Saturday, April 23, 2011

Granola on my Mind

We all have mental storehouses, those vast, winding arsenals of the mind that guard years' worth of thoughts, memories, and jumbled interconnections. I like to think of the mind in this way: as a long corridor with lots of rooms, each room containing boxes, filing cabinets, trunks, or folders of varying size and age. For the subjects and memories that have occupied much of our thoughts, the rooms are very spacious. The boxes in these rooms are bursting at the seams and piled very, very high. The less significant (though not unimportant) topics have closet-like rooms which contain perhaps one shelf with a few simple wooden crates or manila file folders. In my mind, I have three little boxes that sit behind a door inscribed with the word "granola."

Box 1 is dusty and well-worn and contains delicious childhood memories of crunchy, oat-and-honey-goodness.

Box 2 is a tiny but newer box holding thoughts on good health, natural-living, and greener ways of existing.

Box 3 is the newest but the largest. It contains a label of " Childbirth."

Now, I realize that this last box seems a bit out-of-place in the granola room, but such are the intricacies of the mind. All will be explained in due time...

As a kid, I equated granola with that bright yellow box of Quaker 100% Natural cereal that my parents would sometimes bring home from the grocery store. It was sweet and coconuty and delicious. And, as it was the first granola I ever experienced, it set my standard for granola for a long time. It wasn't until adulthood that I really branched out and expanded my thinking when it came to granola. And, this week's recipe allowed for the most recent excellent that brought the tastes of the tropics together with good, old-fashioned oatiness. This granola, we found, is not a super sweet one. It's subtle in its sweetness, allowing the multitude of nuts and fruits to shine through. I must admit, however, that I am a fan of sweet granolas (afterall, as I mentioned, I grew up on Quaker granola), so I've found that this one is perfect for me when eaten over vanilla yogurt (and topped with a little sprinkle of sweetened coconut). Delightful!

When my husband and I moved to a "crunchier" area of New England three years ago, I picked up a second use of the term granola. I learned that granola can apply to people as well as to food. When a person is particularly natural in their approach to life, conscious of the environment, and socially aware, they may dub themselves as "granola" or "crunchy granola." The healthful aspect from the food becomes a definition of a healthful demographic of souls. It's an active, fun, and whimsical application for the tired cliche, "You are what you eat." I like this. In fact, I like it so much that I often wish that I were, in fact, "granola." But, while I recycle and often eat vegetarian and love the idea of organic food and walking/biking everywhere I go, I have not adopted enough of the crunchy lifestyle to deserve the title. Alas.

About a year ago, perhaps in my efforts to be just a little bit "granola," I stumbled upon a local shop called Crunchy Granola Baby. They offered Natural Childbirth classes, and seeing how I was pregnant at the time and needing to prepare myself for the big, scary, unknown thing that is childbirth, it seemed like a good fit. We learned a lot about the natural/"granola" ways to birth a babe during those Sunday night childbirth sessions. We ate lots of organic snacks and munched on healthful cookies. We watched fascinating videos on baby-led latching, learned many natural techniques to handle the pain, and were bolstered in our desires to have a completely natural childbirth. And, while none of this made us any more "granola" per se (and 27 hours of labor made the commitment to natural childbirth waver), it was an interesting and educational step into the "granola" world.

So, all in all, I have a sweet spot in my heart and my mind for granola (in all its various boxed-up memories). I couldn't even get through the writing of this post without grabbing a little bowlful to munch on. It seems that my mind isn't the only storehouse of granola that I have around here.


  1. A wonderful breakfast option I learned from my clever, vegan sister is to put granola in a bowl, pour almond milk onto it, and eat it like cereal. It's quite delicious! Only don't pour as much granola as you would cereal. It gets rather... filling.

    --- Alyssa

  2. Mental storehouse? Arsenals?
    Shoes? ....
    Oh, my goodness!!
    Between you and Mandi this Visual Feast is a thing of wonder!!!!
    I always knew you were a granola kid.
    Now, it seems to take on a whole new meaning:-)
    Owie is a lucky kid to grow up in your kitchen!!
    Healthy living forever:-)

  3. Well I was finally able to eat a bowl of granola this morning and it was delicious! Randall and I both agreed that it was just right and not too unsweet (is that a word???) In fact, I think the fruit added a sweetness that is lacking in the granola I've been making this past year. I'll admit that on their own I am not a fan of cashews, banana chips, or dried apricot but in this granola they make a wonderful crunchy, satisfying treat. Thanks!


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