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KIDS IN THE KITCHEN

Making a granola parfait personal

A granola parfait can look - and taste - like a freehand work of art made by a kid in the kitchen. A granola parfait can look - and taste - like a freehand work of art made by a kid in the kitchen. (Styling/Sheryl Julian, Lisa Falso; Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff)
By Julie Riven
Globe Correspondent / July 8, 2009

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It may be difficult to get kids to eat oatmeal but they love granola, which is another healthy breakfast. A mixture of coarse rolled oats, seeds, nuts, and a variety of dried fruits, granola is produced by many companies, mostly in highly sweetened versions that overpower the taste of the other ingredients. Made at home, you can adjust the sweetness and let most of it come from dried fruits. It’s also much less expensive to make yourself.

Granola dates to the late 19th century, when there was a health movement in the country. It was popularized in the 1960s at the beginning of another health food craze. At the time, most people made their own granola in quantity; today, most people buy it.

For kids, making granola is a matter of mixing a large bowl of seeds and nuts, sprinkling them with honey, and baking them until the mixture turns crisp and brown. Then layer the granola with yogurt and fruit for a wholesome breakfast or lunch. This time of year, when native strawberries and other berries are in season, a layered granola parfait is a real treat.

To make the granola, heat the oven for 15 minutes. Use an extra-large bowl to mix old-fashioned rolled oats (not the quick-cooking kind) with almonds, sunflower and sesame seeds, coconut, wheat germ, and cinnamon. Sprinkle with honey and spread the mixture on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the mixture is golden brown; the longer it stays in the oven, the crunchier it gets, so don’t rush this step. Stir the mixture every 10 minutes during baking. When it’s done, add the raisins or other fruits and let the granola cool.

Make a game out of the ingredients. Line up several nuts and dried fruits on the counter - for nuts, try cashews, almonds, pecans, walnuts; for fruits, use golden and dark raisins, dried cranberries, snipped dates, and apricots - and let your young assistants have a taste. Then add the ones they like to your mix.

This recipe makes a large batch so you have granola for another day. Or wrap some up to give away. Use clear cellophane bags and ribbon or string to tie each one into a bundle. Make a tag that lists ingredients and instructions for parfaits. Soon you’ll have friends and neighbors hanging around wanting more.

KIDS IN THE KITCHEN This is the third of four articles offering easy recipes for children to make. Cooking teacher Julie Riven has designed them so an adult can work with a child on a kid-friendly dish. The next recipe will run on July 22. For chicken tenders and stuffed potatoes, go to www.boston.com/food.

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