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What do Homemade Granola and School Fundraising Have in Common?

03.05.14 What do Homemade Granola and School Fundraising Have in Common?

Once you grasp the simple basic technique behind making Granola, that’s when things get interesting -- experimenting with whatever ingredients you have on hand. Pledge to make some homemade granola yourself this week. You could win a Great Granola Making Kit, plus $100 for your school!

What do homemade granola and school fundraising have in common?

Ask Liz Finnamore, MightyNest for Schools Leader for Unity Nursery School here in Evanston, IL. Recently, Liz brought us some of her homemade granola (Thanks, Liz!) It was so delicious and, according to Liz, so easy to make, we thought we’d share… Not the granola, we gobbled that up, but the idea of making it!

In talking to Liz about her granola recipe and her experience as a MightyNest for Schools Leader, we realized, the two subjects had uncanny similarities. Both are easy, flexible, and rewarding. Both start with a simple framework, and are defined by whatever you put into them. And both contribute to the health and wellbeing of your family (or school)!

On Granola

Though she probably never uses the same exact ingredients twice, Liz bases her granola on this recipe from Oh She Glows (and a big thanks to Angela at Oh She Glows for the use of her beautiful images)! “The thing I love about making granola is that I can throw it together from whatever I have on hand.”

Start by rummaging around in your cupboards and see what you can come up with. Rolled oats are a typical base, but you can easily substitute other flaked grains like quinoa or barley. Combine with raw nuts like almond, sunflower, and walnut along with seeds like chia, sesame, and flax.

If you like, coconut adds richness and complexity as do savory spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. Moisten and sweeten with apple sauce, brown sugar and of course something sticky to hold it all together like honey, agave, and/or brown rice syrup. Coconut oil and nut butter add richness and helps it bake up nice and crispy. Oh, and a little bit of salt… essential.

Mix the wet ingredients with the dry (EXCEPT the dried fruit, hold that out for now), and taste. Though flavors will meld and intensify somewhat in the baking, you can get a pretty good idea of whether this combination of ingredients is working and make adjustments at this point. Bake for 45 minutes at 300 degrees, stirring every 15-20 minutes.

One of Liz’s favorite tricks is to add the dried fruit after baking but before cooling. Dump the warm granola into a big bowl, mix in dried fruit like cranberries, raisins, banana ,mango, then press the granola back into the pan. When it’s completely cool, break it into chunks to store.

Homemade granola lasts up to 2 weeks in the fridge… but we can pretty much guarantee it’ll get eaten long before then! Packed into glass jars or canisters, homemade granola also makes a great gift (hint, hint)!

On MightyNest for Schools

We asked Liz how she came to be interested in healthy living and, not surprisingly, it began with food. In college at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, she found that shopping in bulk at the corner co-ops and for organic produce at the renowned Madison farmers market was not only healthier but also helped to stretch her student budget.

Now that she has a family to feed as well, Liz continues to care about healthy eating, of course. But simplifying her family’s life has become even more important. “I don’t want my kids growing up in a stressful environment. They’re happiest doing simple things. I get very excited about doing all sorts of things so I have to stop myself and simplify!”

Liz has led the MightyNest for Schools program at Unity since they originally signed up in the Fall of 2012. The primary draw for Unity is fundraising, and the fact that MightyNest donates 15% of purchases to schools blows other shopping fundraisers out of the water. But what impresses Liz most is how MightyNest as a company really cares about helping people live healthier lives. Citing recent newsletters about the benefits of taking simple, mindful actions like starting every day with a glass of water or practicing even just 5 minutes of yoga, Liz says: “I love that MightyNest shares ideas like that in their newsletter, even though they may not sell any products from it!”

Read more about the MightyNest for Schools program at http://schools.mightynest.com .

For Liz, making homemade granola is a regular part of her mighty life. She looks forward to the variations that result from using what she has on hand on any given day. Leave a comment, and inspire us with your favorite granola tips or ingredients. When you pledge to make some this week, you could win $100 of DIY Granola gear for yourself, plus $100 for your school!

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