Healthy Winter Granola

Many of you loyal readers of this blog already enjoy granola à la Jen; that simple, throw-together-whatever-you’ve-got bowl of nuts, seeds, and grains that turns mornings into moments. I call it Chameleon Granola, and it always surprises me with its various incarnations.

For those of you who feel a little lost in an ingredient list that read “this, OR this,” I’ve put together this foolproof, easy to follow recipe. Just the straight-up stuff with none of the playing around and experimentation. (Actually, truth be told, I put it together for the magazine I work for, where it’s featured in the December-January issue under off-season nutrition.)

So try this one, and next time, maybe you’ll be ready to play Picasso with your breakfast cereal.

Healthy Winter Granola*

Ingredients

Dry:
-4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
– ½ cup wheatgerm
-½ cup flaxmeal (ground flaxseeds)
-½ cup pumpkin seeds
-½ cup unsweetened coconut (if you don’t like coconut, use 1 cup pumpkin seeds)
-2 Tbsp chia seeds
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp cinnamon, nutmeg, or ground ginger

Wet:
-¼ cup molasses
-¼ cup pure maple syrup
-¼ cup agave syrup
-¼ cup smooth peanut butter
-2 egg whites
-splash of water or milk

Preparation

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix together the oats, wheatgerm, flaxmeal, pumpkin seeds, and coconut, and spread over two large cookie sheets. Toast for 10 minutes, or until lightly fragrant. Remove, turn oven down to 325 degrees.

2. Pour toasted mixture into a large bowl and add chia seeds, salt, and spices.

3. Mix together the molasses, maple and agave syrups, and peanut butter, microwaving on low power for a few minutes if softening is needed. Stir into the dry mixture until well-coated. Pour in the egg whites and water. Stir to incorporate.

4. Gently oil the baking sheets (unless you’re using non-stick) and disperse mixture evenly over the two sheets. Bake for 20 minutes, remove and stir gently with a flat lifter (especially if you want clumps, don’t disturb the granola too much), and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes, depending on how crunchy you want the final product. (Less time equals a softer, more chewy texture, more time equals more crunch). Place baking sheets on racks and cool.

*Originally published in LAVA Magazine, Issue 3, December/January (2010, 2011)

Advertisements

sheri’s spiced cider

It’s that time of year again when a person just can’t have too many hot beverage options. Coffee first thing. A latte later with a friend. Rooibos in the afternoon. Earl Grey after dinner. To this repertoire of refreshment I’ve recently added a mug of sweet spiced cider before bed.

There are many varieties of cider. From the mulled wine you get in the streets of Munich to the sugary instant mixes you got at a gift exchange 5 years ago—each claims to impart that cozy wintery spirit we all crave. Just don’t make the mistake I did at 16 when I downed 5 mugs of the stuff, not able to tell it was alcoholic.

But there’s another kind, neither spiked with booze nor full of artificial, crystalized who-knows-what. This one has all the best of simplicity and perfect balance of spices. And how could it not? It’s the one I grew up on. Are not our tastebuds conditioned to think that our traditions taste best? 

This “recipe,” for I hesitate to call it that, is virtually foolproof. You get to decide what brand of juice to use and how much of each spice to add. It come together in under 5 minutes, and is the perfect thing to have on hand for unexpected guests.

It’s a little hard for me to feel cozy when it looks more dreary March outside than crisp December. But with a cup of this cider in my hands, I can go almost anywhere. One sip and I’m transported home.  

And in just two weeks, a train will take me where this humble cup of cheer cannot.

Continue reading