Granola, the sweetened and toasted relative of muesli, has a storied past.  Its roots can be traced to the “clean-living” movement of nineteenth-century America, spearheaded by men like Presbyterian minister Sylvester Graham and Seventh-day Adventist John Harvey Kellogg, who preached a doctrine of healthy body, healthy mind.  Several generations later, the back-to-nature, counter-culture kids of the 1960’s began to reject industrialism and consumerism, and in the process rediscover and promote a philosophy which included whole foods and vegetarianism. Health food stores began popping up, and their shelves included items like tofu, whole grains, and granola, back then still often manufactured by Seventh-day Adventists.  Soon enough, seeing an opportunity to profit from an increasing public awareness of whole food health benefits, Big Food commercialized granola and–sweetened beyond recognition, with added hydrogenated fats and often artificial flavors–stripped it of any claim to health fame.  (For an interesting read about this commercialization process, see Joe Klein’s article in the Rolling Stone archives: “A Social History of Granola.”)  

But the pendulum swings, although sometimes a little too slowly for our liking.  Today, Big Food still markets granola that has a sugar profile similar to a hot-fudge sundae, but we have smartened up and have more choices when we shop.  One of the best choices we can make, however, is to exercise more control over our food and make our own granola. I offer one recipe below.

Weekend Granola

Making a batch of this easy granola on the weekend ensures that there’s a quick, filling, high-protein and high-fiber breakfast on hand during the week.  Nut and fruit substitutions are easily made; just remember that raw nuts or seeds should be toasted together with the oats, while pre-roasted nuts or seeds should be tossed in after the granola is cooked.  Serve with any milk or spooned over yogurt.  Makes approximately 8 cups. ☙

  • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • ½ cup toasted wheat germ
  • ¼ teaspoon plus 1 pinch sea salt
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or sliced almonds
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup dry-roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 1 cup raisins, dried cranberries, or dried cherries 

Preheat oven to 325° F.  Toss oats with wheat germ and salt on a half-sheet pan, jelly roll pan, or large cookie sheet.  

Add wet ingredients: Pour the olive oil into a measuring cup, then add the maple syrup until liquid ingredients together equal 1 cup.  Add vanilla and whisk lightly with a fork. Pour over oat mixture in sheet pan. Combine, using a spatula or your hands, until oats are well coated. Stir in walnuts and spread mixture evenly in pan.  Turn the preheated oven down to 300° and bake for about 40 minutes or until oats are lightly golden, stirring every 15 minutes or so.

While granola is still warm mix in the cinnamon, then add the peanuts and dried fruit, tossing to combine. Cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Freeze for longer storage.   





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