What better way to start off this blog about food than with breakfast! As you may or may not have heard, breakfast is so important to squeeze into your day—whether that’s a warm breakfast of eggs and toast or just a quick banana and yogurt on your way out the door, it’s something your body needs to get a jump start on the day. Ideally, a breakfast would include protein, carbs, and fat like any other meal of the day (along with fiber to keep you satisfied all morning), but if you’re not used to having something in the morning, starting with almost anything is better than nothing. To be honest, growing up, I definitely had my fair share of cold mac & cheese or pizza in the morning. :) I’m telling ya, there’s no such thing as “breakfast food”!
Philip and I absolutely love our breakfasts—cereal for that matter. That’s one thing we both found out relatively quickly that we had in common. It’s a great time for us to start our day together, too. We may get a little carried away going down the cereal aisle at the grocery store and we may have a whole kitchen cabinet devoted to our cereal (and that’s just the opened ones!), but it’s the small things in life, right? We mix and match and try new combinations of cereal together. One thing that we love adding to our cereal, though, is my homemade cinnamon granola. It’s become a staple to our pantry and I’ll make four batches at a time. I know! I’m not kidding, we love our granola. Hmmm, the smell when it’s baking in the oven is divine as well. Philip always knows when it’s granola-making day by the smell wafting through our home.
I love making my own granola for lots of reasons: 1) I can make it however I want and add in extra things. Philip absolutely loves cinnamon and I love peanut butter, so I always add in extra of both. It’s a win-win. 2) It’s cheaper than buying it at the store. And for as much granola as I make, that’s a big saving. 3) I know what’s going in the granola and can make it healthier. Granola is one of those “health foods” that actually can be…well, not so healthy! It’s deceiving, but besides the healthy oatmeal or nuts, there’s usually a lot of sugar and fat in granola. I got this recipe back in grad school from a friend, but I’ve tweaked it so much, I honestly can’t remember what the original recipe was. I’ve lowered the sugar and fat content, so it makes it a healthier granola option while still keeping the great taste.
We love eating the granola as a mix with other cereals, but it’s great on top of smoothies or yogurt or even on it’s own. So if you’re looking for a way to get some breakfast into your morning, start with some granola, yogurt, and a banana. Yum!
Here’s the line up:
(Yes, I know we have a commercial-size cinnamon container. Don’t judge. I wasn’t kidding when I said we’re serious about our cinnamon and granola!)
It’s a pretty simple list of ingredients, which is why I usually try to use real vanilla extract and natural peanut butter. With so few ingredients, it’s easy to detect the flavors of all the ingredients. I don’t always use real vanilla extract (way too expensive for this frugal girl!), but in some instances, it’s worth it—and homemade cinnamon granola is one of those times. You can totally tell the difference.
I also like using natural peanut butter in my granola, too. It’s not totally mandatory, but I think it gives it a richer, more peanut-y flavor. Plus, which I love most of all, it’s natural—just peanuts and salt. Done. There’s no added sugar or oil in Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter, which I don’t need in the granola since I’m adding both of those into the granola already in other forms. Either creamy or chunky peanut butter will work. Philip likes chunky and I just like peanut butter (although creamy is usually my go-to; oh, the things I do for love!), so we go with chunky for the granola. It’s a compromise I’m willing to make.
To give the granola a “nutritional boost”, I add some wheat germ to it. What is wheat germ you ask? It’s actually the embryo of the wheat seed…but we can just think of it as a nutrient power-house packed with vitamin E and folate, minerals, healthy fats, and fiber. The germ is often removed, along with the bran, during the wheat milling process, leaving us with a refined wheat product (e.g. white bread, baked goods, etc). Whole wheat flour keeps the bran and wheat germ intact, which is why it’s such a better option.
Philip and I like things simple. Including our granola. Hence the reason why you don’t see the whole kitchen sink in this granola. But, any chopped nuts or dried fruit would only add to the already great flavor; chia seeds or ground flax seed would be other fiber-rich options to add in. The possibilities are really endless!
It’s really as simple as can be to make. Just measure and dump the ingredients into a single bowl (makes for super easy clean up!).
After mixing everything together, spread out the granola onto a baking sheet. After about six minutes in the oven, I take it out, give it a nice stir and pop it back in the oven for another six minutes. You’ll know it’s done by the aroma it gives off and its golden color; just be sure not to burn it! Without a lot of fat in the granola, it can be easy to burn if you’re not watching. I like to put it in for a shorter amount of time rather than longer and then check it frequently. Don’t be alarmed if the granola isn’t crisp and hard when you take it out of the oven. It’ll harden as it cools.
Once it has cooled, just break it up into manageable pieces. Don’t break up all the chunks, though—they’re the best part! A fresh batch of granola is my favorite and you can often see me getting out the canister, shaking the large pieces to the top, and scrounging for the large pieces (I’ve hit gold when I bite into a softer, peanut butter-filled chunk!).
I hope you give this granola a try and like it as much as Philip and I do!
Homemade Cinnamon Granola
Yields 10 1/2-cup servings
- 2 1/2 cups old fashioned quick oats
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, slightly packed
- 1/4 cup wheat germ
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 Tbsp natural peanut butter, chunky or creamy
- 3 Tbsp honey
- 2 Tbsp melted butter
- Spray baking sheet well. Heat oven to 350°.
- Mix all ingredients together.
- Bake for ~12 minutes, checking after 6 minutes and stirring. Bake until lightly golden.
- Let cool and break up before storing in an air tight container.