Baked granola is my Prozac.*

My house smells like a scrumptious oatmeal cookie.

I didn’t bake cookies today, though. I baked the granola recipe I mentioned earlier today. I admit, I was in a funk and had a hard time motivating myself to do much today, let alone tackle a new recipe in the kitchen. My usual method of making myself feel better when I am having “one of those days” has been to make someone else feel good. If you paid attention, you could probably tell when I was having a hard day by the number of compliments I dished out.  (Try it. It works.)

These days, I see less people. (I tried to tell Cholula her ears looked pretty today. She just squeaked her bumblebee at me.)

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So I brainstormed some different ways to feel better. I had a plan to beat the blues this morning. When in doubt, make a LIST!

I did read “Happiness” by Edward Monkton. The man is a quirky, joy-spreading genius. I laughed out loud a couple of times during the few minutes it took to page through the mini-book. I had a soba noodle lunch and sat on the deck in the sun. I talked to one of my best friends, who always brings me back to center. And I made something yummy in the kitchen.

I bake homemade granola often, having tweaked a recipe from the Barefoot Contessa to my version of simple, delicious perfection. I even made it for Christmas gifts last year. But there are so many versions of granola, and it’s great to bring on a camping trip. This recipe from Hungry Girl Por Vida had the elements I like- lots of nuts, honey, cinnamon and coconut- and while it’s a tad more involved than my go-to recipe, it seemed perfect for today. (It also takes care of my ‘new’ recipe for the week!)

The pile of ingredients looked promising. And they looked lovely when mixed together in a bowl.

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This was my first experience with coconut oil. I had some in the pantry, purchased for another recipe I haven’t made yet. I expected it to be…more coconuty, I guess, in smell or flavor, but I know now it’s a substitute for other oils. Its texture as a solid blended into a smooth oil that combined easily with the honey and vanilla. Very cool stuff.

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The process, with a few added steps and additional ingredients, was basically what I’m used to when baking granola. You have to babysit it a bit to get it perfectly golden brown. You have to let it cool to get it to be chunky. I snuck a nibble or two. This version is tasty. It’s going to be good when mixed with raspberry yogurt, my preferred accompaniment (John likes honey-vanilla Greek yogurt).

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What amazed me was how I felt while cooking away. I was focused on creating something new. My senses were stimulated- the colors of the ingredients, the smell filling the kitchen as it baked, the crunchy texture of the nuts and crispy coconut, the bite of the toasted spices on my tongue. I felt proud when I tasted the outcome of my efforts. I made that. These are the reasons I love to cook.

I kind of forgot I wasn’t exactly Little Miss Sunshine today.

My new plan on a down day? Do something I love. If I start there, things can only get better.

I’ll keep dishing out the compliments, though. You never know- you might make someone’s day.

*In no way do I wish to diminish the importance of Prozac or other mood regulators to many people as necessary in their daily lives.

12 replies »

  1. Just thought I would add that coconut oil is the best there is for cooking popcorn. And remember the song I sang at grandma’s wedding…….”Make someone happy”. Works every time.

  2. I think my favorite thing about baking and cooking is the smell that permeates the house. It is THE best to leave the house for awhile and come back in after a cooking session. A cloud of wonderful smells just waiting for us to return. I love that. Thanks for sharing your granola recipe. I never thought to make that from scratch. I’ll have to cost it out…up here sometimes it’s better/cheaper from scratch and sometimes, not.

  3. I’m so glad you liked the recipe! Coconut oil is one of my favorites. I agree with you on doing something you love, it definitely makes gloomy days a bit brighter.

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