Granola party!

See Andreae Prozesky partying? It’s the granola.

There are some acts that are so virtuous that they can actually erase certain sins from your cosmic record. Making granola can absolve you of tax evasion, jaywalking, and the use of “party” as a verb. Gone. Ka-poof.
   
I started making my own granola years ago, in my first-year-university-manic-health-nut-control-freak phase. As a student on a budget, I was having a hell of a time finding healthful and satisfying snack alternatives that were free of whey powder, refined sugar, processed grains, and other ingredients that I had outlawed from my diet. Breakfast cereals that met my criteria were either blindingly sweet (like that hippie Sunny Crunch stuff) or prohibitively expensive (like the oh-my-god-ly good Jordan’s Morning Crisp, which is so delicious and expensive that I only buy it at Christmas), or studded with dried-up, oil-coated, tooth-loosening raisins that would have to be ritualistically removed in a process that was both time-consuming and wasteful (like every inexpensive store-brand granola out there).

Homemade granola was the solution to my woes. I found a recipe in some 1970s cookbook and adapted it to suit the constraints imposed by my bank account. Rolled oats made up the bulk, molasses served as the sweetener (high in iron for borderline anemic vegetarians), and I fancied it up with dates, almonds, flax seeds, whatever was cheap and tasty at my neighbourhood bulk foods store. I learned that in the process, finely-ground ingredients, like wheat germ and oat bran, would form delicious little chunks of crunchy goodness, and that a generous pinch of salt would offset the sweetness of the fruit and molasses beautifully. I also learned that if you keep a close eye on your granola while it bakes, your raisins will still be juicy and plump, not like the horrid little things I had been tossing out of my bowl and into the trash.
   
Making granola is so wholesome, it’s sexy. It’s like black wool tights, or hand-knit mitts. It like whipping up a big ol’ batch of love. If you don’t believe me, try it; you will be so pleased with yourself that you will become irresistible to others. Once again I have no proof to back this up. You’ll just have to trust me.
   
Over the years I’ve settled on a favourite combination of ingredients. I tend to use honey instead of molasses now, for a lighter taste and because I’m not as anemic as I once was.
   
So long as the proportions remain the same, you can substitute any fruits and nuts and grains you like. Dried apples and pecans with maple syrup, for example, would be freakin’ heavenly. Dried diced papaya and banana chips and Brazil nuts, on the other hand, would be crazy tropical madness. Candied ginger could add mind-clarifying oomph.
   
Because this granola has no real filler to speak of, I usually throw a scoop of it on top of some puffy, airy stuff, either the puffed wheat that you find in pillow-like bags on the bottom shelf of the cereal aisle in the grocery store, or, when I can afford them, the fancy-pants organic kamut and millet puffs. It’s also lovely on yogurt. Or by the handful if you couldn’t be bothered to dirty a dish.
   
And if you choose to eat your granola by the handful, scattering bits of flax and oats all over your kitchen floor, that’s okay, because you’ve made granola. You have given yourself about eight thousand cosmic virtue points, and can get away with it.

GRANOLA

3 cups rolled oats (“old-fashioned,” not “quick”)
½ cup canola or grape seed oil
½ cup honey
¾ cup chopped dates
½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup dried, unsweetened coconut (the long strands, if you can find them)
 ¼ cup flax seeds
1/3 cup wheat germ
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Heat oven to 325F. Spread oats on a baling sheet and toast 8-10 minutes, until fragrant. Meanwhile, combine oil and honey in a small saucepan and heat in medium-low until warmed through. Combine all other ingredients in a large bowl. Add honey-oil mixture to dry ingredients and stir until all ingredients are uniformly moist. Add oats and mix well.

Spread granola mixture on a baking sheet and place in oven about 12 minutes, stirring once (you will probably have to do two batches). Remove granola from oven and allow to cool thoroughly. The granola will crisp up as it cools. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Send your questions, comments, suggestions and cosmic virtue points to dreae@thescope.ca

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