You already know I have another blog. A fitness blog. Sometimes I feel like a fraud having a fitness blog. I’m not holding myself up as an example of an amazing fit person. Just a regular person with a life long weight issue and my journey to beat it. But sometimes I think people might get the wrong idea if they read it–like I never mess up or eat a muffin at school on Mom’s and Muffins day and then find out that the 3/4 serving was 690 calories! (Costco and I aren’t friends right now.)
I feel like my two blogs are like the pins I see on pinterest or even the articles in a woman’s magazine. The front cover will read the best headlines: “How to drop 20 lbs in one week!” and “The best triple chocolate molten lava cake on the planet” right next to it. On my other blog, you might read about pomegranate salad and over here—ooey gooey cinnamon rolls. Or Orange Cranberry Granola.
Challenge #1: I have a freezer full of fresh cranberries that were given to me a year ago after Christmas. The stores donated them to Harvesters to pass out to the underprivileged. The underprivileged wouldn’t take them so it was into my freezer or the trash. I LOVE cranberries, if the recipe has plenty of sugar. Cranberry muffins, breads, cakes, salads…they are all delicious. Unfortunately, the sugar part of it doesn’t mesh with my fitness plan so well and the rest of the family won’t eat cranberries.
Challenge #2: I feel guilty buying sugary cereal. It’s so bad for our health and to serve it as the first meal of the day almost seems criminal. But the kiddoes got used to sprinkling a bit of sweet crunchy cereal onto their plain cheerios or bran flakes and held a revolt when I refused to buy any more. (I shouldn’t have ever purchased it, but that $.50 sale snookered me.)
Solution for both? I started to wonder if I put the cranberries into sweet crunchy granola I might have the best of both worlds. I could use up a few cranberries, and the kids could sprinkle sweet stuff on their cereal. Only I would know what was in it. The trouble is, there aren’t any granola recipes on the web that call for fresh cranberries. What if it didn’t work? What if I wasted all the nuts? What if I wasted money?!! So I had to think about it for a few days .
Then I remembered the joke Darren and I had when I first started this blog. I would try a LOT of new ideas and recipes that didn’t work. We decided my subtitle should be: Wasting my money so you don’t have to waste yours. It made me feel a little better, lol.
So I decided to save all of you from wasting your money and try making granola with fresh cranberries and it was AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS! Crunchy, sweet, clumpy–everything granola should be. Now, I have to keep telling myself, “It’s for the kids. It’s not for you!” I could fill a heaping bowl and cover it with raw milk and mindlessly eat thousands of calories while watching an entire season of Downton Abby and not even feel sick.
Here’s the recipe exactly how I made it, and then at the end I will tell you the changes I’d like to try, just to improve the nutrition a bit.
Orange Cranberry Granola
6 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups wheat germ (for gluten free, you could try oat bran, flax meal, or chia seeds–the wheat germ helps things clump up, so when subbing ingredients keep that in mind.)
6 Tbs dark brown sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 orange, zested
1 cup almonds, chopped (I measured from the 3lb bag sold at Costco, because they are the best price anywhere.)
1/2 cup pecans, chopped (Also bought from Costco, these are almost twice the price of almonds so I went light.)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (purchased from a bulk food bin.)
2 cups fresh cranberries (frozen and then roughly chopped while still frozen hard)
1/4 cup white sugar (I think you could do with less or even sub stevia for this.)
3/4 cup honey
1 stick butter, melted
1. Stir together the cranberries and white sugar. Set aside
2. In a large bowl, combine oats, wheat germ, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, nuts, cranberries, and orange zest
3. Melt together honey and butter and bring to a boil for 1 minute.
4. Pour honey mixture over oat mixture and stir until everything is completely coated.
5. Spread into greased baking pans. (I used two large cookie sheets with a lip. The more spread out it is the crunchier it will get.)
6. Bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes, stirring after every 15 minutes. Rotate the pans every time you stir.
I started baking mine at 275 degrees, but the extra moisture in the cranberries makes it cook more slowly. So I upped each baking session to 20 minutes and then added a fourth for 15 minutes. The pan closer to the heat source got darker than I wanted during that last 15 minutes session and then I found out that it didn’t get as crispy as it will until it was completely cool. The butter helps with this :).
So next time, I will take out the white sugar completely. And dust the cranberries with stevia. And I might take out some of the brown sugar. It helps the cereal get crunchy and adds a nice flavor, but mine was plenty sweet. It was deliciously sweet, actually, but sweet enough that I think I can get away with reducing the sugar some and no one would notice.
Also, I wonder if I could use a little less butter and use some of the juice form the orange instead? There seemed to be plenty of sauce for the amount of stuff I had. It was perfect enough that I wondered if I could ease up a bit and not miss it. Also water/juic mixing with wheat germ makes even more clumps.