Monday, 6 January 2014

Confessions Of A Granola Convert

Granola never appeared once on any shopping list I ever made. Not ever. Why would it? Nobody in  my household, including me, was interested in clumps of dusty, overly sweet bits of uninteresting mystery nuts and fruits glued together with some sort of sugar syrup. I had the vague idea that it was supposed to be good for you, but it certainly didn't look all that good. I certainly had better things to spend my money on than something fairly unappealing that was destined to sit in the back of the pantry untouched for months. The closest I ever came to being a granola fan was back in the 1980s when I was living in the UK and I had a brief love affair with the packaged breakfast muesli called Alpen. Even that product lost its appeal to me, either over time or by adjustment to ingredients for North American tastes.

I was excited to be asked by Fran Kruse, co-owner of Not Yer Granny's Granola, to come and observe her while she and her husband/business partner, Mark, made a batch of their product, but I admittedly was not over the top excited about the product. I still had my long held notions about granola. I can tell you, in all honesty, I was completely transformed and converted by the first delicious mouthful I took. No word of a lie - I went from yawn to wow in under five seconds!

We trudged in the side door of the kitchen facility, my photographer son and I, leaving the worst of a Barrie winter outside, and were greeted by the sweet aroma of orange in the air. Fran and Mark were in the midst of making a batch of what I think is their best granola flavour offerings, Hello Orange. The near finished product was being toasted in the oven on parchment lined baking pans. After giving one pan a bit of a stir for even cooking, Fran passed Mitchell and I some little sample packages to try

The first one was called Maple Me Happy. As Fran said, how can you eat something with a name like that and still be grumpy? I was hesitant. Long years ago, as a somewhat greedy child, I once overindulged in a tall stack of pancakes and never could face them nor the taste of maple syrup again, but in the name of foodie science, I ventured forth. Surprise, no in your face maple taste! How can this be, I wondered. Fran explained that it is the fake so called pancake syrup that is so sickly sweet and overly mapley (if that is even a word). How can I describe that first taste I took? Pleasantly surprising, that much is for sure. Nice toasty, loose seeds and oats, mixed with big pieces of real walnut and the most flavourful cranberries and cherries that literally burst out with flavour. My teen son tried his sample too, first out of politeness I think, but then kept going and eventually gobbled up all our combined sample packs on the car ride home!

Why is Fran and Mark's granola so good? Firstly, they don't aim to be a granola maker, they aim to be the granola maker. They aim to make a stand out product and have their granola be the very best. They have been researching and testing for a good year now and launched Not Yer Granny's Granola in August. The discerning buyers at the Mariposa Market and Nicholyn Farms, to name just a few, have welcomed their product onto their shelves. And why wouldn't they? The Kruses start with carefully sourced, fresh, natural ingredients, mix and toast it all by hand, and add no preservatives. It is as genuinely home made a product as you could buy.

If you haven't figured it out already, Not Yer Granny's Granola isn't just delicious, it's definitely good for you! Of course you can have it for breakfast, and of course it makes a great substitute for trail mix, but as a topping for yoghurt and fresh fruits, (add a scoop of peanut butter as Fran likes to), you have a much better mid afternoon work snack than a doughnut or chocolate bar. For just such an occasion, the Kruses have also created a new snack item, Javanola, containing a nice mix of cocoa, dark chocolate and espresso to pick you right up. Local nutritionist, Katherine Parent, of Make Good Choices Holistic Nutrition Counselling, makes Not Yer Granny's Granola available in her office.

So why is Not Yer Granny's Granola not your granny's granola? Fran is trying to shake our preconceived notions that all granola is dry, tasteless hippy dippy food. She goes a step farther by referring to her product as granolahhh on her packing. You start off thinking blah and quickly move to ahhh. I certainly did.

Want to sample the goodies like a foodie? Next weekend, January 11th and 12th, head over to the 5th Annual Women's Show being held at Bradford Greenhouses at 4346 County Rd. 90, just west of Barrie. Fran will be handing out lots of free samples. If you are not an instant convert like me, I want to hear about it. I would be quite shocked.

Fran gave me a full sized bag of her Pumpkin Pizzazz granola as we were leaving. Unlike other bags of granola that never made it into my cupboards because I never bought them, this bag never made it because the family went a little crazy over the stuff when I brought it home. Most were on-the-spot converts too, with the "I won't like this." attitude very quickly falling by the wayside. In truth, we probably still don't care for most granolas, but we certainly enjoy this one! My ever dramatic teenage daughter, one arm stuck into the bag, was heard saying "This stuff is so good, I could cry!" 

Check out Not Yer Granny's Granola on the web Fran would really love it if you 'Liked' her page on Facebook too!