Cranberry Orange Granola

***Edited — I’ve made this GF many times by omitting the wheat germ and using GF oats.  It is a great GF granola and not nearly as expensive as that found in health food stores.***

I’ve been MIA for the last couple weeks — life or should I say the school play has trumped everything else.  The play went off very smoothly Thursday night so I’m back!

I posted a recipe for hot cereal for breakfast, but one doesn’t always have time to cook in the morning.  So how about some healthy great tasting granola?  My recipe is an adaptation of one in the book Choices by Cheryl Thomas Caviness.

The granola will last for a long time in an airtight container so I make a big batch.

Into a large mixing bowl place 14 cups of whole oats (that is basically a 2 lb. container of oats.)

The original recipe called for toasted wheat germ.  Raw is readily available at the nearest grocery store, so I put it in the oven on a cookie sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes at 250 degrees, stirring a couple times.  Add 3 cups toasted wheat germ to the oats.

Add 1-1/2 cups raw nuts.  I like to use both cashew pieces and almonds. 

The cashews are small enough, but I coarsely chop the almonds on a cutting board with a large knife.

Add 2-1/2 cups coconut either shredded or large flakes.  This time I had the large.

Add 2 teaspoon salt.  And stir together the dry ingredients.

In a blender  — place 2 cups unsweetened frozen apple juice concentrate. (It will take about a can and a half.)

Add 1/2 cup of pitted dates.

Add 1 cup unsweetened applesauce.

Add 4 teaspoons vanilla extract.

Finally add 1 teaspoon pure orange extract

Close the blender and set it to liquify.  It should be fairly smooth, but if there are some small bits of date that is OK.

Add liquid ingredients slowly to the dry ingredients.

Stir well to thoroughly combine ingredients.

Spread on baking sheets in thin layer.  I use four baking sheets for this recipe.  I also have a double oven so can bake everything at once.  If I only had a single oven I would have to bake in two rounds.  Bake at 225-250 degrees  for 1-1/2 hours.  Stir every 30 minutes.  You could just pull the rack out and stir, but I always burn myself on the oven.  So I take it out to stir.  I also rotate the pans each time I stir to avoid having one pan in a hot spot in the oven.

During the last 10 minutes of baking time spread 1 cup of dried cranberries over the granola.

Allow granola to cool completely.  Stir to combine the cranberries and store in an airtight container.  It fits great in this 1-1/2 gallon Rubbermaid container.

So now lets talk just a little about nutrition.  This granola contains two of the ingredients on the Mayo Clinics list of “10 Great Health Foods for Eating Well”, almonds and wheat germ.  Almonds are loaded with nutrients and are a great source of protein. Fat in almonds in monounsaturated fat which may help lower blood cholesterol levels.

What about wheat germ?  I was tempted to leave it out of the recipe until I read up on it.  The germ is the part of the wheat removed when processed (white) flour is made.  It is the most nutritious part of the grain.  It is packed with nutrients, and is a good source of fiber and protein.

Depending on the serving size (1/2 cup to 1 cup) this recipe makes approximately 22-44 servings.

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