Cinnamon Almond Granola

31 Jan

I have always been a healthy eater.  Not perfect, but overall a very healthy eater.

It started with my Mom when I was a little girl.  We used to shop at a place called A Beautiful Day (I kid you not).  I hated it.  It smelled like pachouli and was full of unheard of, all-natural foods.  I had fruit leathers, everyone else had Fruit Roll-Ups.  I ate eggless donuts, others noshed on Dunkin Donuts.  Carob brownies for me, boxed Duncan Hines for Sally, Susie and Timmy (okay, I didn’t know anyone by these names, but you get the point).  And, I promise you, I was eating blue corn chips before just about anyone else in America.

Don’t feel too bad for me.  My grandparents house was not quite the same.  They had (and, actually, still do) a second fridge stocked with soda – well, and beer, if I’m being truthful (a tale for another day).  A cookie jar in the kitchen filled with Little Debbie Oatmeal Pies.  And in the cabinet, Lucky Charms, Trix and Frosted Flakes.  Gasp!

I was lucky.  Best of both worlds.  And as I ventured out on my own in college and beyond, I found a happy balance.

Now that I am living back home, I maintain this balance.  The twist is just about everything “bad” is fresh baked.  No, not perfect but so much better than those Little Debbie’s in so many ways.  Okay, I do indulge in an Oatmeal Pie now and then.  Ahh, nostalgia.

Anyway, the healthy food is even healthier now.  Mom and I have committed to eating locally and in season, as much as possible.  This includes even making some of our food that we might have previously purchased.

Enter this granola.  I love granola, but the boxed kind is filled with sugar and preservatives.  I like to limit the sugar wherever and whenever possible.  I get enough tasting batter and frosting!

After some experimenting and tweaking, this is what we’ve settled on for our house granola.  Yes, it has some sweetener – brown sugar and honey – in it, but it is still significantly less than what you find in store bought granola.  Plus, we primarily use it on unflavored yogurt and on unsweetened oatmeal.  So the granola serves as crunch, extra protein and a touch of sweetness.

While it takes time, it is really easy to make and well worth it.

Start by putting the oats and almonds in a bowl.

Mix well.

In a separate bowl, combine the applesauce, brown sugar, honey, vanilla extract, vanilla bean paste, cinnamon and canola oil.    Whisk until well combined.

Pour the wet mixture over the oats and almonds.

Mix until well combined.  Don’t be afraid to use your hands here ladies and gents!

Evenly divide the mixture onto two baking sheets.  As you can tell, I use the term “evenly” rather loosely here.

Bake, mixing every 20 minutes.

Once golden brown, allow the granola to cool.  One thing to keep in mind, it will become still be pretty moist.  As it cools, it will become crunchy.

This is particularly delicious over homemade yogurt.  Again, that’s for another day!

 

Cinnamon Almond Granola
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6 cups Old-Fashioned oats
1 cup raw, sliced almonds
1 cup raw, whole almonds
1 cup all-natural applesauce
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup honey
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons vanilla bean paste
2 heaping teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup dried cranberries (optional)

Directions…

Preheat oven to 300F.

In a large bowl, mix oats and nuts together.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the remainder of the ingredients, except the cranberries (if using).  Evenly divide the oat mixture on two baking sheets.

Bake, stirring the granola every 15-20 minutes.  The granola should bake 1 hour and 1 hour and 20 minutes.  It will be golden brown when ready.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  If adding cranberries, mix in once the granola has cooled.  Store in an airtight container.

Source: Kristina’s Original

 

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4 Responses to “Cinnamon Almond Granola”

  1. pademney January 31, 2011 at 8:15 am #

    What in the world is vanilla bean paste? And please don’t tell me it’s something I have to make!

    • Kristina's Confections January 31, 2011 at 9:56 am #

      Vanilla bean paste is similar to vanilla extract, except vanilla bean paste is thicker, slightly sweet and, most importantly, contains actual vanilla beans. You can find it at specialty shops, such as Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table, or discount stores, such as HomeGoods. If you can’t find it or don’t have it on hand, you can substitute equal amounts of vanilla extract. Hope that helps!

  2. bd January 31, 2011 at 8:09 pm #

    This is kind of the story of why your mom and I get along so well. Finally a KC recipe that I can almost eat :)

    • Kristina's Confections January 31, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

      Yes, yes this does explain the two of you! And what can you not eat in this recipe? The honey? If so, sub some agave.

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