For the last year or so, I’ve made my own granola. This might sound considerably more impressive than I think it actually is. Granola is easy to make and satisfying to eat. I’ve worked hard, with constant input from my in-home consumers, to refine a formula that works. Most of these ingredients are available in high quality bulk from Costco, making this affordable and healthy.
The key to the success of this granola is that the recipe is a formula. These are the proportions that I have found successful time after time, allowing considerable flexibility for your mood or seasonal variation.
4 cups oats
1 cup shredded coconut (dried, unsweetened)
2 cups dried fruit (pick one or two: raisins, apricots, cherries, cranberries, mangoes, blueberries, peaches or apples)
2 cups nuts & seeds (pick one or two: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pecans, walnuts, even peanuts)
1 cup ground meal (this is optional, but a great way to sneak in additional nutrition with wheat germ or perhaps flax meal)
1 cup sweet and sticky stuff (honey, maple syrup, agave syrup or applesauce)
1/2 cup oil (canola, corn or coconut)
Optional flavor boosters (cinnamon, vanilla)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Combine the oats, coconut, oil, sweet & sticky stuff and any optional flavor boosters in a big bowl. Stir well enough to coat the oats with the sweet stuff. If you like big clumps in your granola, add extra sweet stuff.
3. Spread the granola on cookie sheets & bake for 30 minutes. Stir regularly and make sure the granola is not burning; the oats should get golden but not dark brown. You will quickly find out if you have any hot spots in your oven—the granola will be a delicate indicator.
4. While the granola is baking, use kitchen shears to cut up any large dried fruit items. Mix the fruit with any meal you might be using.
5. At or around the 30-minute mark, mix the fruit and nuts into the oats. Put the cookie sheets back in the oven for 5 more minutes, so the fruit gets a little toasty and the oats can absorb the fruit flavors.
6. Pull the granola out of the oven and let cool. Once cooled, store the goods in airtight containers.
Some folks, my dad included, swear by the slow cooker method, in which you combine all the ingredients in a slow cooker for hours, stirring regularly. It should infuse all the flavors nicely and produce amazing results. I have not experienced that kind of success. It still needs to be spread on cookie sheets and toasted in the oven to achieve crunchiness.
Fall Blend (Porter Mix)
Skip the coconut, and add vanilla, cinnamon, pumpkin seeds, extra maple syrup and dried apples.
Tropical Christmas Present Blend
Add extra coconut, and choose mangoes and diced peanuts. Find attractive glass storage containers and gift wrap. Pretend you are Martha Stewart or similar.
Image Credit: StudioGabe on Flickr