When I do take Oliver to the store these days, I often belt him into one of those giant carts with the car on front (despite how hard they are to steer), and I usually even get him the free cookie from the bakery department. This combination of strategies often works for about half my grocery list, then it gets difficult. He's soon hanging out the side of his car, trying to wiggle out of his belt (why don't those things have five-point harnesses, like in real cars?), hollering "wanna walk!" The only way to stop the hollering is to let him out of the cart. But, as I learned with Owen and the clams, letting a toddler walk through the grocery store is not always a good idea...
So anyway, I usually try to go to the store either at the beginning of the week when both kids are in school, or on weekends when Brock's there to stay home with the kids (because Brock's almost as hard to take to the grocery store as my little boys). But when we ran out of cereal (except for a box of Grape Nuts no one will eat) mid-week this week, I nearly panicked. We are highly dependent upon cereal for breakfast.
Then I remembered I used to make granola all the time. And when I started making some this time I remembered how easy it is to make-- which is why I used to make it all the time. This time I was feeling indulgent, so I made it chocolate. It's really chocolatey, but not too sweet-- just how I like my chocolate. Less than 24 hours after completing the batch, I've got about a serving left in the bottom of the jar. I guess that means my guys liked it, too.
After I made the granola, it turned out I had to run to the store anyway to get some things for another recipe I'm working on for this blog. This time I got lucky and the trip was uneventful. But, I hope you're grateful I risked potential canned clam grocery store havoc for you...
the veggies (or other stuff):
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup Grape Nuts and/or puffed grains*
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- 1/2 cup cocoa
- 1/4 cup ground flax seed
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut (optional)
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 1/4 cup water**
- 1/2 cup craisins (optional)***
- Preheat your oven to 325° and line your largest baking pan with parchment (or lightly grease).
- In a bowl, combine the oats, Grape Nuts or puffed grains, almonds, cocoa, flax seed, and coconut (if using).
- Add the oil, honey, extracts and water, and stir well until evenly combined.
- Spread the oat mixture out evenly on your baking pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring every five to ten minutes. The oats will still be a little soft when you first remove them from the oven, but will turn crunchy as they cool.
- Stir in the craisins, if you're using them.
- Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container. This makes about eight cups.
*I was at the grocery store a while back looking for a different kind of healthy cereal, and momentarily forgetting that Grape Nuts are gross (on their own, anyway), bought a giant box of them. It's been sitting around, not getting eaten and begging to be used in a recipe ever since. It turns out this recipe is perfect-- they add a nice sturdy crunch to the granola. If you don't want to buy Grape Nuts for this (and I don't blame you), I've also used puffed grains (such as brown rice or kamut) a lot in granola. The puffs impart a lighter, chewier texture to granola. Both are nice.
**I also think this recipe would be good with espresso or strong coffee instead of the water, but I didn't try it, figuring my kids did not need to be caffeinated...
***I didn't use craisins this time, only because I didn't have any. They would definitely be tasty in this, though.