I’ve got quite a few. Dark chocolate. Mascara. Avocado. Leggings. Egg yolks (duh). Platform pumps. Cheez-Its. Dog snuggles. Baby pink finger nails. Caesar salads. Tory Burch bags. Cheese. NARS bronzer. Baby giggles. Annnd…granola.
You may be saying “Granola?! That doesn’t sound very exciting.” And I get it. I really do. It’s not like granola is a sexy, sumptuous food. In fact, it often has a bad rap. Even I, a self-proclaimed lover of granola, have been known to diss the granola-yogurt parfait for a blueberry muffin or croissant. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t love granola. In fact, it’s one of my most favorite snacks. It just adds the best texture to anything creamy…and is fun to shove in your mouth by the handful.
Not that I’d know anything about that.
Another issue many of us have with granola: it’s often PACKED with calories. We think we’re eating something healthy because of the oats, nuts, and dried fruit…but it’s also loaded with sugar and fat. Because I love the stuff so much, many years ago, I came up with a few of my own at-home granola recipes. I could not only control the flavors but the calories as well. The best part: IT’S EASY and totally do-able at home. When I’m on a granola kick, I make a new batch weekly. It holds up beautifully and can be added to so many yummy things.
To yogurt, as I mentioned already. To a humdrum bowl of cereal. To the top of a smoothie. And to the mouth by the handful. Again, not that I’d know a thing about that last one.
My absolute favorite way to eat it is parfait style with Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey. This particular variety, focused on cherry and almond flavors, is perfectly sweet (but not too sweet!), crunchy, nutty, and packed with healthy ingredients. It’s also completely versatile. Swap the almonds for your favorite nut (pistachios are divine, just sayin’). Swap the cherries for another fruit. Throw in a handful of chocolate chips. Swap the canola oil for coconut. I mean, really, the possibilities are endless. I use the basic recipe below and make swaps all the time, depending on my mood and craving.
And I don’t have to feel guilty about any of it. Especially when I find myself shoving it into my mouth by the handful.
OK, so maybe I do know something about that.
½ cup tart cherry juice (or cranberry juice)
1 tablespoon honey
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or extract)
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups old-fashioned oats
½ cup ground flaxseed
½ cup sliced almonds
1 cup dried cherries
Preheat to 325°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spray the paper lightly with cooking spray.
Whisk juice, honey, oil, and brown sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in the cinnamon, vanilla, and salt.
Mix oats, flaxseed, almonds, and cherries in a large bowl. Stir in the juice mixture and toss to coat. Spread the granola evenly on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake the granola for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice. Continue baking until lightly browned and fragrant, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes more. Let cool completely. Store granola in airtight container.