Much of the oatmeal America eats is manufactured in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, by Quaker Oats, which has declared January – all 31 days – National Oatmeal Month.
I’m a granola freak, but I don’t like spending an arm and a leg for the store-bought versions that are typically loaded with fat, sugar and sodium. Fortunately, it’s easy (and healthier) to make your own granola, and it’s very forgiving – unless you, say, forget to take it out of the oven, you really can’t screw it up.
I like to refer to a collection of granola recipes that appeared in USA Weekend. Contributing Editor Pam Anderson offers a basic formula with eight variations that let you suit your own tastebuds and available ingredients.
Master granola recipe
- 2 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup wheat germ
- 2 tablespoons. dark brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup “extra ingredients”: a combination of nuts, flaked coconut, dried fruit, etc.
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons flavorless oil, such as vegetable or canola
- 1 tablespoon water
- Flavoring if/as desired, such as cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, almond extract, orange zest, etc.
Adjust oven rack to middle position, and heat oven to 275 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch metal pan with cooking spray, then set aside. Mix oats, wheat germ, brown sugar, salt and extra ingredients, except dried fruit if using, in a bowl.
Bring syrup, oil, water and any flavoring to a simmer in a saucepan over low heat. Drizzle over oat mixture, and stir to combine. Pour mixture onto prepared pan.
Working a handful at a time, squeeze cereal to form small clumps. Bake for 30 minutes. Stir in dried fruit. Continue to bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes longer. Let cool.
Granola can be stored in an airtight tin for up to two weeks.