A new priority popped into my life in January, when our little family of three became four. This new little baby had me wrapped around her tiny pinky finger the moment I first saw her, and the weeks that followed were a blur of excitement and emotion. Not to mention hunger. Oh, the hunger! I could never find enough time (or food) to eat my fill between catnaps, appointments, and marathon breastfeeding sessions. I was fortunate to have friends and family that brought over meals for us so we didn't have to cook. And when those meals were all eaten up, I was fortunate to have lots of granola around to feed my endless hunger.
Granola is serious power food for a new mother. Not only is it energy dense, but the oats in the granola help boost milk supply and iron levels. I craved granola so much that I couldn't even keep a full bowl around long enough to take a decent photo (which looks mostly like sliced bananas than granola). Often I was wolfing down granola while washing dishes, talking on the phone, or doing laundry, so forget trying to get my camera out and getting the best angle and light. Since discovering how much my postpartum self loved granola, I have made and gave jars of granola to other new mothers.
True, the world does not need another granola recipe. But because there are so many good ones out there, I have to pick and choose my favourite. I like my granola full of nuts, fruits and seeds, and just barely sweetened with brown sugar, instead of honey or maple syrup. I can always add honey or maple syrup straight into the bowl later on where I'll be better able to taste it right upfront. I also use orange juice in place of some of the olive oil, to keep it on the lighter side.
One last tip: try your granola with a sprinkle of nigella seeds (also known as kalonji or black caraway seeds, found in your local Indian grocery store). The bitter, smoky flavour of those tiny black seeds will make for a more grown-up taste.
Mama's Power Granola
Makes 2 L, enough for 2 weeks of between-meal snacks for a hungry mama.
5 cups (425 g) old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened dried flaked coconut
1/4 cup raw sesame seeds
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (85 g) brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup orange juice (or the juice of 1 medium orange)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup dried sweetened cranberries
1 cup pitted dried dates, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 350F, and line a half-pan baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the oats, coconut, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. Stir to mix, and set aside.
Combine the brown sugar and orange juice in a small saucepan, and heat on medium to dissolve the sugar. Add the olive oil, and stir. Pour over the oat mixture, and mix well with a wooden spoon.
Dump the contents of the bowl onto the baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, stir to ensure even browning, and put it back into the oven for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, stir again, and put it back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes. Remove from the oven when the granola looks golden brown, and leave it in the pan to cool completely, at least 1 hour. Pour it into a large bowl, and mix in the cranberries and dates. Store in airtight glass jars for up to 1 month.