From Cheerios to Homemade Granola

I don’t remember much from 1998, but here’s what I do remember: the snowy day I became a big sister, my dad woke me up before dawn to drop me off at my best friend’s home across the street. He grabbed a pre-packed bag of my school clothes and threw a winter coat on over my pajamas. He was all set to walk me out the door, but I insisted he grab a bag of cereal for me.

Well, obviously my dad probably had bigger things to worry about, such as safely driving my mom to the hospital. They had clearly prepared for getting out the door as quickly as possible, and this wasn’t part of the plan. So, he just grabbed an entire box of Cheerios for me and off we went.

My friend’s mom, Barbara, was well-prepared for the call that we were on our way over, but what she probably wasn’t expecting was to see on her doorstep was five-year-old me clutching a giant box of Cheerios like it was the last one on earth. I remember her laughing as she asked me why we’d think their family wouldn’t have cereal for me.

It’s one of those quirky family stories we all laugh at now, but for whatever reason on that day, on the brink of my whole world changing, the thought of having my own cereal was somehow helping me face the great unknown of losing my only child status.

As I grew up, my family took many road trips to new places, especially during the years we lived out east. If you were to dig through our coolers, it’s a safe bet to say you’d probably find water bottles, boxes of Wheat Thins, grapes and, without a doubt, cereal to snack on… although in these instances, we got the portions back under control.

It’s kind of funny how the more things have changed in my life, the more they’ve stayed the same in some respects. Whenever I look back at a new experience in my life, a little bag of cereal has always been tucked away in my backpack, my purse, my glove compartment, at my desk or somewhere within arm’s reach.

Even in the world of cooking, as I’ve experimented with one new recipe after another, I’ve often instinctively reached for a box of cereal at the grocery store. If the chicken piccata wasn’t going to turn out well for dinner, I wasn’t terribly concerned because I had a box of Cap’n Crunch waiting for me in my pantry. And even if it turned out perfectly, chances are pretty good that I poured a bowl of cereal as a late night snack.

Fast forward to last week, when my boyfriend and I drove up north to visit Door County for the very first time. I once again found myself instinctively packing up cereal in our cooler as we embarked on a trip somewhere new. But I’m happy to say that I’ve upgraded since the days of Cheerios and Cap’n Crunch, and made my very own batch of healthy granola (courtesy of Ambitious Kitchen) for us to munch on during the drive.

Coconut Oil Granola with Chia and Flax

Homemade granola with chia, flax, pecans, almonds and dried cranberries that's sweetened with honey. 

Course Breakfast, Brunch, Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword Gluten-Free, Vegetarian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 10 servings
Author Courtesy of Ambitious Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup oat flour I pulled rolled oats in a processor
  • 2 tbs flaxseed meal
  • 2 tbs chia seeds
  • 3/4 cup almonds raw
  • 3/4 cup pecans raw
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 pinch cloves
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • dried cranberries optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Whisk oats, oat flour, flaxseed, chia, almonds, pecans, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt in a large bowl.

  3. Pour coconut oil, honey and vanilla extract into a small saucepan and stir over low heat until coconut oil melts completely.

  4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix well in the large bowl.

  5. Spread it all onto the baking sheet evenly.

  6. Bake for 20 minutes.

  7. Remove from oven, stir up the granola to make sure the other side gets toasted as well, and then, if you so choose, add the craisins. Bake for another 15-20 minutes or until the granola is slightly golden brown.

  8. Cool completely on the baking sheet.

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