Saturday, January 21, 2012

Homemade Granola

About once every week or two my kitchen turns into a granola factory. I started making my own granola in December 2010, soon after I got hooked on Chobani's plain yogurt. All-natural, no fat, no cholesterol, and 18g of protein per serving. The only catch? If you've ever tried plain yogurt, I bet you've made the sour face. It's tangy, for sure. So, I top off a bowl with a handful of fresh fruit and homemade granola. 

I've seen a number of homemade granola recipes and although they each have their own twist, the basic ingredients are the same. The recipe you will find below will give you a basic, slightly sweet 'nola that you can adjust to your taste buds. 

The beauty of this recipe is that it's safe to play with. You're essentially toasting the oats so you don't have to worry about a food chemistry nightmare. 

If you have a sweet tooth, I suggest adding about 1/2 c. of the sweetener of your choice. I tend to stick with 1/4 c. of honey or agave, but I've been known to add a little maple syrup or brown sugar from time to time. Beware, the sweeter you make the granola the more it will taste like an oatmeal cookie and you will be sneaking your hand into the 'nola jar in the middle of the night.

You can opt to make a fruiter granola by adding more, or several kinds, of dried fruit. I typically use dried cranberries or blueberries since I only like raisins when they're packed around the butter and sugar of an oatmeal cookie. 

Play around with nuts, seeds, and spices too. I typically grab whatever I find in the cabinet... almonds, walnuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds. You can easily make a peanut buttery 'nola by swapping some of the oil for peanut butter and throwing in a few handfuls of peanuts. Back in October I got my granola ready for fall by adding ground cloves, nutmeg, and pumpkin seeds.

If you add more dry ingredients, up the liquids. If you want your 'nola to be in bigger clumps, up the liquids. If you want to turn your 'nola into 'nola bars, up the liquids a lot. See how easy that is?

I suggest using a baking sheet with a lip, known in the baking world as either a sheet pan or a jelly roll pan. This will keep the 'nola in the pan and off the floor. Once the granola is cooled, carefully break it up into pieces and store in an airtight container.

Homemade Granola
Makes about 6 cups

4 c. old fashioned or steel-cut oats
1/2 c. wheat germ
1/2 c. dried fruit
1/4 c. sunflower seeds
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. vegetable or coconut oil
1/4 - 1/2 c. sweetener such as honey, agave syrup, brown sugar or maple syrup
handful of various nuts such as walnuts, almonds, or peanuts (optional

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet/jelly roll pan with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl combine oats, wheat germ, dried fruit, seeds, cinnamon, and nuts. In a separate bowl whisk together the vanilla, oil, and sweetener. Add liquid ingredients to the oat mixture and stir to coat. 

Press mixture into baking sheet using a spoon. Bake for 20 minutes or until oats are toasted. Let cool before breaking into pieces. Store in an airtight container.

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