Holiday thanks from Culinaut

Now that we've recovered from our Thanksgiving food comas and our stomachs have been appropriately stretched for winter, it means we're solidly into the holiday season, (especially with Hanukkah starting so early this year). Of course, this means even more good eating, and tasty gifts!

Homemade treats make for great holiday gifts, but if you're like me and have ever tried shipping baked goodies cross-country it can get a little stressful. You've got to make sure you pick something that won't go bad over the course of being delivered, will still taste fresh, and will stay intact after being jostled in the mail. This year, I think I've come up with a pretty good solution: granola.

At first you might not think much of granola, but the homemade kind is delicious and makes most store-bought types taste like sugary cardboard in comparison. It's also an incredibly nutritious sweet snack, with potential for lots of good fiber, omega-3s, and vitamins depending on what you put in it. It's certainly no brownie replacement, but it's a great winter treat to complement some of those other goodies which might leave you with a bit more guilt. It also has a really good shelf life and you don't need to worry about it breaking in the mail cause, well, it's already in pieces to start with.

Culinaut Gift Giveaway

This year, as a thanks to those of you who have been especially supportive of Culinaut in its early phases, I'll be sending out some custom-made packages of Culinaut granola. I also want to take this opportunity to thank all of you readers again. Unfortunately, I can't send every reader a batch, so instead we'll be having the first Culinaut holiday giveaway drawing. Send an email by midnight on 12/11/10 to culinaut {at} gmail {dot} com with a suggestion for something you'd like to see covered in a future post. My trusty random number generator will pick one of the entries and the submitter will get a pack of granola too. Either way, I'll try my best to cover all the suggestions!

DIY Granola

Or if you want to make some granola yourself, you can follow this simple ratio of ingredients and get creative. I like using natural and organic ingredients when I can because in a simple recipe, the quality of ingredients is most important. I also like making flavor combinations that you usually can't find at a store. The flavors pictured above are: Cherry Chocolate Almond, Cranberry Orange Green Tea and Mango Ginger Walnut.

Ingredients Ratio
  • Start with a ratio of 1 cup rolled oats : 2 Tb honey : 1 Tb vegetable oil
  • Then add spices, nuts, and dried fruit to taste.
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Mix the oats with some of your favorite nuts or seeds (walnuts, almonds, pecans, or sunflower seeds work well). This is also where you can add some other spices like cinnamon or nutmeg.
  3. Combine the honey and vegetable oil and stir into the dry ingredients above.
  4. Spread the mix onto a lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for around 40 minutes until golden brown, stirring the mix every 10 minutes.
  5. Let the granola cool, and then mix in some of your favorite dried fruits, or even some chocolate chunks.
Eat by the handful as a snack, or sprinkled on top of yogurt or in milk.

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