One of my daughters loves to order granola parfaits whenever we are out for breakfast. I like them because she ends up eating some fruit, grains and protein all in one sitting and now that she is 10, she also sees the nutritional value in the right granola parfait. Granola is a cinch to make, it very inexpensive and is so much tastier than the stuff you can buy. By making it, you can also control the amount of sugar in the mix and make it a healthier breakfast (or lunch or snack…) option. I started off with a recipe from Mollie Katzen and removed the nuts to make it suitable for school and got rid of a bunch of the sugar. The end result is a crunchy, healthy and tasty granola. It does not taste like dessert, but has a lovely sweetness from the dried fruit that I mix in. Here’s the recipe:
Pre-heat the oven to 325F. In a large bowl mix the following together
3 cups of extra thick rolled oats
1 cup of quinoa flakes
1 cup of oat bran
1 cup of sunflower seeds
1 cup of hemp hearts
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp of fennel seeds (this is optional – I love these, but not everyone in my family likes fennel)
1/2 cup of neutral oil like grapeseed
1/2 cup of maple syrup or honey
Once everything is mixed together, spread it evenly on a parchment covered rimmed cookie sheet. I use a commercial sized cookie sheet for this so that the granola bakes more evenly. A commercial sheet is a great investment for roasting veggies or anything else you cook in the oven in large quantities. Bake the granola, stirring occasionally until it is golden brown. This takes about 45 minutes. Immediately mix in the following:
1 cup of pumpkin seeds
1 to 2 cups of dried fruit. I use whatever I have on hand but typically a mix of berries or stone fruit.
Wait for the mixture to cool and store in an airtight container.
For lunch, I packed a container of granola along with some plain greek yogurt that I drizzled with some honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon. I added a mix of berries and a gummy cat for a treat. This lunch box always comes back empty and takes about 90 second to pack once I have some granola on hand.
I made some granola to bring as a hostess gift over the weekend the kids gobbled up the little bit that was leftover. Keeping this in mind, I whipped up a batch yesterday to pack in their 32nd lunch. I mixed up some oats, quinoa flakes, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp protein powder, a few shakes of cinnamon, some grape seed oil, a bit of kosher salt and some dark maple syrup and baked it in the oven until it was golden. I mixed in some dried berries – cranberries, blueberries, cherries and goji berries – at the end and set it aside to cool. The kids walked in from playing outside, were delighted by the delicious smell and immediately had a bowl of warm granola with almond milk.
I picked up some silicone muffin cups over the weekend (and am kicking myself for throwing out a bunch of similar muffin cups about a year ago because I didn’t find them so effective for baking) and thought they would come in handy for this make-your-own granola parfait lunch. I scooped out about 1/3 cup of granola into a muffin cup for each of them and filled two others with some berries and fruit that they could (or not – one did not want fruit mixed in with her granola at all!) mix in with the greek yogurt I packed into the round container in their lunch boxes. Finally, and entirely for my peace of mind as a parent, I sliced up a little Persian cucumber and a yellow carrot. The yogurt and granola are pretty filling on their own so I am not sure they would be hungry for much more food but just in case they are, there are always veggies! Finally, the best treat in the world returned in this lunch – a few pieces of Trader Joe’s dark chocolate chunks that I usually use for baking but that turned out to be the best treat ever! I think these must have the same allure as the chocolate chips my mother always had on hand (and preferably not in our hands) for baking when I was little and of course, chocolate is delicious!
My kids are usually pretty easy going about eating what I send to school for them but I am always open to requests. Today, by request, we made up a batch of granola after school and then packed it up for lunch. The granola has a mix of oats, oat bran, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cocoa nibs, dried fruit and some hemp powder. It is delicious and highly addictive! I packed some granola along with a cup of plain Greek yogurt and some fresh berries so that the kids could construct little yogurt parfaits at lunch hour. I made up a quick and easy carrot salad with some mint and lemon juice for colour in their boxes and a few little bunny graham crackers.