An Ode to Trader Joe’s (and to Homemade Granola)

Oh Trader Joe’s, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways:

-Your stores are fun and unpretentious, even though you kind of have the right to be

-Your prices are reasonable and you don’t overcharge your customers, even though you probably could

-Your dog treats are gigantic and delicious (that one is from B)

-You seem to price your products close to what it probably costs to make them instead of jacking up the prices just because the label says “organic”

-You have lovely produce that is always of good quality

-You have a large selection of delicious frozen pre-made food for when we don’t feel like utilizing your lovely produce selection

-Your nut and dried fruit selection is plentiful and very fairly priced

-You always have samples out for customers

-You sell beautiful tulips for under $5

-Some of your location sell booze

-Your vanilla extract is stupid cheap. So is your peanut butter.

-You sell Clif bars for $1 (that one is from Justin)

Phew! I’m sure there are other glorious things about Trader Joe’s that I’m missing, but that will have to do for now.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a Trader Joe’s near us but I made the trek out to one the other day to stock up on a few TJ’s staples. While I was there I picked up a bunch of nuts and dried fruit and I decided to make some granola to bring to work this week.

I love granola over yogurt or even just straight as a snack but it’s so expensive to buy at the store! Also, it’s often times not the health food that it appears to be because of the amount of oil involved. Luckily it is easy to make at home (as long as you can stick around to stir it every once in awhile) and you can mix and match ingredients depending on your tastes. Here is how you can whip up some granola at home:

Gather your ingredients.

Place your oats into a large bowl and measure out whatever nuts you will be including. I used sliced almonds, sunflower seeds and ground flax seed, which is apparently some sort of nutritional powerhouse (check out that link, it’s crazy). The ground flax seed doesn’t really affect the taste very much but it adds a lot nutritionally. Sunflower seeds are a favorite of mine so I added a bunch the last time I made granola. They have a really strong taste and it kind of overpowered the rest of the ingredients, so I only used 1/4 cup this time and it was just right.

Add them to the oats.

Measure out your other dry ingredients

and toss them in with the oats.

You can also hold off on adding the cranberries (or raisins or whatever dried fruit you might be adding) until after you cook the granola to keep the original texture. Cooking the dried fruits will harden them a little, so it’s up to you!

Next, add in the oil

then the honey

and lastly, the vanilla.

Mix all of the ingredients together and break up any clumps that form.

Spread the mixture out in a single layer on a cookie sheet.

Cook for 15 minute intervals, removing the pan and mixing the granola in between.

Remove the oats once they start to look lightly toasted. The granola will harden as it cools, so don’t assume that it needs more time in the oven just because it is still a little soft.

Allow the granola to cool before storing.

Use it as a topping on yogurt or eat it straight as a snack.


Homemade Granola

Makes: 10 servings / Prep time: 10 minutes / Cook time: 35-40 minutes

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with a non-stick cooking or baking spray. In a large bowl combine all of the above ingredients (or hold off on the dried fruit until after the granola is done cooking if you would rather keep the dried fruit’s original texture) and break up any clumps that form. Spread the mixture out in an even layer on the cookie sheet. Cook for 35-40 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color. Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container.

3 thoughts on “An Ode to Trader Joe’s (and to Homemade Granola)

  1. Pingback: Chocolate and Fiscal Responsibility | The Wily Hound

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