Thursday, July 1, 2010
Good for You Granola
Now, you have to understand: I'm not exactly a normal person. At least not for my age. Nutrition is one excellent example of that. I'm obsessed with nutrition. I love learning about the health benefits of food, exercise, lifestyle, etc. In fact, of all the classes I've taken as an undergraduate, nutrition was by far the most interesting (as in leaning on the edge of my seat interesting). I'm also very averse to meat (I actually started off college as a vegetarian, but the limited options of the school cafeteria actually led to me being quite badly malnourished by Christmas break, so I had to stop), and I can literally eat 4-6 servings of fruits in a day (and that's not even counting the vegetables). Actually, though, I think most of it ties back to the fact that I run a lot. I guess when you engage in a sport that's as taxing as running, every little boost in health makes a difference.
Anyway, so I started skimming through the shelves, and one book in particular caught my eye. It's called Food Matters by Mark Bittman (refer to the ad on the left), and it's amazing. It shows us all how horribly twisted our diet has become, and the surplus of livestock and monocultured mega-grains (corn and soy) we have come to depend on is slowly killing our bodies as well as our environment (greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane). We currently have about 10 livestock to every 1 human on Earth, and our animals consumes 660 billion ears of corn per year - enough to sustain 100 million humans. So think about how much corn (which is NOT the healthiest food for a cow to begin with; they evolved to eat grass!) is needed to sustain a cow for a lifetime, and then think of how few dinners that one cow can provide for (not to mention the bones and gunk we DON'T eat). Meat is just so much more expensive to raise in terms of natural resources than vegetables and grains themselves. So why is the local McDonald's burger so cheap? It's because it's not 100% good quality beef. There's actually a lot of preservatives and chemicals processed by (once again) corn and soy that ends up filling us up without giving us the nutrition we need.
Makes me want to be vegetarian again. Or at least pescetarian. And think guiltily about all the past buffets I've eaten.
Anyway, he left a bunch of simple, healthy (and in the long run Earth-friendly) recipes in the back that I've taken quite a liking for. One of them is a really easy take on homemade granola that actually tastes pretty good.
Good for You Granola
-2.5 cups oats (not instant!)
-1.5 cups assorted nuts and seeds (pecans, walnuts, sesame, pumpkin, cashews)
-1/2 cup dried coconut flakes
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1/4 to 1/2 cup honey
-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-Salt to taste
-1/2 to 3/4 cup raisins or other dried fruits
1. Mix everything together, then spread in a thin, even layer over a shallow baking pan.
2. Bake at 350F for about 30-40 minutes until golden brown, stirring every 10 minutes or so.Try to get an even browning all over, and make sure it doesn't burn!
3. Remove from oven and let cool near a breeze (I used the kitchen counter right beneath a window), stirring occasionally.
4. Allow to cool to room temperature, then store in an airtight container.
5. Serve with milk, fruit, and/or yogurt. Or alone, as I prefer.