It’s Baking Time: Totally Gnarly Granola for a Bangin’ Breakfast
To the overworked college student, sleep is nothing short of precious, so it can be all too tempting to overuse the snooze button on mornings following late-night homework marathons. Before you know it, you have only 15 minutes to make it to class, and in situations like this, breakfast tends to get the short end of the stick. Our mothers would be horrified, but under such time constraints, we often settle for a few mouthfuls of pretzels, or perhaps an untoasted Pop-Tart. More often, we skip breakfast altogether. What choice do we have? Morning trips to Usdan are far too time-consuming, not to mention wasteful of meals—as breakfast is usually the smallest meal of the day, it makes sense to fix it yourself and use on-campus dining options for lunch and dinner instead.
A practical student would stock his or her dorm room with breakfast foods—oranges, English muffins, boxes of Cocoa Puffs—but to regularly purchase such items from Weshop would be a costly habit, sure to drain your reservoir of points long before the semester is up. Personally, I’m a cereal guy, so when it comes to breakfast in the dorm room, I favor homemade granola. Most granola recipes are simple, cheap, and flexible, requiring neither special equipment nor culinary savvy to follow. Best of all, granola is quick to prepare and quick to consume, a perfect meal for a hectic morning. Recommended to me by two crunchy Californian co-op residents, the recipe below has hippie cred, an indispensable element in any granola recipe worth its salt and spice.
“Why should I go to all this trouble when I can buy my granola in a grocery store?” you may ask. There are many compelling reasons to bake granola yourself, the foremost being that the recipe is almost endlessly adaptable. You can add any ingredients you please—flax seeds, raisins, sunflower seeds, even coconut—to bolster the nutritional and caloric content of what is called the most important meal of the day. All of the ingredients below can be bought from Weshop. Homemade granola is also healthier than the store-bought kind, which often contains preservatives, stale nuts and berries, and excessive quantities of sugar. Although I can’t completely guarantee that it’s any cheaper than granola purchased at a Middletown grocery store, I can say with certainty that you’ll enjoy the wholesome sustenance and variety that this recipe has to offer, as well as the sweet, nutty aroma of granola toasting in the oven.
Totally Gnarly Granola
4 cups dry oats (not the instant variety)
3/4 cup honey
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup wheat germ (for extra fiber and a nutty flavor)
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped almonds
* Feel free to use your imagination to add any ingredient you want to this list.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Combine the oats, nuts, berries, and wheat germ in a large mixing bowl and stir with a wooden spoon. In a separate bowl, stir together the oil, honey, vanilla extract, and cinnamon, and microwave the mixture until warm and runny—about one minute. Pour the wet mixture over the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly (helpful hint: the unbaked granola mixture is delicious on its own. Help yourself to a spoonful or two…or more).
Spread the mixture evenly over an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring every ten minutes or so to ensure even toasting. Remove from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes. The granola will be wet when it first emerges from the oven, but will become crunchy as it cools.
IMPORTANT: Stir the granola periodically as it cools to prevent it from fusing into clumps. Once it has completely cooled, transfer the granola to an airtight container for storage, and enjoy every morning. It’s guaranteed to make waking up for that 9 a.m. class a little more enjoyable.