• Lauren Humphreys

Fruit & Nut "Cyclone" Granola

It's a rather chilly spring day in Chicagoland, so I decided to bake again. I love homemade granola. Many of you already know this, but it is one of my favorite breakfast accompaniments or snacks. Most of my homemade granola includes old-fashioned oats, coconut, nuts or seeds, sweeteners such as honey, brown sugar, or maple syrup, oil, and sometimes dried fruit, peanut butter, or ground flax. Homemade granola is surprisingly easy to make and very tasty. Whether you eat it as a topping or plain, this recipe will not disappoint. Unlike many recipes that require careful and strict measurements, this recipe can easily be adapted and changed based on personal preferences or pantry ingredients. For new bakers, homemade granola is a great place to start! I have included the link to one of my most popular recipes for granola clusters here! A picture is worth a thousand words, so here you go:

Since my pantry is running pretty low on staples these days, I am sharing a granola recipe with a few simple ingredients. I had some dried cranberries and golden raisins on hand, which immediately reminded me of Iowa State’s colors of cardinal and gold. Iowa State University is near and dear to my heart. It is where I earned my Bachelor’s degree, completed my Dietetic Internship, and most recently earned my Master’s degree in 2019! Here I am at my Master's graduation. It was a very happy day!

My little sister Olivia (and a fellow granola lover) is currently a student at Iowa State. During this uncertain time of COVID-19, she is completing her coursework online. She is a wonderful student and will continue to excel! Isn't she a cutie!

For a long time and even today, granola has been a marketed as a health food. Yes, granola has nutritious components, such as nuts, dried fruits, and oats, which are a whole-grain. However, most granola is also high in fat and sugar. Whether your granola is homemade or store bought, enjoy it but be cognizant of your portions. Contrary to what some bloggers and marketers want you to think, honey or maple syrup are still sugar so do not be fooled! If you are buying granola, please look at the nutrition facts and ingredients. I like to make my own granola because I have control over the ingredients and because I prefer the taste!

To prepare homemade granola, the ingredients and process are quite simple. All it takes to make granola is simple measuring, mixing, baking, and cooling. Plus, ingredients may be easily swapped based on personal preferences (ie almonds instead of pecans or dried cherries instead of cranberries). Having prepared granola countless times, there are a few tricks I want to share. This particular recipe contains equal amounts of oil and honey, but these amounts could be increased slightly if the oats seem too dry. You may also add more oats if the mixture seems to moist. The best tip is to use parchment paper when baking the granola. This ensures no sticking and easy clean-up! Also, keep an eye on the granola because it can easily be overbaked in just a matter of minutes. Stir partway through baking to ensure even baking. After the granola has baked, immediately add the dried fruit. The heat from the granola helps soften the fruit. If the dried fruit is baked with the granola, it will burn and harden. This recipe may easily be doubled if you want a larger batch, but the baking time may need to be adjusted slightly.

My favorite ways to eat the granola is plain or over unsweetened Greek yogurt! It is nutty, sweet, crunchy, and extremely delicious. For my fellow Cyclones out there, this is for you! Even if you are a Hawkeye fan, you will still enjoy it too!

Fruit and Nut Granola

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats ¾ cup pecans, coarsely chopped

¾ cup sweetened flaked coconut

1/8 teaspoon salt

¼ cup vegetable oil

¼ cup honey ½ cup dried cranberries ½ cup golden raisins

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a small, rimmed baking pan with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, stir together oats, pecans, coconut, and salt. Whisk together oil and honey, then stir into oat mixture until well coated. Do NOT add the dried fruit or it will burn during baking. It must be added after the granola has baked.

Spread mixture evenly onto the sheet pan. Bake, stirring halfway through baking, for about 16-20 minutes* or until lightly golden. It is very important to stir partway to ensure even baking. Watch closely to prevent overbrowning because it will brown quickly at the end.

Remove from oven and immediately stir in dried cranberries and golden raisins. Cool completely on the sheet pan on a rack. Store in an airtight container.

*Note: A range is given for baking due to variances in ovens and pans. Always start with the lowest bake time and bake for additional time, if needed.

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