Granola – A Pantry Staple
Crunchy, golden granola has become a staple for most pantries. Sprinkle it into yogurt, eat a handful as a snack, or create beautiful yogurt-berry breakfast parfaits. Making your own is so easy. And the house smells incredible while it is baking thanks to the maple syrup and spices. As good as it is, portion control is health-wise when enjoying granola.
The book that got me into making my own granola is King Arthur’s Whole Grain Baking. If you like to bake, it’s a great book. If you bake gluten-free, you will need to adapt the recipes.
The base of my granola is rolled oats. If you follow a gluten-free diet, be sure to purchase gluten-free oats such as Bob’s Red Mill.
While oats are often included on the list of grains to be avoided for those following a gluten-free diet, it can be confusing. Oats do not inherently contain gluten. So why buy gluten-free oats? Oats can be contaminated with gluten in many ways, from growing in a field next to a field of wheat, through crop rotation when oats are grown in the same soil, during transportation or during processing and packaging. So choose what is best for you: gluten-free or standard oats.
One more note on oats. While the do not contain gluten, they do contain a gluten-like protein called avenin, which some people with gluten-sensitivity are also sensitive to. If you are highly sensitive, this recipe may not be for you.
I use real maple syrup (grade A or B) and unrefined coconut oil as the binders for my granola. The difference? Grade B has a stronger maple flavor and darker color. Choose real maple syrup, not the fake stuff that is nothing but artificially flavored and colored corn syrup. The real stuff is more expensive, but better tasting and better for you.
While it is not a refined sugar, maple syrup is still a sweetener meaning we must be smart about how much we consume in our diet. Maple syrup is a more natural way to satisfy a sweet tooth. A little health benefit – maple syrup is a good source of the trace minerals manganese and zinc.
Whisk together the maple syrup and coconut oil with vanilla (or almond) extract, and your spices of choice – cinnamon, nutmeg, Chinese Five Spice or other warm spice blends. Have fun varying them to your liking.
In a medium bowl, measure out oats, coconut thread, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, hemp seed, and flax meal. The nuts and seeds are good sources of healthy fat. Pour the syrup mix into the dry mix and stir until the oats feel uniformly heavy. Stir really well! There should be no white or dry areas left.
Pour onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 2 hours, turning the granola over (stirring) half of the way through. I use my hands and a metal spatula. The pan is hot. The granola is not too hot to use your hand to assist turning.
Either with or without dried fruit, this granola is great. For reduced sugar overall, skip it or reduce the 3/4 cup further. If you are using dried fruit, allow the granola to cool, then add your choice. I’ve cut back on how much I add to my granola to reduce sugar. Be sure to read labels for any added sugar when you buy your dried fruit.
The above photo shows (at the top, clockwise) bright red dried goji berries, sweet and tangy golden berries, apple juice sweetened dried cranberries, dried white mulberries, dried currants, dried blueberries, golden raisins, and in the center, sulfite-free dried apricots.
The wildcrafted golden berries and dried white mulberries were the newest discoveries from my hunt. Searching for lower sugar dried fruit options, they taste terrific. I found them in the Whole Foods bulk section.
Another consideration, if you have asthma or sulfite sensitivity, read labels and choose dried fruit without sulfur dioxide. Sulfur dioxide is used as a preservative in many dried fruits. It also keeps many dried fruits (like dried apricots) a pretty color. Sulfite-free dried apricots are usually brown. Not as nice looking, but sulfite-free.
While granola tastes terrific, its best to use portion control. I’ve listed a serving as 1/3 of a cup, which you can even reduce to a 1/4 cup.
A Gift From the Kitchen
Homemade granola makes a welcome gift when visiting family and friends over the holidays. Tied up in little bags with a bow, granola is a terrific hostess gift.
Roasted Maple Granola
Yield: 2 pounds (1 kilo) or approximately 16-18 1/3 cup servings
- 3 cups rolled oats (12 ounces /340 grams)
- 3/4 cup (2 ounces/60 grams) unsweetened coconut thread
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces/60 grams) chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup )2 3/4 ounces/80 grams) blanched slivered almonds
- 1/4 cup (1 1/2 ounces/45 grams) raw sunflower seeds
- 3 tablespoons ground flax seed
- 3 tablespoons hemp seed (optional)
- 1/2 cup maple syrup (grade A or B)
- 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or almond)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon (or Chinese Five Spice)
- 3/4 cup dried fruit, chopped if large pieces (see options in post, and dried fruit is totally optional)
- pre-heat oven to 250° (121° C)
- In a large bowl, mix rolled oats, coconut, nuts and seeds together. In another bowl or large measuring cup, whisk maple syrup, oil, extract and spices until smooth. Pour the maple mixture into the oats mixture and stir until well combined. The oats should feel uniformly heavy and well coated with no dry areas. When yout hink you have stirred enough, stir more.
- Pour on to a half sheet sized rimmed baking sheet and bake for 2 hours, stirring and turning over at 1 hour. Bake until dry.
- Remove from oven, cool and stir in dried fruit.
Granola will keep for several months sealed in an air-tight container.
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