After what has seemed like an eternity of rich holiday meals, candy, chocolate, cheese and appetizers, I am more than ready to get back on track with “clean” eating. I’ve finally used up the leftovers, eaten all the candy and my fridge seems to be back to normal. Step one for me to get back on track is having healthy options accessible so that I don’t revert back to my piggish December eating habits.
Since I’m almost always late, having a couple of days of snacks and easy to-go meals is always a good idea for me. And no, I’m not one of those ballistic people who are cooking 20 chicken breasts on a Sunday afternoon and then posting a picture to social media of a dining room table full of plastic salad containers filled with a week’s worth of breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. My mini-prep is so that instead of reaching for a sugary processed granola bar, I will have a balanced snack ready, like the recipe I’m sharing today: super easy and satisfying fruit and nut granola.
As with all of my recipes, this one is also customizable to suit the needs (both dietary and preferential) of all the people you are feeding. You can use whatever ingredients you and your peeps like for this one – raisins (ew), dried coconut, chocolate chips (carob chips if you’re healthy), dried banana chips, just walk into a bulk foods store and let your creativity go! You can also play around with the fat (instead of canola oil, try olive oil for a deeper flavour, or try coconut oil if you have it in your cupboard). Just try to keep the proportions about the same and you’ll be fine! Since there is a bit of sugar in this one, do keep an eye on it as you’re baking so you don’t burn it.
- 3 cups old fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup wheat germ
- 1/2 cup natural wheat bran
- 1/2 cup golden yellow or brown sugar
- 1/2 cup flax seeds
- 1/3 cup sliced almonds
- 1/3 cup pepitas
- ½ cup cashews, roughly chopped
- 1 cup craisins
- ½ cup each dried apricots and dates
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1/2 cup honey (or agave syrup if you want to make this vegan)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 325 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the oats, wheat germ, bran, sugar, flax seeds, sliced almonds, pepitas and cashews.
In a separate bowl, combine the oil, honey, maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon. Pour over the dry ingredients and stir until the whole thing is moist and sticky. Roughly chop the dried fruit mixture and make your decision if you are going to add it before or after baking. Now there is some debate on whether or not to add the dried fruit into the mix before or after baking; if you add it in before baking, it will harden up slightly and become chewier.
Bake in 15 minute increments, “tilling” the granola in between timer going off. Do this 3 times; total of 45 minutes for those of you who are not great at math. If you are adding it after baking, it’s easiest to transfer the granola into a large mixing bowl containing the dried fruit, mix thoroughly and then press back into the baking sheet.
Once the mixture has cooled completely, you can break up into larger chunks and store in an air-tight container — this stuff will last for about a week this way; it’s great layered with yogurt and fresh fruit, or even eaten by the handful.
Shannon Yacyshyn is a recovering food blogger (the original Red Deer Foodie) who is passionate about trying new ways of cooking healthy foods in her kitchen. Find Kitchen Confessions Red Deer on Facebook.