I've always thought it was a bit funny that I got my start in the advertising business at Whole Foods Market. Well, that's not so funny in and of itself, but I started at a time when the company was very, very small and not quite the big flashy natural food conglomerate that it is today. We were all branded as hippies, and granola was not only something we sold but also a not-so-pleasant adjective used to describe the shoppers and employees. I wasn't a peace-loving vegetarian exactly, but I never found it quite fair to use granola as an insult. Oh, some people!
Fast forward 15 years later. While I still may dabble in meatless alternatives from time to time and partake in all things tempeh and tofu on occasion, granola is still a part of my world on a regular basis. Next to oatmeal in the morning, granola is to me the perfect breakfast, snack and all around crunchy companion. Add fruit and it's a meal; bake it into bars and it's an amazing dessert. It's never mysteriously complex but always hearty, and that might be why it's often maligned as a god-like food for the birkenstock and vegan set.
Making granola at home is easy, and it lends itself to experimentation quite well (disclosure: I am not a cook with an exacting nature; a dash of this and a dash of that has always been my M.O. and also the reason you'll never ever ever see me baking). This is one of my regular recipes courtesy of Whole Foods, and next to guacamole, it's probably the only thing that's dairy-free and vegetarian that ever comes out of my kitchen!Nutmeg & Almond Granola
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
3 tablespoons oat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup slivered, blanched almonds
1/2 cup good quality honey
1/3 cup sunflower oil or canola oil
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 to 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
Blend the oats, flour and almonds together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the maple syrup or honey, oil, almond extract, nutmeg and salt. Add to the oat mixture, stirring well to coat.
Place mixture on a large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for one hour, stirring and turning granola over half way during baking to break up lumps. Allow the granola to cool completely then store in an airtight container.
Serve with milk, soy milk, yogurt, or fruit. Or just eat plain out of hand. You can't go wrong.