Oil-Free Granola

Now that our stomachs have expanded thanks to Thanksgiving dinner, here’s a lighter and yet still filling snack to help you get back on track. This Oil-Free Granola uses applesauce, or if you have any on hand, pumpkin, to bind the oats and nuts together. 

Because this recipe does not call for oil, it lacks that perfect toasty crunch found in most granolas. Instead, I got a rather granola-bar-like consistency. I added banana chips to add that desired crunch, which brought the recipe together. My suggestion to get more crunch, besides adding dried fruit, is to cook the granola in a thinner layer than I did. Divide the granola in two baking trays to achieve this. Filled with cinnamon and nutmeg, this granola is an ideal autumn addition. However, the recipe is versatile, making a snack that is appropriate for any time of day or year.

Oil- Free Granola

Adapted from The Chic Life

4 cups dry oatmeal, not instant

1/2 cup almonds, chopped or slivered

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1 cup pepitas

2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 cup applesauce, or pumpkin

1/2-3/4 cup maple syrup

2 tsp vanilla

pinch of salt

1 cup dried fruit

Preheat oven to 300F. Line two large baking trays with parchment paper. 

In large bowl, stir oatmeal, nuts, pepitas, and spices together. 

In separate bowl, mix applesauce, maple syrup, vanilla and salt together. Add this mixture to the dry mixture and stir well. Pour granola onto baking sheets in a thin, even layer. 

Bake for 50-60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Once cool, stir in banana chips. 


Lost Packages (and a Peanut Butter Granola Recipe)

When I was abroad in Australia, I was surprised to learn that most Aussie students did not know their mail man. They were startled that I knew my mailman on a first-name basis (shout out to Bob!), and that I would always say hello when I passed him delivering mail. I appreciate the hard work that goes into shipping packages and letters, but when packages get lost in the mail, I find myself furious at the USPS. Of course, as it is typically with humans, when something goes wrong, we like to point fingers.

This Valentine’s Day, I sent a gift to my boyfriend who goes to school far away from me. It was supposed to take 2 to 3 days, and it was sent 10 days ago. He has yet to receive it.

I made my boyfriend this granola for Christmas, and apparently I should have included a note that he should eat it within a week or two. Six weeks after Christmas, he stuck his hand in the jar and managed to eat a handful of ants. I cannot explain in words how embarrassed I was; how my homemade, crafty, little gift ultimately failed.

I figured, I’ll be ironic and send him another batch of granola for Valentine’s Day. This time around, I made a card stating that if he doesn’t enjoy the granola fast enough, the ants would. I should have known that my granola projects are cursed, because he never received the granola. By now I’m sure there are ants gnawing away at it in the back storage room of some mail facility. Or perhaps a mailman brought it home and is munching on it. If this is the case, I hope it is Bob, my mailman, that is eating the granola.

And so, as promised, here is the recipe for the ill-fated granola. It was delicious (which is just another blow, since my boyfriend would never taste it). Peanut butter, dried fruit, dark chocolate chips, what better combination?

Peanut Butter Granola

2 cups Rolled Oats

1/2 cup sunflower seed kernels (if salted, omit salt in recipe)

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped peanuts

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup honey

2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp salt

1 cup dried fruit (I used a tropical mix)

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine oats, seeds, nuts and cinnamon in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the peanut butter, oil, sugar, honey, vanilla and salt Pour over granola mixture and stir until fully coated.

Spread gently in a 9 x 13″ pan. Bake 20-30 minutes, until toasted. Stir gently every 10 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely in pan. Add fruit and chocolate.

And here’s what he sent me, which is infinitely cuter than ant-infested granola:

Sweet and Salty Granola

A few weeks ago, I made a Christmas gift. No, it wasn’t some sloppily-made ceramic vase. Nope, it wasn’t an arts and crafts photo frame with pom-poms and glitter. Nor was it a gift certificate for “one free read” of a book (unfortunately this is a gift I once gave to my Dad when I was younger). 

Instead, I made Sweet and Salty Granola, using the recipe from 11 Madison Park (find it here on Serious Eats). It has an entire tablespoon of salt, and it truly is salty but in a finger-licking good sort of fashion. The dried sour cherries provide great contrast to the maple, salt, and nuts. I’m keeping this recipe in my back pocket from now on.