Modern granola as we know it has historical roots as far back as the early 19th century. Beginning with early nutritionists such as Sylvester Graham who encouraged whole grains and Dr. James Jackson who developed “granula”, the development continued through Kellogg brother, John Harvey, who modified Jackson’s term and created the “granola” name, but did not market the creation. Later Charles Post, the creator of Grape Nuts, made a successful marketing effort of the healthy, whole grain cereal blend.
Over the years, granola creators have taken a basic whole grain base, inspired by the efforts in the 1800s, and have combined it with an array of additions and creative interpretations! It seems that nearly everyone with an interest in healthy, all natural foods and even those with an interest in cooking have a granola creation of his or her own! Recipes range from the ultra healthy to ones loaded with chocolate and candy pieces.
This granola recipe keeps the healthy whole grains, limits the refined sugars and adds variety of dried fruits, nuts and spices to create a breakfast meal or anytime snack, inspired by the tropics.
Tropical Fruit and Nut Granola
3 c. Rolled Oats
1/3 c. Sunflower Seeds (unsalted-but, not raw!)
½ c. Wheat Germ (optional)
1 c. Almonds, coarsely chopped
1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
½ tsp. Salt
¼ c. Unsalted Butter
¼ c. Honey
1/3 c. Dark Brown Sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 c. Prepackaged Tropical Fruit Trail Mix, coarsely chopped**
**Choose a tropical style, prepackaged trail mix with bits of dried papaya, pineapple, banana chips, raisins, cashews and macadamia nuts or your favorite trail mix blend. This recipe used an organic, tropical trail mix.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the oats, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, almonds, cinnamon and salt into a large mixing bowl and mix to evenly distribute the ingredients.
In a heavy sauce pan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the honey, brown sugar and vanilla extract to the butter, stirring over the low heat until the sugar melts and the mixture is well combined. Take care not to “burn” the butter and sugar mixture in this step–unless you desire a rich, caramel flavor!
Pour the butter mixture over the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl and stir to coat. It is okay if some ingredients form clumps in this step! It will add to the texture of the finished granola!
Spread the granola out onto the prepared, parchment covered, cookie sheet and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown, stirring/turning the granola after the first two ten minute increments to evenly brown the mixture and prevent burning.
Remove the browned granola from the oven and cool for about 5 minutes. Add the chopped tropical fruit mix to the warm granola and toss to combine. Initially, the nuts will soften from the heat as they take on the flavor of the granola. Once the mixture is cooled, the texture and crispness will return to the ingredients.
This granola may be eaten alone as a snack, served as a topping for yogurt or ice cream, or used as breakfast cereal with lowfat or soy milk. Store the granola in an airtight storage container for up to two weeks.
Citations: The History of Granola, from FoodReference.com