Sunday, March 30, 2014

Nutty Granola and Banana Chips

Spring is here- along with warmer(ish) weather, which means time for more outdoor activities. I think about hiking, trail running, and simply enjoying the beauty of nature. A perfect treat to pair with these fun, fit activities is granola!

This granola is quite possibly the simplest you will ever make, and it's made with instant oatmeal! I paired it with sweet and chewy banana chips. You can easily create variety with your granola by using different sweeteners and any flavor of oatmeal you'd like! I used cinnamon apple oatmeal, which had a great flavor to go with the nuts! Using brown sugar or agave nectar is another option, if you do not have honey or maple syrup at home. 

Granola (Makes about 1 cup)
2 packets Instant Oatmeal 
1/4 cup Water
1 tbsp Honey
1/4 cup Mixed Nuts
1 tbsp Maple Syrup

1. Place a medium mesh sieve over a small pan, and pour the oatmeal through it. This will separate the oatmeal from the flavoring and sweetener in the packet.
2. Shake the sieve to remove any excess. Set aside the oats.
3. Add the water. Mix to incorporate.
4. Heat the mixture until it boils, and the bubbles slow. The mixture will become thicker, like syrup, and much of the water will evaporate.
5. Remove from heat, and add the oats. Mix until they become incorporated.
6. Add the honey and mix to incorporate the honey evenly. This may take a couple of minutes, since there is not much liquid.
7. Add the nuts and mix.
8. Transfer the mixture to a small aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. I used a toaster oven baking sheet. Then, mix in maple syrup (or any other sweetener).
9. Place the sheet in the toaster oven and toast for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Make sure that the granola stays in one flat pile, so small pieces don't burn. If you don't have a toaster oven, bake at 350 degrees F in a conventional oven, mixing every 5 minutes.
10. Remove from toaster oven once the granola becomes golden and the nuts are toasted.

Banana Chips
1 Banana
1/4 cup Powdered Sugar

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
2. Peel and slice banana into thin slices (about 1/8"), so that you have thin medallions.
3. Lay the banana slices onto a baking sheet lined with a nonstick silicone baking mat (Silpat). They should be spaced apart at least half an inch.
4. Sift powdered sugar through a sieve to cover each slice. This will create a syrup that the banana slices will dry out in, so that the pieces have a leathery texture, and a sweet banana flavor.
5. Bake in the oven for about an hour, until the banana pieces are dry to the touch and are thin and dried out.
6. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely before removing from the mat. If it is a rainy or humid day, turn off the oven and allow to dry further.
7. Mix into the granola or enjoy alone! Place the chips into an airtight plastic container to prevent them from becoming soggy.

You can enjoy this granola on top of yogurt, with fresh fruit, or even as a snack by itself! It's tasty, simple, and delicious! Take it on picnics, hikes, walks, or enjoy in the car or on the go! :)

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