granola, and let cool completely in the pan. Break off the granola in large chunks or crumble with your hands to create more of a loose granola great for yogurt or milk.

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