I like granola, but I don't like to buy granola. The reason is simple. When I think "granola", I think healthy. Have you ever read the label of the typical store-bought granola? Most are loaded with fat and preservatives. That, to me, is not healthy. I prefer to make my own.
Granola is very easy to make. Once you understand the key components to making granola, the flavor combinations are endless.
Grains- You will need a total of 4 cups of grains.
Whole rolled oats are usually the basic grain in granola. You can add other grains such as oat bran, wheat bran, wheat germ, or whatever grain you choose.
Sweetener- You will need about 1/2 cup. You can reduce the amount a little, to your taste.
You can use whatever sweetener you like, or a combination of sweeteners. Options include: honey, maple syrup, brown sugar, even Splenda. Just remember, if you use a sugar substitute, use the equivalent of 1/2 cup or less of regular sugar. And if you use a dry sugar, like brown sugar, mix in a couple of tablespoons of water to make it into a thick syrup.
Fat- The recipe calls for 1/4 cup of fat, but I have used as little as 2 tablespoons with descent results.
You will need a little bit of fat for the granola, but the choice of fat is up to you. Try a vegetable oil such as: canola, sunflower, olive, or whatever you have on hand. I have even melted down a bit of Smart Balance Buttery Spread with good results.
Extract-Extract is optional, but 1 teaspoon of it can add that little something special.
I prefer vanilla extract, but Almond is good too. Use whatever extract you think will compliment your granola.
Extras- You can use up to 1 1/4 cups total.
Here is where you can get really creative and make your granola your own. Some ideas include: raisins or other dried fruit; sunflower, pumpkin, or other seeds; peanuts, soy nuts, walnuts, almonds, pecans, or other nuts; yogurt clusters; chocolate chips; mini M&Ms; etc.
Spice- 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2-1 teaspoon of spice of your choice.
While adding spice is optional, I find that the salt adds a nice depth to the flavor of the granola. If you are on a no salt diet, simply omit it. Other spices are great for granola, too. I like cinnamon. Nutmeg, apple pie spice, pumpkin pie spice, etc, are all good choices as well.
Heat- Of course, you have to cook it.
I have made granola in the oven and in the microwave. When making it in the microwave, be sure to stop and stir it frequently, so that it doesn't burn. Although I haven't tried it, I imagine it can be made stovetop in a skillet, too.
4 c. oats and other grains of your choice
1/2 c. honey or other sweetener
1/4 c. canola or other oil
1 tsp. vanilla or other extract
1 1/4 c. dried fruit, nuts, seeds, etc.
1/2 to 1 tsp. cinnamon or other spice
1/2 tsp. salt
Instructions: (Oven directions)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- In a large bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients (grains, spices, & extras) EXCEPT the dried fruit, raisins, yogurt clusters, chocolate chips, or other candy, if using.
- In a small bowl, combine the sweetener, oil, and extract.
- Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. The liquid will be absorbed, and the granola will become darker and shinier.
- Spreas the granola in a shallow baking pan and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Use a spatula and turn the granola over on the baking sheet. Put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes, or until fairly dry and starting to brown.
- Remove the granola from the oven and stir in the dried fruit, if using.
- Granola will become crispier and crunchier as it cools. Once cool, you can add your remaining ingredients- chocolate chips, yogurt clusters, etc., if using.
- Store granola in an airtight container and use within 2 weeks. Freeze for longer storage.
4 c whole rolled oats
1/2 c. brown sugar w/ 2 TB water
1/4 c. melted Smart Balance
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. sliced almonds
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
Follow directions above.
There you have it. Now get in the kitchen, get creative, and make granola! Grab the kids and let them help too! They can have fun choosing healthy ingredients for their own yummy granola.