When I was growing up (which I guess assumes that I’m all grown up now…hmmm…), my younger sister took cake decorating classes. My mom took pictures of the cakes to keep a record of the decorated masterpieces. Unfortunately for her, digital photography was not yet available. Weeks later when the film had been developed and the pictures returned, we would flip through the pictures to find that once again the cake had “moved” and part of it was cut out of the photo. I’m quite certain I got some fun out of teasing my mom about her photographic skills and the “case of the moving cake.” But after trying my hand at food photography lately, I feel I must apologize to her and give a shout out to all of the amazing photographers out there! Taking pictures of food is trickier than it sounds. How is it that an inanimate object can be so stubborn when it’s time to sit still and look pretty? And who knew you could take 83 pictures of a single dish and still not have what you’re looking for? I’d like to say I’m exaggerating, but I’m afraid I’m not. Today I am grateful for digital photography, my delete key, and the fact that off-center, partially focused shots are trendy. (Well, at least the purposeful off-center, partially focused shots…not sure mine qualify just yet…but practice makes perfect…).
Something not so tricky: making heart healthy homemade granola. Oats are known to lower cholesterol, promoting heart health. The problem with almost every granola recipe under the sun is that they also include a TON of oil. It wasn’t until recently that I started to contemplate the ridiculousness of using oils in cooking and baking. To start with, most oils have a smoke point far below what we cook/bake at. Above the smoke point, the oil becomes carcinogenic. If that isn’t bad enough, consumption of oils, even those considered to be “healthy” oils has been directly linked to deteriorating heart and arterial health. Consider the nutritional profile of just 1 TBSP of olive oil: 13.5g of fat (that’s 21% of the RDA for a 2,000 calorie diet). 1 TBSP. Did you catch that? 1 TBSP. Seriously. Other nutrients offered: negligible to none. You can read more about why many health experts recommend avoiding oils here.
The recipe I’m about to share with you (from my older sister, but has been revised so many times I’m not sure what she actually gave me) originally called for 1/2 cup of oil per batch. That’s 108g of fat. Yummy. On average, a batch of this granola would feed my family of 5 for breakfast twice. So, very roughly, each serving had 10.8g of fat just from the oil (17% of the RDA for a 2,000 calorie diet). I made it for years without thinking about whether or not it was necessary to include the oil. Then one day I tried it without, and it was virtually the same. Ha! Whoever invested a lot of money in convincing the general public that oil was good for us and we had to have it to cook/bake practically everything had me hook, line, and sinker.
I am fooled no longer. Without further ado, I give you my rendition of easy homemade granola. My youngest son is allergic to nuts, so we can’t use them, but feel free to substitute/add any nuts you like. The recipe is very flexible. Just keep the proportions of dry ingredients to wet ingredients roughly the same and put in whatever you like. I have noticed that it makes very little difference which seeds I use, once they are roasted in honey they all taste about the same: crunchy yumminess. Side note: my spell checker doesn’t like that, but yumminess should definitely be a word.
- 6 cups regular rolled oats
- ½ cup coconut (unsweetened)
- ½ cup raisins
- ½ cup sunflower seeds
- ½ cup sesame seeds
- ½ cup watermelon seeds
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup honey (to make this granola vegan, you can substitute maple syrup)
- Heat oven to 350F.
- Mix the dry ingredients together in a 9x13 dish.
- Incorporate the honey.
- Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
- Let cool completely before storing in air-tight container (for longer shelf life, keep in refrigerator).