Homemade Granola

I’m a fan of the grainy breakfast. Oatmeal in winter – cut with barley flakes, which contain about four times the fiber of oats, and cook/taste the same – and in summer, granola layered with thick, plain yogurt and fresh or frozen berries. I could live on the stuff. Besides breakfast it makes a perfect snack-to-go, and suitable dinner in a pinch.

Of course, not all granolas are created equal. There are plenty of store-bought varieties that are more fat and sugar than grain. Most recipes contain some quantity of melted butter or oil, but I discovered you don’t need it, or miss it. I sometimes add a drizzle of flax or canola oil, to boost healthy fats. (Flax oil is very high in omega 3 fatty acids – and it’s easier to get more flax oil in my diet than slabs of salmon.)

I’ve always made the same granola – the recipe is so well-used that in recent years I’ve just winged it, rather than continue to measure ingredients. But then I came upon a new formula. Nigella sold me on it, then Molly, two of my favourite eaters, using such irresistible adjectives that I had to give it a try.

Some recipes – including this one – call for brown rice syrup, which is not as sweet as sugar but will produce a more crisp, crunchy texture. You don’t need to seek it out – I typically use maple syrup instead. When I finished my first batch, I discovered I missed entirely the 3/4 cup of brown sugar from her dry ingredient list, which explains why it’s not overly sweet or clumpy. I love it when this sort of thing happens, when you discover you can get rid of 3/4 cup of sugar (and over 500 calories) and not even miss it.

Granola makes a great school lunch, too (without nuts-add more seeds) – my niece brings a baggie of it and a container of yogurt with frozen berries – the berries keep the yogurt cool, but thaw by lunchtime. She adds the granola to make her own parfait.

My New Granola

(adapted from Nigella Lawson, via Orangette)

5 cups old-fashioned oats
2-3 cups sliced or slivered almonds, chopped walnuts or pecans, hazelnuts or a combination
3/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce (or a lunch box snack pack)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp. canola or flax oil
1/2 1 cup raisins, cranberries, chopped dried apricots or a combination (optional)

Set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat it to 300°F.

In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. In a small bowl, stir together all of the wet ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir well.

Spread the mixture evenly onto two rimmed baking sheets. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring once or twice, until pale golden. Set aside to cool completely, then stir in the dried fruit if you like.

Store in zip-top bags or airtight containers. Makes 8-10 cups.

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