Karen Barnaby: Granola, 2019 style

One thing I find interesting is how foods shift with eating trends, and granola is a perfect example of how a food morphs over time.

Invented by James Caleb Jackson in 1863 and named “granula,” the first cold breakfast cereal was made out of graham flour dough, rolled into sheets and baked.

The sheets were broken into smaller pieces then baked and broken again into smaller pieces. It was reported as being jaw breaking when dry and had to be soaked overnight before eating.

A decade or so later, Dr. James Harvey Kellogg (yes, the inventor of Corn Flakes, and a proponent of progressive health reform and the clean living movement) started to produce his own granula, substituting flaked oats for ease of chewing. When Jackson sued him, Kellogg renamed his product “granola”.

Fast forward to the 1960s: Granola was revived by Layton Gentry, whom Time magazine called “Johnny Granola Seed”. Commercially, there was Pet Milk’s Heartland Natural Cereal, followed quickly by Quaker 100% Natural Granola. Gentry threatened to sue Quaker, and the name was changed to Harvest Crunch.

That’s the commercial history of granola, but there is also another history.

Any natural food, back to the land or commune cookbook had a recipe for making vast quantities of granola. It was perfectly portable and well suited for communal living, sit-ins, be-ins and revolutionaries.

Remember when “granola head”, or “a crunchy granola” were derogatory terms? I was one of those “granola heads”, swept into the tide of granola by a local health food store named Sunshine.

Saying “health food store” seems so quaint now. It was scooped up from a bin, and in the spirit the counterculture, the recipe was taped to the bin. I made it, and I made variations. That recipe was the inspiration for this column.

Granola with plain yogurt was dinner, and I kind of miss those days. Thirty years later, granola can be gluten free, keto, paleo, vegan or made from the pulp of juiced vegetables as long as it stays true to its free and crunchy roots.

Granola baking basics

• Position an oven rack in the middle of your oven.

• Heat your oven to 300 F (150 C). If you’re using the convection feature use 275 F (135 C).

• Melt the coconut oil over low heat, or gently heat the oil you are using and stir in the remaining liquids.

• Combine the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients, and mix thoroughly with your hands until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened.

• Use a rimmed, parchment lined baking sheet. All of these recipes were baked on a 16.75 inch (42.5 cm) x 12 inch (30 cm) commercial grade pan that I’ve owned for 20-plus years. I highly recommend these for baking cookies, sheet pan dinners, cooking roasts, and roasting vegetables. If using small pans, divide the mixture into two pans. Watch closely because the baking time will differ.

• Spread the mixture evenly and press down to create nice, crunchy clumps.

• Stir to redistribute after 10 minutes, and rotate the sheet from front to back. Repeat every 10 minutes until golden brown. Approximate baking time for each recipe is 30 minutes. All ovens are different, and the moisture of the ingredients as well as the humidity will alter the baking time.

• Don’t like a certain nut? You can substitute another in its place. Same with the coconut oil. You can use another oil of your choice instead.



Sunshine’s Granola

2 cups (500 mL) old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup (250 mL) raw wheat germ

1/2 cup (125 mL) non-instant dried milk powder

1/2 cup (125 mL) sunflower seeds

1/2 cup (125 mL) sesame seeds

1/2 cup (125 mL) shredded unsweetened coconut

1/2 cup (125 mL) raw cashews

1/4 cup (60 mL) honey

2 Tbsp (30 mL) molasses

1/3 cup (80 mL) extra-virgin coconut oil

1 cup (250 mL) mixed dried fruit, such as raisins, chopped dates, cranberries, cherries, blueberries, apples, chopped apricots

Prepare and bake according to granola baking basics.

Makes approximately 20 1/2 cup (125 mL) servings

Keto Flaxola

This is unsweetened, and you can add your choice of sweetener to the bowl when you eat it or to the wet ingredients before mixing with the dry.

Textured vegetable protein is a vegetarian protein derived from soy. You will find it in natural food stores and in the natural foods and bulk sections of grocery stores. A popular brand is Bob’s Red Mill.

2 cups (500 mL) flax seed meal

1/2 cup (125 mL) plain whey protein isolate

1 cup (250 mL) chopped unblanched almonds

1/2 cup (125 mL) shredded unsweetened coconut

1 cup (250 mL) textured vegetable protein (TVP)

1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) salt

1 Tbsp (15 mL) ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) baking powder

1/2 cup (125 mL) water

1/4 cup (60 mL) extra-virgin coconut oil

1 1/2 tsp (7.5 mL) pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) pure maple extract

Prepare and bake according to granola baking basics.

(Per serving: Net carbohydrates: 4.8 g; fibre: 12.4 g; protein: 14.9 g; fat: 26.7 g; calories: 351)

Makes approximately 10 1/2 cup (120 mL) servings

Superpowers Grain-Free Granola

This checks the buzzword boxes of modern eating. Gluten-free, paleo, vegan, hemp seeds, chia seeds, goji berries and turmeric. It’s also very tasty.

1 cup (250 mL) whole raw unblanched almonds

1 cup (250 mL) whole raw pecans

1 cup (250 mL) shredded unsweetened coconut

1/2 cup (125 mL) raw pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup (125 mL) raw sunflower seeds

1/4 cup (60 mL) shelled hemp seeds

2 Tbsp (30 mL) chia seeds

1/2 cup (125 mL) almond flour

1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt

2 tsp (10 mL) ground cinnamon

1 tsp (5 mL) dried ground turmeric

1/2 cup (125 mL) tahini

1/3 cup (80 mL) maple syrup

1 tsp (5 mL) pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup (125 mL) dried goji berries

Prepare and bake according to granola baking basics. No need to heat the tahini, just mix it with the maple syrup and vanilla.

Makes approximately 10 1/2 cup (120 mL) servings



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