Building blocks of a meal and homemade granola

by - Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. The way that I plan my meals, or rather decide what ingredients to include in my food, is a little nerdy. Ok, maybe you guessed that about me already!

The first step for me is to choose, what I call, a "vehicle". I'll be sharing more on this later but the basic concept is to choose a base (whole grain pasta, bread, rice or other grains, etc.) and then add in the other components of the meal (protein, fruits and veggies, spices, etc.). As an example, I'll make you hungry show you how this works with homemade granola.

These are the basic categories that I consider with each meal (in this case, granola):

Vehicle: Oats
Fruit and/or veggie(s): Dried cranberries and raisins
Protein: Various nuts and seeds
Omega 3s: Hemp seeds
Iron: Pumpkin seeds, oats, hemp seeds, raisins

This really isn't as complicated as it may seem and it is a good way to make sure that you're getting the nutrients that you need. It becomes automatic pretty quickly as you get used to knowing the nutrition profile of the foods that you eat on a regular basis. Because about 95% of my meals are vegan, I pay close attention to protein, iron, and omega 3s. Your mix may be as simple as: vehicle, protein, fruits and/or veggies.

Here's my granola recipe. The weather here in California is wet, cold, and windy- perfect granola weather!

3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup hemp seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup shredded or fine macaroon coconut (unsweetened)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp blackstrap molasses
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
1/3 cup real maple syrup
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2-3/4 cup raisins

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine oats, all seeds and nuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Stir until well combined.
  2. In another bowl, mix vanilla, molasses, brown rice syrup and maple syrup. Tip: warm the brown rice syrup in the microwave first if it is really thick and sticky.
  3. Add the wet mixture to the dry, combine well. Spread evenly on a parchment-covered cookie sheet (I had to use two). Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally for even browning.
  4. Remove from oven, stir in cranberries and raisins, let cool completely.

You May Also Like


  1. Thank you for the recipe! I've been trying homemade granola and haven't found one yet that I like. This looks good!

  2. PS - Do you have any info on the canola vs. olive oil dilemma? I'm so confused! Especially for baking.

  3. Wow, I just did a quick bit of research on the canola oil thing and it is confusing! I had heard a little bit about the issue awhile ago but haven't looked deeper into it. I actually really like the taste of olive oil in baking, but I know that is kind of weird. ;-)
    I am not sure what to think about the olive vs. canola oil thing. My gut says stick with olive and maybe use coconut in baking (in moderation). I'd rather have a little saturated fat instead of genetically modified (and possibly toxic) "canolas". Yikes. I guess I'll have to do some more research!
    Thanks for brining this up!


Comments, questions, and suggestions are always welcome. I look forward to hearing from you!