Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Homemade Granola

One of the reasons I love my boyfriend is because he is a proud card-carrying member of the great Costco.  Actually, not to brag or anything, he just so happens to be an executive member.  That's right girls, but back off, he's mine!  Frankly, I'm not quite sure why exactly being an executive member is that much more awesome, but I guess his membership card is shinier...  The truth is, Ben and I both love Costco.  And as much as we try to avoid falling into the couple rut, sometimes life is so much better when we spend half of Saturday afternoon grazing our way through the aisles of Costco, joking about who has better bulk-buying etiquette.  Because, and you know it's true, just like every other exclusive member's only clubs in existence, there are important secret rules that are never spoken, but always followed. 

Aren't you so excited to see how this ties into homemade granola?

Anyways, back when I used to live only mere miles from the closest Costco, and not the absurd 4 hour drive that I now suffer, my bulk purchases were much greater.  Cheese, fresh salsa, frozen fish filets, and always Chobani Greek yogurt.  Now, there are some super food fads that I have been slow about jumping on the bandwagon for, albeit not from lack of trying.  There's quinoa, healthy, yes but also basically tasteless pods.  And kale, which if you ask me taste like very thin, recycled plastic spinach.  But Greek yogurt?  I am so all over the Greek yogurt.  Greek yogurt is a good, protein-rich, low fat meal that really can act as either breakfast, lunch, a light dinner or even dessert.  And Costco sold it in a very convenient flat of 12. It is a super food.  It just doesn't do well on 4 hour car trips home, so I've been stuck with buying the economical and boring tubs of plain Greek yogurt.

Although I would be more than happy to eat my yogurt with several good shakes of cinnamon mixed in and a heavy swirl of honey over top, sometimes you have to go big.  Ben likes when I make a fruit compote to stir in throughout the week.  This weekend, I tried my hand at homemade granola, something new from me.  The recipe, for the most part, came from my September issue of Cooking Light.  I guess I never realized how generally easy a thing granola is to make.  It kind of reminds me of my candied pecan recipe, infinitely adaptable and it too will soon bend to my will.  It's a good starting point, but I'm already planning big changes for my next batch: raisins or craisins, chopped pistachios, maybe subbing some or all of the maple syrup for honey.  Does anyone know how to make those yummy, oat-y clusters in cereal?  The point is, there will be a next batch, however adapted.  And if you needed the push, it's a good way to jump on the Greek bandwagon.  Guten Appetit!

Homemade Granola
Inspired by September 2011's Cooking Light

2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
1 c. chopped pecans
2 large egg whites
1/2 tsp. vanilla
4 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
4 Tbsp. maple syrup

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Line rimmed baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray.

In small bowl, mix brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg.  In large bowl, beat egg whites and vanilla with whisk until foamy.  Fold in oats and pecans.  Fold in sugar mixture, then maple syrup. 

Spread granola mixture evenly on prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, stirring at least once.  Remove from oven, loosen granola from sheet with a spoon and let cool on wire rack.

For yogurt, stir a heaping teaspoon or so of cinnamon into a bowl of Greek yogurt.  Swirl in honey and top with a generous sprinkling of your granola.  Eat up!

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