Saturday, September 29, 2007

fat-free microwave granola

dah-dah-dah-ma-ah-nyah-yahhhhhh!!!! that just about sums it up. these days my conversations and thought processes no longer go beyond the babbling stage. no, it's worse than that. i must confess i now find diaper talk actually interesting and the blob-like progeny kinda cute. yep. that's right, i have a serious case of the dreaded "mommy brain". you've seen it around. that weirdly blank blissed-out look those still unkempt mothers wear in the presence of their young, the precipitous decrease in survival skills (is the middle of the road really the best place to stop and adjust a sock?), the inability to construct a complex, non-repetitive sentence, and most horribly, the belief that the babbling and yelling noises the flesh-nuggets make whilst attempting to master the fine art of speech, even in public, is somehow endearing. please kill me now.

the fat, loud, farting spawn formerly known as worm is now 7 months old. head and limb control coupled with sumo-like curves necessitated a change of moniker. you can call her meatballs. we do. she got so fat that the only vacant spot on her body for the adipose nuggets to settle was the tops of her feet and toes, thus transforming perfectly good anatomical parts into something better suited to lying atop a plate of spaghetti. and did i mention the cellulite? hers, not mine. i didn't know babies could get cellulite.

but enough of this breeder talk, lets continue on to the heart of the matter: fat-free nuclear granola. now let's not kid ourselves, this thing you find hungry shoppers foraging for in the bulk bin aisle of the supermarket, this thing called granola, is often not all that healthy. loaded down with sugar, lots of oil, a boatload of nuts and dried fruit, it barely misses being a type of candy, in my babbling opinion, whole grains notwithstanding. but people think it's a type of health food, and therein lies the fatal error: because you think it's good for you, and because it does taste pretty good, you end up (okay, so i'm talking about myself here) eating way, way more than a single serving. and so began my obsession with making my own, less fatty and less sweet version.

for my my first attempts i used the oven crisping method and swapped out all or most of the oil with water or fruit juice. this produced a granola that was not crispy but rather hard. quite hard. hard is not an adjective i want to use to describe my breakfast cereal. three or four different recipes all yielded the same results. just before throwing in the baby-puke stained towel i nipped round to bryanna clark grogan's blog and what did mine eyes behold but a fat-free granola recipe that used, of all things, the nuker! well, i thought to myself, if the microwave can make perfect, crispy fat-free potato chips, why couldn't it do the same for granola? and as it turns out, it can. and does. this method produces great, crispy, small batch granola with zero added oil. the grains, flavorings, addition of fruit or nuts can all be adjusted to taste. who knew granola could be so much fun? this could even make a good project with a kid. to check out the original recipe, go to bryanna's blog and search for "granola".

oil-free microwave coconut/maple granola
2 cups rolled wholegrain cereal (i like a mixture of oatmeal, spelt barley and kamut flakes)
3/4 cups whole grain flour (i use a mixture of wheat and rye)
1/2 cup wheat, oat or rice bran
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coconut extract

put everything into a bowl and mix around with your grubby little fingers. cover the rotating glass carousel of your nuker with waxed paper and spread grains directly on top, taking care to spread evenly (this is for a large microwave, if yours is smaller, cook in multiple batches). cook on hi for 3 minutes. stir and spread out flat again. cook for 3 more minutes and let stand for at least 3 minutes to dry out. depending on the power and size of your microwave these cooking times may need to be adjusted slightly before you find the perfect timing. the first time out, watch it like a hawk cause it can burn really, really fast.
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