We’re getting to that time of year when the weekday breakfast routine might be starting to feel a little…well, routine. Cold cereal, frozen waffles, maybe a hard boiled egg or bowl of oatmeal. All fine ways to start the day. But after a while, well, meh. Even worse, if yours is a family of slow-movers in the morning (I am the absolute worst offender in our household), you may have trouble finding time to actually sit at the table. It’s times like these when I bust out my very favorite, super-duper simple homemade granola recipe.
Granola is a pretty safe bet with kids, especially when you add in some colorful fruit (the minute Lilly saw the jar on the counter today she requested a bowl). It’s delicious with milk (on cold days try it with warm milk!), perfect with a dollop of Greek yogurt or, when you’re feeling especially rushed, it’s easy to eat by the handful on the run. Plus, with all those nuts and oats, it’s a wonderful nutritious energy source so you know it will keep little ones chugging along all morning.
I know there are a million perfectly acceptable store-bought granolas available these days but there’s something really, truly special and fresh and delicious about the homemade kind. For me there really is no comparison. There’s also no end to the ways you can customize it. This time I decided to toss in some dried cherries and freeze dried strawberries (have you tried these yet? we love freeze dried fruits & veggies) for color and a pop of freshness. But you can add any kind of fruit you like or, if you prefer to pair your granola with fresh fruit, just skip it altogether. Same goes for the nuts — this time I went with walnuts and almonds but pecans, hazelnuts, even cashews could be fun. And don’t forget the sweetener. For my family, honey is the only way to go, but you can swap in maple syrup or agave if you’d prefer.
Even better, you can have this made and ready to eat, start-to-finish in 45 minutes. If you’re an early riser, you can have this ready to serve before your kids are dressed. It takes five minutes to stir together, 30 minutes to bake and a bit longer to cool. I like my granola a little chunky, so I let mine sit ’til it’s truly 100 percent cooled, which allows the mixture to harden into nice little pieces, but if you’re impatient and don’t mind it a bit looser, dig right in while its warm.
If you’re looking for some creative ideas to serve your granola (when you’re not crunching it by the handful), I found some some seriously mouthwatering ideas around the internets:
Pre-made Granola Parfaits from We Made This Ourselves
Julie from We Made This Ourselves is actually a friend of mine (our daughters are tiny bffs) and I’m regularly inspired by her creations but this one just stopped me in my proverbial web-browsing tracks. How cute are these parfaits? What a great way to inspire kiddos with a grab-and-go breakfast (swap in non-breakable jars for littles?). And, as Julie alludes to in her post, an awesome idea for feeding overnight holiday guests.
Pumpkin Granola Muffins from The Clever Carrot
I love the idea of topping a nutritious muffin with granola. What a beautiful mix of textures (not to mention a great source of energy on-the-go). This recipe called for a pumpkin muffin, which is perfect for fall (not to mention full of fiber), but you could swap in apple, carrot, even zucchini muffins with similar results.
Peach Granola Crisp from Anecdotes and Apples
How gorgeous is this crisp? Can’t you just imagine digging into this on a snowy cold morning? This version calls for peaches and raspberries, which would certainly be delicious, but you could could easily swap in frozen blueberries, strawberries or chunky homemade applesauce for a quick morning treat.
With the holidays coming, consider whipping up a triple batch of delicious granola to gift to neighbors, teachers and friends — they’ll be impressed by your handiwork.