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Homemade granola is a snap to make and packs a B12 wallop


Rolled oats are like sunflower seeds when it comes to roasting: One minute they are just golden, the next they are burned beyond recognition. This is the only difficult part of preparing your own granola; otherwise it's as simple as throwing a bunch of healthy stuff in a bowl and calling it breakfast.

Though most often advertised as "Heart Smart" for its ability to reduce heart disease, it should be noted that one serving of rolled oats also provides fiber, protein, and high doses of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, iron, and manganese. If you are worried about B12 ("A little B12 goes a long way" March 17-23, 2005), 2/3 cup of rolled oats contains 25 percent of your daily intake. That may be why oats are one of the few breakfast cereals that will stick with you 'til lunch. I like my oats smothered in sugar: Brown sugar on porridge is a lovely way to start a winter day, and the honey-coated oats of granola are good anytime in milk, over yogurt, baked into a crisp, or just by the handful.

A formula for basic granola is 4 cups of oats to 1/2 cup each of vegetable oil and honey. Mix the honey and oil together and pour them over the oats. Bake until golden brown and, voila! Granola.

Of course, that's really just the beginning. I like to add a little molasses, maple syrup, or brown sugar to the honey and oil. A teaspoon or two of cinnamon, or vanilla or almond extract will add flavor to the honey, while a 1/4 cup of wheat germ, bran, protein powder, or powdered milk mixed into the oats adds nutritional value.

If you like your granola with fruits, nuts, or seeds, you should add them after the oats have baked and cooled completely. In the recipe below, the ratio is 1 cup each of nuts and fruit to 4 cups of oats, but that's not a hard and fast rule - the best part of doing it yourself is suiting yourself!

By Susan Pagani

Basic Granola

1/2 c. vegetable oil

1/2 c. honey (I like locally harvested Native Nectars Wild Guajillo honey)*

4 c. rolled oats

1 c. nuts, such as cashews, almonds, pecans, walnuts, shredded coconut, and peanuts

1 c. dried fruit, such as apricots, ginger, raisins, currants, blueberries, cranberries, and cherries

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

2. In a saucepan, warm the oil and honey, stirring frequently until the honey melts.

3. Combine the oats, honey, and oil in a large bowl and stir until the oats are thoroughly coated.

4. Spread the oats on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake in the center of the oven for 20 or 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until the oats are golden brown.

5. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and cool completely.

6. Raise the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Spread the nuts on a separate rimmed baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted. Transfer to a bowl and cool completely before tossing together with the oats and fruit.

* A note on the sugars: Be sure to adjust the level of honey for any other sugar you add, otherwise you'll end up with sticky-sweet granola. If you add wheat germ and protein powder to the oats, increase the honey and oil concoction to 2/3 cup of each.

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