You know what is the worst when it happens during the holidays, and it’s been happening to a lot of people lately? Coming down with a virus. I’m not talking about the kind that infects your computer or comes from hackers who may, or may not be, upset about a particular movie your film studio is about to release (although those are both really bad too). I’m talking about the kind that knocks you flat on your back and sucks all the energy and holiday excitement out of you. That’s what we’ve been dealing with in our house over the past week, plus. First Woody came down with the nasty thing and then I did. It’s particularly annoying when you’ve procrastinated on many holiday errands and the weekend you have to get them done or risk missing Christmas, is when you can hardly peel yourself off the couch and being more than 5 feet away from a kleenex box could prove quite embarrassing. Thankfully though, we’re on the upswing of things and should be 100% for our Christmas travel and activities.
Because we like to make sure there are at least a few healthy food options available when we travel, one thing I love to take with me is granola. I’ve been known to stuff a 1lb + bag of the stuff in my suitcase or several pre-portioned snack bags of it in my carry-on food survival bag. I love granola, as does Woody, and because he can eat a lot of it several years ago I started making it at home. It’s such an easy thing to do, and much healthier than the vast majority of store bought versions. With fillers, oils and other unnecessary ingredients, granola can be one of the biggest offenders on the deceptive “it looks healthy, but it really isn’t” list.
But when done right, and enjoyed in appropriate amounts, it can be quite nutritious. Oats are naturally packed with fiber and iron while nuts and seeds are high in heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Besides the potential health benefits, the crunchiness and sweetness of granola make it a favorite for many. The key is to keep it simple and healthy. And use it as a topping, rather than the start of the meal.
It can also make for a great gift, which means that baking a batch of granola this weekend can help you with those last minute gifts for friends, neighbors, and colleagues. A few years ago I gave a bag of homemade granola with a cute bowl as a secret santa gift for the office holiday gift exchange; the recipient loved it and asked for the recipe! Beautifully packaged with a ribbon and one of these easy DIY cinnamon ornaments, homemade granola makes for a beautiful hostess gift (then she doesn’t have to think about breakfast the next morning!) or for your friends who you love to brunch with throughout the year.
If you’re hosting family for the holidays, it’s easy to bake a big batch of this granola before the crowds arrive then set it out in the morning along with a variety of milks, yogurt, and fruit for everyone to enjoy. The crunchiness also makes for a great topping on waffles or pancakes. And don’t forget the coffee, of course!
This recipe is a new favorite, perfect for the holiday season with a little, wait for it… pumpkin added in! Not only is the flavor festive, but this orange fruit also adds more fiber, potassium, iron and vitamin A to give the morning meal a nutrition boost.
Now while the photo above appears to be a bowl full of granola, as mentioned earlier, I don't advise actually eating a full bowl of granola! Even homemade granola has a good bit of fat and calories due to the combination of ingredients - however healthy those ingredients may be individually - so it’s best to keep the serving size to 1/4 - 1/3 of a cup. Like so many other things in life, please enjoy in moderation!
Have you made homemade granola? * What do you love to bake this time of year? * Will you be visiting or hosting family over the holidays?