When we think of “health foods”, granola generally comes to mind. It’s true – it can be an excellent snack, if you can find some that doesn’t have too much sugar or too many added ingredients turning wholesome grains and nuts into a package full of chemicals. Lately, there have been some great, clean granola options on the grocery store shelves; they just tend to be so expensive! So, why not make your own?
Not a great cook? Well, making granola couldn’t be easier. All variations are based on the same simple formula. You just need some standard kitchen items (a bowl, a measuring cup, spoons, a pan and an oven) and in 15 minutes you can have a tray of granola baking that will make your kitchen smell like heaven.
1. GRAIN — 3 cups -Most recipes call for plain rolled oats, but if you can find other rolled/flaked grains (rye, barley, etc), those can be fun too.
2. NUTS — 1 to 1 1/2 cups – Pecans, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, or walnuts, etc. chopped into bite-sized pieces
3. SWEETENER — 1/2 to 3/4 cup – Liquid sweeteners (maple syrup, honey, agave) coat the granola mixture evenly for smooth texture. Combine it with a little brown sugar for a nice caramelized, crackly edge.
4. OIL — 1/4 to 1/2 cup – Oil encourages the granola to get delightfully crispy-crunchy, keeps it from turning into a sticky mess, and makes it generally more delicious (fat carries flavor). Try cold pressed extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil.
5. SALT — 1 tsp kosher or 3/4 tsp regular – Do NOT forget salt! Use more than you would for most baking projects, because that’s what will really bring out all the flavors.
LESS ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS – Use if you like, skip if you don’t.
1. SEEDS — 1 to 2 cups – Pumpkin seeds, flax, millet, and sesame seeds, etc
2. COCONUT — 1 cup – Big unsweetened coconut flakes or “chips” are better than little shreds, since they’ll toast nicely without burning.
3. DRIED FRUIT — 1 cup (add after baking so they don’t get too chewy or crunchy)
4. SPICES — 1 tsp.Cinnamon is pretty standard, but do not fear the unknown! Cardamom, nutmeg, and ginger are very nice too. Even try some rosemary, maybe?
5. CHOCOLATE – 1/4 cup cocoa and/or 1 cup chips.
If you want to head in a more “trail-mix” direction.
Option 1: Add 1/4 cup cocoa powder along with other dry ingredients before baking.
Option 2: Add 1 cup chocolate chips AFTER granola has been baked and is cool, unless you want them to melt into globs.
HOW TO MIX AND BAKE
- Measure grain, nuts, seeds, salt, and spices into a large bowl. Add sweeteners, oil, and egg white (if using). Stir, stir, stir.
- Spread out on a large baking sheet. Bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes or more, stirring around 30 minutes. Stop when the granola looks toasty brown and smells incredible.
- Let the granola cool completely in the pan, then store in an airtight container.
- Try multiple ingredient combos and see what makes you happy.
Let us know YOUR favorite special ingredients and recipes for killer granola.