Amy Makechnie,
Holiday granola sprinkled with fresh pomegranate.

Our family runs and plays in rain, ice and snow, and through the holidays too, which is a good thing given all the calories we happily consume around the table together during the winter months.

At Christmastime, our family enjoys the candy cane cookies and plates of cinnamon roll deliveries, but in our quest to eat less sugar and feel better, holiday granola has become a must-make item. Tweaked over the years to deliver the most nutritional punch, it's now a firm holiday fixture. We eat it at breakfast over protein-rich Greek yogurt, at lunchtime and for late-night snacks.

Our holiday granola recipe is simple, packed with protein and heart-healthy ingredients, and stays fresh for weeks. When made with dried red cranberries, green pumpkin seeds and sprinkled with pomegranate, the result is delicious, nutritious and festive.

A Runner's Holiday Granola

5 cups oatmeal (steel cut, not quick oats)

½ cup wheat germ

1 cup chopped almonds

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 tablespoon cinnamon

¼ cup flax seed

½ cup honey

½ cup canola oil

¼ cup brown sugar (optional)

1 cup dried cranberries or any dried fruit

1 cup roasted pumpkin seeds

Fresh pomegranate, if available

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with foil.

Combine the oatmeal, wheat germ, almonds, walnuts, cinnamon and flax seed. Set aside.

Heat honey, canola oil and brown sugar in a saucepan. Heat until tiny bubbles form around pot, pour over the dry mix and spread evenly on prepared foil of the two cookie sheets. Bake 40-50 minutes or until golden brown, stirring every 10 minutes.

Cool and add the dried fruit and pumpkin seeds.

When ready to eat, sprinkle fresh pomegranate on top.

If the kids don't eat it all first, refrigerate this granola in a sealed container. It can be scooped into clear gift bags and tied with a Christmas ribbon for neighborhood deliveries.

Our friends used to raise their eyebrows at the holiday granola gift, but over the years even the suspicious began asking when and if "the bird food" was coming again. Oh, you bet it is.

Amy Makechnie is a writer from New Hampshire. She blogs at with a focus on family, running and health.