We are back from our very short trip to Chicago, we got back late Monday night. It was a whirlwind of a trip, but it was super fun and totally successful on the business front. The holiday market was jammed packed with people and everyone was in such a festive holiday mood. I love that about this time of year.
When we are in Chicago we stay with good friends and it is so enjoyable and relaxing. We are so lucky to have so many amazing friends across the country that open their homes to us. It makes it feel like we took a trip to see and stay with family instead of the alternative of it feeling like the (somewhat) stressful work filled trip that it actually is. I really wish I had more time before we left for this trip to make cute little homemade gifts like this granola for our friends that we stayed with as a “thank you”. This granola would make a wonderful holiday gift for the cereal lover on your list and it would also be the perfect gift for the host or hostess that invites you by for a holiday party. This granola in a simple canning jar wrapped up with some sweet ribbon or twine with a little tag, it really doesn’t get any better. I wish I could also capture and bottle up the smell in the house after baking this and wrap that in a bow and give it to everyone I know. It was that good.
The only bad thing about coming home after traveling, is that the fridge is usually so empty when we return. I try to be smart and plan ahead so we don’t leave town with a ton of fresh produce or leftovers in the fridge, etc. But that also means that when we come home there is very little fresh food to eat and I need to find the time to get to the market. We are pretty busy with work right now, so I haven’t had the extra time to get groceries just yet, so we have been just making do with what we have on hand right now. I have been craving some holiday-inspired goodies, like crazy, so, I decided a fun and healthy way to get some holiday flavor in my life, is to make this gingerbread granola. It made the house smell amazing and it is a great breakfast and snack option. It would also be good sprinkled on top of greek yogurt or ice cream. I’ve been enjoying this granola for breakfast with a few glugs of almond milk or coconut milk (not the canned kind, the beverage kind from So Delicious).
I had blackstrap molasses on hand, so I used that, but feel free to use regular light or dark molasses if that is what you have. Since blackstrap molasses can have a bit of a bittersweet taste, I also added an additional 1/4 cup of coconut sugar. You could leave this off or substitute brown sugar or honey here if you are looking for a bit more sweetness, like I was. Blackstrap molasses is not only a healthier choice for a sweetener, it actually has some health benefits, which is a lot more than more sweeteners can say for themselves. Blackstrap molasses is high in iron and a variety of other minerals.
Is it bad that I want to wrap this granola up and give it to everyone on my list? It’s that good.
This made enough to fill two 1-quart canning jars
4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (if you are gluten intolerant, be sure these are certified gluten-free oats. I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 cup chia seeds (flax seeds would also be nice)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped (or pecans, almonds, etc)
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup blackstrap molasses (light or dark molasses will also work)
1/4 cup coconut sugar (optional, you can also use brown sugar)
2 teaspoons vanilla
Preheat oven to 325ºF.
Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. You can also use a roasting pan, which is nice since you can just mix all of the ingredients right in it, without losing things over the edge.
Combine all of your dry ingredients, oats, seeds, nuts, dried fruit etc., in a large bowl (or in your roasting pan). Add in your spices and salt. Mix well.
Pour the molasses and vanilla over the dry ingredients and stir until well coated. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes. Give the mixture a little taste and add the coconut sugar (or brown sugar) if it’s too bitter for you.
If you aren’t using a roasting pan, spread the granola on the baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes. Toss every 10 minutes or so to provide even toasting.
Let cool completely – it will get crispier as it cools. Keep in airtight container.