Monday, November 4, 2013

Autumn Spice Granola

Ok, interweb, it's time for a true confession: I'm a stay-at-home mom, and sometimes I get bored.

I love my kid. I mean, he's adorable and wonderful and sweet and precocious, blah, blah, blah. But the only word he says is "hot", and sometimes I'm looking for more stimulating conversation. In order to get my kicks, I go to the grocery store. Danny loves riding in the cart; all the clerks and the guys at the meat counter smile at him, and the grandmas picking their produce stop and admire his chubby cheeks. He couldn't be happier with all the attention. Meanwhile, I get out of the house, enjoy exhilarating adult conversation about potato salad with the deli people, and fill my fridge at the same time.

Last week was gray and cold and rainy. I came up with a stellar (if I do say so myself) SAHM plan to occupy my kid: Bake granola. It was the perfect excuse to go to the special grocery store with the bulk bins to buy interesting things to put in the granola. That alone would kill at least an hour before nap time. But in addition, he could stir it all together. Best part? I'd have a delicious treat on hand for easy morning meals. Genius.

A few notes:

  1. If you're not a stay-at-home parent looking for time to kill at the market, you can absolutely use what you have in your cupboards to make this granola. Fresh out of pepitas? Use almonds or extra pecans. Don't have flax seeds or chia seeds? Skip 'em. Prefer raisins to dates? By all means, make a substitution.
  2. If you are a stay-at-home parent and let your toddler stir everything together, he will eschew the spoon to "stir" with his booger-covered hands. Then he will put his sticky, granola-crusted hands in his mouth. He will like the maple syrup and repeat this several times, adding spittle to the boogers in the granola. Ensure yourself that a stint in the oven will bake off any grossness, but use this as the perfect excuse not to share your granola with anyone. 
Happy baking!

Autumn Spice Granola
Adapted from this granola recipe

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
Pinch salt
4 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup roasted coconut chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine oil, vanilla, syrup, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Stir in oats, pecans, pepitas, flax seeds, and chia seeds. Evenly spread the granola onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 25 minutes, stirring two times to make sure the granola bakes evenly. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Once cooled, stir in dates, cranberries, and coconut chips. Store in an airtight container.

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