Granola for Busy Ladies

School is right around the corner. Yeah, I said that. You can ignore it. No matter what is around the corner, we are all busy. We are at the stage in our house where the 9 month old is into everything and the toddler doesn't like the 9 month old touching anything. That leaves only very small increments of time to do things-- especially cooking and cleaning my bathroom, but I might just be avoiding that one. Today I bring to you a recipe for a super easy, fairly hands-off, granola. I know, I know. I bring to you recipes of granola likeness all the time. I like oatmeal. I like it so much that I recently bought twelve 42 ounce containers of old fashioned oats (the sale price was only $2 a carton! Somebody side with me that I am not crazy...)

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This is a little different from the muesli recipe-- this is a true, chunky granola and has a bit more sweetener in it. We eat this granola recipe like cereal, but it is also great topped on ice cream (with peanut butter, yum!), on top of yogurt, or snuck by the chunk without your toddler knowing as you creep through the kitchen, not that I've done that.

What you'll need:

  • 6-8 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1-2 cups chopped nuts and/or seeds (almonds, pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds,  etc.)
  • 1/2-1 cup ground flax seed and/or wheat germ (optional)
  • 1/2 T cinnamon
  • 1 cup shredded coconut (optional, though I feel this adds great chewy texture)
  • about 3/4 cup coconut oil
  • about 3/4 cup maple syrup (or to taste)

What you'll do:

  1. Set aside the need to follow recipes exactly. I mean it. I demand that you only use a 1 cup measuring cup, a big bowl, a big spoon, a dish to melt the coconut oil, and a pan. We don't need additional dishes to wash!
  2. Measure dry ingredients first (key to only using one measuring cup!). Mix together oats, nuts/seeds, flax seed/wheat germ, cinnamon, and shredded coconut in a big bowl. Try to separate coconut shreds if possible. Exact measuring is not needed. Use your palm to measure cinnamon.
  3. Using same measuring cup as you used for dry ingredients, measure roughly 3/4 cup coconut oil and spoon into a microwave safe dish. Melt in microwave.
  4. Using the same measuring cup as previous, measure roughly 3/4 cup maple syrup. Pour into dish with coconut oil and mix together.
  5. Pour liquid ingredients onto dry ingredients. Stir well so that everything is coated.
  6. Pour oat mixture onto a jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides all around) lined with parchment paper. (Use only one pan.) Using the bowl that you used to melt the coconut oil, squash the oat mixture down so that it is flattened evenly. This will help create a chunky granola and also eliminates the need to hover and stir your oats. granola for busy ladies 2
  7. Bake at 275 degrees for 20 minutes. Rotate pan and cook another 20 minutes. Turn off oven and allow to cool completely. It needs to cool to get crispy.
  8. Break apart and enjoy! Wash minimal dishes and enjoy coffee while it is baking, instead of warding off children with third and fourth arms every time you need to open the oven to stir.

Feel free to play around with this "recipe" to better match your families palates. Click here to print.

What recipes have you changed for your busy lifestyle? Anyone else have children climbing into oven drawers while you aren't looking?

BeckySig2

(Somewhat Healthy) Granola Bars

Having a toddler in the house means that I seem to need a never ending supply of snackage, and that those snacks need to be not only be deemed toddler tasty but (somewhat) healthy as well. This isn't always the easiest task to achieve, as I am pretty sure there is something ingrained in my child's head that would lead her to believe she could live solely on crackers for the rest of her life. However, I have found these granola bars to actually be toddler approved, and it's pretty adorable to listen to her try to ask for "more ggrrrrnola?"

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This recipe is pretty simple. One of my favorites parts is that it is also very versatile. You can totally get creative with what ingredients you want to use. My only suggestion is to make the volumes of dry ingredients to wet ingredients relatively same to the recipe so that the granola bars stick together like they are supposed to. However, if that doesn't turn out, you just have granola instead, so no real loss there.

For my granola bars this time, I used old-fashioned rolled oats, wheat bran, flax seed, chopped peanuts, chopped walnuts, sliced almonds, pumpkin seeds, honey, maple syrup, and sorghum syrup (mostly because I ran out of both honey and maple syrup while I was making them!), cinnamon, raisins, dried cranberries, and chopped prunes. My mom has made them adding chocolate chips and/or drizzling chocolate on the top. She has added whole almonds down the center. A friend made them without peanuts due to an allergy. You really can be pretty creative. There is brown sugar and butter in here as well, which you can decide if that makes them unhealthy for you. Proceed at your own risk!

The first step is toasting the oats and dry ingredients. I am sure you could get away without this step entirely if you really wanted to simplify the recipe, but a toasted oat has a better flavor in my opinion. Toast the oats for about 12 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes. Watch them carefully, as they can burn quickly leaving a burnt taste to your granola bars.

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In step two, you melt the wet ingredients. You can see from these pictures that it will eventually turn into a sugary foam. This is when I add it to my dry ingredients to mix together.

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Next you obviously mix it together.

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After you have everything thoroughly mixed, quickly dump onto a pan lined with parchment paper (Don't use wax paper. The wax will melt leaving you with a disaster. Don't ask how I know this!) You can see from the pictures that when I first poured the mixture it took up almost 3/4 of the pan and afterward only about 1/2.  Fold the parchment paper over and really smash and condense the mixture as much as you can. I do this on the floor so I can put my body weight into it. Allow this to cool for a few hours.

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After waiting so patiently, find a sharp knife to chop your giant granola chunk into bars.

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Finally, eat them! Enjoy the real flavors that are able to shine through unlike a store-bought granola bar.

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Like I said before, please feel free to play around with these ingredients. Let me know what you come up with! Also, I always double this recipe (which is what is pictured).

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What do you find yourself feeding those tiny paws repeatedly day after day? Anything homemade with a recipe you'd like to share?

BeckySignature