The more I write about food, the more I realize there is so much history behind even the most simple foods. Today’s example will be granola.
When I hear “granola” I think of the hippies in the sixties. They were not mainstream people so they rejected the meat and potatoes that they grew up eating. They were going to rebel and eat nuts and oats. (Or they were trying to find a healthy way to fill their bellies after they get a bout of the munchies?)
Granola had a great shelf life so it was a wonderful travel food to store in the VW vans when they would go on road trips and there was always plenty to share with the hitchhikers. (To all of my “baby boomer” readers: Please forgive my stereotypes.)
I, personally, have always related to the hippie women. (My mom’s attempts at hippiedom were mild but I give her props for trying.) But because of her influence, I like the natural woman look and I really don’t need an excuse to go braless. (They are great for catching the food that misses my mouth, other than that; I really don’t see the point.) I digress…
So I started reading about granola history and expected it to be full of all sorts of peace and love. Surprisingly, there was a lot of controversy. In the late 1700’s, Sylvester Graham started to tell people how they need to shun meat, alcohol, caffeine and white flour. (Sounds like every dietician I see on TV these days.) He developed a whole grain wheat flour, which eventually became what we know as the Graham cracker. (This was the start of vegetarians. health spas, and various health food movements. People didn’t totally embrace it but who can say no to a graham cracker?)
Now, in all my research (okay, it was only a couple of hours on the internet), I couldn’t find consistent stories of who was the initial granola mastermind.
So my version goes like this: there is one guy, Dr. James Jackson, who decided to bake the graham flour, bake it, break it and bake it again. He called it granula. Another guy named Kellogg (sound familiar), made a different mix of grains, baked it and started to cal it granula too. (Seriously, why would he have chosen that name? I don’t get it.) Dr. Kellogg got scared of upsetting Graham, renamed it granola, never marketed it and I’m not sure what happened to him. (Jackson was not happy with Dr. Kellogg. Maybe if Dr. Jackson would have lived in the libel state we live in today we would have a cereal called Special J not K, I’m just saying.)
Dr. Kellogg did do one thing right. He impressed one of his patients. (Did I forget to mention Dr. Kellogg was the director of a sanitarium? (Back then, they were not just for crazy people or people who write blogs.)
His patient (there were no HIPA laws in the late 1800’s so he gave out his name), Charles Post, didn’t get cured at the sanitarium but was very impressed with the granola so he came home and made his own version called Grape Nuts. (I get this name, the clusters were the size of grapes. See he wasn’t so crazy.)
Post marketed his product and became a huge success. (Okay, so did those Kellogg people.)
And that brings us back to the hippies who revived the health food movement and the popularity of granola. Maybe it was revitalized because the Kellogg and Post were able to work together and granola was the ultimate symbol of peace. Or maybe they just liked the flavor? Either way, granola has become a mainstay in people’s diets and a favorite treat for carnivores and vegetarians. See, we all can get along!
Love and Peace Granola
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 cups rolled oats (don’t use the instant kind)
1 cup whole almonds
1 cup dried cranberries
Optional: Add some flax seed for additional health benefits. (I’m not sure what the benefit is about because usually I’m eating some potato chips when I’m watching TV and can’t hear the information about healthfood!)
Heat oven to 325 and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, mix oil, vanilla, brown sugar and honey together.
Stir in oats and almonds.
Bake for about 20-30 minutes until golden.
Remove from oven and stir in cranberries.
Let cool completely and store in an airtight container.
I proved a lot of things while writing this post. First, I’m lousy at history. Second, I don’t know much about hippies. And finally, granola is very easy to make so you would have to be in a sanitarium not to try to make this at home. PEACE AND LOVE, MY FRIENDS!
And if you haven’t done so yet, please vote for me in the Nueske’s Amateur Bacon Cook Off. Click Here to vote and scroll all the way down to the polling section. Click on my name (Barbara Felt Miller)! If you have problems entering the poll, just leave a comment in the comment box about me and my piggy pops! Thanks for your support!