One of the great things about cooking and eating for yourself is that you really only have to please yourself. The shackles of what a “typical” meal can be broken. This is when I can eat breakfast for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Personally, I think that if a meal is good enough for the start of your day, it is also good for the middle and end as well. There are naysayers out there. I know, because I have tried to feed friends breakfast meals for dinner with protests (‘this isn’t enough to eat! this is for breakfast!’ hmmpht! well what do YOU want to make instead?).
To be honest, when I come home from work, the simplest meal is to throw some oatmeal and milk into a pot, stir and enjoy… or devour dry cereal with some milk (my last ditch effort, I swear, used only when I would come home after working 36 hours, just wanting to sleep but with a hungry belly and nothing else in the fridge). But I try not to do that very often. But I will eat granola around the clock.
There is a magic behind homemade granola. I don’t know what it is, but it evaporates quickly. Even if I make 6 cups, it is gone within a week. I start by eating it for breakfast, with some yogurt and fruit, and then it also turns into a dessert after dinner.. and after a while, it is my whole dinner. Once I start, I just can’t seem to stop.
I posted a delicious Crunchy Coconut Macadamia Granola with Honey earlier, and I really like the simplicity and wholesome-ness of this granola. It was adapted from Eat Me, Delicious, who originally found it in The Best Life Diet Cookbook, and it isn’t as sweet as my previous addictive granola. This one is more subtle. Not much clumping, which is typically due to sugar and butter. This granola is low in fat but still high in flavour and best served with yogurt and fresh fruit. Like all granola recipes, it is flexible to meet your own tastes – feel free to sub in different dried fruit and nuts.
Low-Fat Winter Fruit Granola
4 cups regular rolled oats
1/4 cup wheat bran
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup maple syrup (I used less)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup chopped dried apples
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped dates
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Combine the oats and bran on a large baking sheet (I used a big bowl for easier mixing; no need to line the pan with aluminum foil, though).
3. In a small pan over medium heat, stir in the canola oil, maple syrup, and vanilla and almond extracts. When the mixture begins to bubble, pour it over the oat mixture and mix well.
4. Bake for about 10 minutes. Add the almonds and stir the mixture thoroughly. Continue to bake until the oats and almonds are lightly toasted, about 10-15 minutes more, stirring again halfway through.
5. Stir in the rest of the ingredients. Bake until the oats are crisp, about 5 minutes longer.
6. Remove the pan from the oven and stir the mixture. Let the granola cool for 5 minutes, the stir again.
7. When completely cool, store the granola in an air-tight container for up to 4 weeks.
Makes 6 cups.