The Bean and I have spent a lot of time over the last couple of (very cold) months talking about the arrival of spring. When she has trouble sleeping at night, I implore her to close her eyes and think about all the fun things we will do when spring comes: play in the park, pick flowers, hunt for easter eggs, etcetera. Just like in the storybooks:
Unfortunately, the first day of spring came and went, and our backyard looks like this:
And no, that’s NOT a crocus you see sticking up in the corner near the fence. It’s four-month old cat poo. Welcome to “spring” in the great white north.
If we don’t have spring in our backyard, at least we can have it in our breakfast bowls with this refreshing granola recipe.
Now before you go all “since when is granola refreshing??” on me—whip this up and taste for yourself. It was not even me, but the world’s best friend and recipe tester (you know who you are) who declared “The orange zest makes it refreshing – a good ‘springtime’ granola!”.
Refreshing, but also “sick,” (translation: awesome) said the recipe tester’s husband, whom I know to be among the toughest of taste critics!
If you haven’t made your own granola before, you are in for a real treat. Once you try it, you will never go back to the boxed or bagged stuff you buy in the store. Because no matter how “artisanal” or “all-natural” or “made by hand” the store-bought stuff claims to be, it doesn’t hold a candle to the kind you make yourself.
There are lots of recipes out there for homemade granola. I have tinkered with a whole bunch of them, and landed on this winning formula—oats plus your favourite nuts and seeds, dried fruit and coconut, sweetened with maple syrup, bound with olive oil and punctuated with cinnamon and orange zest. The result is a not-too-sweet, super flavourful cereal that you can actually feel good about serving up for breakfast. The Bean loves it with milk and blueberries or banana slices. Kiwi and I prefer it over raspberries and yogurt with a drizzle of maple syrup or honey. Packaged in a mason jar with a pretty ribbon, it also makes a perfect—and always appreciated—gift.
Like my favourite smoothie recipe, this is really more of a formula than a strict recipe. Which means you can adapt it to your tastes and dietary restrictions, whatever those may be. If you like it sweeter, add more maple syrup. If you’ve got a nut allergy on your hands, or want to make this school/daycare-friendly, use pumpkin and sunflower seeds instead of the nuts. Leave out the dried fruit altogether, if you aren’t a fan.
Adapted from Super Natural Every Day, by Heidi Swanson
- 4 cups rolled oats
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups mixed nuts and/or seeds (I like pecans and pumpkin seeds)
- 1 cup large flake coconut
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon maple syrup (add a few extra tablespoons if you like a sweeter granola)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Grated zest of 2 oranges
- 1 cup dried fruit (cranberries, currants, cherries or chopped apricots work well)
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
- Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
- Divide the mixture between two parchment paper-lined baking sheets and spread it into a thin layer.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, then remove the pans and stir the granola well and return it to the oven for another 15 to 20 minutes, or just until the coconut flakes are golden brown.
- Let the granola cool completely before transferring it to a large ziploc bag or mason jar. Store at room temperature.