Lately, I find it hard to shell out for boxed cereal. It’s so expensive, not particularly nutritious, and there isn’t even that much cereal in the box. The best boxed cereal–the organic, unsugary kind, is exorbitant! And no matter what kind of cereal we buy in a box, ounce for ounce, we are paying a disproportionately high amount for the wasteful packaging, compared to the fluffy contents.
As an alternative, we’ve been loving our homemade granola. This recipe evolved through trial and error, and meets Claire’s rigorous 10-year-old taste-testing standards. Since apple juice provides both sweetener and liquid, it uses less oil than some recipes, and is lower in fat. It’s both fun and super-easy to make. Of course you can play with the dry ingredients–add wheat germ, flax seeds, different nuts–to suit your taste. Just keep the ratio of dry and wet ingredients about the same. Most of this stuff is typically available in bulk. Enjoy more nutrition, more yumminess, and less waste.
Tangled Nest Granola
Mix on a high-rimmed baking sheet, and toast for at 300 degrees for about 25 minutes, stirring halfway through:
6 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup chopped walnuts, almonds, or mixture
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1 cup shaved coconut (OK–even though we get lovely fair trade, organic coconut at our local food coop, it still comes from Sri Lanka! Not a great use of our food miles, we admit–but it is a concession to Claire, who learned to love granola when we were traveling in Tanzania, where coconut is a much different thing–falling all around us from the trees. We are thinking about weaning coconut out of our granola slowly, without Claire noticing…Meanwhile, if you do use coconut, add it halfway through the toasting time, when you take the granola out to stir–otherwise it will overbrown.)
In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, stir together:
1 cup frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed (we live in Washington state, where local AJ is plentiful–another sweet juice concentrate could be substituted)
1/2 cup brown sugar or honey
4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, or to taste
Turn the oven up to 350. Tip the toasted ingredients into a large bowl, pour the apple juice mixture over the top, and mix thoroughly. Oil or spray the baking sheet, or line with parchment, and spread the granola into the pan. Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. Let cool, and store in an airtight container. Add berries, raisins, dried fruit, and milk or yogurt. Enjoy!
More box-free breakfast recipes to come, but meanwhile try: quick-breads, scones, summer berry muffins, home-mixed hot cereals…
Full disclosure: we still have a box of Trader Joe’s Os in the cupboard…