Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hi-Pro Granola

For weeks, I've eaten this exact same meal for breakfast, and I thought it was going pretty well.  Granola (homemade by me), with blueberries, a few tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt, and what I call "a teaspoon of honey" but what is really, actually, at least a tablespoon of honey.  Ahem.

My homemade granola was very simple:  1/4 cup butter (down from a whole cup called for in the original recipe!), 1/4 cup honey (which, again, was probably closer to half a cup...what is it with me and the honey?), and 3 cups of rolled oats.  You know, quaker oats?  Melt, mix, cook.  Couldn't be simpler.

Apparently, could be healthier.  I started using the Hi-Pro Granola recipe from Laurel's Kitchen.  Total drama, if you want to know.  Okay, first of all...

I made a total ass of myself in the bulk section at the Whole Foods in Oakland.  I left there feeling pretty low.  My self-esteem cannot handle the attitude of the employees there.  It took some seriously focused energy to get myself squared away enough to brave the Whole Foods in San Ramon.  (Please to note:  In order to re-align my self-esteem, I did not find it necessary to give myself a pep-talk, remind myself why this was an important mission to the health and well-being of my family, or dust off my college degrees to remind myself that I am an intelligent woman.  No, to set myself straight, I spent about 3 minutes mentally belittling the employees on various fronts.  Don't you think it says more about me, than them, that I would let an eye-rolling nineteen year old on shift between classes at the junior college dictate the mood of my afternoon?  It's exhausting being me.)

But you see all these jars?  They are full of "exotic" (to me) sounding ingredients like soy flour, wheat germ, vital gluten, wheat bran berries, torula yeast, dried skim milk....and a variety of seeds.  Flax, sesame, sunflower.  At the San Ramon Whole Foods (which is near my mom's house) my faith in humanity was restored when I came across a nice young man stocking the bulk bins.  He patiently answered all my questions (do I want hulled or unhulled sesame seeds?  what's the difference between these sunflower seeds?  what does it mean to 'sprout' wheat berries?  does soy flour have gluten?) and kindly directed me to the baking aisle for a variety of items that aren't sold in bulk.  Someday, I will marry him.  haha!

(And yes, I did in fact use my label-maker to print out labels for the repurposed jars.  Totally normal, I swear.)

The book said to "toast the seeds as instructed on the following page" I flipped the page and read through the directions.  I got to this line..."remember, the less surface area exposed to dry heat, the better"... and I thought huh.  Being told to "remember" something implies that it's information I have stored, somewhere, for some reason.  I assure you, that is not the case.  Not only do I have no current schema for toasting nuts, I have to admit that I couldn't even make sense of "less surface area".  God, I hate applied mathematics.  I swear, that was my first thought!  Math, to me, is the essence of liberal arts...truth, beauty, knowledge.  I have no interest in actually using math.  I just like doing math.  Alright, so I never could figure out what that meant (should I spread all the seeds out in a thin layer? or mound them up in the middle of the baking sheet?  is it the overall surface area, or is the surface area specific to an individual seed?) so I just skipped it. 
I put the recipe together, with my untoasted nuts and all, and cooked it for 45 minutes.  In the end, it was nothing like "granola".  It was not crunchy.  It was not clustered in any way.  A taste test revealed that it tasted, literally, like grass.  Grass.  As in, lawn.  I transferred it all to my cereal jar, where I stared at it for a few hours before deciding whether or not it was a failed experiment.  I couldn't tell if I should trust my taste buds...they'd been marinating in butter and honey, after all, and it was possible that I had a highly skewed perspective on what constituted granola in the first place.

In the end, I told myself that I would eat this batch.  Ultimately, I was going to add blueberries, yogurt, and some honey to make my breakfast.  At that point, would it really matter?  It turns out that no, it does not matter!  Over just a few servings, I became completely accustomed to the new tastes and the new texture, too.

In the book, she says "Hi-Pro is concentrated.  A small serving stays with you all through the morning."  I'd have to agree.  So far, I'm the only person in my family who eats it.  Everyone else loved the original recipe (well, no duh!) so I think I'm going to pursue some kind of, maybe take the original recipe and add some of the wheat germ, wheat bran, soy flour, and sunflower seeds.  I'll have to experiment with quantities, I'm hoping it will be a simple way to pile on the healthy stuff.


  1. Remember, Laurel was trying to feed her family vegetarian so there might be some ingredients you can leave out. I agree, make your own recipe! I think I tried taking torula yeast in tomato juice when I was pregnant (on Laurel's advice) but that didn't last long. When you radically change your diet, you do get used to the new flavors and come to like them. (I can't make that promise about the yeast though maybe I didn't give it enough of a chance :-)
    I don't eat poultry but I do eat dairy. I eat seafood about once a week, when I'm eating in a restaurant. It makes things easier for my very kind friends when I'm in their homes too.

  2. Oh, ha, that's funny Laurie! I already gave up on the nutritional yeast. It's just....gross. :) I'll try again later, I suspect, because she really waxes poetic about the health benefits, but there's only so much change I can handle at a time. I ate a twinkie like two months ago, for perspective. I'm not at all surprised that you turned to seafood in Spain! I think a lot of people might be surprised at how many authentic Mexican and Spanish foods are based on seafood...well, I mean, or maybe not. Both countries have significant coastlines, after all. Anyway, that's good info, thanks for sharing!

  3. Mia,
    Although I am glad you got the "authentic" 70s version, please keep in mind that nutrition science has changed since then. At that time it was thought that you had to have complete protein at the same time in order to get the benefits. That is, all essential amino acids together at the same time in a meal. Today scientists have shown it isn't necessary to have them in the same meal (or perhaps even in the same day) to get the combining of amino acids for "complete" proteins. So some of the more exotic (and perhaps unpleasant) ingredients are really not necessary.

    I love the granola recipe but I assure you I NEVER used yeast. I was living in Walla Walla, Washington for goodness sake! Feel free to leave out any ingredients that mean you have to be demeaned by WF employees! (For example, don't bother making "better butter."

  4. I stopped reading once math became involved but I love your old granola recipe and I"m off to make more.

    math. hard.

  5. @Kelly ~ Super interesting...I'm actually probably going to write about some of that this week! Better butter = no. :)

    @Brit ~ Erik looked at me today and said, "I had some of that about you make the old stuff?" haha! Butter + Honey = yes!