I am what one might call a ‘crunchy granola’ sort of mom. I do the crunchy granola things like cloth diaper, wear my babies, and breastfeed for spans that can be measured in years. I read books by Dr. Sears, Naomi Aldort and Alfie Kohn. I subscribe to Mothering Magazine.
These are great for crushing cashews
Given all of that, it is probably true to character that I recently started making my own granola at home. Whereas I’m not entirely sure what the cost benefit to baking my own bread is, with granola it’s clear. The cheap stuff at the store isn’t all that good, and the expensive stuff is very expensive. Which is understandable, because granola is full of expensive stuff like nuts, seeds, and dried fruit.
Mixing the ingredients
Stocking up on the ingredients to make my own granola cost me about $30.00, which concerned me a little. That’s about what I was spending for a couple weeks’ worth of good granola. But when I mixed up my first batch I used less than half of the ingredients. And that batch was huge, probably $50 worth of my high-end variety. So it cost me less than a third of the purchase price to make it myself.
Ready for baking
My first attempt at granola didn’t work so well. I tried crushing the nuts by hand, I don’t know what I was thinking. I’ve since discovered that a much easier way to do it is put the nuts in a plastic bag and bash them with a meat tenderizer, easy-peasy. Then I overcooked it, and the raisins and dried cranberries burned, so it didn’t taste all that great. It turns out that if you use dried fruit you need to add it afterward, or in the last 10 minutes of baking if you like a slightly cooked taste to your raisins and cranberries. I’ve updated this recipe from its original incarnation, so ignore all those raisins and cranberries in the photos of the uncooked granola.
In the pans
I’ve found it’s helpful to line the baking sheets with parchment paper. It keeps everything contained, prevents sticking and burning, and makes for an easy transfer to a container later. I also move the baking racks to the top of the oven, so that the granola’s not getting so much direct heat.
Fresh from the oven
I don’t have a very well-defined recipe. I always use the same amounts of honey, oil, vanilla, and oats. Beyond that I just eyeball the nuts, seeds, and dried fruit, and make it to taste. I probably add about 3 cups of nuts and seeds in total, and 2 cups of dried fruit, but it’s one of those things that’s easy and fun to experiment with. It’s also great for kids, because the measurements don’t have to be so exact. If a little one adds more nuts than is strictly required, you’ll just have slightly nuttier granola.
I eat mine with milk
So, here is my basic granola recipe. What’s next in my culinary adventures? Someone sent me a recipe for granola bars that I’m thinking of trying out one of these days.
Amber’s Crunchy Granola
* Gluten-free option
In a small bowl combine:
1/2 c honey
1/2 c maple syrup
2/3 c vegetable oil
1 T vanilla
In a large bowl combine:
8 c rolled oats* – OR – 6 c rolled oats and 2 c quinoa flakes
* If you want gluten-free granola, be sure to use gluten-free rolled oats. Bob’s Red Mill or Trader Joe’s are both great options.
Add 2-3 c crushed unsalted nuts and seeds – I like sliced almonds, crushed cashews, shredded coconut, crushed hazelnuts, sesame seeds, raw sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and flax seeds, but I don’t use all of them every time. I vary depending on what I have on hand.
Add the honey mixture to the dry ingredients and use your hands to mix well. Place parchment paper on two cookie sheets, and spread half the mixture on each pan. Bake at 275F for 45-50 minutes, until the mixture is a light golden colour. While it’s baking be sure to stir it every 10 minutes or so to prevent burning.
Once it’s done cooking, add dried fruit like raisins, dates or dried cranberries. Cool in pans, then transfer to an airtight container so that it stays nice and crunchy. Enjoy!