Friday, 18 May 2012

Homemade Granola

Adventures in homemade granola

That sounds more exciting than the tale of my granola making trials actually has been.  I had tried to make granola several times years ago and failed (miserably).  Overcooked, soggy tasting, not crunchy and overly sweet… you name it and I had an issue with it.  I guess there are a lot of really bad recipes for granola out there.  I started trying again in Australia due to the lack of granola options here.  They seem to favor muesli instead.  I should switch since this is probably a healthier version (just oats, nuts, dried fruit- usually not toasted and no sugar).  However, I cannot give up my delicious morning granola and yogurt.

As a result of my stubbornness, I pretty much ended up combining ideas from several recipes to come up with my own.  I did not want too much sugar or oil, but still wanted the granola crunchy with some sweetness to it.  I think I have the perfect base now for all the different types of granola I make!  This recipe is super easy and you really can’t mess it up.  Just give it a go and you won’t be disappointed.  (For those who didn’t catch that, “give it a go” is one of my adopted Aussie phrases!)

Today I made 2 batches... feeling highly motivated! One of the Maple Almond and one Tropical Mix (see after the basic recipe for more details about specific ingredients in these).

At some point I promise to get better about taking pictures as I am baking/cooking.  For now these will have to do :)

Ready to go into the oven! 

Yum a couple of batches of granola (they look slightly empty because I packed some up for people).

Basic Granola Recipe
You can adapt most of this to use whatever types of nuts, dried fruits and extract for flavor.  You can add in seeds or shredded coconut as well.  The possibilities are endless really.  You will save a ton of money by not buying the pre-made stuff from the supermarket and have a tastier and healthier version to boot!

2 cups rolled oats
¾ cup chopped nuts
½ cup chopped dried fruit
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup OR honey
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons canola or other vegetable oil
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

~ Preheat oven to 275°F (135°C) and spray a large baking sheet with oil
~ Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl (oats, rice cereal, nuts and fruit)
~ Combine all wet ingredients in a small bowl (maple syrup, brown sugar, canola oil and extract)
~ Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to mix well
~ Spread mixture evenly over baking sheet and put in oven
~ Bake 60 minutes, stirring mixture every 10-15 minutes to make sure it cooks evenly. 
~ Cool on baking sheet and store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. 

* You can also incorporate ½ cup puffed rice cereal for added crunch and/or ½ cup oat bran, which will make it, form more “clusters”.  Make sure when adding these they get mixed with the dry ingredients.

Here are some of my favorite combinations for homemade granola…

Maple Almond (My favorite! Tastes like fall in New England)
~ Maple extract, almonds and a mixture of dried blueberries and cherries

Tropical Granola
~ Vanilla extract, macadamia nuts, mix of dried mango and banana (I use dried bananas, not the “banana chips” you can get at most supermarkets, but I would imagine those would be tasty as well) along with 3 Tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes.
~ This one is pretty amazing with Chobani pineapple yogurt!

Cherry Almond
- Almond extract, almonds, with a mix of dried cherries and dates

Fall Pumpkin Granola
~ Vanilla extract, almonds, and raisins
~ You will also add 2 tablespoons of canned pumpkin to the wet mixture and ½ tsp each of ground cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger to the dry mixture


Sunset while on a little late afternoon stroll with the little guy I nanny for.  
Not a bad way to end the day.

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