Friday, February 10, 2006

G ~ R ~ A ~ N ~ O ~ L ~ A

Granola is a simple and nutritious breakfast food that is convenient at home or on the road. Over the years I've experimented with several granola recipes, searching for just the right amount of crunch and sweet. The original recipes always called for baking ingredients in the oven on large cookie sheets. Sometimes this method worked, but other times the end product was too toasty or crunchy. Several years ago I discovered a recipe that has 'stuck' as my favorite! The method used is stovetop toasting in a skillet and the ingredients are the perfect combination of crunchy, tender, and sweet.

For crunch, chopped nuts and toasted grains form the base of this recipe. Using a combination of grains gives variety in flavor and texture and allows for nutritional variation. Raw, rolled flakes of oats, quinoa, brown rice, wheat, barley, or rye can be used alone or in combination. Gluten free options are easy; just choose the gluten free grains. Nuts, chopped or simply broken add omega 3 essential oils for a healthy heart.

Seeds create variety in texture and make a more tender granola than one that uses mostly nuts instead of seeds. Seeds add fiber and nutrition to the recipe. Flax seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds, used in combination or alone, make a great addition to granola.

For sweeteness, dried fruits and maple syrup are good natural sweeteners. For variation, honey, brown rice syrup, or the sweet herb stevia can be used. Or try using a 100% fruit juice concentrate (Dole) as sweetener. In addition to a sweet flavor, fruit concentrates add the benefit of a fresh, delicate flavor.

Granola bowl is Homer Laughlin Eggshell Nautilus with Platnum edging.

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