Granola is a crispy, crunchy food that can be enjoyed for breakfast, as a snack, or whenever the mood strikes! This recipe features whole-grain oats and quinoa as well as crunchy almonds, sweet coconut and tangy cranberries. This recipe comes to us from our friends at School Nutrition Plus and appears in their cookbook, A Chef Walks Into a Cafeteria…
Cooking Tip of the Week: Patting the granola mixture down to an even layer before you start baking it will help the granola from clumps and bake evenly.
Food for Thought: Vanilla is usually considered a very plain flavor, but the vanilla plant is actually very exotic! A vanilla bean is actually the seed pod of a beautiful orchid that only grows in hot climates like Mexico, Madagascar and Tahiti. Vanilla extract is made by letting mashed vanilla beans soak in a mixture of alcohol and water. You can also buy whole vanilla beans. To cook with a whole bean, carefully slice it long ways and scrape out the tiny seeds inside!
Family Dinner Conversation Starter: What does the word exotic mean? Have you ever traveled somewhere exotic or seen an exotic animal?
Adult: Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Adult: In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar and cup water and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture comes to a boil (about 3 minutes). Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the syrup cool slightly.
Kid: In a large bowl, toss the oats with the quinoa, coconut, sunflower seeds, almonds, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
Together: Add the canola oil and vanilla to the brown sugar syrup and whisk well.
Adult: Pour the syrup over the oat mixture.
Together: Mix well with a rubber spatula or your hands until thoroughly combined.
Together: Transfer the oat mixture to a baking sheet and pat it down to an even layer; it will be thick but shouldn’t rise above the rim of the baking sheet.
Adult: Bake, stirring every 10 minutes with a spatula, until the mixture turns a nice even, golden brown, about 45 to 55 minutes. Watch granola carefully because coconut burns easily!
Adult: Remove the granola from the oven and cool, stirring occasionally.
Kid: Add dried cranberries when granola is cool, and store in an airtight container.