Store-bought granola is for the weak.

I guess summer is finally here! I can tell because I am covered in mosquito bites from fieldwork, and I’m always vaguely sweaty. I caught a hummingbird at work yesterday. Do you know how small those fuckers are? I promise you, at LEAST 50% smaller than you think. Their nest is the size of a QUARTER, YOU GUYS. The damn bird was as big as a bumblebee. I died. I didn’t get a picture, so here’s a pretty little Kentucky Warbler.

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Anyway, I usually leave for the field anywhere between 3 and 5 in the morning, a time during which I generally struggle to eat. However, if I don’t eat, then I’m both weak and angry later on in the day, which is a bad combination. I’m like the Voldemort’s weird ghost fetus. The point is, I need portable nourishment, and the next few blog posts are going to be all about food that travels well. Today we’re doing breakfast! Granola. Store bought granola is usually a combination of the following: 1) just oats and a few sad cranberries, 2) expensive, 3) overly sweet, 4) sold in tiny quantities. I’ve been making my own granola at home for awhile, and it’s great. Not overloaded with sugar, and totally customizable, so you can get exactly what you want from it. Moreover, you can add a ton of nuts, seeds, and fruit to get you going in the pre- or post-dawn.

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Get your bitch ass out of bed granola
Adapted from Epicurious and several other sources

  • 2 1/2 cups rolled oats (be careful not to get instant or steel-cut oats – they won’t work here)
  • About 2 cups nuts and seeds of your choice (chia, flax, sunflower, almonds, peanuts, cashews, etc)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt, unless nuts are salted
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp (3 oz) canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp molasses (you can also use brown sugar or maple syrup for a bit more sweetness, but the granola won’t cluster together as well)
  • 1-2 cups dried fruit, your preference (I like cranberries and apricots)
  1. Heat oven to 300°F.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients except fruit in a large bowl and mix well.
  3. Add the canola oil, vanilla, honey, and molasses (if you measure the oil in your measuring cup first, the honey and molasses will pour more easily). Stir until well combined and all the dry ingredients are coated.
  4. Spread the granola on a baking sheet with a spatula—if you like your granola with clusters, make sure it’s packed together tightly.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes before stirring. If you want to preserve clusters, just be sure you don’t stir it too thoroughly. I sort of just rake everything into the middle of the pan and then spread it back out again.
  6. Continue baking and stirring every 10 minutes until the granola is golden brown—about 30–35 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and add dried fruit.
  7. Allow the granola to cool completely, stirring occasionally (it will get crunchy as it cools). Don’t forget to stir, or the granola will harden into a sheet.
  8. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

THE RUNDOWN:

1. Prepare for trouble. Make it double. 

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Oats may be the primary substrate for this granola, but nuts and seeds are the main event. You want to get as many of these puppies in there as possible – it ups the nutrient/protein considerably, and helps keep you full. Plus fiber and healthy fats and all that other junk. A little honey and molasses/maple syrup/brown sugar gives it a bit of sweetness – I used the minimum here, but if you prefer it sweet, feel free to up the sugar content.

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Nuts and seeds: I usually go for almonds, but I was fresh out. Instead, I threw in some salted peanuts and sunflower seeds. Pre-salted nuts can be a dangerous game, since you can’t control the amount of salt being added, but I guess I like to live life on the edge. I just omitted the salt later on. Seed-wise, I added chia, flax, and sesame. Flax seeds are the shit. They are crazy high in dietary fiber, and are chock-full of antioxidants and other good, good shit. They provide a ton of cardiovascular and other health benefits. Basically, you should eat as many flax seeds as you can, all the time. Oh, and guess what the next best thing is? Sesame. Awww yeah. And chia is amazing in it’s own way that I won’t bore you with, but it’s the same basic stuff: protein, fiber, antioxidants, etc. Dump these things down your fucking throat.

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I personally love dried fruit, so I added a lot in here – the original recipe only called for 1/4 cup! Boring. Plus, they bring some natural sugars to the table if they’re unsweetened. I wish I could find unsweetened cranberries in normal stores – I’ve never been able to. They sell them for about $18/lb on amazon, but who am I, the fucking Queen of England? I would imagine they are tart and awesome, like the fruit… perhaps some day I shall find some. It will be an exciting day.

2. Preheat the oven to 300F and mix the dry ingredients.
This is pretty simple. Put everything dry except the fruit into a big bowl and mix. Add a bit of salt if your nuts aren’t already salty (insert additional scrotum joke here). Don’t forget the cinnamon! I like to add a healthy teaspoon. Feel free to add the nuts and seeds in whatever quantity you choose – they should add up to about 2 cups. If you’re adding in brown sugar rather than molasses or maple syrup, add it in here.

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I have always wanted to take a picture like this. Look! Look at all the mounds! What bounty! Good gracious!

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Not nearly as exciting when mixed up. Yawn.

3. Mix the wet ingredients.

If you pour the oil in first, it will be easier to get the honey and molasses to come out of the measuring cup later. I like to add it all into the same measuring cup because it makes cool strata due to the different densities of the liquids. Wheeeeee!

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4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Stir well.
Pretty self explanatory. Make sure you scrape the bottom of the bowl to get all the lil seeds lurking around down there.

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5. Press into a baking pan.
If you want your granola to have more clusters, pack it down into the pan with a spatula. This doesn’t always work for me, but the granola tastes good whether it has clusters or not, so don’t sweat it.

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6. Bake for 30-35 minutes (until golden), removing every 10 minutes to stir.
Again, if you want clusters, don’t stir too much. I basically just scoop it all into a pile in the middle using a metal spatula, and then spread it back out and pack it into the pan again.

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While granola is baking…

7. Cut up the dried fruit if you’re using large pieces.
Make ’em bite-sized. I love dried apricots, which require a little slicing. I basically stack them up in piles of three and then cut them into thirds, making slivers. It’s pretty quick. The cranberries need no prep at all.

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8. When the granola is done, remove from the oven and add the fruit.
Add the fruit, and stir every few minutes until the granola is completely cool. If you stir too much, the granola won’t clump (not that it matters), and if you don’t stir at all, it will harden into a shitty granola brick that will end up getting seeds and oats and shit all over your kitchen when you try to break it up. Find a happy medium.

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9. Stick it in a jar or other airtight container, and consume at will.
It’ll keep for a couple weeks, possibly longer. Mine doesn’t usually last that long.

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I like eating mine with yogurt when it’s hot out – although the dried fruit gets a bit hard in the cold yogi bear. I also love pouring a bit of milk over top, and microwaving for about 1 minute. It makes a tasty warm breakfast that has more character and texture than oatmeal. For a sugar boost, add a bit more honey or a spoonful of jam. Schwing!

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