Saturday, October 15, 2011

Coconut Almond Granola

I am a huge believer in a good, healthy, wholesome breakfast.  It's literally "breaking" the "fast" from sleeping all night.  Without breakfast it's like driving a car on a low or empty tank.  Not very efficient. Not very good for the engine.  After a while it creates harm.  Breakfast gives you the energy you need to start your day and gives you adequate fuel to make it through until lunch.  It's been shown over and over again that folks who skip breakfast repeatedly tend to overeat at other times of the day, ultimately leading to weight gain.  It's also been shown in multiple studies that those people who skip breakfast tend to be more fatigued and score lower on memory tests.
This is important stuff because one meal has the ability to affect our mood and energy levels for day.  Thinking of this also in context of kiddos who start their day out with a well balanced breakfast.  This sets them up to do better in school.  Along with the ability to have better, more well balanced energy levels (really what parent doesn't want that??!??), and to be more alert, attentive, and less likely to crash from fatigue and hunger.  
Now with all that said, I all recognize the fact that's its not always so easy to make a wholesome breakfast every morning.  My kiddos aren't even in school yet and still I feel some mornings were rushing out the door.  It's nice to have a few easy options that you can do ahead of time to have on hand so when a busy morning presents itself your ready and prepared.  One of my favorite easy go-to meals is granola.  I make a fairly big batch when I make it and store it away in air tight containers and it's absolutely perfect for a morning when you need to get out the door but also need a balanced meal to start the day.
Really making your own granola does become cheaper than buying conventional boxed cereals.  Besides conventional cereals often contain high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, loads of sugar, and GMO ingredients.  These things are often in even the "healthy" cereals.  So it's good to become really consistent with reading labels...being a food detective!
Buying nuts and seeds in bulk makes homemade granola very, very cost effective.  Local health food stores often carry a bulk section for nuts and seeds, as do some of the bigger stores like Costco.  If you can order from a co-op even better deals.  Don't rule out searching online as well for some great deals.

Coconut Almond Granola

Dry Ingredients

8 cups rolled oats
1 cup chopped Almonds
3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup raw sesame seeds
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds

Wet Ingredients
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup raw local honey
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 TBS black strap molasses
1 TBS Vanilla
1 TBS cinnamon
(nutmeg, allspice & cardamon are nice flavors to add a dash of as well for a more fall tasting granola)

Mix dry and wet ingredients together separately.  Add wet mixture to the dry mixture. Spread on lightly oiled baking sheet.  Bake at 300.  Check and stir often.  I usually cook it for around 25-30 minutes.  But it can burn quickly so keep a watchful eye on it.  If it starts to look golden it's done.  It will get more golden after it's pulled out of the oven so keep in mind as you check it.

Store in airtight containers for quick and easy breakfasts!

This recipe typically lasts for at least a week for our family of 4. (Now 2 of those 4 are still rather small so plan according to how "big" your little people are!)
Eat with a milk of choice or yogurt of choice.  I've been really into making our own homemade rice and almond milks. 

You can personalize your granola in so many ways by adding in some yummy toppings once it is cooled.  Some of our favorites:

chia seeds
ground flax seeds
dried cranberries
diced apples
smashed or sliced banana
fresh or frozen berries

sprinkle of shredded coconut

sprinkle of cinnamon

 Little bowl of hearty goodness for my little sweetie pie!

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