Monday, September 21, 2009
My Venture into Health Snacks
Have you priced granola recently? It's outrageously expensive! It's also often full of sugar and fat – making the mixture far less healthful than it would outwardly appear. You and your kids will LOVE this recipe. The oatmeal has a ton of soluble fiber, which has been shown to reduce cholesterol when eaten regularly. The dried berries provide needed antioxidants and add natural sweetness to the mixture. Just be sure to buy dried berries without any added sugar. Depending on the nuts and seeds you use, they can add heart-healthy omega 3 fats, fiber, selenium, and Vitamin E. All of that is great but you know what? I eat this because it tastes really GOOD! It's great for an after-school or after-work snack. For breakfast, I often pour some milk over it and eat it like cereal. I also like to add it to yogurt for a quick and healthful snack. When you're craving something sweet, this really hits the spot – without all of the guilt afterwards! And since you're making it yourself, you know exactly what's going into it.
Make this granola and make it often. Your body will thank you. Enjoy – and happy snacking!
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2 cups Old Fashioned Oats
1 cup oat flour
1/2 tsp table salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup Brown Sugar Splenda (or 2/3 cup Brown Sugar)
2 TBSP sugar-free pancake syrup (or real maple syrup)
4 TBSP butter, melted
2 cups of mixed dried fruits, nuts, and seeds (apricots, cherries, raisins, blueberries, cranberries, gojis, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc)
TIP: I never buy oat flour. I just dump some oats into my food processor, whiz for about a minute, and then I have oat flour! It's so much cheaper this way and is so easy-to-do.
Preheat oven to 275F. In a large bowl, combine the oats, oat flour, salt, cinnamon, and Brown Sugar Splenda. Stir to combine. Add the syrup and stir well until the syrup is evenly distributed. Add the melted butter and again stir until all of the oats are evenly coated.
I like little, crunchy nuggets of granola when I eat it. To make the nuggets, grab a small handful of the granola mixture and firmly squeeze it in your fist to make glob. The mixture should hold together fairly well. Over a rimmed sheet pan, gently break the blob into smaller nuggets. Repeat with the remaining mixture. When finished, you should have a single layer of larger nuggets, smaller nuggets, and loose pieces of oatmeal. Don't move the granola once it is in the sheet pan or the nuggets will fall apart. Some people do not like larger nuggets of granola. If you prefer granola with loose pieces of oats, just dump the granola directly onto a sheet pan after you have mixed everything together. Just give the sheet pan a quick shake to evenly spread everything out.
Bake the granola for 20 minutes. Take the sheet pan out of the oven and very, very gently stir the granola. You, after all, do not want to break apart the nuggets you made earlier. Put the sheet pan back in the oven for another 8 minutes or so for a lightly toasted granola. If you like your granola really toasted, you can leave it in for several more minutes. Remove it from the oven and leave it in the sheet pan until it has cooled completely. The granola will get crispier as it cools. Toss with your desired mixed dried fruits, nuts, and seeds. Store in a sealed container.
After you make this the first time, make a note to yourself and decide if you would prefer the next batch to be sweeter or less sweet. I actually prefer my granola less sweet so I often add less Splenda than this recipe calls for. Others have preferred more sugar in theirs. You decide!
Posted by Cooking Ventures at 6:18 AM