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When I woke up this morning it was -20 C. We always sleep with our bedroom window open a crack – it was freezing in our room! I dragged myself out from under the warmth of our duvet and went directly to the kitchen. Together we hammered out our packed lunches for the week; Paul was on sandwich duty, I was on fruit salads and bran muffins. All done by 10am. Then, Paul headed out for a 35km run, and I stayed in the warmth of the kitchen to test out some recipes. Whatever floats your boat, right?

Today happens to be my friend Kimmie’s birthday, and a milestone birthday at that. And my friend Kimmie *loves* home made granola. He makes awesome granola and often generously gifts his friends, including me, with a batch. Though I am very, very far away right now, I thought the least I could do was provide a virtual birthday present. So here ya go, buddy, happy 30th. I made you some granola.

Speaking of birthday presents, the beautiful blue bowl pictured here was a birthday gift from my friend Isia. Thank you!

Granola is, like muffins, one of those things that people often choose thinking they are making a healthier choice. The reality is that most store-bought granola is laden with sugar and fat and you may as well be eating cake. If you make your own, though, you can control what goes in it. You can make your favourite granola! And it’s easy! And fast!

Let’s talk about all the good stuff in this granola. Oats, and especially oat bran, are rich in indigestible carbohydrates called beta-glutens which help to lower blood cholesterol levels. Oats are also host to a number of phenolic compounds which have antioxidant properties. Walnuts are jam packed with omega-3 polyunsaturated linolenic acid. Coconut oil is making a well deserved comeback as a healthy oil. Yes, the fat is about 90 % saturated, but it’s a natural fat and natural fats, consumed in moderation, are always a better choice. This granola is sweetened with honey, which means it’s free from refined sugars. Skim milk powder boosts the protein content, and also creates a creamy flavour.  Lastly, cranberries are full of phenolic compounds, some of which are antimicrobial and antioxidants.

One year ago: Pumpkin Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Cranberry Walnut Granola Recipe:

Adapted from Inquiring Chef

Think of this granola recipe as a suggestion, and mix it up according to your personal preference. I’ve used coconut, walnuts, and cranberries here, but I’m dreaming of dried cherries and bits of dark chocolate or cocoa nibs.

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4 cups rolled oats

1 cup oat bran

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

3/4 cup coconut oil

3/4 cup honey

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

1 cup skim milk powder

1 cup dried cranberries

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Preheat oven to 180 C / 350 F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine oats, oat bran, walnuts, and coconut.

In a small saucepan combine the coconut oil and honey and set over medium heat until just melted. Whisk in skim milk powder, salt, and vanilla extract.

Pour the oil mixture over the oat mixture and stir to combine. Clean hands work well to mix and ensure all of the oat bits are coated. Divide mixture between the two prepared trays, and pop them into the oven.

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, stirring granola every 5 minutes and rotating the pans once. Granola will be just golden brown when it is finished, and will still be soft. Remove from the oven, combine both trays into one, and stir the dried cranberries in. If you like your granola to be particularly clumpy, use a spatula to press it down into a smooth brick. Allow it to cool completely, then use your spatula again to break it up.

Do ahead: Store into an airtight container for up to one week at room temperature, or keep it in the freezer for longer storage.

All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2012

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