vanilla chai granola

And you probably thought I was going to have to give up my KitchenAid mixer.

I may have met my no-two-week-hiatus goal, but not within enough time for me to celebrate. I won’t bore you with all the details, but lately I’ve been too busy to breathe and too tired to function. This morning, I accidentally dumped some wintergreen mouthwash in my hands instead of hair gel. I need to either stop buying like-colored, dissimilar products, or get a few more hours of sleep per night. Either way…

I’ve been seeking quick-and-easy meals on the go during this hectic time, so I might as well share one of faves: vanilla chai granola.

I’m a little embarrassed about how long it took me to realize the gigantic canister of oats sitting on top of my fridge could be used for something other than oatmeal (or oatmeal cookies), but once I discovered how easy it is to make your own granola, I was hooked. So easy. So cheap. Endless possibilities!

For my first round of granola, I attempted to slice whole almonds into slivers, and shot shards of them all over my kitchen. If making things more difficult than they need to be isn’t your style, you can purchase sliced almonds at any supermarket. I used the same spice mix I did for the vanilla chai cupcakes with slightly different proportions, but feel free to experiment. Your house will smell amazing either way — well, as long as you don’t burn it.

♦4 c. old-fashioned oats
1/2 c. sliced almonds (can add more or less)
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. cardamom
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. honey
2 tbl. granulated sugar
1 tbl. vanilla extract

Line a baking sheet with tinfoil, and lightly coat with baking spray. Combine oats, almonds and spices in a large bowl. Over medium heat, bring oil, honey and sugars to a simmer. Remove from heat, add vanilla and coat dry ingredients with liquid. Toss around until completely covered. Spread contents evenly across baking sheet. Bake at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes. IMPORTANT: Be sure to check on granola every 8-10 minutes, flipping occasionally for an even bake.  The granola burns easily, so don’t neglect it! Allow time to cool before eating.

smells prettier than it looks!

Total time? 10 minutes prep, 22 minutes cook.
Cost? Sliced almonds from Wegman’s self-serve candy/nuts area, less than $2, oats (obviously more than you’ll need), $2.
Overall success relative to expectations? 10 out of 10. My expectations were low; I just couldn’t believe something that’s so expensive in the stores could be so easy to make… and make well. The flavor was outstanding, and this yielded enough to have in yogurt, with milk or by the handful every day for nearly a week. (Store in a Tupperware.) I like to keep my granola simple — just oats and almonds — but feel free to add in sunflower seeds, wheat germ, walnuts, etc.


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