Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Homemade Granola

It somehow seems appropriate to start 2012 with a recipe that I made a lot in 2011.  Sometime last year, we pretty much stopped eating store-bought cereal.  Now, for those of you that don't know me, that's actually a big deal.  I love(d) cereal.  I could probably eat it for every meal and in between for snacks. But I also realized that no matter how high-fiber/high-protein store-bought cereal was, it wasn't really keeping me full for very long.  And if it wasn't keeping me full, goodness knows how quickly after breakfast my husband became hungry. So I started making my own cereal and it makes a world of difference.

While I've never really liked store-bought granola, I've really enjoyed making it myself.  I typically make this granola on Saturday or Sunday and it lasts us through the entire week.  It's been a lot of fun to try different flavors for granola.  Our recent flavor was cranberry-orange (inspired by my great aunt's cranberry orange bread!) and we liked pumpkin spice granola, too.  I've listed a basic recipe for granola but also the variations for cranberry-orange and pumpkin spice. However, this recipe is just a starting point so feel free to switch it up based on preferences/availability.

While we haven't completely sworn off store-bought cereal, this homemade granola has brought our everyday breakfast up to a whole new level.

Homemade Granola
Taken from: 101 Cookbooks
101 Cookbooks estimates 12 servings
  • 6 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups of seeds or nuts (I often use about 1/4-1/2 cup sunflower or sesame seeds and any kind of nuts we have on hand - cashews, sliced almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc)
  • 1/2-1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional, I often omit and don't notice a difference)
  • 4-6 tablespoons oil (I used canola but coconut oil would work very well; I've even used olive oil)
  • 1/3 - 1/2 (or more) cup honey or real maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1/2-1 cup dried fruit (I most often have dried cherries and cranberries on hand)
  • Any other add-ins (wheat germ, flaxseed meal, lime/orange zest, vanilla or almond extract, extra cinnamon or other spices, etc)
(For cranberry-orange granola, use 1 teaspoon orange zest, 1 tablespoon of orange juice in place of water and dried cranberries.  Pecans would be excellent as the nuts although I used a pecan/almond mix.)

(For pumpkin spice granola, use 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice in place of cinnamon; omit water and add 1/2 cup pumpkin puree and 1 tsp vanilla to wet ingredients.  Pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds) work great in this recipe!)
  1. Preheat the oven to 300F degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine rolled oats, seeds, nuts, coconut, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt (and any add-ins like flaxseed, spices or wheat germ). 
  3. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, combine oil, sweetener and add-ins like zest or extract.  Heat until well blended.
  4. Pour warm mixture over the dry ingredients and stir until they are well coated.
  5. Spread the mixture on across 1-2 rimmed baking sheets (I cover mine with a slipat mat but parchment paper would work well) and bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Granola should be golden brown (we like ours a bit darker, too). Remove from the oven and add dried fruit.  
  6. Allow to cool. Store in airtight container


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