There are many things that I admire about the Mediterranean lifestyle – the laid back attitude, the emphasis on friends and family, and their love of eating foods in their purest or most natural form. I feel that just about anything that you can find prepackaged in the store can be made at home if you have enough time and determination. Granted, I wouldn’t want to spend hours and hours making homemade pasta, when I can easy by all-natural whole grain pasta from the store. But there are other items which don’t take that much time and effort, but leave you with amazingly tasty results.
Which brings me to my quest to find the perfect, all-natural granola.
In college, I was introduced to granola for the first time. I remember not liking it very much because it always had raisins in it – I’m not a big fan of raisins. I avoided granola for years for that reason but then revisited the idea a few years back while on a business trip. The granola I had in a Washington, DC, hotel was amazing! Of course, it didn’t have raisins in it, but it was much more than that. It seemed to have basic ingredients – oats, nuts, and a little sweetener – that’s it. After that trip, I became hooked on granola, but tried to find a similar type in the store to no avail. The ones I tasted were too sweet, had high fructose corn syrup or other unnatural products, or just didn’t taste good.
I was determined to make my own granola so I began experimenting with recipes until I found one that I liked. Finally, after many iterations, at last I created my new favorite recipe – my Crunchy Walnut Granola! And here it is…Enjoy!
Bistro Chic Purely Crunchy Walnut Granola
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar (more or less depending how much sugar you want)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tbsp either honey or real maple syrup
- A pinch of salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups plain oats (not the quick kind)
- 1/2-3/4 cup of chopped walnuts nuts (you can also add pecans, almonds, etc.)
- Dried fruit (optional)
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Mix the first five ingredients (through the vanilla) in a microwave safe dish (I use a glass measuring cup) and microwave for about 1 minute or until sugar dissolves. Combine oats with nuts. Then combine dry ingredients with the warmed liquid mixture. Spread the oat mixture on a cookie sheet and bake until golden brown, 50-55 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately scrape the granola into a bowl. Add dried fruit and mix well. Cool and then store in an airtight container. Makes about 3 cups of granola.